Podcast: Meet the Wolfe of ESPN
by Terrell Cleckley
Years before that title ESPN hired him as a videographer and producer shortly after his graduation in 1997.
Wolfe has received multiple National Sports Emmy awards and nominations. WCN’s Terrell Cleckley talked with him about his journey into sports broadcasting with the industry’s leader.
Wolfe lives near ESPN’s world headquarters in Bristol, CT, with his family where he enjoys the fruits of his labor. Along with many years of personal and professional success.
Twenty years ago he was just a student like me here at Westminster College. Looking for a job after graduation, Denny needed a job that he could gain experience in.
(Wolfe) I graduated from Westminster and I worked as a sports writer for a local newspaper called the Valley News Dispatch which was owned by TRIB Total media now and I was a sports writer for them and I was sorta cutting my teeth and was learning about the boarding aspect of the world.
Denny did not work there long.
He always saw himself as more of an on-air talent rather than working behind the scenes.
He remembered some advice from a friend and a paper given to him by ESPN saying they were in need of production assistants. Wolfe figured he mind as well try it to gain some experience in the field. Even he would tell you how he got his foot in the door was a very unique experience to say the least.
(Wolfe) Well the story of how I got my foot in the door here is probably different then a lot of other peoples and not necessarily a thing I would advise people to do today. I did not have any quote on quote “real world experience” as an intern or part time worker for major news station.
I said, “You know what. I’m going to apply at ESPN, see if I can become a production assistant, get some production background. Fill some of the gap that I lacked according to some of the feed-back I received on my resume and by doing that hopefully i can write my ticket to be a sports anchor at ESPN.
Wolfe went on to send in his application and resume to ESPN.
Along with an object that separated himself from anyone else pulling for a job at ESPN..
(Wolfe) I figured it wasn’t going to be enough for me to get some attention just by saying. I went to Westminster College which no one really heard of at the time for being a great communications program so I had to do something that will help me stand out.
(Wolfe) I got the idea to send an athletic supporter known as a jock strap and I decided to include that in my resume cover letter and references that I submitted to ESPN. I wrote on the waist band in sharpie marker “I’m serious about supporting ESPN call Denny Wolfe at 724 blah blah…….”
An extremely bold act to say the least. As they say the rest is history, and he got a call back a few weeks later for an interview.
(Wolfe & Cleckley) That’s probably one of the most interesting things I’ve heard that you sent your jock strap to them. Yeah I’d probably not advise anyone to do that today but that was pretty smooth. —Yeah I would defiantly advise anyone doing that in today’s culture again this was 1997 things were a little bit different. But still find ways to make yourself stand out…. Just not with a jock strap………
Getting into the business may bring a tough road. It’s almost a must to have something that’s going to make you stand out from others. If I learned anything from the conversation with Denny Wolfe it was that.
(Wolfe) You have to be comfortable with how you handle failure because you are going to fail and mess up. Especially as you’re learning things…….
Once you get your foot in the door a whole new world can open up to you. Don’t be afraid to do whatever it is that you have to do to see that you get there. Even if that includes sending a jock strap along with your resume. Well… Maybe not, but I think you get the point.
For Westminster College I’m Terrell Cleckley for W-C-N 24-seven.