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  • Writer's pictureAlison Monette

Cheryl - Roadmap to Sports Reporter

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

What do you do for a living?

Chicago Radio Sports reporter. I’m credentialed to cover all the teams: Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Sox, and Cubs.

What does a day at your job look like?

It varies, depending on the sports schedule. On game days I’m at pre-game, I attend the games, and then I do post-game coverage. Then I write my story, edit and check sound. I attend team practices during the week. I sometimes do feature interviews. I go to press conferences after games or for breaking sports stories. I’m constantly reading and watching sports on social media for breaking news, and then I’ll report on the story. Then I’m on-air at various times for specific stories or to preview games. I also teach Radio Sportscasting and Ethics in Broadcasting at Columbia College.

What path did you take to get here?

Graduated high school—>

Went to Wright Junior College for my Associates Degree—>

Went to Columbia College to get a Bachelors of Arts in Radio and Television-->

I’m one of 9 kids so I was working full-time and doing theatre the whole time I was putting myself through school—>

Columbia had a job placement program that led me to music research and then I got offered a job in sales, but sales wasn’t for me—>

Went back to full time waitressing, which I’d done to put myself through school—>

I got a job at WMAQ, a country music radio station as mid-day show producer—>

I pitched my idea of sports production to the station general manager and became developer/executive producer of a sports radio talk show (one of the first in Chicago)—>

I got credentialed to go on the air myself and continued to acquire access to cover Chicago teams—>

I moved over to AM1000 as the main sports reporter—>

I was traveling with all of the Chicago professional sports teams and covering tennis as well - I have been with Chicago teams for a total of 12 championships—>

When AM1000 took a hiatus from sports coverage, I got contacted by the CEO of WBEZ to cover sports after he saw a website my husband had produced about me—>

I’ve been at WBEZ for 18 years, during which time I’ve also done work for the BBC

What are the Challenges of your job?

1. My major challenge was being a woman in a male dominated field. It was worse in the beginning, but it’s still an issue at times. It wasn’t easy to get access, respect or credibility. I was one of the first female sports reporters in Chicago and the first to actually go into locker rooms. Some of the players and staff were not kind about it, but some helped me along the way. When I got my first credential, White Sox manager Tony La Russa escorted me around to all the security people in front of the players and told them to give me respect. Jim Harbaugh helped me get equal access to the locker room when he played for the Bears. It’s been hard work to be accepted as a woman in sports media.

2. Social media has made my job difficult as well. When everyone thinks they’re an expert, even though they don’t have the background or training in the ethics of media, they can say things that are inappropriate and start some fires. Also, teams are controlling access to players so they have more control over content. This means working harder to get stories and find moments alone with players so they get familiar enough with me to trust me.

What are the blessings of your job?

I get to do the things some people dream of. Sitting in conversation with Michael Jordan (I broke the story of him switching from basketball to baseball AND his return to the Bulls). Chatting with Monica Seles when she was 15. Going to the White House twice. Having champagne poured on my head in the locker room after championships. I got to call a White Sox game with Don Drysdale. I'll never forget being on the field at Wrigley and being told Hillary Clinton was there and would like to meet me. I could go on and on. All moments I wouldn’t have had without this job.

What 3 characteristics do you have to possess or develop to do your job well?

1. Acquire knowledge and research that knowledge about the subject matter of your choice.

2. The ability to accept failure when it happens, figure out why you failed, and then fix it.

3. Be able to always enjoy what you’re doing, and confident enough to quit if you don’t.

What are 3 concrete things you’d tell someone on their journey to doing your job?

1. Be open to any possibilities. Go for the low bar and work your way up.

2. Learn how to do small talk. Talk to anyone you meet. Talking to people means getting information.

3. Pick the lane you want to be in, go for it, and don't let anybody say no to you.

Twitter: @crayestout

Facebook: Cheryl Raye-Stout

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