Home Affiliate Marketing Deninger Talks To Next Generation Of Sports Media

Deninger Talks To Next Generation Of Sports Media

by Lottar

The “World Leader in Sports” – ESPN – is one of Connecticut’s best known cultural and commercial exports. But what happens behind the scenes to make it all work?

On Friday, October 7th, students at Cheshire High School were treated to a look behind the curtain of not only what happens at ESPN, but in sports media in general. Cheshire resident Dennis Deninger, professor of practice in Syracuse University’s Department of Sports Management and a former producer at ESPN, spoke to students about his latest book, “Live Sports Media: The What, How and Why of Sports Broadcasting.”

Deninger, winner of three Emmy Awards and a longtime board member of the Cheshire Educational Foundation, provided an inscribed copy of his book for use by the CHS library after his presentation, which was filled with practical advice gleaned from his career in sports business to a group of mostly seniors, most of whom are taking a journalism elective taught by CHS teacher Kate Courto.

Deninger described how he began his journalism career in high school, hosting a morning news segment on his hometown radio station. Finding that he had “a passion for sports,” Deninger worked in the Miami market for several years before joining ESPN in 1982, serving as the first coordinating director for SportsCenter, the network’s most prominent program remains. He continued in that role until 1986.

In the early 1980s, the future of sports media was less certain and much less ubiquitous. “Sports was something people watched on the weekends, maybe Sunday night or Monday night,” Deninger informed his teenage audience. Today, ESPN employs 5,000 people and has an enormous reach, averaging 742,000 viewers per day last May, with eight full-time networks in addition to its other media properties.

Now “there are approximately 400,000 hours of sports programming available each year,” according to Deninger’s calculations.

This huge growth in the sports industry was something Deninger emphasized, pointing out the $25 billion impact of the Super Bowl alone.

The big business of sports involves a lot of technical and operational knowledge. Even as it evolves, Deninger sees a future with many career opportunities in the field. “You see a football game with two guys in the booth, a sideline reporter, but there are over 200 people working on the game, with 20 different specialties, whether it’s music, graphics, developing storylines, making of affiliate agreements with the NFL, budget, broadcast. integration.”

In response to a question from Cheshire High School Athletic Director Steve Trifone, Deninger explained that while there are many benefits to participating in sports, very few ever make a career out of playing. “There are less than 1,000 jobs in professional basketball,” he pointed out, but several ways to enter the greater sports industry. Deninger added: “The resourceful will find a way around any obstacle.”

“Wherever you start, whatever job you have, maintain good connections,” he advised, pointing to the importance of building relationships, whether you’re in an entry-level role or a senior director.

Asked by a student what he finds best in his professional life, Deninger spoke of his desire “to coach people and see them grow” and described several successes among his students at Syracuse.

For seniors who will be studying next fall, Deninger made several practical recommendations. “Find someone who will advocate for you. Introduce yourself to your professors, and don’t sit in the back of the classroom where you’re more likely to zone out,” he said.

Throughout the talk, Deninger came back to a crucial key to success in life, but especially in journalism: Be willing to ask questions. “Never sell yourself short. If you think of a question, ask it. People are going to be willing to answer.”

He illustrated this point with the story of a man named George Bodenheimer, who early in his career was often asked to pick up ESPN guests at Bradley Airport and drive them to Bristol.

“He was willing to ask about topics like affiliate marketing,” said Deninger, who explained that Bodenheimer began to learn more about the topic. Despite starting his career in the mailroom, Bodenheimer eventually became Executive Chairman of ESPN.

“Wherever you go, ask questions,” Deninger advised. “If you have a new idea, never be afraid to present it.”

Another piece of helpful advice: “Always do a little more than what’s asked,” Deninger said, “and don’t settle for the status quo.”

He pointed to former colleague and Syracuse graduate Mike Tirico, who spent 25 years at ESPN before going to NBC, covering the NFL and the Olympics, among other things.

“It looks like four hours of playing time, but he works 70 hours a week, no days off,” said Deninger, who explained that his experience creating a Thanksgiving football program means “working five Thanksgivings in a row .”

Deninger had one final piece of advice for these students just beginning their journey to careers in any field: “Be early, don’t be late.”

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