A career in sports media has taken Albert “Scooter” Vertino, ’93, to the top of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports. It all started for him at La Salle.
Of course Albert “Scooter” Vertino, ’93, remembers winning his first Emmy Award. That’s partly because he wasn’t sure if he ever would win a second.
Vertino garnered a gold statuette for his work with a team of NBC Sports producers at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney. Notification that he had won was a bit unceremonious, as he recalls. “Next thing I know, it was ‘Oh, by the way, you won,’” Vertino said, chuckling.
But if Vertino wanted that easily identifiable award, he learned he would have to pay for his Emmy statuette. He actually contemplated not footing the bill, he admits. A friend and colleague encouraged him to do it.
“I’ll never forget it. My friend said, ‘Hey, you never know if you’ll win another,’ so I did it,” Vertino said.
All these years later, Vertino has won 14 national Emmy Awards—primarily for his work as Senior VP of Production and Programming with NBA Digital and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports. That includes two in 2022.
Based in Atlanta, Vertino has oversight of everything from NBA TV and NBA.com productions, to what he calls “our legacy sports.” These are the NBA on TNT, MLB on TBS, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and the NHL on TNT. His work includes the creation of programming in conjunction with internal external partners, leagues, and governing bodies, while managing show, broadcast, and game productions.
“It’s a different kind of grind,” Vertino said. “Every day, we have a show. And every day, there’s a new challenge. No two show nights are the same.”
Vertino shared details about his career in sports media—and how La Salle put him on a path to success.
What drew you to La Salle?
“I grew up outside of Washington, in Herndon, Va., and La Salle was an appropriate distance from home. I knew I wanted to go into sports media and being in a big media market provided unmatched opportunity. The communication program, at that time, was up-and-coming. Today, people know the reputation of La Salle’s program.
“Though I wasn’t successful, I also had aspirations of walking on to La Salle’s basketball team. The year I got there was the year they had three future NBA players, including the eventual national player of the year (Lionel Simmons, ’90).”
Winning Emmy Awards seems routine these days. Where do you derive your professional motivation?
“Every day, we have a show. There’s a new challenge. No two show nights are the same. LeBron (James) set the all-time NBA scoring record on our air while we are preparing for the All-Star Game. There’s always something new and challenging. Because of that, we’re never satisfied. We’re always looking for ways and efficiencies in order to meet those challenges.”
What’s an example of those challenges?
“The biggest is the sea change in our industry with the advent of streaming. What we used to watch on television, there’s new ways of consuming that content. What’s the best way of reaching our audience and how do we achieve that goal? It’s a question we routinely ask. Not all sizes fit everyone. All of that, it’s a daily equation we try to solve. There are some nights better than others, but we are rarely satisfied.”
What’s your message to communication majors at La Salle—or any aspirant broadcaster?
“For anyone in school who wants to get into this line of work, you have to have flexibility. Your first job is not going to be your last job. A few things will help on your journey: Understand that experience is currency in our industry. If you can come in and write, shoot, edit, if you want to be on camera, if you work on that before getting to someone’s newsroom, those skills are transferable. It doesn’t matter the platform. Linear TV is different. If that’s what you want, then you can find your opportunity. Where it winds up airing, that could change. In sports, there’s still a game. A clear example—the other day, I was watching La Salle men’s basketball vs. St. Bonaventure on ESPN+. Opportunity is everywhere.”
How did La Salle change your life?
“When I was in that (communication) department, it was Lynne (Texter, Ph.D.) and Brother Gerry (Molyneaux, ’58, M.A. ’59, FSC, Ph.D.) who stayed on top of me. They—and others—always looked out for my best interests. I realize they do that with all their students, but for me, it felt so special. I had four different internships before I graduated. Getting that experience while I was at La Salle put me in a much-better place professionally.
“There are doors you can open for yourself, but you set yourself up for success if you take advantage of what La Salle has to offer.”