Behind the Mic: Kevin McHale Joins NBA on TNT; ESPN Re-signs Darren Rovell, Marc Stein and Others

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including deals, departures, and new assignments. In this week’s edition, Kevin McHale heads to Turner Sports; ESPN re-signs Darren Rovell, Marc Stein, Kevin Negandhi, and Cari Champion; Michael Smith and Jemele Hill take over ESPN’s 6 p.m. SportsCenter; John Smoltz preps for his first World Series; John Kruk departs ESPN; Top Rank taps Brian Kenney and Steven A. Smith for Manny Pacquiao’s PPV return; Derek Fisher returns to the Lakers fold as an analyst for Spectrum SportsNet; Chris “Mad Dog” Russo re-ups at SiriusXM; and more. 

kevinmchale…Basketball Hall of Famer and Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale will return to Turner Sports in a multi-year agreement to provide analysis for NBA TV’s popular Fan Night, along with select NBA on TNT game telecasts.  McHale, who most recently held positions as an NBA front office executive and head coach, previously worked for Turner Sports from 2009-11. McHale will return to NBA TV’s weekly Fan Night telecasts on Tuesday nights alongside host Ernie Johnson and analysts Chris Webber and Greg Anthony during pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage.

McHale served as a guest analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs last season, following more than four seasons as head coach of the Houston Rockets. Named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of all time, McHale played 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics and won three NBA Championships with the team (1981, 1984 and 1986). Following his playing career, McHale held several positions with the Minnesota Timberwolves including general manager, head coach and television analyst from 1993-2009…

…ESPN has re-signed sports business reporter Darren Rovell to a multi-year contract extension. Rovell will continue his multi-platform role, reporting for ESPN across television, digital and audio. Since returning to ESPN in 2012 (he served as sports business writer for ESPN.com from 2000-06), Rovell has provided news and analysis of player contracts, endorsements, merchandise and memorabilia sales, event ticketing, esports, and more. Between 2006 and 2012, Rovell reported on sports business for CNBC, hosting a sports business show, SportsBiz: Game On, on the NBC Sports Network…

…ESPN will launch a reimagined version of the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter next year led by popular ESPN commentators Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. Hill and Smith, who have signed new, multi-year deals to remain with ESPN, will take over as co-anchors of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter on February 6, 2017, the day after Super Bowl LI. They are currently co-hosts of His & Hers on ESPN2, which they will continue to hostfor the immediate future with their final show date to be determined. Lindsay Czarniak, currently the anchor of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, will go on maternity leave in early November and return next year in a new, featured role that will be announced later. During Czarniak’s absence, the 6 p.m. program will be hosted by Zubin Mehenti, Matt Barrie and other current SportsCenter anchors until Smith and Hill’s debut…

…First-ballot Hall of Famer and 1995 World Series Champion John Smoltz is set call his first-ever World Series as lead game analyst for FOX Sports (he served as lead analyst during the 2016 regular season), joining play-by-play announcer Joe Buck in the booth for the NLCS and World Series games. He has previously called Division Series postseason games for FOX Sports, in addition to serving as the analyst on Major League Baseball’s international feed during the 2015 World Series. The pair will be joined by reporter Ken Rosenthal for the NLCS and World Series.

In the pregame and postgame studio host Kevin Burkhardt will continue to be flanked at the desk by all-time hits leader Pete Rose, Hall of Famer Frank Thomas and 14-time All-Star Alex Rodriguez before and after all games. Verducci joins the studio desk for the NLCS and World Series, while former pitchers and current FOX MLB analysts CJ Nitkowski and Dontrelle Willis also contribute to coverage…

FOX Deportes is carrying the Spanish-language coverage with pregame shows and analysis from former pitcher Duaner Sanchez and former outfielder Karim Garcia. Joining Sanchez and Garcia on the call is Carlos Alvarez, with special reports from Jaime Motta…

…While Smoltz’s career at Fox is just ramping up, John Kruk time at ESPN has come to an end. The studio and in-game analyst and ESPN are parting ways after 12 years. According to a statement provided to The Big Lead earlier this month: “ESPN and John Kruk have mutually agreed to end our relationship at this time. We’re thankful to John for his memorable contributions to our baseball coverage over the years – a run which included roles on our signature MLB franchises Sunday Night Baseball and BaseballTonight. We wish John all the best.”…

…Top Rank’s self-produced PPV featuring Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring against welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas on Nov. 5 PPV will be called by Brian Kenny (MLB Network), Stephen A. Smith (ESPN) and Top Rank fighter Timothy Bradley (who has fought both Pacquiao and Vargas). Charissa Thompson (Fox Sports) will host the event with Chrystina Poncher (Top Rank TV) as the reporter handling interviews. (ESPN)…

…ESPN has re-signed NBA senior writer Marc Stein to a new multi-year agreement. Stein, who has been with ESPN since 2000 as a top writer, will serve as ESPN’s lead national basketball reporter. In this role, he will contribute regular columns, including his popular weekly ESPN NBA Power Rankings, reports and news updates to ESPN.com, as well as providing regular news reports for SportsCenter and other news and information programming. Stein will also continue his role as reporter for ESPN Radio during NBA All-Star and the NBA Finals and will make appearances on ESPN’s daily NBA studio show, The Jump.

