The sports-broadcasting industry came together last night for the 13th-annual Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the New York Hilton Midtown. Industry legends from both in front of and behind the camera were inducted during a memorable, emotional evening hosted by Mary Carillo, a Hall of Famer herself. All table sales, totaling more than $200,000 this year, are once again being donated to the Sports Broadcasting Fund, which supports industry members in times of need.
This year’s ceremony honored 10 sports-broadcasting greats: ESPN and ABC Sports stalwart Steve Anderson, Dome Productions leader Mary Ellen Carlyle, late beloved tennis commentator Bud Collins, voice of U.S. hockey Mike “Doc” Emrick, trailblazing CBS Sports director Bob Fishman, industry visionary Jerry Gepner, revered ESPN commentator Bob Ley, auto-racing pioneer Roger Penske, groundbreaking ABC Sports producer Doug Wilson, and innovative camera operator/DP Ken Woo.
It’s one thing to be admired for the professional you become. It’s quite another to be beloved for the man you are. To many at ESPN — and the sports-television industry at large — Bob Ley is both. At the time of his retirement, Ley was ESPN’s longest-serving commentator, having become a SportsCenter anchor on the network’s third day of operation. He spearheaded ESPN’s aggressive coverage of breaking news and issues, primarily as host of Outside the Lines since its inception in May 1990 and also as a host of the weekly E:60 on Sunday mornings. Throughout his ESPN career, he was equally comfortable leaving the studio to cover events onsite as host or play-by-play announcer.
During ESPN’s first 35 years, few, if any, individuals had a greater hand in crafting the network’s production philosophy and content strategy than Steve Anderson. From building SportsCenter into the gold standard of sports-news programs to launching new cable networks to overseeing thousands of live game productions, Anderson’s fingerprints can be seen today across ESPN’s expansive programming portfolio. For more than 35 years at ESPN and ABC Sports, he played key roles in remote production, talent, studio shows, content operations, and even production and technical operations.
In more than 40 years as a camera operator and DP, Ken Woo has shot everything from hundreds of “Up Close and Personal” Olympic profiles to the Tour de France, 15 Olympics, Super Bowls, NCAA Final Four tournaments, The Masters, NBA Championships, Iron Man World Championships, the Triple Crown, and more. He has won 27 Emmy Awards, including three Prime Time Emmys for his work on the Opening Ceremony for the Salt Lake City, Torino, and Beijing Olympics and three Emmys as an associate producer for Best Short Feature. He also won the Peabody Award for his work on ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.
Jerry Gepner has done it all. During his time at Fox Sports, he helped change the U.S. sports-TV landscape, designing and managing deployment of such technical innovations as the FoxBox and Dolby Surround Sound. He also co-designed the FoxTrax glowing-hockey-puck system. Leaving Fox In 1997, he co-founded Sportvision, the company that transformed graphics enhancement for NASCAR and the NFL. Since then, he has guided and led several of the industry’s key companies, serving as president of NMT; Group CTO and CEO, Services Division, of Vitec Group; and CEO of Tekserve and T2 Computing.
After 45 years at CBS Sports, 16-time Emmy Award-winner Bob Fishman’s résumé speaks for itself. He is lead director for college basketball and has directed the NCAA tournament and Final Four since 1982. He also currently directs NFL on CBS. For more than 25 years, he directed the US Open Tennis Championships. His other credits include NFL Today, figure skating at three Winter Olympics (’92, ’94, ’98), the NBA Playoffs, the Belmont Stakes, college football, Major League Baseball (including the 1992 and 1993 World Series), and, for 21 years, the Daytona 500, for which he was the first American director to implement Race Cam, the remote-controlled in-car camera. However, what cements the longtime CBS Sports director as a true industry legend is not the raw numbers but the iconic moments he has etched into the memories of millions of sports fans:
Bud Collins covered tennis for NBC Sports for 35 years and was known for his passion, lyricism, humor, wit, and true love of the game. He is best-remembered for his work at Wimbledon, where he played a role for NBC Sports from 1972 to 2007. His work for NBC ended in 2007, but, at the age of 78, he continued to work for both ESPN and Tennis Channel. He died in 2016 and his wife Anita Ruthling accepted on his behalf.
With the possible exception of pro and collegiate football, the biggest beneficiary of television and advertising has been the racing industry, and probably no race-car executive did more to make that happen than Roger Penske. Team Penske made its debut in 1966 at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and Roger Penske’s teams have won more than 500 races, including 18 victories at the Indianapolis 500 and 37 national championships. During the early years of motor-racing coverage on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, he was an important (and unofficial) advisor/consultant to the production and commentary staffs in the ’60s and ’70s and also played a key role in helping ABC’s production team prep for its Indy 500 telecasts.
When your grandfather was a pioneer at CBC radio in Canada who tested microwave links through train tunnels and your father was an editor for the CBC, you already know that broadcasting is in your blood. In 30 years with Canada-based TV-production-services provider Dome Productions, Mary Ellen Carlyle has been instrumental in a number of innovations, including the move to HD, UHD, and the ability to host remote productions from control rooms instead of trucks. Today, she is SVP/GM, overseeing administration, sales, and operations.
When the Director’s Guild of America gave Doug Wilson its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, the word Lifetime must have seemed adequate. By 2008, when he retired, it seemed an understatement. During a 50-year career, Wilson served as director/producer for ABC’s Wide World of Sports, helping the show become the most important brand in sports TV and also accrue 17 Emmy wins. As a producer and director, he covered 51 sports in an odyssey that took him across five continents to events of all proportions: from Olympic arenas (10 Games in total) to backroom pool halls, from the Grand Prix of Monaco to wrist-wrestling in Petaluma, from figure skating in Beijing to gymnastics in Brazil.
Michael “Doc” Emrick is the preeminent American hockey broadcaster of this, or any, generation. He has been behind the microphone for some of the most memorable games in modern hockey history. In nearly 40 years as a play-by-play announcer, he has called 14 Stanley Cup Finals as lead national announcer on NBC, Versus, Fox, and ESPN. His numerous honors include the Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play by Play for a record six years straight (and counting), the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2004, and seven local Emmy Awards.
Brandon Costa, Jason Dachman, Kristian Hernandez, Ken Kerschbaumer, and P.J. Bednarski contributed to this report.