How Kevin Negandhi's SportsCenter Dreams Became a Reality

Shashwat BaxiCorrespondent IApril 22, 2010

Every single day, millions of Americans tune in to ESPN’s family of channels and networks.

Since its creation in 1979, SportsCenter has grown to be one of the most, if not the most, popular sports-related programs in television history. 

In 2007, SportsCenter aired its 30,000th episode and still continues to grow in fanbase and viewership. As the popularity of SportsCenter and the entire ESPN network continues to grow, so too do many dreams of being an ESPN anchor.

From the likes of Chris Berman and Bob Ley to Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt, SportsCenter anchors are now becoming as popular as the superstar athletes that they are reporting about.

One of these SportsCenter anchors is West Philadelphia native Kevin Negandhi. Negandhi joined ESPN in September of 2006 as a host for ESPNews. Since then, he has worked his way to becoming one of the most regularly seen personalities on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

How did this average Indian guy go from being a 14-year-old kid with a dream to a household name on the largest sports channel in the world?

Kevin Negandhi was raised in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania as a first generation Indian-American, with both his parents being from Mumbai, India. As an Indian-American child growing up in the United States, it was difficult for Negandhi to find people to look up to as far as being examples in the field.

Of course, he had his parents as role models, but not too many Indians were paving the way of sports journalism during his childhood. Even now, he claims that his mother would like for him to get a “real” job as a lawyer.

Despite the lack of Indian-Americans in the media for Negandhi look up to, he kept his dreams alive and enrolled at Temple University as a Communications major.

Once at Temple, Negandhi’s mindset was pretty simple: He needed to get some hands-on experience in the field. During his college years, Negandhi did everything he could to get that crucial training and understanding.

He took an internship with his hometown Phillies and had the opportunity to work under the legendary and late radio broadcaster, Harry Kalas. The internship may not have done much for his bank account, but Negandhi still looks to that opportunity as one of the greatest times of his life.

He also served as the sports editor for The Temple News and did play-by-play for the Owls’ women’s basketball team. Along with all of that, he worked as a college sports stringer for USA Today.

By the time that Kevin graduated from Temple University, he had participated in a total of five internships at local television and radio stations. He was nothing if not committed to his craft, and the journey would only get better from there.

Prior to joining ESPN, Negandhi worked in numerous other sports positions and stations. His career officially got under way in 1998, when he became a sports director in Kirksville, Missouri. After working in Missouri for just over a year, Negandhi transferred to Sarasota, Florida in 1999 to work as a sports anchor and reporter for their local ABC affiliate station.

Following a brief hiatus from sports broadcasting and a new promotion, he returned to the station as the sports director. Under his direction, the station picked up three Associated Press Awards, including two “Best Sports Cast” Awards.

In 2006, Negandhi left Sarasota and traveled up to New England to join ESPN.

Since arriving at ESPN, Kevin Negandhi has made history as the first Indian-American to serve on a national sports network. He has worked his way from being a host on ESPNews to becoming a regular anchor on SportsCenter.

Even though the work schedule is completely different, Negandhi loves the job. As he describes it, a typical episode of SportsCenter usually still runs about nine hours of preparation and execution.

For a 1:00 AM episode, Negandhi will arrive around 6:00 PM for a half-hour “ideas” meeting. This meeting begins the preparation with what the biggest stories are and what the anchors and producers are thinking about different topics. Following that meeting, everyone tries to get some dinner before the real work begins.

A rundown of the show and writing of the script takes place, which usually lasts at least 90 minutes. Once that is completed, it is time for makeup and for the anchors to arrive on the set to work out any last-minute changes with the production crew. After the episode is taped, the anchors will re-tape different endings for SportsCenter based on when and where they will be broadcast.

After a long night, Negandhi usually leaves the station around 3:00 AM. It may look easy, but even taping an episode of SportsCenter is much more difficult than it seems.

After three-and-a-half years, Negandhi still loves every minute of his job. His favorite parts about coming to work are the people, the environment and atmosphere of the place, and common purpose that everyone is there to serve. He loves being able to have a conversation with former players and coaches, discussing the many intricacies of professional sports.

However, his greatest thrill may have come when he was on the air during the 2008 World Series. Being a diehard fan of Philadelphia teams, nothing was greater than being able to announce to the world that his beloved Phillies were on their way to becoming World Series champions!

The best part of the job is still that Negandhi can now be an educated fan. Not only is it important to him, but it’s also his most important priority as an anchor. His mantra has changed since his days at Temple, with the new mindset being, “I want to teach the viewer something.” He feels that his role is to educate the audience about even the smallest nuance of a game, and he takes that very seriously.

Through his dedication to the field of sports journalism and broadcasting, Negandhi has moved up the ranks to become the most recognizable Indian-American in the business. While he may not have had anyone to aspire to be like when he was growing up, there is no doubt that Kevin Negandhi is now an inspiration to young Indian-American children across the country.

Even though other Indian-American sports journalists and broadcasters, like Anish Shroff and WFAN’s Sweeny Murti, are gaining national prominence, only Negandhi has the distinction of being called the first.

Negandhi and Murti, another Philly native, actually have a history together. Negandhi was a show producer and Murti did the news updates for 610 WIP in Philadelphia. He recalls that working with Sweeny was the first time that he had met another Indian-American that he could finally look up to in the business.

It is remarkable how two Indian-American sports journalists had their paths cross at a local sports station on their way to national prominence. To this day, Negandhi and Murti remain in close contact as they progress in the field of sports journalism and broadcasting.

As he continues to live his lifelong dream, Kevin offers this advice to any and all aspiring journalists: “It’s a lot of work, and it requires a lot of patience. You must have an open mind and know you can do it. Do not be arrogant, because that will get you nowhere. There are no specific paths, just be yourself. Lastly, learn to write. If you can write, you can do anything.”

Wise words from a man who went from being a 14-year-old dreamer in West Philly to now saying, “I’m Kevin Negandhi...this is SportsCenter.”