10 questions with Longhorn Network's Dave Brown
May 24, 2011
You’ve spent some time visiting with fans and alumni. How have those conversations helped you visualize the look and feel of the Longhorn Network? Fans are a great source of information for us. They’re just a great resource. Two things jump right out at me -- they want this to represent Texas and everything that is Texas, and then the quality. They want to make sure that we put out a quality product, so when we open up our doors here in July, then our studio, what we’ll be focused on right from the get-go is producing a quality product that really speaks well to everything about Texas and ESPN.
How can fans and alumni make sure they will have access to the Longhorn Network through their cable/television providers? The best thing for them to do is go to our current website, GetLonghornNetwork.com. They can key in their information, and that will help them contact their service provider and send a message to their service provider. That is the best way fans can assist us as we get launched here in August.
How can this network creatively satisfy the public’s passion for Texas Football? After being the programming guru at ESPN, for lack of a better term, for the past 12 years, I know it better than anybody. The great thing is that during that period, it allowed me to build up great relationships with Mack Brown, Butch Worley and DeLoss Dodds because of everything we did with them on a scheduling front. I can tell you that nobody has been more cooperative than Mack Brown in assisting us with the roll-out. When we get down to it, when toe meets leather on Sept. 3, he has assisted us with allowing us to cover his practices live, (produce) an all-access show every week and three coaches shows -- two on television, one on the radio. We’ll bring fans a gameday show and incredible postgame coverage right from the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium from all home games. It will come out to 13 hours of coverage of week. With his assistance, it’s our goal to cover Longhorns Football like it’s never been covered before.
What are the challenges in marrying two distinct, but different, brands in ESPN and UT? Out of everything we worry about, that is the least of my worries, because we have two great brands who stand for the same thing in terms of quality and excellence.
ESPN has succeeded because of its outside-the-box programming and production. Does the Longhorn Network present you with a blank canvas? There is great news in that we have a lot of programming time to fill. It’s a great opportunity for us. It goes back to covering The University like never before. We have wired this campus, through the great help of The University of Texas, with a ton of fiber to all the venues, and we’ll be incredibly flexible and be able to take advantage of opportunities if they arise. During the summer, when things are quiet, I’d like to bring back the superstars from all the teams and just have a lot of fun -- run 800 meters against each other, shoot 3’s against each other, bowl against each other. Just have a lot of fun, and of course, we’ll cover all the games and serious stuff, too.
How can this network achieve journalistic credibility and institutional control? It really gets down to covering every event the way we do now on ESPN or ESPN2 or ABC. We’re going to do it right down the middle, accurately. If somebody goes 10-for-15 from the 3-point line, we’re just going to say it was an incredible day. If they go 1-for-15, we’re going to tell them it wasn’t an incredible day. We will treat things in a journalistically sound manner that is fair and balanced like we always do. For us, that is very easy, and I know this is not The University of Texas’ first experience with media organizations.
Are you moving along with hiring analysts and on-air talent? Who will be the ‘faces’ of the network? Stephanie Druley, our vice president of production and UT grad, is in charge of hiring all the talent. I handle all the business and programming stuff. She is honing in on some people and will have something to announce really soon. That’s something we’re really excited about, getting our talent down here and getting them to work.
What kind of jobs are being created for the Austin community and UT campus? Most of our jobs here will be directly related to on-air. It will be content-driven jobs. Most of the people who move down here and join us, plus the ones we hire locally, will be people who really have a direct impact on what we put on the television set. We will also hire packagers who will in all likelihood be Texas-based.
Will UT students have opportunities to learn from and work with the Longhorn Network on the UT campus? When we get up and running, and the kids get back to campus in late August, we will get an internship program rolled out. If you go down the list, and see everybody who started at ESPN -- I mean, I was an engineering undergrad. So, we know there are a lot of talented people all over campus, and we’re looking for talented people, period. We’ll have great opportunities for people to learn the business and assist us here.
Are you learning the Texas traditions, and what is your favorite so far? I’ve always loved Bevo. There is no one like Bevo! One of my favorite pictures from one of the games we did, Jordan Shipley ran right up next to him, and the big guy got up off his legs when No. 8 was coming toward him. And then lighting The Tower is unbelievable. When you see The Tower lit orange, it doesn’t get any better.