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Interview: Carolina Guillen, ESPN Deportes

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In 2004, ESPN launched a network dedicated to broadcasting sports-related programming 24 hours a day in the Spanish language - ESPN Deportes. To celebrate the its five year anniversary, the network recently announced the launch of ESPN Deportes Replay, a multimedia campaign that will give fans the opportunity to program the network for three consecutive weeks.

LAist had the opportunity to exchange emails with someone who has been at ESPN Deportes since its inception, five years ago. Carolina Guillen, the host of Béisbol Esta Noche who has previously served as a field reporter and Sports Center anchor took some time out to talk about the last five years with the network, the recently announced campaign, her career in sports broadcasting, her colleague Erin Andrews and her love for Los Angeles.

Can you believe it's already been five years for ESPN Deportes?
I can not believe it, life goes flying by, and the years go by. I remember it like it was yesterday when the Latin audience living in the U.S started watching ESPN on their own language. It was a big hit!

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Are you excited to see which programming the fans select for the ESPN Deportes campaign? Are you rooting for anything in particular to win? Is there a report that you have done or an event that you have covered in particular that would like to see included?
Yes I’m very excited because it gives the audience a voice and also a choice to demand what they really like to see. I’m rooting for the Winter Baseball and Caribbean Series since these two events are the ones that I’ve covered and followed as a professional and as a fan.

Where do you see ESPN Deportes going next?
I believed in the near future ESPN Deportes will have more weight and independence as a decision maker towards more variety of shows and transmissions rights in order to gain a bigger piece of the market. ESPN Deportes is a positioned brand and all the Hispanic market in the States will feel the need to have ESPN Deportes on their TV because it’s a trustful name that gives you the most relevant news in sports in your own language.

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When did you decide you wanted to work in sports?
I have a degree in Communications, so I’m not just only a journalist by nature. I studied to get where I am today and working for ESPN was my dream since the beginning. I became a pioneer among the women in Venezuela who appeared on TV talking about sports. I worked as part of the Venezuelan Baseball Staff for 4 year in that time, until ESPN gave me literally the opportunity to be in the “Major Leagues”.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a female working in sports to overcome?
Well, the biggest challenge was to become and reflect to my audience that I’m a real sports professional journalist and not just a pretty face on TV. Every day we encounter new challenges that encourages us to be better.

I will tell you that I am a passionate professional in love with sports, with the strength that have inspired nations, and motivated hearts. I’m a woman who admires those who play at their highest level, and also those who give an excellent example in and out of the game. The secret is to learn something new every day of your life.

Is there anyone in sports journalism you look up to? Was there anyone when you were younger you saw on TV and thought "that's who I would like to be like?"
Linda Cohn, my idol and example, her footsteps inspired me.

Are there any athletes who you have particularly enjoyed interviewing? If so who?
There has been quite a few. The last ones I can remember were the US Open Champion Roger Federer and David Ortiz who is always open and cheers you up.

What is it like walking down the halls of ESPN and seeing so many great former athletes in an office setting?
It’s awesome!. You know that I called ESPN: The Big Leagues on Sports. So I can say I arrived to the Big League in 2004 when they hired me as Sportscenter’s Anchor. During that period of time I also traveled to the US to cover special events for ESPN Deportes. My main duty was to be a field reporter in all kinds of events. But now I’m very excited because I have my own show on ESPN Deportes. It’s a different perspective of baseball since I am the host of a 30 minutes show (Béisbol Esta Noche) and I have to do different types of tasks that I didn’t do in the past.

What do you enjoy most about working at ESPN?
It’s been an wonderful experience since every country I had been has shown me different ways of working, but at the end the main objective is the same, that is to have the best and more outstanding product on air. I see the ESPN headquarters as the NASA of sports. More than 5,000 people are working in their different roles but however you always feel part of all companies’ activities. I feel very proud of being here since it’s a global company that everybody knows and recognizes throughout the world, just as anyone recognizes Coca Cola. At the end there are people who work for companies and there are others that breathe and feel the company.

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Fellow ESPN colleague Erin Andrews is often the topic of conversation with fans, fellow members of the media and sports blogs, as both a colleague and an outside how do you think she has handled this attention?
It’s funny because I always see her working next to me in the big events, the only difference between us is the language, but the message, the work and the feedback we receive from the audience is the same. In fact, once somebody told me that I was the “Latina Erin Andrews.”

How often do you come to LA?
The last time I visited LA was working as part of the XGames’s crew, it was a really exhausting agenda and we were working from 7am to midnight non-stop, so I didn’t have much time to hangout around the city. Actually I had just one day off where I had the opportunity to pass by the Dodger Stadium, Beverly Hills and I had the chance to watch people surfing in a beautiful beach.

Any fond memories of LA that you'd like to share?
My most memorable moment in LA was when I met my favorite rock star Slash in fact while I was presenting live the XGames from the set, he was playing the guitar right next to me. It was unbelievable!!!!!

Tomorrow is the last day for fans to cast their votes via http://www.espndeportes.com/replay and chose from a pool of programming that includes UEFA Champions League, EURO 2008, South American World Cup Qualifiers and winter baseball from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, among others.The events with the most votes will be aired December 22 through the day of ESPN Deportes' fifth anniversary, Wednesday, January 7, 2009.