BY ANDY HALL | ESPN Communications/PR
SportsCenter viewers have become accustomed to the unique perspective and storytelling of reporter Marty Smith, who has traveled the country and parts of the world in recent years to bring stories to sports fans.
Now, Smith’s storytelling is going to the next level with the launch of a new monthly television program, highlighting his singular personality and interviewing style.
SportsCenter Presents: Marty Smith’s America will debut Wednesday, August 2, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The one-hour program will feature Smith interviewing and spending time with four sports newsmakers in sometimes unusual settings.
“Suffice to say that when you travel with Marty Smith, sports are always fun and sports people — athletes and coaches, fans and owners — are always fascinating,” said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, SportsCenter and News Platforms. “Marty Smith’s America is pond swimming with Nick Saban and hooping it up with Allen Iverson and examining their differing viewpoints on practice. Reporting from the back of a race car. Challenging Cam Newton to flag football.”
The program is being produced by Jonathan Whyley, who has worked and traveled with Smith for three years and produced many of his reports and segments for SportsCenter.
“Everyone has a story,” said Smith. “This life is about relationships and sharing those stories. My team and I thoroughly enjoy telling them, through the prism of building lasting relationships. Work hard. Be kind. Have passion. That’s us. We have a unique style and energy. We genuinely care about the people we cover — not just the stories they provide.”
The debut episode, which will have special guest co-host Tim Tebow, will include four segments:
“Kicking it With Cam” — Smith spent a day with Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton at Newton’s charity kickball game in Charlotte.
“All Access with CR7 in China” — Smith got unprecedented access with Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s biggest sports celebrity, as Ronaldo visited the world’s biggest country.
“The Trojan Horse” — Smith spent a day with University of Southern California QB and pre-season consensus No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Darnold on the USC campus in Los Angeles.
“The King Maker” – Smith traveled to Miami to get an insight into the world of Maverick Carter, the best friend and business manager of NBA superstar LeBron James.
In addition to the television program, Marty Smith’s America segments will highlight ESPN digital and social media platforms. Also, all segments and full shows will be available on ESPN Video on Demand.
“As a truly cross-platform construct available on TV, ESPN.com and the SportsCenter Twitter, Facebook and Instagram handles, Marty’s joyful approach to connecting audiences with the people and places that make sports magical will make each episode must-see, must-read and must-share,” said King.
In the past 18 months, Smith has reported from Italy with the University of Michigan football team, traveled to Iceland to report on fans of the Icelandic soccer team competing in Euro 2016, flown with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at the Daytona 500 and visited the White House with Clemson’s national championship football team. He also has reported from many unique locations around college football games during Saturday morning SportsCenter on the Road telecasts, including from a sailboat at Clemson, atop a railroad car used for tailgating at Alabama and from inside The Grove at Ole Miss, leading SportsCenter anchor Matt Barrie to dub his reports “The Marty Party.”
Smith also has conducted serious interviews with sports stars such as NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., who earlier this year sat down with Smith to discuss his return to racing after concussion symptoms had sidelined him, and Tebow, who talked with Smith about his ongoing pursuit of a baseball career. He also conducted numerous interviews from the Special Olympics World Games and during ESPN’s coverage of the Muhammad Ali funeral and he competed in the 2014 Boston Marathon, afterward writing a spiritual piece for ESPN.com.
In addition to reporting for SportsCenter and writing for ESPN.com, Smith also co-hosts the Saturday morning Marty and McGee program (ESPN Radio, 7 a.m. ET) with ESPN the Magazine’sRyan McGee.
Smith joined ESPN in late 2006. From 2007-2014, the Virginia native was ESPN’s lead NASCAR reporter for both SportsCenter and the former NASCAR Now program. He became a bureau reporter for SportsCenter after ESPN ended its live coverage of NASCAR events at the end of the 2014 season.
“Marty Smith’s America is an opportunity we’ve worked very hard to produce, but one far beyond our wildest dreams,” said Smith. “I cannot fathom that this is real. Ultimately, I guess we are proof that nothing is impossible. We are the American Dream — small town kids who grew up playing ball at the park, and earned our names on the door.”