The hockey world has evolved tremendously over the past 20 years. Not only has the game become more intelligent, faster, and more accessible, it has also exploded in popularity amongst girls and women globally. With female participation at an all-time high, the limits are endless for how far a female can go in our great game. Not only on the playing or coaching side, but on the broadcasting side as well. In what used to be thought of as an old boys club, especially in the hockey world, female reporters, hosts and broadcasters are becoming the norm.
In continuing with Youth1’s celebration of 'National Girls and Women in Sports Day', I wanted to give our readers a different perspective; about a successful woman in the hockey industry. I was able to catch up with the one and only Jackie Redmond who co-hosts one of the NHL Network’s best shows, NHL Now, as she sheds some light on how she became a household name in the NHL world, what motivated her to pursue the industry and offers up some advice for young girls with similar aspirations.
Jackie has become synonymous with success in the sports broadcasting world. Growing up in London, Ontario, Canada and having a passion for hockey along with being the center of attention, it’s no surprise that she has ended up on the NHL Network hosting one of its anchor shows.
I was planning to do this piece a bit differently, however, I was roughly 1/3 of the way through and one of Jackie’s answers changed my mind. She gives a reference to conversations with father and about how they taught her that she has her own voice and it is relevant. So, instead of shaping her answers into a story that may not sound like her, I wanted you have her voice!
Bill Katinsky (BK): Did you play hockey growing up?
Jackie Redmond (JR): I did play hockey growing up! I started out in figure skating, but after watching my sister (who played boys hockey when she first started out) in a hockey tournament, I begged my parents to put me into hockey because it looked like so much fun! I couldn’t give you a specific age when I got into hockey; it was always a part of my family environment. I was such an active kid, I tried just about every sport, but in addition to hockey, I stuck with baseball where I was pitcher and basketball where I was a point guard.
BK: How did you get into sports broadcasting/hosting/reporting?
JR: I always knew that I wanted to be involved in sports in some way, shape or form. I think that stemmed from a few things. I was a super active and competitive kid. I didn’t just play sports; I was also slightly obsessed with winning! I also grew up in a household where hockey and baseball were front and center, all of the time. As for when I know that I wanted to be on-air and working in television, I think that developed over time.
My parents will be the first to tell you that I always loved performing and being the center of attention, but I was also really close with my dad growing up. As I got older, he would let me stay up after games and listen to sports talk radio with him. I specifically remember listening to the call-in shows where people would ask questions about the game or the team, and my dad and I would just talk about it amongst ourselves. Ultimately what he taught me, albeit probably on accident, was that I had a voice and my opinion was relevant.
By the time I got to high school (a time where, lets be honest, we’re all a little awkward), I always felt the most confident when I was talking sports with my peers. But I would get these shocked reactions from some of my classmates, like “How do you know so much?!” It was during that time I realized that maybe I could turn that passion for sports into a career.
BK: Where did you attend college?
JR: I went to Guelph-Humber in Toronto. It’s actually a combination or two schools: Humber College, where I got a diploma in broadcast journalism, and Guelph University, where I received a degree in Media Communications. It was essentially a dual program that allowed students to get six years of schooling in four.
BK: Where did you work and intern before coming to the NHL Network?
JR: My first sports job was at The Score Television Network, where I was out by cutting highlight packs, eventually leading to a more consistent on-air role. From there I went to Sportsnet where I covered everything from WWE to international swimming, and or the four major sports.
As for internships, I had a few! I interned at Rogers TV, a local TV station in my hometown, for two years. I also interned for the London Knights of the OHL as well as Entertainment tonight Canada.
BK: The NHL Network has hired from of the best hosts in all of sports, not so long ago; it was a predominantly male dominate space. Can you describe the feeling of breaking into this industry and becoming basically synonymous with not only the NHL Network, but the NHL in general?
JR: Honestly, I just feel fortunate to be part of a network that embraces my personality and allows me to be myself. I wouldn’t exactly classify myself as a traditional broadcaster, but I’ve learned over time that that’s okay! I remember when I was in school; there were people who told me that my aspirations were unrealistic. I even had a teacher persuade me away from applying for a sports internship “because a lot of boys: were applying for it as well. I think it’s awesome to see that as a society we’ve gotten away from that outdated mentality. There are so many women in sports doing great things. So mostly, I’m just proud of myself (and my female peers) for not allowing the opinions of other people deter me from going after what I truly wanted.
