A voice that’s been heard by sports fans across the nation has a message for prospective students and fellow alums: “Saying ‘I went to Denison’ is a great way to start a conversation,” said Sheldon Freeman ’18.
You may not recognize his name or his face, but there’s a decent chance you’ve heard Freeman’s work in hype videos or teasers for high-profile sporting events.
He spent more than three years working at ESPN as a producer and a voice-over artist before founding his own company, Suspended Media, in 2021. His scriptwriting and narration for teasers are so valuable that he continues to deliver content for ESPN and Bleacher Report.
Freeman gained media experience during his senior year with the Denison Sports Network while also finishing his economics degree and playing for Big Red basketball.
“I loved my time at Denison because it taught me the importance of having a mission,” Freeman said. “I had a great advisor in economics professor Andrea Ziegert and a great mentor in Brandon Morgan ’16, who showed me how to edit video and gave me the freedom to explore what I liked.”
He values his Denison diploma in part because his path to commencement wasn’t a smooth one. Freeman embodies the philosophy of President Weinberg, who wants students to learn to “fail forward” and see stumbles as opportunities for growth.
Freeman, a Nashville native, ran into academic problems during his junior year but was determined to graduate. He went home and enrolled in Nashville State Community College in the spring and Tennessee State in the summer to get his educational aspirations back on course.
While at home, Freeman’s pastor spoke to him about the importance of “writing down my vision and making it plain.”
“That really helped me,” he recalled. “I knew I wanted to get into media and into the arts.”
He returned to Denison and, with the help of Ziegert, Morgan, and his former basketball coach, Bob Ghiloni, built a platform for a professional career in media. Ghiloni put him in contact with George Bodenheimer ’80, the former ESPN president who’s become another mentor for Freeman.
“Sheldon was curious, always looking to learn more and grow his skills,” said Morgan, a former assistant director of athletic communications and digital media at Denison. “He was ambitious, knew what he wanted, and went above and beyond to achieve his goals.”
Freeman landed a job at ESPN as a production assistant, climbing the ladder to become an associate producer. He relished the opportunity to work with the network’s biggest personality, Stephen A. Smith, whose ESPN+ show he helped produce.
While performing his primary duties, Freeman also impressed colleagues with his strong voice and his ability to rap. His bosses suggested trying to incorporate those talents into voice-overs for network teasers. They even encouraged him to write his own scripts for the segments.
“Sheldon is one of the most talented people I’ve worked with,” said Jaren Yang, a content producer for ESPN. “He’s creative, he has a great voice, and he’s a good editor and writer. He’s such a hard worker, and he’s a perfectionist. He puts everything into his craft.”
After nearly four years at ESPN, Freeman formed his own company. The name, Suspended Media, carries a double meaning — it’s a reminder of the adversity he overcame during his junior year and the idea that suspended can also mean “to hang in the air so as to be free.”
His Nashville-based multimedia company delivers a wide range of services, from music and voice-overs to film and photography.
“I’m not surprised that he joined ESPN, and I’m even less surprised about all his success after Denison,” Morgan said. “He’s incredibly talented, but most importantly, he is a genuinely good person who treats everyone with kindness and respect.”