UPDATED, 2:10 PM: Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, who have led ESPN 2’s weekday discussion program His & Hers for the past two years, have been tapped as co-anchor’s on the mothership’s 6 PM ET edition on SportsCenter. Both have signed new multiyear deal with the sports giant. They’ll continue on His & Hers until taking over the”reimagined” SportsCenter gig on February 6, the day after Super Bowl LI.
ESPN said Smith and Hill will merge the best aspects of His & Hers and SportsCenter in the new program, whose format will be conversational and interactive, covering multiple topics, with commentary and opinion from Hill and Smith. The date for their final His & Hers show has not been set.
“This is another major step in the evolution of SportsCenter,” said Rob King, ESPN’s SVP SportsCenter and News. “With SportsCenter:AM,SportsCenter: Face to Face with Hannah Storm, SportsCenter Coast to Coast and Scott [Van Pelt]’s midnight show, we’re designing shows to match SportsCenter with audiences and their needs and interests at various times of day. It’s our biggest brand within ESPN, and it’s a great forum for some of our biggest personalities.”
Lindsay Czarniak, the current anchor of the 6 PM SportsCenter, will go on maternity leave in early November and return next year in a new, featured role that will be announced later. During her absence, the program will be hosted by Zubin Mehenti, Matt Barrie and other current SportsCenter anchors until Smith and Hill’s debut.
In other ESPN news, the network today is hosting a town hall with President Barack Obama titled A Conversation with the President: Sports, Race and Achievement. The program, which airs at 7 PM PT tonight on ESPN, will feature the commander in chief talking discussing lessons in leadership, the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiaive, the current and legacy of historically black colleges and universities, athletes, social activism and more.
PREVIOUSLY, 1:18 PM: Cari Champion is sticking with the Worldwide Leader. The co-anchor of ESPN’s 11 AM ET edition of SportsCenter has re-upped in a multiyear deal to remain on that program and also as a contributor to espnW, including her podcast “Be Honest with Cari Champion.”
“Outside of the fact that my 3:30 AM wake-up call really is brutal, I absolutely do love what I do,” she said. “Anybody I work with will tell you that. I’m very much aggressive with how I approach topics, with how I want news on our air, how I’m excited about what we do, and I also just want it to be done in the best way possible.”
The midday SportsCenter took on a bicoastal format on April 5, with co-anchor David Lloyd in ESPN’s Bristol, CT, studios as usual but Pasadena native Champion doing the show from ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center.
Champion joined ESPN four years ago as host of First Take and became a SportsCenter anchor in July 2015.