BIO

Jerry Bembry and Charlie Neal,  calling a college hoops game on ESPNU.

During my 25 years as a journalist I’ve worn quite a few hats, the latest that of an adjunct professor at Towson University, where I’m teaching a course in new media. It is my hope that I can help direct a young student into the field of journalism, just as a high school teacher once directed me.

That direction came as a freshman in high school: An English teacher wrote down a list of facts and asked the class to write a newspaper story. As an avid sports fan who had been consuming the New York tabloids since the third grade, I nailed the assignment. The teacher asked me to join the student newspaper, and as a freshman I was named sports editor. By my sophomore year, I received the school’s outstanding journalist award.

As a 22-year-old, bearded writer with the Courier-News

Graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1984 was a big accomplishment, considering neither of my parents had graduated from high school (my older brother, Jesse, had graduated from Ohio Wesleyan with a degree in journalism in 1977). That college degree gave me the confidence to negotiate a starting salary of $314 a week in my first job, as a news reporter with The Courier-News in Bridgewater, N.J.

After five months in New Jersey, I made a big move: accepting a night police reporting position at The Sun in Baltimore (my hiring allowed David Simon—creator of The Wire and author of Homicide: Life on the Streets—to move to day cops). Each time I had spoken to editors at The Sun prior to being hired, I was told they only considered young reporters with three to five years’ experience. Just over a year removed from school, I had gone from a paper that covered night school board meetings in small towns to a publication that staffed bureaus in the Middle East, Europe and South America.

From night police, I moved up the news ladder: to day cops, to covering the state legislature, to covering civil and criminal courts. News reporting was interesting, but my passion for sports was the reason why I spent my off days covering high school games. In 1991 I became a full-time sports reporter, covering high schools and local small colleges. By 1993   I was promoted to cover the NBA’s Washington Bullets (later the Washington Wizards).

When The Sun unveiled The Baltimore Sun High School Sports Show in 1998, I was introduced as its first host. It was a job I held for two years until late 1999, when ESPN The Magazine hired me as an NBA editor.

Reporting from the NBA playoffs for ESPNEWS.

ESPN allowed me to wear many hats: from editing and writing for ESPN The Magazine; to appearing as an NBA analyst on  SportsCenter, ESPNEWS and ESPN Radio; to providing reports for SportsCenter and Outside the Lines; to working as a college basketball analyst for ESPNU; to writing columns for ESPN.com. In 2005 I was named senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, the first African-American to hold that position at the publication.

As ESPN The Magazine began to convert its written content to video, I accepted the job of video producer. It was my job to produce videos for the magazine’s print content and cover shoots.

Steve Francis with Destiny’s Child, NBA Preview (2000)

I’m proud of my accomplishments at ESPN: winning national and regional writing awards for stories that appeared in ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, and introducing the concept of having non-athlete celebrities appear on the cover of ESPN The Magazine (Steve Francis owes me big time for coming up with the idea to have Destiny’s Child appear with him on the cover of the 2000 NBA preview).

In addition to teaching, I work as a consultant with WYPR-FM, Maryland’s largest public radio station, where I produce many of the stories generated by the news department in video form. I also provide radio stories to WYPR, and I write for various publications and websites.

 

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