BK: What was your first show like? Any nerves?
JR: At NHL Network, I was definitely nervous and I’m a believer that the nerves are a good thing. You should be nervous, it means you care! But, I didn’t really have time to think about those nerves because the show involves so much conversation amongst the hosts. I was also in the process of moving my life to an entirely new country, so everything that comes along with that had me pretty distracted from my nerves!
BK: Your network had made it the norm to have a light mood on the shows, while somehow, keeping it very professional. As an avid fan, I find myself laughing while getting the stories. You are all always laughing it seems. How much fun do you and your co-workers have on the show?
JR: I have a blast! I have always wanted to have fun in this job and it’s really incredible to be a part of a show that embraces that. We are serious when we need to be, but I think part of what separates NHL Now from the other shows is that we are willing to put ourselves out there with not only our opinions, but our personalities. We are so passionate about hockey and I hope that our viewers see that because I know they’re passionate too! I like to think that we keep it real.
BK: The analysts and guests on the network are legends in their own right as well, can you describe what it’s like to work with and interview so many great talents?
JR: There’s never a dull moments that’s for sure! These guys have some of the best stories, but also to be able to pick their brains about the game is a resource in and of itself.
BK: The rapport you and EJ have is awesome, it’s like you’ve been on the air with each other for decades. Did you both gel right away?
JR: Well, EJ was present for my audition and I definitely got along with him right off the bat! The great thing about working with him is that he is so versatile. He can host and he can be an analyst. What I really respect about EJ thought is that he’s such a team player. The third member of our show is a rotating player spot, so day to day it’s rarely the same person, but EJ is so good at drawing out the strengths of whoever is on the show. You know how we talk about how certain athletes make the players around them better? I’d say that EJ is the broadcasting version of that. Plus, we’re friends now outside of work as well, so I think that translates on the air!
BK: Is your show scripted? Or are there just topics that you run with?
JR: The topics are definitely planned, but the only part of the show that is scripted are the teases to break. Everything else is pretty conversational – which is how we prefer it!
BK: Can you describe what it was like to be out in San Jose for All-Star weekend?
JR: Crazy busy, but fun! All-Star weekend is always a great event simply because everybody is relaxed and just enjoying themselves. For someone like me who likes to try and get some personality out of the players, it’s the perfect place to ask fun questions!
BK: What does a typical day for you look like when you’re going on air?
7am: Wake up, Watch highlights
830am: Hit the gym
10am: I’m in makeup
11am: Check the headlines of the day
11:30am: We have our show meeting to go over the layout of the day’s show, find out who our guests are, and discuss topics and breakdowns that we’ like to do.
1230pm-3pm: I’m prepping for the show
4pm-6pm: We’re LIVE for NHL Now
7pm-1030pm: Once I get home from work, I’m watching games in preparation for the show the next day. My strategy is usually to pick one specific game to watch in full, one game to watch during commercial breaks of the main game, and then rely on highlights, DVR & recaps for the rest.
BK: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
JR: I’m pretty basic. I just like hanging out with friends, playing pool stuff like that. I also love karaoke. Lately though I’ve been very into cooking and trying to learn how to make different recipes.
BK: Who’s your favorite NHL team to watch?
JR: I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, born and raised!
BK: If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?
JR: Rock star?
BK: Finally, what is some advice that you can give all of the girls out there that are aspiring to be in your position one day?
JR: My motto in life is always, “Embrace the fear, own the challenge.” Nothing comes easy, especially in this business, but if you work hard and are open to feedback, it goes a long way. Everyone talks about work ethic, but not everybody lives it.
I also think I’ve benefitted tremendously in my career by going out of my way to ask for feedback whether it be from talent with more experience that me, from a producer, or from a boss. Feedback is your friend. Nobody starts in this business with nothing to learn. You can always get better and if you focus on the process, the destination becomes less important and the journey becomes much more enjoyable. And one more thing, even though it sounds cliché: BE YOU! It is your biggest asset. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t stay true to myself.
*ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF NHL NETWORK*
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