Royce Dickerson Interview: My Rise to Associate Producer of Baseball Tonight on ESPN
Saturday December 31, 2011
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: For our final feature of 2011, we have the privilege of interviewing the person behind one of our favorite baseball programs. Royce Dickerson was very kind to join us to chat a little baseball today. As Associate Producer of Baseball Tonight, Royce is very busy at ESPN in putting together the content and production of the hit baseball show. In broadcasting terms, Royce has hit the jackpot. After learning about Royce, I wondered how a former Mariners draft pick rose to the ranks of ESPN programming. My gut told me that this was an important baseball story that must be shared with our readers. Get to know Royce as you read his baseball tale: from the MLB draft, university, Indy ball and all the way up the ranks to ESPN. Royce has a success story that many people work towards. Baseball dreams do come true- Royce Dickerson is living proof of that. Have you ever wondered how baseball highlights and programming gets to your television set? We introduce you today to one of the key players behind the scenes who makes that happen. It may not always be glamorous and the career definitely translates to countless hours and immense hard work. But at the end day, there is nothing else on this earth that Royce Dickerson would rather be doing for a living.
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Royce Dickerson, Associate Producer of Baseball Tonight on ESPN:
MLB reports: Welcome to MLB reports Royce. First question: You were drafted by the Mariners in 2002 out of high school. What was the first thought that went through your mind when you got the call?
Royce Dickerson: I was 18 when I got drafted and I remember I was driving around town running errands because I had a summer league game that night and wanted to get some stuff done. I didn’t actually believe it when I got the call cause I was still coming off an ACL, MCL tear and I wasn’t completely healthy yet. When I tore my knee up I thought that there was no way that I would be drafted. Once that call came it took a few minutes to sink in and I was elated. I immediately called my dad and mom and told them and they were just as excited as I was. It was something that I will always remember as one of the best accomplishments in my life.
MLB reports: You ended up choosing to go to school over playing professional baseball. Was it a difficult decision? Looking back, would you have made the same choice?
Royce Dickerson: It wasn’t too hard of a decision at the time. I was drafted in the 27th round and there wasn’t a lot of money in that late of a round and I wasn’t completely healthy. I thought at the time it was in my best interest to go to school and try to improve my draft stock in college and hopefully become a higher round pick after my junior year. Looking back it was the right choice. I didn’t want to go into pro ball not 100% on a knee that wasn’t completely healed yet. I would have been at a dis-advantage right away with the limitations of my knee, even though I had played a full high school season and started playing summer ball.
MLB reports: How did you enjoy Western Michigan University? What did you study?
Royce Dickerson: I loved Western Michigan. Its home to me and I had known then Head Coach Fred Decker for a very long time so it was a very easy decision for me to sign with Western. My dad played football at WMU in the 70’s and my mother went there as well. Being a second generation athlete at Western was awesome, its something that my dad and I will have with us for our entire lives. I was born to be a Bronco and I loved every minute of it. While in school I studied Journalism. I went into school knowing that I wanted to do something in that field of work.
MLB reports: When you completed university, tell us about your experience playing indy ball.
Royce Dickerson: Indy ball was great, it was a chance to play baseball and get paid to do it. Being in a small town and playing in front of 5,000 fans every night was amazing. We were treated like celebs in Traverse City and the organization took great care of us. I know a lot of players complain about the long bus rides and low pay but at the same time it was a chance to play professional baseball and a chance to meet and see a lot of new things. I wish I could’ve done it longer but there came a time where I realized that I had to start my other life and the dream of playing in the big leagues had to stop.
MLB reports: Was it always your plan to play professional baseball growing up- or did you have a different plan for life?
Royce Dickerson: It was baseball from the beginning for me. I was in love with the game from day one. There was a time when I thought that I was a football player and then sometime around 8th or 9th grade I realized that I was really good at baseball and I shifted a lot of my focus to baseball while playing basketball and football.
MLB reports: How did you get your start in broadcasting?
Royce Dickerson: I got my start in high school actually. I took a Broadcast Journalism class in high school and that pretty much settled it when I took that class. From then on I got an internship at WWMT News Channel 3 in the sports department and learned about producing Sports TV from the Sports Director at the station, Ed Kengerski. He taught me so much and to this day I still credit him for giving me the producing gene.
MLB reports: What brought you to ESPN? That is the big leagues of televised sports!
Royce Dickerson: Shortly after I retired from indy ball I was looking for jobs at ESPN and other sports media outlets. After not being able to find a job anywhere my dad called a college friend of his who works at ESPN and he got my resume on the right persons desk. Three weeks after that I interviewed at ESPN and a month after the interview I started my career at ESPN.
MLB reports: How long have you been at ESPN and how has your role developed since you started?
