Yam a 'No-Brainer' For Networks
Director of Talent and Development Kristin Bredes looked at over 3,000 audition tapes while hiring for the Pac-12 Networks, but when it came to Mike Yam, that really wasn’t necessary.
“When his agent said Mike was interested, I said ‘Get out! Are you kidding?,’” Bredes said. “He was my no-brainer.”
After auditioning in person, the opinion inside the Pac-12 Enterprises headquarters was unanimous.
“Every single person said, ‘That’s our guy,’” Bredes said.
And Yam has been the guy since the networks launched on Aug. 15. Yam has been in viewers’ living rooms just about more than anyone so far. He is the studio host for the Pac-12 Networks’ football coverage on Saturdays, anchoring the pregame, halftime and postgame shows. He also hosts “Pac-12 Playbook” on Tuesdays, in addition to some other duties as well.
Along with fellow studio host Ashley Adamson, Yam is arguably the face of the Pac-12 Networks.
“There’s some pressure there, but I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Yam, who spent the previous four years at ESPN. “There’s that pressure because you want to make sure the networks are at their best, especially when you first start. You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
Yam attended Fordham University in New York and then went on to College Sports Television and then CBS Sportsline, where he was a colleague of Bredes. Little did Yam know that Bredes had kept an eye on him over the years.
“I always keep an eye on people that I think have a positive upside to them,” Bredes said. “You keep a running roster of people you might go after and Mike was definitely one of those folks. He’s a smart, young guy who moved up the ranks at ESPN. I kind of had my eye on him.”
Yam served as an anchor for ESPN’s SportsCenter while also was heavily involved in the network’s NBA, college football and college basketball coverage. He said the college game is his “first love,” and even though he spent most of his life on the East Coast before coming to Pac-12 territory, he was very familiar with the conference.
Oftentimes while hosting ESPN’s late-night college football wrap-up show on Saturdays, he would watch the final games of the night, which most of the time involved Pac-12 teams. He also worked closely with St. John’s basketball coach Steve Lavin, the former UCLA basketball coach who served as an ESPN analyst for seven years.
“One thing I wasn’t 100 percent sure about was how passionate the fans were, but I can see how passionate they are,” Yam said. “The Pac-12 has extremely passionate fans. It’s been incredible to be a part of it.”
While Bredes had her eye on Yam, he had his eye on the Pac-12 Networks. He informed his agent to start inquiring about the possibilities as soon as the networks were ready to start hiring.
“I was bothering him almost to the point of annoyance,” Yam said. “I kept asking him to send my tape, making sure it was there, asking if I had an interview. I was really hoping to at least have the opportunity to come out here.”
Bredes said one of Yam’s greatest traits is his likability, which is especially important given the amount of time he is on the air.
“You don’t want to get overexposed but at the end of the day he is just so stinking likable,” Bredes said. “He makes the shows that much better. He’s as quick as a whip and very intuitive. He has that star power and likability factor.”