The Longhorn Network, set to launch Aug. 26, has secured a site for its Austin studios and assembled a staff of around 50 employees, including a trio of nationally known hosts. Kevin Dunn and Samantha Steele, two of the recently announced members of the core on-air team, are clients of Maxx Sports & Entertainment.
The joint ESPN/University of Texas cable channel devoted to round-the-clock coverage of UT sports will be based out of an eight-story office building at the University Park development, 3300 N. Interstate 35. The site was selected, executives say, due to its close proximity to the UT campus and because there’s room to expand as the network grows.
Kevin Dunn, a graduate of Westlake High School who attended UT, will serve as an anchor for the network, alongside lead host Lowell Galindo, in addition to doing some reporting. He spent five years helming a show on Austin sports radio station 1300 AM the Zone, and has done work for ESPN Radio and handled hosting duties for CBS College Sports.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited,” Dunn said. “Everything about the Longhorn Network is going to be high-class: the people, the programming, the graphics, the lighting … everything.”
Samantha Steele is joining the Longhorn Network as a reporter where she will work at events and do studio shows. She will also do feature stories.
Steele was previously a host and reporter for Fox Sports, contributing to both Fox Sports Net and Fox College's coverage of college basketball and football in the Pac 10 and Big 12 conferences.
“I wasn’t looking for a new job,” she said, “but this was an awesome opportunity.”
Steele says friend Sam Acho, a UT grad who now plays for the Arizona Cardinals, has been praising Austin for years - and she’s eager to plant roots here after moving from state to state for Fox.
“He was telling me about it all the time,” she said. “He’s probably the best advertisement ever for Austin. He’s obsessed with it.”
Steele will move to Austin after a month in Zimbabwe, where she is volunteering at an orphanage started by a Liberty University classmate.
More than 30 of the Longhorn Network’s 50 employees will come from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. At least 10 are UT graduates, according to the network, and many others have ties to the Lone Star State.
“We were able to choose from the cream of the crop of people,” said vice president Stephanie Druley. “They’ve all been working non-stop on this since they started with us.”
Programming on Aug. 26, the network’s first day, will include a 6 p.m. edition of ESPN’s “College GameDay” originating from UT’s south mall. It’ll be followed at 8 p.m. by a live broadcast of the Burnt Orange Classic, featuring the UT volleyball team taking on Pepperdine.
At 10 p.m., “Texas All Access” debuts. The show will offer a season-long, behind-the-scenes look at the UT football team - something ESPN has never done with any other college team.
Viewers can check to see if they’ll have access to the Longhorn Network by visiting GetLonghornNetwork.com. Negotiations between cable and satellite providers and ESPN continue, with deals expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
“Response to this network has been overwhelming,” Druley said. “I have been astounded by it.”
[Excerpts taken from Statesman.com]
Official ESPN Media Zone Press Release: "Longhorn Network Names On-Air Team; Launch Plans Include ESPN College GameDay"