In addition to resigning Stein, ESPN has unveiled its on-air roster for the 2016-17 NBA season and announced a new multi-year extension with analyst Hubie Brown. The roster will encompass Play-by-play callers Mike Breen, Mark Jones, Dave Pasch, and Ryan Ruocco, along with analysts Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Hubie Brown, Doug Collins, and Doris Burke. Collins will transition to full-time game analyst, while Burke will is now a regular NBA game analyst in addition to her game reporter assignments (Lisa Salter will also serve as game reporter)… ‘

…Former L.A. Lakers guard Derek Fisher is returning to the Lakers organization as a studio analyst for Spectrum SportsNet, the team’s TV home. Fisher arrives at Spectrum SportsNet after serving as head coach of the New York Knicks (NY Daily News)…

…Earlier this month, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo signed a new three-year contract to remain at SiriusXM. Russo will continue to host his daily all-sports show, Mad Dog Unleashed, every weekday (3:00 – 6:00 pm ET) on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel. Russo also hosts High Heat with Christopher Russo weekday afternoons on MLB Network…

 …NESN has hired sports anchor and reporter Jahmai [Jah- MY] Webster, who will join the network later this month. Webster will appear on NESN’s three main sports news programs: NESN Sports Today (every night at 10:00 PM or immediately following Red Sox or Bruins post-game coverage), NESN LIVE (weeknights at 5:30 PM), and NESN Sports Update (every morning from 5:00-9:00 AM). Webster comes to NESN from Denver’s ABC Affiliate KMGH Denver7 where he served as sports anchor and co-host of the weekend sports wrap-up program 7SPORTS Xtra. Prior to working in Denver he spent four years at KITV 4 News in Honolulu, Hawaii…

…ESPN has also resigned two of its primary SportsCenter anchors to new multi-year deals: Kevin Negandhi and Cari Champion.

Negandhi, one of the anchors of SportsCenter:AM and a fixture on ESPN for 10 years, joined ESPN in 2006 and has been part of the 7 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter since it launched in February of this year. The first Indian-American to anchor on a national sports network, Negandhi co-hosts SportsCenter’s Veterans Day specials and made his debut this year as host of ESPN’s telecasts of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. During his time at ESPN, Negandhi also has hosted NFL Live, Baseball Tonight, Outside the Lines,College Football Live, NBA Tonight, the WNBA Draft, the women’s NCAA basketball Final Four and the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. Prior to ESPN, Negandhi worked as a sports director at WWSB-TV in Sarasota, FL.

Champion will continue to co-anchor of the 11 a.m. ET “Coast to Coast” edition of SportsCenter, as well as contribute to espnW, including her “Be Honest with Cari Champion” podcast. The midday SportsCenter took on a bi-coastal format on April 5, with co-anchor David Lloyd in ESPN’s Bristol, Ct., studios as usual but Champion doing the show from ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center (LAPC)…

…Toronto native and former NHL centre Patrick O’Sullivan has joined TSN 1050 Radio in Toronto as an analyst for the station’s live radio coverage of the Toronto Maple Leafs. O’Sullivan, a former second round pick who played for five NHL teams, joins TSN 1050, the Maple Leafs’ official radio broadcaster, for pre-game, intermission, and post-game coverage alongside host Jim Tatti. O’Sullivan will also make regular appearances on TSN 1050’s fan-favourite LEAFS LUNCH, which airs weekdays at 12 noon ET

 

 

…Football (soccer) journalist Mark Ogden will join ESPN as a senior football writer in November. In the role, Ogden will write football news, columns, match analysis and features. He will also report from on site at major football events and utilize his position as a football insider to break news and land exclusive interviews. Ogden, who joins from The Independent, will also contribute on ESPN’s television programming around the world – including daily football program ESPN FC and periodic reports for flagship news and information show SportsCenter. Ogden’s written and video content will be seen online across leading global football portal ESPN FC and ESPN site editions – including the UK, Australia, India, the US and throughout Latin America. Ogden was chief football correspondent at The Independent and was previously at the Daily Telegraph…

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