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Kevin Neghandi Back On Spelling Bee Duty For ESPN2

Neghandi last hosted the event in 2017.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: NICK CAITO / ESPN IMAGES

Kevin Neghandi is back in the saddle for this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee after a few years away from the event. The show returns to ESPN2 this summer following a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic. ESPN2 is airing the semifinals and finals of the event live on June 27 and July 8.

Neghandi last called the Spelling Bee in 2016 and 2017. Paul Loeffler joins him as a familiar face in the booth. A finalist in 1990 and the voice of Fresno State athletics, Loeffler returns as an expert analyst for his 15th Spelling Bee. 

Veteran reporter Jen Lada is handling reporting duties from the stage. Lada has reported stories on “College Gameday” and “College Football Live” since 2015.

“I’m thrilled to be returning as host of the Scripps National Spelling Bee,” Negandhi said. “Due to my schedule in 2018 and 2019, I missed out on the fun, but it’s great to be back to share the stories about the competitors and what drives them at a young age to be the best in the world. I’m looking forward to teaming up again with the best in the business in Paul Loeffler, Jen Lada, and producers Bryan Jaroch and Steve Ackels, and the rest of our dedicated crew who love the Bee and what it stands for.”  

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the country’s longest-running educational program, getting its start in 1925. This is the 27th consecutive Spelling Bee that ESPN has broadcasted. Fans can expect a virtual event up until the Finals on July 8. Every round leading up to the Finals is airing on ESPN3.

ESPN is also returning its Play Along channel on ESPNU. Spelling Bee fanatics can try to pick the correct spelling of words while contestants are working through them in real-time. The Spelling Bee has set up a website for fans to follow along.

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Mike Breen: My Dream Was to Be a DJ at WPLJ

“I enjoyed being on the air and talking. So my initial thought was, ‘I’m going to be a disc jockey.’”

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Courtesy: ESPN Images

These days, WPLJ in New York City is a Christian station owned by the Educational Media Foundation. When Mike Breen was a kid in Yonkers though, it was one of the most influential rock stations in America and the man who is now known as the voice of the NBA wanted to be on the air there.

On the latest edition of Dan Le Batard’s South Beach Sessions podcast, Breen revealed that he always loved sports. His first introduction to broadcasting though came from a neighbor named Tony Minecola. He was a few years older than Breen and studying to be a radio broadcaster in college.

“He built a radio station in his basement and played disc jockey,” Breen told Le Batard. “’He had commercials, records, you know, everything. Like it was a real radio station, only it only went from one room to the next. That was what he was into, and that’s what he was going to college for. And we used to hang out in the basement all the time. And one day he says, ‘Hey, why don’t you come in? You want to you want to be the DJ for a little bit?’ And I’m like, okay, let me try it.’ And I fell in love with it.”

Mike Breen didn’t just fall in love with the idea of radio. He saw it as a viable career and knew exactly where he wanted it to take him.

“I enjoyed being on the air and talking. So my initial thought was, ‘I’m going to be a disc jockey.’ WPLJ was like the big rock station in New York back at that time, and I thought, ‘I’m going to be a DJ on WPLJ.’ That was my first goal.

Through the 70s and early 80s, WPLJ was an album rock station. Some of its most iconic on air personalities included Carol Miller, Pat St. John, Fr. Bill Ayers, and Mark Goodman, who was eventually one of MTV’s original VJs.

Breen said he loved the rock music of the time, especially Jethro Tull and Bruce Springsteen, but he realized that a broadcasting career could keep him close to sports too.

Obviously, he chose well. That is not to say that he couldn’t have been a great DJ if given the chance, but he went on to be the voice of the New York Knicks and has called more NBA Finals games than anyone else in history. 

WPLJ was out of the rock business by 1983 when it became a pop station.

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New Episodes of Beyond Limits Coming to CBS Sports

The series, which first premiered in September 2021, is produced by the CBS Sports Race and Culture Unit, with senior producer Sarah M. Kazadi.

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Courtesy: CBS Sports

CBS Sports is set to premiere new episodes of its franchise Beyond Limits, which celebrates athletes who go beyond the implicit boundaries of sports and society. Three half-hour episodes will be hosted by CBS Sports reporter AJ Ross, and will also air on CBS’ linear channel and stream live on Paramount+.

The first episode of the season is titled “Who I Am,” and it will feature Byron Perkins, who is the first openly gay football player at a historically black college or university (HBCU). Perkins is a redshirt senior at Hampton University. The show will also discuss the relationship he has with his mother and how she has impacted him both as a person and an athlete.

Two more episodes will premiere throughout the season – one on making sports adaptable and accessible; and the other featuring athletes who have moved into executive roles. The latter show includes interviews with NBA Executive Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations, Joe Dumars; New Orleans Pelicans Vice President of Basketball Operations and Team Development, Swin Cash; and NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent.

The series, which first premiered in September 2021, is produced by the CBS Sports Race and Culture Unit, with senior producer Sarah M. Kazadi. Its first episode premieres on Sunday, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. EST/10:30 a.m. PST, and should provide fans with unique storytelling and spotlight into the journeys of various key figures in sports and media alike.

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ESPN Colleagues Pay Tribute to Neil Everett

“It was universal praise from the people that knew and worked with Everett.”

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Courtesy: ESPN Images

Neil Everett has become one of the faces of SportsCenter. After 23 years at ESPN, he announced that he is leaving the network.

Colleagues at the World Wide Leader took to Twitter to share their thoughts. It was universal praise from the people that knew and worked with Everett. Chief among them was his SportsCenter partner of fourteen years, Stan Verrett.

Everett has spent the last two years as part of the television studio crew covering the Portland Trail Blazers. He told Front Office Sports that he will be seeking to expand his role with the team.

If Root Sports Northwest requires references, there are plenty ESPN colleagues past and present that were immediately ready to vouch for Neil Everett.

Everett was not laid off. He turned down a new contract that would have forced him to take a pay cut.

The Walt Disney Company is in the middle of layoffs effecting every division. CEO Bob Iger has tasked his leaders with reducing costs by $5.5 billion and cutting 7000 jobs.

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