Wednesday, September 7, 2011

ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen Launches “ESPN Founder Tour 2011-2012”, Speaking at Auburn University September 27th


Philadelphia, PA – September 7, 2011 – Try to imagine the world without ESPN and Sports Center, and for many, it is impossible. Yet 32 years ago today, one man’s vision became a reality, and that visionary entrepreneur, ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen, has begun a nationwide speaking tour, ESPN Founder Tour 2011-2012.

Rasmussen has established a website, http://www.espnfounder.com/speaking_tour.htm, where colleges, businesses, groups and corporations can “book” him to speak about the genesis of ESPN, and his integral role in the creation of one of the world’s most powerful properties.

In Rasmussen’s video-illustrated presentation, the audience is given a rare opportunity to hear and feel the stories of a man who was considered by the three major television networks at the time (ABC, NBC & CBS) a dreamer and all-around “crazy man” to even think that he could compete with them.

Jim Miller, the co-author of the recent best-selling book, “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” recently told John Ourand of The Sports Business Journal that “this is a guy whose idea gave birth to, arguably, the most successful media story of our time.”

One of the first events of the ESPN Founder Tour 2011-2012 is on Tuesday, September 27th when Rasmussen will address the student body at Auburn University at the Auburn University Student Center in a 7:30 p.m. presentation. Upcoming bookings already include stops in Philadelphia, Wichita and Kansas City in the fall.

It is safe to say that Rasmussen changed the face of sports, and the face of television. His brainstorm for a 24-hour cable sports television station, born out of adversity, has become the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN.

Rasmussen is the man who had the dream, the man who founded ESPN in the summer of 1978. He had his innovative brainstorm for an all-sports cable TV network within days of his firing by the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association on Memorial Day weekend.

A former radio and television sports broadcaster, Rasmussen had been the Whalers Communications Director, but when the Whalers didn’t make the 1978 WHA playoffs, Rasmussen and others on staff were fired. His idea for an all-sports cable TV network captured his imagination, and he incorporated the fledgling network on July 14, 1978. He had already begun to seek out cable television companies, sponsors, investors and partners. With an idea that was truly ahead of its time, and running out of cash, Rasmussen found one investor who believed in the concept in February, 1979, and by September 7, 1979, ESPN was on the air for the first time, 14 months from Rasmussen’s moment of inspiration.

A life-long entrepreneur and sports fan, Rasmussen’s innovations in advertising, sports and broadcasting are numerous and include not only the creation of ESPN, but also the concept for “Sports Center,” wall-to-wall coverage of NCAA regular-season and “March Madness” college basketball, and coverage of the NFL Draft. He broke the advertising barrier to cable television by signing Anheuser Busch to the largest cable TV advertising contract ever.

Rasmussen’s entrepreneurial daring, his irrepressible enthusiasm and a dash of good luck gave the world the first 24-hour television network. Once unleashed upon sports fans, ESPN’s impact forever changed the way we watch television.

Rasmussen revealed the inside story of the birth of ESPN in his book, “Sports Junkies Rejoice! The Birth of ESPN.” A new paperback edition was recently published through CreateSpace available at ESPNFounder.com where you can also find an electronic download version for Amazon’s Kindle and other devices. “Sports Junkies Rejoice! The Birth of ESPN” gives sports fans the real, insider’s account from the man who changed the landscape of television and sports forever. Imagine a world without ESPN, without 24-hour television channels, and a world of only three television networks. That was the way of the world before Rasmussen’s revolutionary brainstorm.

Named “The Father of Cable Sports” by USA Today, Rasmussen was named to The Sports 100, honoring the 100 most important people in American Sports History. His place in sports history was further recognized by Sports Illustrated in 1994, when he was honored as one of the “40 for the Ages,” one of 40 individuals who has significantly altered and elevated the world of sport in the last half of the 20th Century.

Rasmussen was named to the 2011 class of “The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business,” an award from the Sports Business Journal and the Sports Business Daily recognizing the architects and builders of sports. It is another highlight in a long career of innovation, risk-taking and success, much of it in the world of sports.

In addition to his role as the “George Washington of ESPN,” as longtime ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman has tagged him, Rasmussen served as a consultant to the Big Ten Conference as well as several of the member institutions on television matters, and has been at the helm of numerous other start-up companies both in traditional media and on the Internet.

He frequently returns to Bristol, Conn. for ESPN’s annual anniversary celebrations. On September 13, 2009, as part of ESPN’s 30th Anniversary celebration, Rasmussen was recognized for his role as the father of ESPN when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch during ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” coverage of the Phillies/Mets contest in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.

Rasmussen is a gifted raconteur and a popular public speaker discussing American entrepreneurship, innovation, and the birth of ESPN. He is also a frequent guest on radio and television shows, including recent appearances on the nationally-syndicated radio shows “Sports Byline USA with Ron Barr” and “The Dennis Miller Show” and the cable television interview show “It’s Your Call.” In April 2011 he was a featured guest on the FOX News Channel’s “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld.”

In April 2011, Rasmussen delivered the keynote address at the 30th annual New England Spring & Metalstamping Association Trade Show in Plantsville, Connecticut. In February 2011, Rasmussen spoke at a special business breakfast and book signing in his honor, hosted by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Also in February he was guest of honor at "An Evening with ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen" in Philadelphia sponsored by the Center City Proprietors Association. In January, 2011, Rasmussen delivered the keynote address at the 2011 Kellogg Marketing Conference at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. In October, 2010, Rasmussen delivered the keynote at the 17th Annual CEO Forum at the University of Saint Francis (Fort Wayne, Ind.). He also was guest of honor for an “Evening with ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen” at the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. Rasmussen delivered the keynote at the 2010 Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship at Missouri Valley College (Marshall, Missouri) in April, 2010.

Rasmussen’s recent speaking appearances also include engagements at Villanova University, Bay Path College, Princeton University, Quinnipiac University’s School of Law, the University of Florida School of Law, Azusa Pacific University, Lindenwood University, Saint Xavier University, Indiana Tech, and The Center for Sports Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, among others.

Additional information about Rasmussen is available at http://www.ESPNFounder.com.

Media Contact:
Jim DeLorenzo, 215-266-5943, jim@jhdenterprises.com