ESPN’s broadcast director returns home
He couldn’t see his friends in town or really explore the streets he has known for years due to the pandemic, but Derek Mobley was at home. He’s already come home. Broadcast director for ESPN, Mobley has led game broadcasting across the state. It has also broadcast national championship matches before. And bowls of roses. And Wimbledon. Oh, and he picked up four Emmys along the way.
But this one will be different for the native Bloomington and IU alum. He will lead the biggest college football game since Indianapolis. From home, or else, at least only a trip on the national road 37 away.
After more than 20 years at ESPN, he said surreal is a good word to describe it.
âIt’s exciting,â Mobley said. âI’m proud, and sometimes it’s just hard to believe. At the time, I would not have dreamed that all of this would happen.
At the time, it was in his Bloomington home where Mobley’s interest in television began at a young age. He attended basketball games at Assembly Hall and his attention was often captured by the camera, not necessarily by the game on the field.
His parents described a cardboard TV he assembled when he was little, pretending to direct or be on camera for the biggest shows his imagination could conjure up. Later, this cardboard set became a more stable wooden set, and Mobley began to gain more experience in real TVs.
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âEver since he was a little boy all he wants to do is watch television,â said Tony Mobley, Derek’s father.
His parents said he liked the idea of ââhaving everything – which as an adult would become over 40 cameras – in front of him and being able to control the series.
He volunteered at Bloomington growing up and started working at WTIU once he started college. Mobley graduated from IU in 1991 and back then, decades before the Media School was built, students didn’t have so many opportunities to gain hands-on broadcasting experience, especially not behind. the camera.
Mobley worked to become the chief director of the WTIU.
And when his time wasn’t consumed with WTIU, Mobley would often contact ESPN, asking if he needed a helping hand while he was in town streaming an IU match. He took whatever job they gave him: a production manager, helping with the cameras, or having coffee.
Eventually, ESPN gave her the chance to help organize and film a set of UI campus shots to use on a show. Instead of just filming, he took the files to the production truck and edited a clip together. His bosses loved it. So much so that they asked him to go to the state of Michigan the following weekend to do the same. Suddenly, Mobley used his schedule without Friday classes to walk through the Big Ten helping broadcast the game.
ESPN gave him a full-time job after graduating from college. Since then, he has been part of the network. Often traveling to direct matches on several of the biggest sporting stages.
âI am truly blessed and fortunate to have the portfolio of things that I do on a regular basis,â Mobley said.
During football season, fans who watch games broadcast by Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN’s chief commentary team, are unaware that it’s Mobley in the truck, organizing the image they will see on their screens. Mobley’s mother said he often described his work as telling the story of what was happening through his directing.
And that will be what millions of people across the country will see on Monday night – the images Mobley asks them to see.
Mobley said he doesn’t feel like butterflies in his stomach for regular season games. He made so many of them that they come naturally. It’s the big games that bring that feeling, that make him a little anxious – even though he’s played them before too.
And in the production truck Monday night in Indianapolis, Mobley knows he’ll have those butterflies again.
âIt’s really fun growing up in Bloomington and all these years later playing the National Championship game in Indianapolis with around 90 cameras,â Mobley said. “It’s pretty special.”