Behind the Mic: ESPN Signs Dianna Russini to Multi-Year Extension; Turner Sports Completes On-Air Team for Inaugural NHL Season
Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, ESPN re-signs Dianna Russini, Turner Sports wraps up the names for its first-ever NHL season, and more.
ESPN Signs Top NFL Reporter and Host Dianna Russini to Multi-Year Extension
ESPN has signed top NFL reporter and host Dianna Russini to a multi-year extension in advance of her fifth football season with the company. Widely respected throughout the League and among fellow media professionals and NFL fans, Russini will continue to break news and share live reports from stadiums around the League while contributing to ESPN’s most prominent platforms year-round. Currently on maternity leave, Russini will return to Sunday NFL Countdown, Fantasy Football Now, SportsCenter, Get Up, and ESPN Radio later this season.
Since joining ESPN’s NFL team in 2017, Russini has deftly handled a multi-faceted role breaking news, obtaining key interviews, hosting shows, and providing live reports, analysis and features. Some of her recent, most memorable contributions include reporting from the sidelines in Oakland during the Week 1 Monday Night Football game in 2019, interviewing Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel and All-Pro running back Derrick Henry in advance of last year’s AFC Championship, and reporting on how the reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady became a Buccaneer. Additionally, Russini was first to report on two major signings earlier this year: Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans and Trent Williams re-signing with the San Francisco 49ers – which made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in League history.
“Dianna is so passionate about covering the NFL, and it shows in every assignment she works on,” says Seth Markman, ESPN vice president, production. “From an All-State athlete in four sports to an All-Star teammate here at ESPN, she is a terrific example of how hard work pays off.”
Since joining ESPN in 2015, Russini has hosted and appeared on a number of high-profile studio shows and worked NFL and XFL games for ESPN Radio and ABC, respectively. She also contributed to Monday Night Football’s digital pregame show, Monday Tailgate, in 2020.
“It’s such a special time to be covering the NFL, and there’s no better place to be doing it than at ESPN,” adds Russini. “I’m thrilled to be part of such a talented team—and I’m excited about the years to come.”
Earlier in her career, Russini covered news and sports in Seattle, New York City, Westchester, N.Y., Connecticut and Washington, D.C., where she was the lead sports anchor for NBC’s WRC-TV.
A New York native raised in Nowood, N.J., Russini was an ABC News intern for Diane Sawyer and WABC, and she played Division 1 soccer at George Mason University. (ESPN)
Turner Sports Bolsters NHL Game and Studio Commentator Team
Turner Sports has assembled a deep roster of esteemed analysts, commentators, and reporters in the run up to its inaugural NHL season, which is set to begin Wednesday, Oct. 13, on TNT with a doubleheader featuring the New York Rangers at the Washington Capitals at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks at the Colorado Avalanche at 10 p.m.
The previously announced commentary duo of Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk will be joined by Brendan Burke, who will provide play-by-play throughout the season alongside analyst Darren Pang. Keith Jones will provide ice-level analysis for NHL games on TNT, with Jennifer Botterill, Jackie Redmond, and Tarik El-Bashir contributing to telecasts.
Turner Sports’ NHL studio coverage will be hosted by Liam McHugh, alongside a collection of analysts including “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky, 10-year NHL veteran Anson Carter, three-time Stanley Cup Champion Rick Tocchet, and hockey personality and former AHL & NHL veteran Paul Bissonnette.
This veteran group of announcers, analysts and reporters bring a wealth of on-ice experience and achievements to Turner Sports’ NHL coverage including eight Stanley Cups, four Olympic medals, 11 World Championship medals, more than 5,200 pro hockey regular season games played, and more than 5,400 regular season career points.
Additionally, Bleacher Report has tapped Andrew ‘Nasher’ Telfer, one of the preeminent hockey content creators in the world, to be a key component of the brand’s NHL content strategy. Nasher, as he is more commonly known through his popular hockey-based Twitch and YouTube channels, will star in a series of interactive mid and long-form content offerings for B/R’s new NHL-specific content vertical launching later this month, ‘Open Ice’, leveraging B/R’s access to NHL rights for creative across B/R and House of Highlights social channels and live streams within the B/R App. (Turner Sports)
Milwaukee Bucks Name Lisa Byington as Television Play-By-Play Announcer
The Milwaukee Bucks have named Lisa Byington as the team’s television play-by-play announcer for games on Bally Sports Wisconsin. In joining the Bucks, Byington becomes the first female full-time TV play-by-play announcer for a major men’s professional sports team.
