The dreams of a 14-year-old sports fanatic will come true on Friday when ESPN sportscaster Kevin Negandhi makes his debut on SportsCenter.
Negandhi, the first national South Asian sports announcer in the U.S. who spoke at the SAJA convention, joked that his parents will finally believe that he has a real job now.
"My mom still wants me to be a lawyer," he said, laughing.
His upbringing in an Indian household provided Negandhi with a strong work ethic but no role models in his chosen field of sports journalism. He decided to get as much hands-on experience as possible, and had five internships at radio and television stations on his resume by the time he graduated from Temple University.
Negandhi's trategy was to start his career working in smaller markets, which would give him a chance to fine tune his skills without embarassing himself in front of a large national audience. He worked on developing his own style, an on-air voice that matched his personality. Eventually, he said an anchor has to learn to transfer his own personality on screen.
"You gotta just be yourself," he said. "If you're not yourself, the audience will figure it out."
His first jobs taught him to be aware that things constantly changed in sports. To broaden his expertise, he covered basketball, baseball and football. But his favorite is football, both NFL and college leagues.
"I think college football could be the best sport in America if we had a true playoff system," he said.
Negandhi said he works on forming relationships with athletes by being the guy who asks them questions that dig deeper. His favorite interview: "The guy who really stands out is Warrick Dunn from the Bucs; he's just a great guy."
On his South Asian heritage, Negandhi said his family discussed changing his name for television, but he insisted on retaining it to keep his identity intact.
"I am [in support of] any anchor of any background of any gender as long as they know what they are talking about," Negandhi said.
Personally, now that Negandhi has reached one of his goals he has found a sense of peace. He said there is still discontent among his colleagues at the top of the industry, but he is happy with his career.
"It's like climbing Mount Everest," he said. "What do you do when you get there?"
Please post comments. Photo: Preston Merchant