Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 2, Page 21
Winter 1992
Alumni Profile; Life behind the mike
     Tom Mees calls sports "the toy shop of life."  For the past 11
years, this University of Delaware graduate has kept his nose pressed
up against the windows of the toy shop, and he's enjoyed every minute.
     Three times a day, Mees anchors SportsCenter, a clearinghouse of
sports information that serves a nationwide audience on cable TV's
ESPN.  He has been with ESPN since its beginning in 1979, and during
that time has also reported from the World Series, hosted This Week in
the NHL, covered playoffs in hockey, basketball and football and
established friendships with some of the leading figures in sports.
     His interest in sports began early.  He had always wanted to play
competitive sports, growing up in Springfield, Pa., and later, when
his family moved to Wilmington and he attended Brandywine High School.
 "But I was always too small or too slow.  So, I knew by ninth grade
that I wanted to be a radio sports announcer."
     His career began at the University's campus radio station, then
called WHEN to honor the Blue Hen mascot.  In fact, the school had no
station when Tom Mees arrived in early 1968.  The low-power AM
station, which would soon reach the dorms and Greek houses, didn't go
on the air until that fall.
     "It was all very democratic," Mees says.  "For instance, I was
there first, so I named myself sports director.
     "We had a faculty adviser to help us spend our money properly,
but beyond that no one taught us how to run that radio station, how to
be a DJ or sports announcer. We did things our way, and it was great
     ESPN's studios in Connecticut may seem a long way from the
closed-circuit campus radio station broadcasting from the basement of
East Hall, but Mees says his basic job hasn't changed.
     "My role is, first, to inform the public accurately, and second,
to entertain through the use of humor and well-thought-out opinion.
That hasn't changed."
     Mees clearly enjoys his work.  His is a forceful, dynamic way of
speaking, without hesitation or apology for the strength of his
     "I try not to be plastic.  I'm an avid, opinionated sports fan,
and it shows through on camera.  I believe fans appreciate that," he
     Listen to Tom Mees talk about the NFL's Jim Kelly: "There is a
wild guy. He says, 'Judge me by what I do between those lines on
Sunday, not what goes on outside them'. A man after my own heart."
     Or, on Brent Musberger: "He defined the role of the sports anchor
in the studio, coordinating a lot of information quickly and
concisely.  To my surprise, I also discovered that he's not aloof or
standoffish, like a lot of people in this business."
     But ask Mees to name his favorite interview, and the first name
is Doctor J. "I admire Julius Erving's class and his ability. And I
grew up watching Philadelphia sports teams. That interview was special
to me," he says.
     Mees learned a lot at WHEN in Newark, and he put the experience
to good use right out of college.  He served for six years as sports
director at WILM and provided color to the late Bob Kelley's
play-by-play of Blue Hen football and basketball.  In 1978, he moved
to television and Tallahassee, where he worked as sports director of
WECA-TV.  Within a year, ESPN beckoned.
     For those who would follow in his footsteps, Tom Mees offers some
advice: "Wise up!  If you're in college, get that experience.  You
don't have to be a communication major, but do get hands-on
experience.  And don't be afraid to start small.  You can't walk into
an ESPN, or a Channel 6 or 10, and get your first job.
     "My experience at WHEN, in what we called that little 'coal bin'
in the basement of East Hall, got me this career."
     -Paul J. McLane, Delaware '82