MU’s Hall ready for big show

Monday, July 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:45 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The dream is beginning for Mike Hall.

Hall, the winner of ESPN’s “Dream Job,” will debut on SportsCenter tonight at midnight. The show will be re-broadcast on Tuesday morning. His coanchors throughout the night will be Linda Cohn and Matt Winer.

“I’m not really nervous,” Hall said. “I’m more anxious, ready to do it. It should be fun.”

After graduating from Missouri in May, Hall gathered his things and moved to Middletown, Conn., and into his new apartment. The commute to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., is 20 minutes. That drive should be no problem in his flashy dark blue Mazda 3 that was a bonus when he won the reality show on March 28.

“It’s been in the shop twice so far,” Hall said.

Hall has not been visible on ESPN’s main stage yet, but his career has not been idle. Since late June, Hall has been honing his skills on ESPNEWS, another sports news cable program.

The experience has launched Hall into “crazy” work schedules. His day might start at 3 p.m. and end around 2:30 the next morning. Right now, his life does not include anything besides work.

The majority of his duties weren’t a surprise, but there are exceptions.

“Some things are what I expected, the good and bad,” Hall said. “But there are some things I go, ‘I did not know I was going to have to do that.’”

Hall knew about the research that goes into the shows, but he didn’t know how much was required for each segment.

“You can never know enough,” Hall said.

The constant interaction between anchor and producer also surprised Hall. During “Dream Job”, he received a taste, but nothing compares to the real thing.

Don’t wait for Hall to begin with any catchphrases the first day, week or maybe month. He said his plan is to “go with the flow” until one comes to him.

Hall knew his attire would be suits and ties, but he thought someone would be there to decide which items match. There is no wardrobe or hair people for the show, though.

“My whole life, fashion has never been a strong suit,” Hall said.

The transition from college to career can be difficult. It helps to have a good support unit of coworkers. Hall said the people at ESPN have been “over-the-top helpful,” but that does not mean he was welcomed into the family without paying his dues.

“On the ‘Mike and Mike in the Morning’ radio show (on ESPN radio) I sang ‘I’m a Little Tea Pot,’” Hall said. “And Trey Wingo put me on the spot by making me perform the Missouri Fight Song.”

Two of Hall’s favorite interviews have been with Luke Jensen, a tennis commentator on ESPN, and Dick Vitale, the charismatic college basketball analyst. Hall said he enjoyed their friendly banter about him being the “Dream Job” guy.

“It was fun because Jensen was like ‘The dream is alive!’” Hall said.

Vitale opened with his trademark “Oh, Baby!” to tell Hall he watched him every Sunday night.

More than co-workers support Hall. He has an entire campus rooting for him.

Hall became famous on the MU campus during “Dream Job”, and after he claimed the top spot, Hall could not venture out without someone bringing up his accomplishment.

When he ventures home to Glen Ellyn, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, people recognize him there, too.

“When I was home a couple of weeks ago at a White Sox game, a guy was like, ‘Aren’t you from “Dream Job?” ’ ” Hall said.

Hall moved to Connecticut and was prepared for the occasional glance of recognition, but so far, that has not happened.

“It’s funny at Mizzou and Chicago, I did,” Hall said. “So far, nothing here.”

Two people who will never forget Hall are his parents, Jim and Candy. They have to keep all the relatives up to date on news about Hall with phone calls and mass e-mails.

“They’re thrilled but wish they got ESPNEWS,” Hall said.

Casting sessions for the next “Dream Job” contestants are underway. The new season of “Dream Job” will premiere September 14 at 6 p.m.

Hall does not have an invitation to participate in the new show yet, but he said he thinks they might fit him into a segment somehow.

Hall’s life is hectic and sporadic. Every day brings new tasks and lessons to learn. The responsibility could prove too much for some, but Hall relishes his new life.

“Everyday I do something different and interesting,” Hall said. “Things are good, very good.”

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