Flip through the ESPN family of channels and a familiar face might pop up from time to time. Doug Kezirian, former sports director and anchor for Las Vegas’ ABC affiliate (KTNV Channel 13), is living the dream, working for one of the largest sports networks in the world—appearing on SportsCenter on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNNews, along with other ESPN shows.
The Brown University graduate and former water polo standout spent more than six years in Las Vegas after making stops in Missouri and Iowa. Kezirian, who lives in West Hartford, Conn., near the ESPN Campus in Bristol, took time to talk about his Vegas experience and what it’s like working for the “worldwide leader in sports.”
What was your favorite thing about covering sports in Las Vegas? The variety, without a doubt. Other conventional markets can force you to have a similar broadcast as your competitors, and the cycle of news can become monotonous. Las Vegas offered such variety with events and random appearances and a smorgasbord of sports topics. My favorite time was when my competition had different leading stories. It really challenged you to think outside of the box and generate cool angles for our viewers.
What do you think Las Vegas needs to do to attract a professional team from one of the major sports leagues? It all stems from an arena. If you build it, they will come. The owner needs to feel confident that you can have the suite sales and be able to compete from an entertainment standpoint with competition on the Strip. Your product has to be top-of-the-line. A team like the Milwaukee Bucks won’t succeed in Vegas. And the NFL is obviously never going to come. The NBA and NHL could survive there, but it has to be done effectively. I would assume the most logical outcome to be the owner of the team owning the arena. That would enable the arena owner to use it for concerts and other festivities and fights.
Other than the variety of sports, what do you miss the most about Las Vegas? It’s a great place to live. Living there for six years, I’ve developed some friends that I don’t get to see anymore. Las Vegas has great weather 10 months of the year. You get amenities other people don’t get. I miss the mere convenience of getting a quality steak at 1 a.m., and the other options for people who work late nights. At the end of the day, it’s a fun city.
How is it working for ESPN? It was always something I dreamed of, and I’ve loved it since Day 1. It’s a challenge because of the workload and the sheer size of the company. But gradually, I’ve adjusted. Now I just need to improve on a daily basis and enjoy the ride. I’ve been most impressed with the quality of my coworkers, ranging from production assistants to senior executives. The other anchors have been awesome. All of them have been welcoming and treated me like an equal. Everyone is on his or her game.
Are the ESPN offices much like they’re portrayed in the “This is SportsCenter” advertisements, with various athletes roaming around? Those commercials are pretty accurate. I remember when [49ers receiver] Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles. I happened to see [49ers legend] Jerry Rice at the printer. I asked him about the situation and what it was like to have the potential of that injury. I’ve also been in the cafeteria where [former Major League pitcher] Curt Schilling asked me if I’d tried the pasta. So you definitely have those moments similar to the commercials. The marketing and advertising campaign is showing that ESPN is where sports happen, and I feel that’s a fair representation, whether it’s an active athlete walking around for an interview or a former athlete who works for our staff.
What has been the best moment working for ESPN? My first time ever anchoring SportsCenter is something I’ll remember. I’ve been lucky enough to interview some of the world’s best athletes, like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. I’ve been to the NBA Finals and Super Bowl. But it was a different feeling or rush sitting in the anchor chair of SportsCenter. I grew up watching it, and I’ve committed my career to sports broadcasting, so it’s a surreal feeling.