“The Sports World And The News World Are Closer Than Ever”

The Autonomous podcast with Hannah Storm of ESPN — on the Olympics, social media, diversity in sports media and more.

We say some people have “done it all,” but it’s usually a bit of an exaggeration. Not so with Hannah Storm of ESPN, whose career has spanned sports and news, in front of the camera and now behind the camera. We talked in the Autonomous podcast about her life and career, family and highlights from a variety of stops in the media industry.

Storm makes her return to the Olympics this year for the first time in 14 years, since 2002 in Salt Lake City (where her daughter learned to walk). But the type of coverage and preparation is very different. This time, she’s playing on her strength as a marquee interviewer, sitting down with legendary athletes like Katie Ledecky, Carmel Anthony and more. “The fascinating thing about sports is the people, because it’s such a microcosm of human nature,” says Storm. “Everyone has a fascinating story, and that’s how you invest in being passionate about a team.” [18:45 in the podcast.]

Listen to the FULL podcast here, or below, more quotes from the overall interview:

[You can listen to all the Autonomous podcasts on Soundcloud, or subscribe and listen now on iTunes as well.]

Storm was born in Oak Park, Illinois, graduating high school at just 16-years-old and college at 20. She was the first female sports host at CNN back when CNN had sports programming, and at the time in 1989 one of the only female sports anchors on TV overall. She was even forced to fill out a “sports quiz” before getting the job (something her now-husband and then-colleague Dan Hicks didn’t have to do). [:45]

She then moved to NBC and was involved with several sports, including their Olympics coverage. Her interviews now have become a signature, and her show SportsCenter Face to Face sees her interviewing the biggest names in sports, celebrity and beyond. She’s involved in all aspects, from the booking to the editing of the interviews. [14:30]

When she left NBC she moved to CBS’s morning show The Early Show, focusing on news over sports, and interviewing everyone from Presidents Bush and Obama to Hillary Clinton and Condi Rice. And now, her production company, Brainstormin’ Productions, puts her behind the camera, producing content for ESPN and many other outlets. ”I really had always felt the desire to have creative control over something,” she said. [31:45]

We talked advice for young women starting out in the journalism world (“Keep an open mind…The path may not always be straight and may not always be clear in this industry”) [39:40], balancing social media with the real world (“you can’t be married to it”) [10:35] and engaging on Twitter (“you have to have a tough skin”) [12:45].

We also discussed the way the sports world has seemed to catch up to the news world. From Donald Sterling to Ray Rice to Michael Sam, the sports world has started covering serious issues on a much larger scale. Storm sees the industry as “completely changed” and that athletes have as well. She talked about how Carmelo Anthony wanted to talk social issues and activism for the entire interview heading into the Olympics. Also, this: [26:05]

It’s brought a lot of people from various backgrounds. Not just women, but other what has been considered minority voices in a white male-dominated sports field. A lot of other voices are now to the table, as well they should be. So the conversation is now much more multi-layered, much more well-rounded, much more intelligent and much more thoughtful than it was even a couple years ago.

Thanks to Hannah Storm for her time — please listen and give any feedback (good or bad) — especially as a review on iTunes — as we continue to shape the podcast!

The Autonomous podcast returns in October!

Like what you read? Give Steve Krakauer a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.