This past March, Byington became the first female play-by-play voice to work the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as she called First Round games for CBS and Turner Sports. More recently, Byington worked the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo for NBC Sports as a men’s and women’s soccer play-by-play announcer and also did play-by-play for the Women’s World Cup on FOX in 2019. From 2017-19, Byington worked as a sideline reporter for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on CBS and Turner Sports, and she also has experience doing play-by-play for NBA and WNBA games. In 2017, Byington became the first female play-by-play voice for a college football game on the Big Ten Network and shortly after was part of an MLS game broadcast that was believed to be the first all-female broadcast of any of the five major men’s professional leagues. (NBA.com)
Kenny Mayne Joins Caesars Sportsbook as Content Contributor and Brand Ambassador
Popular sports media personality Kenny Mayne will bring his unique blend of wit, humor, and storytelling to Caesars Sportsbook in his role as Content Contributor and Brand Ambassador. Beginning today, Mayne will write, produce, and deliver original sports betting content that will be shared on Caesars’ social and other media channels, while also making live event and commercial appearances.
After playing quarterback at UNLV for two years, Mayne signed with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks as a free agent in 1982, but his career was cut short by an ankle injury. He then embarked on a long and distinguished broadcasting career that includes 27 years at ESPN, where he entertained audiences with his offbeat look at the world of sports. In addition to anchoring SportsCenter, he delivered memorable feature content on vehicles like “The Mayne Event” for NFL Sunday Countdown and “Kenny Mayne’s Wider World of Sports” on ESPN.com. For many years, he hosted ESPN’s horse racing broadcasts, earning the Old Hilltop Award in 2006 for excellence in covering thoroughbred racing from the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. This summer, he anchored a nightly show during the Olympics on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service. (Caesars Entertainment)
Mike Golic Joins Pro Football Talk With Mike Florio on Monday Mornings
Former NFL player and longtime sports commentator Mike Golic has joined Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio every Monday morning during the 2021 NFL season. Golic and Florio is analyzing results from the weekend’s games and discuss the news from around the league.
Golic, a nine-year NFL defensive lineman, was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 1985 NFL Draft after a standout career at the University of Notre Dame where he served as team captain and wrestled for the Fighting Irish.
A member of the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Golic’s commentating career includes two-plus decades with ESPN, where he served as an analyst and host on numerous radio and television programs covering professional and college football, including co-hosting the long-running Mike & Mike’ and Golic & Wingo radio shows. (NBC Sports)
Trevor Scales Joins Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast
Treavor Scales has joined Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast as the host of the networks’ Braves LIVE and Hawks LIVE pregame and postgame shows.
Joining Bally Sports South will be a homecoming for Scales, as he grew up in Stone Mountain, GA and graduated from Dunwoody High School in 2009. He replaces Jerome Jurenovich in the host position, who previously announced his retirement after 15 years with the networks. Scales comes to Bally Sports after working as a commentator at ESPN for the past six years. He hosted SportsNation on ESPN+ and appeared across ESPN’s digital and social platforms as a host of Roll the Tape; SportsCenter on Snapchat; The College Football Show on Twitter, YouTube, and the ESPN app; and What’s Good on ESPN IGTV.
During his two-year fellowship program at ESPN, Scales also was a host and anchor of SportsCenter and ESPN New York 98.7 FM. He began his eight-year career at ESPN in 2013 as a crewing coordinator.
Scales graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2013 and was a four-time All-Ivy League running back on the Harvard football team. (Bally Sports)
Sportsnet Bets Big on Cabral “Cabbie” Richards
One of the nation’s most respected sports media personalities is coming home to Canada as Sportsnet welcomes Cabral Richards to its roster. Better known as Cabbie, the veteran sports media personality – widely revered for his unique interviewing style and multiplatform talent – joins Sportsnet as Executive Producer of Sports Betting Content.
For most of Cabbie’s career, the non-traditional sports broadcaster amplified the personalities of A-list professional athletes using a light-hearted approach. Starting with his renowned Cabbie on the Street segments, using disarming mechanisms and humor, Cabbie was able to unlock the personalities of famous and mercurial stars like no other. Interactions with the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and David Ortiz raised his profile and helped to change perceptions of these incredible competitors. An entertainer at heart, his unorthodox and animated style have endeared him to fans, athletes, and celebrities alike, while his ability to transition seamlessly across platforms and genres as both a host and producer make him one of the most sought-after personalities in the business. Most recently, Cabbie could be found co-hosting Bleacher Report’s B/R Betting Show, and will bring that same expertise and flair to Sportsnet’s betting content. (Sportsnet)