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Andrew Mambo, of ESPN

Tell me about your current situation.

I’m a producer/reporter for ESPN’s 30 for 30 Podcast where I work with a talented team to tell great stories that happen to be about sports. We launched the podcast in the summer of 2017 and just wrapped up our second season a few weeks ago, where I oversaw production on two episodes: No Rules: The Birth of UFC and Madden’s Game. And in our first season I reported on two really amazing stories The Fighter Inside and The Trials of Dan and Dave.

So now I’m working on a couple stories for future seasons of the podcast. My day to day is focussed on research but soon I’ll be going back into interviewing and cutting tape. I can’t say much about the stories I’m working on but I can say I’m ‘pumped’ about what we have coming up (that might make more sense towards the fall of 2018 or maybe not and it’s a bad pun about what I’m working on).

How did you get to this point? What does your career arc thus far look like?

I fell in love with radio and storytelling while at college in Montreal first on campus stations and then at various local stations but it was all on a volunteer basis. I never really thought working in radio was something I could make a career out of. But when I finished my masters in the UK I landed a reporting gig at 1Xtra, a BBC digital radio station. I still remember how elated I was when I got that first paycheck. I was getting paid to do something I had loved doing for years for free and it made me realize that my work had value.

Long story short I had to return to Canada and after a few months I took a detour and went to Zambia for a year to volunteer doing HIV AIDS prevention education for young people. But that volunteer gig then turned into 6 years living in 4 different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa working for the United Nations. While most of my work with the UN was focussed on program management I figured ways to bring my photography and writing skills into my daily job to tell the stories of the young people who were benefitting from the projects we worked on.

While overseas I met my eventual wife and when she got a job in New York I followed her there and did some consultancy work with the UN. I was got more into doing photography and that led to another change when an opportunity came up to work on a documentary film about the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, aptly titled The Gettysburg Story. As with most documentary films it was a small crew so I got a chance to do almost everything at one point or another.

While I was working on the film I was keeping an eye out for other opportunities and got connected with Radio Rookies at WNYC who do incredible work helping young people report stories that are important to them. I was a big fan of their work and when an opportunity came up I started out as a freelancer and then got a full time position. My colleagues were amazing to work with and I learned a lot from them, but I also learned plenty from the young people we worked with, mainly about patience, building trust and snapchat filters.

Sports has always been something I’m passionate about and I’m a big fan of the 30 for 30 films so when an opportunity came around to be part of the team that was starting up a 30 for 30 podcast I met with Jody Avirgan the podcast’s host and senior producer and was excited to be a part of it. The past year has been an amazing ride, we’re thrilled with the response to the podcast so far and with two season already under our belt I’m excited about what we have coming up.

What does a career mean to you, at this point?

At this point I’ve been on such a meandering road that I don’t tend to think of myself as having a career in any traditional sense where you specialize in one field and make that your life’s work. I really enjoy storytelling, both as a consumer and creator, so I hope that I can continue to do that as long as possible but that can take many different forms.

When you started out, what did you think wanted to do?

I knew I wanted to tell stories but I didn’t think anyone would pay me to do it so for a while I was actually thinking I would be a civil servant or teacher. I mean I always thought I would be doing storytelling in either radio or film but I just thought I would be doing it on the side for fun.