Jen Royle is at Home with the Boston Red Sox

Royle

There is little doubt that people living in the Boston area love their baseball. Accordingly, the local media is constantly seeking to provide comprehensive and entertaining coverage of the Red Sox. This has led to the region boasting some of the best broadcasting and sports writing talent anywhere. One of the best is Jen Royle, who is a dual threat and recently returned to Beantown, which also happens to be her hometown.

Royle is an Emmy-winning journalist who worked for the YES Network in New York and covered the Orioles and Ravens in Baltimore, in addition to work for ESPN and SB Nation among others.

Now that she is back in Boston (with her best friend Truman), she is broadcasting for WEEI and running her own sports site (http://www.sportsreelboston.com/). It’s a compendium of Boston baseball; providing a range of material, including news, game recaps, blogs, videos and fantasy games.

One word that describes Royle to a tee is “authentic.” She is feisty, intelligent and knows her baseball. Not only that, but she has a talent for communicating that information to her listeners and readers. With so much constantly going on with the Red Sox, her work is a valuable source in the Hub.

In addition to her site, you can follow Royle at her Twitter account of @Jen_Royle.

Recently, I had an opportunity to exchange emails with Royle to welcome her back to Boston and ask her some questions about her career. For more information on one of the preeminent authorities on Red Sox baseball, make sure to keep reading.

Jen Royle Interview:

How did you first become interested in becoming in sports journalism?: Well, I grew up in Boston so baseball was beaten into my head (not literally) at an early age. My childhood memories are those at Fenway Park watching Roger Clemens, Mike Greenwell, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, etc. That 1986 team I believe was the start of it all because I had finally reached the age where I understood the game. It was also the perfect year to begin my relation with the Red Sox because of the ’86 World Series. I think as a female, getting caught up in the 86-year curse definitely played a factor, especially after seeing them choke against the Mets. Of course that would be the story for the next 18 years until they finally beat the Yankees and won the series.

I think growing up in Boston and liking baseball is comparable to growing up in Canada and liking hockey. So with that, in the back of my head I always knew I wanted to work in sports, particularly baseball in some capacity. I’m fairly certain at one point I had created a job in my mind because I wasn’t even sure they existed, but if you knew me really well you’d know that when I want something, I find a way to get it. I can honestly say I worked my ass off to get where I am today and I’m still not where I want to be. It’s a constant struggle to find success in my brain. I’m always striving to do better, to be more successful, to attempt a new challenge and to learn something new. Sounds ridiculously corny but it’s true.

What was your first job in sports?: I lucked out. I never had to move to a small market or cover minor league sports in some random mid-west city. I started in New York and my first job was with the YES Network. I was a freelance writer for their website and wrote a couple of stories a week on various topics that didn’t really include players because I didn’t have access. I stood on the subway platform with an umbrella one night in the rain and asked fans how much they paid for their tickets, etc. Those kind of stories. But again, I busted my ass and as soon as the lead Yankee writer left for the NFL Network, I was the next in line.

I started covering the team towards the end of the 2003 season and my first locker room was Yankees-Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. It was pretty surreal. I remember that day like it was yesterday because I remember NOT being nervous. I recall standing next to Gordon Edes (ESPN.com), Dan Shaughnessy (Boston Globe), Tony Massarotti (Boston Herald) and learning from the best. I was thrown into the Boston clubhouse because of my roots. YES wanted a perspective from both sides so it made sense to throw me on Sox.

I made mistakes, of course. But I never made the same one twice. I learned a lot the hard way, mostly because I didn’t have a female mentor on hand, but it only made me tougher and strong and prepared me for Boston. In 2007, web videos became popular and more things were talked about via video rather than via keyboard. This was when I was handed a cameraman and a mic, and because I had been a writer for the past four years or so, it was easy for me to ask players like Torii Hunter, Josh Hamilton, Vernon Wells, Michael Young, etc. to sit with me for five minutes. I had already established myself as a knowledgeable reporter and not just some chick they handed a camera to because she looked good.

I was also lucky enough to start a professional relationship with guys like Pedro Martinez, Terry Francona and David Ortiz. As I watch all these young, inexperienced female reporters enter the business, these guys, to name a few, know I’ve now been around for 10 years

Do you prefer to write or broadcast, and why?: I prefer radio. I don’t think right now, at least in Boston, there is a job designed for me on television. I’m very opinionated and have zero studio experience in terms of reading a prompter. It’s just not something I’m interested in doing. I love radio and I love being a female on radio because it showcases my knowledge, or lack thereof. If I can’t talk about something with the smart Boston fan base, then I have more work to do. Radio tests me and challenges me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. I’m honored to have my own show on WEEI, the station I grew up with, and I am thankful to Jason Wolfe for giving me this opportunity.

You have successfully implemented the use of social media into your work as well as any other journalist out there. What do you believe to be its biggest benefits and drawbacks?: Both. But it’s only a drawback if you allow social media to get in your head. Unfortunately, I allowed that during my two years in Baltimore and it affected me in ways it shouldn’t have. I will put 95% of the blame on the jerks that were tweeting me and blogging about me, but the other 5% was me paying attention to it. It was all new to me, however, so looking back, I’m not sure I would have done thing differently. Now, however, I laugh at haters.

Baltimore dug deep and hit me where it hurt. They called me some of the worst names in the book, tweeted me “Now I know why your father died… to get away from you.” There were THREE fake Jen Royle twitter accounts, one claiming I was dying of AIDS (that person has since issued an apology through my lawyers), and you can only be called fat, stupid and ugly, for so long without it getting to you. It was overwhelming and I’m not ashamed to say I just didn’t know how to handle it.

The good thing is, I’m now in Boston, my hometown, and I’m a new person. I don’t get much hate here and if I did, it would roll of my back. So honestly, Baltimore happened for a reason.

If you could do things over, what is something you would change about your career?: Nothing. I’m exactly where I want to be. I guess that means I did everything right along the way.

What is your favorite sports memory, either personal or professional?: Oh there’s just too many… my answer is simple. My favorite sports memory is anything that involved my dad. If I could have one day with him, I know he’d want to watch the Red Sox, so I’d like a day at Fenway Park with him. I grew up a diehard Bruins fan and he would take me to The Garden to watch the B’s as a child. I remember holding his hand walking through the old North Station in my Ken Linseman jersey. Wayne Gretzky was my favorite player and he even took me to see him play when the LA Kings were in town. I think about those days at The Garden often…

What is something on your career bucket list you still hope to accomplish?: ESPN. Sunday Night Baseball. Sidelines.

How does baseball in Boston compare to other regions of the country?: It doesn’t. Baseball is king in Boston. We are so lucky to have such an amazing ballpark here in Boston that continues to create memories for fans. The fans here are smart and they put the players on a pedestal. Don’t get me wrong, the Bruins, Celtics and Patriots are kings as well, but this is a baseball town and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

You can check out more of Andrew Martin’s work at The Baseball Historian and be sure to follow him on twitter @HistorianAndrew.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: