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Dario Melendez, sports anchor on WISN-TV Ch. 12, is leaving Milwaukee for a job at ESPN.

WISN 12's Dario Melendez heading to ESPN

When competing in sports, athletes always hear about the great stadiums and legendary courts where victories are recorded in the scorebooks and imprinted into a community's collective consciousness.

"This is like the mecca in football, like Lambeau Field. This is the mecca of the sports broadcasting world," said WISN-TV Ch. 12 sports anchor Dario Melendez. For him, he's going to that mecca in Bristol, Conn., the international headquarters of ESPN.

"It was made official yesterday," Melendez said. "It's been a little hectic with everything going on."

For Melendez, this is an opportunity he couldn't pass up. He's not sure where on the various channels he will end up, but believes he probably will start with "Highlight Express" on ESPNews.

"For the first weeks I'll be going through what they call the boot camp," Melendez said of what to expect when he arrives in Bristol. "It is a great opportunity so early in my career. I hope I can go in there and impress them."

Melendez isn't alone in the ranks of people going into sports broadcasting who have had their eyes on working for the largest network in the field. He said that everyone wishes they can earn their own spot at the desk on "SportsCenter," the premier show on the main channel. Melendez gives a lot of the credit for this opportunity to Sue McInerney with Napoli Management Group, who helped him get noticed.

"I was coming near the end of my contract with WISN," Melendez said. "My agent put feelers out there and I was interviewed at NBC 5 in Chicago."

Melendez said that opportunity didn't work out, but it led to him being seen to get the call from ESPN. Some would say that this is a pretty big jump, going from a weekend local sports anchor job in Milwaukee.

"I tell people all the time, my friends and family members, that Milwaukee is the most underrated city. I love it here, especially in summer with all the festivals. People know how to enjoy every nice day," Melendez said. "I came to Milwaukee in November of 2010, and it was just the right time."

That right time let him cover the Badgers in the Rose Bowl, the Packers winning the Super Bowl, the Brewers making the National League Championship Series, among a number of other large sports stories.

"Wisconsin was the center of the sports world," Melendez said, reinforcing some of the wonderful times he had working here. "Working at WISN was great, to have the opportunity to work with people like Dan Needles, Stephanie Sutton and Kathy Mykleby … there are people here with 20-30 years of experience in the business that I had the chance to watch and learn from."

Melendez will be heading out to ESPN near the end of February. His last day at Ch. 12 is Feb. 17.

"It will be great that my mom will finally have the chance to see me on TV," Melendez said of his family and friends in the Boca Raton, Fla., area. "I found out about this a couple of weeks ago but had to keep everything quiet. When I told her yesterday that she could tell people, she went crazy."

A mom always deserves the bragging rights, and the scoop on the story.


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