Royce Dickerson: I have been at ESPN for 3 ½ years now. I started out as a Production Assistant cutting high-lights for SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight and other shows for the network. I also performed other tasks such as overseeing the non High-Light related video for SportsCenter and ESPNews. After about a year at ESPN, I was lucky enough to be staffed on Baseball Tonight at the start of the 2009 season as a Production Assistant on the show. I worked on the show everyday for the entire season cutting Analysis tapes for the Analysts, Web Gems as well as producing the Graphics for the show. Early in 2011 I was promoted to Associate Producer and the role changed quite a bit. With the new title I was now responsible for Producing Television content for the show. I produce the Baseball Tonight Extra that airs within SportsCenter during the baseball season, Baseball Tonight segments that air within the morning SportsCenter that looks back on the previous day or look forward to the upcoming night of baseball, as well as all highlight segments that air on ESPN.com. At the end of the year I was provided the opportunity to produce an entire Baseball Tonight on my own with the oversight of our Coordinating Producer. In the 3 ½ years that I have been here, my role has completely changed and will continue to change moving into 2012.
MLB reports: Biggest names that you have worked with in the baseball world?
Royce Dickerson: I am lucky enough to work with some great people at ESPN. I have worked with former players such as Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, Bobby Valentine, John Kruk, Curt Schilling, Rick Sutcliffe, Orel Hershiser, Aaron Boone, Chris Singleton and recently I produced Terry Francona at the 2011 Baseball Winter Meetings.
MLB reports: Biggest sporting moment that you got to cover?
Royce Dickerson: I’ve been fortunate enough to cover three World Series to this point, three all-star games, I was working on the last night of the 2011 season in Baltimore on that crazy day where the Red Sox lost to the Orioles and the Rays won the Wild Card. But the biggest moment so far that stands out to me happened about three weeks ago, when we were at the Winter Meetings and I was the producer when the Albert Pujols to the Angels news broke. We had a segment all planned out and three minutes before we were going live on SportsCenter from Dallas, we got word that Pujols had agreed with the Angels. For me to be the producer when the biggest name in the game changed teams and covering that moment was something that I will always remember and to this point has been the highlight of my career to be the producer for ESPN when Albert Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals for the Angels.
MLB reports: Do you ever see yourself taking a different role in baseball, perhaps coaching?
Royce Dickerson: There was a time when I couldn’t find a job that I thought about becoming a grad assistant at a school and get started in coaching. It was never a passion of mine but I thought it was something that I could be really good at and it gave me a chance to stay in the game. Coaching is something that I would’ve love to have done but once I got the call from ESPN, that avenue was no longer an option.
MLB reports: What is a typical day for you like working in ESPN?
Royce Dickerson: I love my job cause everyday is different. I go into work everyday around 4pm and start getting prepared for our 4:30p.m. ET production meeting where we sit down with the entire show staff and lay out the day, talk about the biggest games, big storylines, news of the day, what the analysts at thinking about and looking forward too and just start setting the table for that day. From that point the producers and the other associate producers on the show attempt to figure out the best course of action for the show that night and assignments are handed out. On days that I am the segment producer for the show I am responsible for producing the BBTN Extra and all of the other segments that are requested for our group. When I produce segments we all sit in a room with the analyst and anchor and watch games and let our show develop during the night. Picking what game to lead the show with, what storylines we find in games and put a great show on TV that night for baseball fans. On days I don’t produce segments I cut the breakdown tapes for the analysts. I watch games, go to the analysts with ideas about what we can show on the tape or some night ill cut Web Gems for the show among other elements that are seen during the night. The days are long cause we don’t leave till all the games are over so we can react to anything. That means staying at work till that 10:15p.m. ET Padres vs Giants game ends at 2:00a.m. or later.
MLB reports: How many times a day do you pinch yourself knowing that you have a dream job for so many sports fans?
Royce Dickerson: There are definitely those times when that happens. I am lucky to get to go a lot of places and see a lot of awesome things. There is nothing like being getting to cover the game for the national media and just being around the people that I get to work with on a daily basis.
MLB reports: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
Royce Dickerson: In five years I see myself being a full-out producer for ESPN. Whether that means covering Baseball or Producing SportsCenter for the Network, I don’t see myself leaving ESPN anytime soon. It’s a great place to work and I am lucky enough to get to watch sports and report it for a living.
MLB reports: Final question: What is the future of sports broadcasting? What changes do you foresee over time?
Royce Dickerson: It’s a rapidly changing field in which something can and will change at any moment. I do however feel good working for a company such as ESPN. We are always looking at ways to make our product more viewer friendly and enhance their experience in watching our shows and that is something that will never change.
***A special thank you to Royce Dickerson for his time and effort as part of being interviewed for this article. You can follow Royce on Twitter (@Royce3D) and please feel free to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of this page. We love to hear from you!***
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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Posted on December 31, 2011, in Interviews with MLB Stars and tagged associate producer, barry larkin, baseball, baseball tonight, bobby valentine, dave winfield, espn, mlb, orel hershiser, royce dickerson, seattle mariners. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Royce Dickerson Interview: My Rise to Associate Producer of Baseball Tonight on ESPN.