Retired ESPN production executive Steve Anderson and the recently retired on-air host Bob Ley will be inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, held annually in December in New York. Both joined ESPN in its first year (Ley in its first week) and it is impossible to overstate the impact each had, behind the scenes and on air, respectively.
Anderson joined ESPN in its first year as a production assistant working on SportsCenter. Before 1980 was over, he had transferred to remote production where he made his mark, rising through the ranks, by 1984 to producer, coordinating producer in 1986, and director of production in 1988 into 1990. During these years he led ESPN’s initial production efforts for both the NFL and MLB. In 1990 he returned to SportsCenter as vice president and managing editor for four years before being promoted to senior vice president, remote production. In 1996 he left ESPN to serve as ABC Sports’ senior vice president, production.
In 1999, he returned to Bristol in that role, overseeing all studio and event production. From later that year through his 2016 retirement, he served as an executive vice president, overseeing at times ESPN Radio, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International production on 25 networks worldwide, the company’s engineering and technical operations, the office of talent planning, the company’s news-gathering operation, the creative services and production enhancement departments, the ESPN Stats & Information Group, the Los Angeles Production Facility and ESPN’s operations department and studio directing. Raised in Tenafly, N.J., in 1976 he graduated from Holy Cross where he played basketball.
Before announcing his retirement on June 26, Ley – a nearly 40-year ESPN veteran having joined the company on September 9, 1979, its third day on the air – was the face of the company’s investigative journalism, breaking news and discussion of major stories and issues. The longtime SportsCenter anchor headed Outside the Lines since its 1990 inception and through its evolution from a periodic special to weekly and eventually daily editions. In addition to 11 Sports Emmy Awards, OTL and Ley have received the most coveted prizes in TV journalism, including a duPont Award, two Peabody Awards, as well as multiple Edward R. Murrow Awards and Northeastern’s 1995 Excellence in Sports Journalism Award and Lifetime Achievement honor in 2009 from the University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, together with the University’s School of Journalism. In May 2018, Ley received the Sports Emmy for outstanding studio host and in 2019 he was inducted into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame.
The passionate life-long soccer fan also hosted and/or called play by play of numerous FIFA World Cup events starting in 1998. In addition, Ley hosted ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage (1980-89), the NCAA basketball tournament studio show (1980-89) and coverage of several NCAA basketball Final Fours. The valedictorian at Bloomfield (N.J.) High School, he graduated magna cum laude from Seton Hall University in 1976 with a bachelor of arts degree in communications.
The other inductees: Mary Ellen Carlyle, Bud Collins, Mike Emrick, Bob Fishman, Jerry Gepner, Roger Penske, long-time ABC Wide World of Sports producer/director Doug Wilson and Ken Woo.