Friday, September 21, 2012

ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen Is Keynote Speaker at Azusa Pacific University’s Amplify: Your Brand Conference, Friday, September 21st and Saturday, September 22nd


Azusa, CA – September 21, 2012 – Bill Rasmussen, the legendary entrepreneur who founded ESPN, will deliver the keynote address at this weekend’s “Amplify: Your Brand Conference” presented by the School of Business and Management at Azusa Pacific University, in the suburban Los Angeles area.

The two-day event, the first in a series of “Amplify” conferences presented by the School of Business and Management, features prominent Azusa Pacific University alumni as well as industry leaders in targeted sessions on how to expand a brand’s reach and build connections.  Rasmussen will speak on Friday night at an alumni-only dinner on campus at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time, and will deliver the conference’s keynote address on Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific Time in Wilden Hall on campus. During his presentation, Rasmussen will tell the story of the birth of ESPN and the creation of a global sports enterprise.  He will also speak about leadership and the skills necessary to create such a successful global brand icon.
In Rasmussen’s 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.”

Try to imagine the world without ESPN and Sports Center, and for many, it is impossible. 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.  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, including the creation of ESPN, the concepts for “Sports Center,” wall-to-wall coverage of NCAA regular-season and “March Madness” college basketball, and coverage of the College World Series.  He broke the advertising barrier to cable television by signing Anheuser Busch to the largest cable TV advertising contract ever. 
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.   

Rasmussen is the author of the best-selling book, “Sports Junkies Rejoice! The Birth of ESPN” (available in paperback and e-book at ESPNFounder.com).  He is a gifted raconteur and a popular public speaker discussing American entrepreneurship, innovation, and the birth of ESPN, and a frequent guest on radio and television shows.  His recent appearances include nationally-syndicated radio shows “Sports Byline USA with Ron Barr”, “The Dennis Miller Show” and the FOX News Channel’s “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld.” 
This weekend’s appearances at Azusa Pacific continue Rasmussen’s 2011-2012 national speaking tour which has included recent engagements at the University of Connecticut, University of Kansas, Rutgers University, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, University of South Carolina, Wichita State University and Auburn University.  Rasmussen has also recently spoken to audiences at a number of private, corporate events, in addition to speaking at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Villanova University, Princeton University, University of Florida School of Law and The Center for Sports Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, among others. 
Additional information about Rasmussen is available at http://www.ESPNFounder.com.  You can also follow Rasmussen on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/ESPN-Founder-Bill-Rasmussen/124610977602209) and on Twitter (@Bill_ESPN).

Media Contact: Jim DeLorenzo, Jim DeLorenzo Public Relations, 215-564-1122, jim@jhdenterprises.com