Linda Cohn celebrates 30 years at SportsCenter
Linda Cohn was hired by ESPN 30 years ago this month. In that time, she's anchored over 5,000 episodes of SportsCenter — more than anyone else in the company's history.
🎙 Interview: Cohn spoke with Axios Sports about what's changed over the years, the importance of connecting with viewers and the future of women in sports media.
How has SportsCenter changed over the past 30 years?
"We went from being the only game in town to having so much competition, and I love that SportsCenter never rested on its laurels. They saw things coming and made adjustments.""When they introduced the bottom line [score ticker], I remember Scott Van Pelt being incredulous: 'You’re giving away the score before we show the highlight?!' But the bosses were insistent it would be a game-changer, and they were right."
How do you think about SportsCenter's relationship with its viewers?
"I think a big turning point in the show's popularity and growth was when we started doing the 'This is SportsCenter' commercials. You had athletes and anchors showing off their personalities in ways that had never been done before.""It's about having a connection with us. Fans have told me over the years that hearing my voice brings back memories of watching me as a kid, and viewers today are still looking for that comforting feeling."
How do you feel about the state of women in sports media?
"The biggest change that has to take place, which isn't moving fast enough for me, is having women in management positions to hire more women.""We've been getting opportunities for years, but if it wasn't for certain men in management positions who gave me the chance to prove myself, I never would have been able to carve out this path."
Do you have a favorite moment or memory from your time as an anchor?
"I remember hosting when news broke of Muhammad Ali's passing. We were on four straight hours, but I didn't want to be anywhere else because I got to interview people on the fly about an all-time legend.""And I knew everyone was watching. That's kind of a high, like an athlete in the Super Bowl who knows he needs to be at his best. That's how I feel in those moments."
🎥 Watch: Cohn’s first show on July 11, 1992 (YouTube)