By Dan Marro
On Tuesday, Nov. 15 Andrew Smiley, former studio director at ESPN and current senior coordinating director for The Golf Channel, held an open forum for students and professors at Sacred Heart University.
Smiley spoke and answered questions regarding all of his past experiences and also provided some advice for students who are interested in following a career path similar to what he has done.
Smiley attended Berry College in Georgia and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Studies and attended graduate school at the University of Hartford where he received his masters degree in
Communication and Media Studies.
Professor Brian Thorne, a former colleague of his at NBC and current professor in the Sports Communication & Media department at Sacred Heart, introduced Smiley and guided the conversation.
Thorne praised Smiley and his directing skills as the two of them work at NBC Sports together.
“As far as directing goes, he was the best director I have ever worked with,” said Thorne. “He is consistently sharp, consistently accurate, serious when it’s time to be serious and funny when it’s time to be funny, but more than anything else he is great at what he does.”
During his time at ESPN, Smiley was a studio director, directing some of ESPN’s most popular shows such as “Monday Night Countdown,” “The NFL Draft,” “Super Bowl XLV” and “NFL Live.”
As he recalled his tenure at ESPN, he explained how he was not part of the big picture planning and said that was a key factor into his decision to depart from ESPN and go to The Golf Channel.
“At ESPN, I was just a studio director, so I wasn’t able to do the overreaching planning, it was strictly directing, which meant I wasn’t involved in any planning at all,” said Smiley. “So that is really why I made the move from ESPN to The Golf Channel.”
The transition was easy for Smiley, who saw this switch as an excellent opportunity to propel his career. Still, it was not a simple decision for Smiley.
“I was directing so many great shows at ESPN so I was definitely not looking to leave,” said Smiley. “A big part of it for me was getting over the ego aspect of the switch. I had to say to myself that I was no longer going to cover such great events such as the Super Bowl, but instead I was going to cover large tournaments such as the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup every single year.”
This opportunity provided Smiley with the ability to not only direct but also oversee the business aspect of the channel.
“It was such a great opportunity to not just be in the chair and direct daily shows, but to set a bigger overview of the business and learn more of the technical side of things as well,” said Smiley.
Smiley spoke about the responsibilities at his current job as one of four senior coordinating directors at The Golf Channel.
“As one of the senior coordinating directors, my job is to manage not just the TV aspect of the channel, but also the business side of things,” said Smiley. “Pretty much you get a broad overview of the company and every detail of how everything works, and make sure everything comes together to make the TV magic happen.”
Smiley worked his way up from his first job as a director at a Comcast affiliate in northwest Georgia, to his position today as a senior coordinating director for The Golf Channel.
For Smiley, he said it was all about working hard and creating opportunities for himself to get to where he is today.