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Women In Sports: Shannon Hogan – Islanders Host & Reporter

As part of our Women In Sports series, we’ve had the pleasure to speak with many female trailblazers in all aspects of sports.  I was able to have a nice phone conversation with the one and only Shannon Hogan.  Hogan is the host of the New York Islanders on MSG Network and a great interview.  She is as strong a woman as they come and she is I’m sure a big influence for all women in the Tri-State area.

Background and childhood

My friends joke around a lot saying “I didn’t know you lived in Oklahoma”.  I moved around a lot.  My dad worked in sales so we moved all around the country.  I was born in upstate NY near Syracuse, but we moved to Connecticut, made our way down to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and finally to Michigan.  I like to joke that this is the longest I’ve lived in one place but it’s the truth!

I went to UVA on a swimming scholarship.  It was really nice and different from what I’ve seen.  I’ve been a swimmer as long as I can remember, and I had scholarships all around the country.  I wanted to get into journalism so I transferred to Mizzou and finished my swimming career there.  Once I was out of school I just decided to drive cross country with my mom to California.  I got my first start doing both news and sports for a local station.

When I went to Fox Sports Detroit, they didn’t even know that I was from Michigan.  I only say that because my parents have lived there for a while, but they had no idea.  We actually weren’t a hockey family at all.  I didn’t even really know about hockey until my dad started working in Michigan and the company he worked for had Wings tickets.

I remember seeing maybe a Red Wings-Avs game and being like WOW this is the best sporting event ever.  Obviously now I’m here and I love it.  We were a big college football family while I was growing up.  I think I’m the only one who’s excited to get to Columbus because my mom loves Ohio State.  

Beginnings of professional career

I was the biggest talker (laughs).  One of my swimming coaches actually got me a shirt that said “I’m Talking and I Can’t Shut Up”.  I was always mesmerized by television.  I remember being young and watching Katie Couric on the TV and being like “I want to be just like her.  I want to be on TV.”

It was funny because there weren’t many women journalists in the early 80’s and early 90’s.  I remember hearing when I got to UVA that it was actually Katie Couric’s alma mater, so that was funny.  Unfortunately UVA didn’t have a full blown journalism program so that’s partially why I went to Mizzou.

I learned invaluable lessons at Mizzou, that’s why I try to give back as much as I can.  It wasn’t just women, it was all the professors and other role models that helped me out.  We call ourselves the Mizzou Mafia (laughs).  Once in a while I’ll receive emails asking “How can I do this better” or “Do you know someone here who could help me out”?  and it’s great because there are quite a few people from Long Island in the program.

Mizzou they really throw you right into it.  I didn’t even think about going into sports at first.  You actually had to go through the news program first.  I wound up at my first job doing both sports and news as the weekend anchor so it gave me great experience.

Role Models

Katie Couric was just someone I wanted to be, but there were so many women that were huge in my growth.  I’ll never forget in Detroit when I was first starting out I was in the Wings dressing room interviewing Jimmy Howard when I see this woman barreling in.  I was like woah this women who is in her 40’s and has two kids just barrels in here and gets in this interview, that’s powerful.  Jen and I wound up becoming the best of friends.

In Detroit there were plenty of us who were coming in.  It was no longer the “token” woman covering, we had three or four of us.  It was Jen & I then Ms. Edwards came in.  Lindsay Hayes came in.  I remember when Sam Ryan came and she knew my name and I was SO excited that she knew who I was.  It’s amazing because she had done it all and now we’re working together.

It’s fun it’s like a sorority.  For lack of a better word it is.  Like I said before it was no longer just one woman, there were a lot of us.  We were like a family.

Challenges of a female broadcaster

The first thing that I see when I step in the door is that people are trying to test you all the time.  For women you always have to prove you know what you’re talking about.  For men, it’s just a given.  At MSG Networks I don’t feel any of that pressure and it’s great.  I’m valued for the work I do.  There are still many places that aren’t like that.

We need to make sure that everyone does their homework.  Women are strong and competent.  My goal everywhere I go is to never be looked at as the female in the dressing room.  I want to be looked at for the job I do.  We’re finally able to cut down the many years of status quo in not just sports, but business too.  We as women need to push the boundaries and know where we came from, because for women before us it wasn’t easy pushing those boundaries.

Favorite moment as a broadcaster

Well first I want to say that I love Stan Fischler.  I always kind of had him of this pedestal.  He was a big part of my excitement for coming to New York.  He has an appetite for life that’s infectious.  He always puts humor and entertainment into everything.  He actually gave me my first knish.  I didn’t even know what a knish was before that!

I remember when I first started Stan and I dressed up like we were in Back to the Future.  He was actually dressed up as Doc Brown.  We had a Delorean and the bit was that he was supposed to drive it fast in the Coliseum parking lot in front of the camera and then stop.

So Stan goes to me “I’m ready to go but I haven’t driven in a car in about 35 years”.  I’m sitting there thinking “Oh my God I’m going to die in a Delorean in a parking lot with Stan Fischler dressed like Doc Brown”.  It was so much fun that day.

For the Tigers, I believe it was in the postseason and it was Country Western Night.  I remember being in the locker room and saying to the producers that I could get one of the players to dance.  They bet me and I got Miguel Cabrera to do a Texas Two Step.  He turned it into a salsa and I thought to myself “This guy has won a Triple Crown and he’s doing a Texas Two Step”.

Torii Hunter was a really great interview.  I remember when he was with the Tigers I asked what he was going to do on his day off and he just casually says “I’m gonna go to the pool and lay there naked”.  I said well I guess what we know what Torii is doing tomorrow!

As for the Islanders, the win over Florida in the playoffs comes to mind.  I remember sitting there with Rick DiPietro and the building was SHAKING.  I remember DP hugging a security guard, I was hugging the team’s massage therapist.  We didn’t even mean to do it but it just happened.  Just to see a franchise come back from so much and be able to have some success was great.

My heart was in my mouth and then dropped to my feet after that happened.  It was an amazing moment.  It was probably Top 5, Top 10 moments of my life.  I’m not even talking sports, I’m talking in general.  It was so cool to be a part of and very special.

Advice for young women aspiring to be a broadcaster

That’s a tough one.  I would always say ask questions.  Ask as many questions as you can.  Ask people around you for anything.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Don’t be afraid to pack your backs and move to the middle of nowhere.  Nobody actually thinks they’d ever make it to New York.

I never thought I would make it to New York.  It wasn’t even on my radar.  I’m very lucky I was able to do all of this in a few different cities.  Find what you love and do it.  Most of all, be willing to ask for help.


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