States­man In­ter­view:

New re­porter for UT sports net­work grew up with the ‘ex­cite­ment of col­lege sports.’

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Dinges gdinges@states­man.com

Kaylee Har­tung is one of the new­est mem­bers of the Longhorn Net­work’s on-air team.

All Longhorns, all the time. It sounds like a sports lover’s dream — and Kaylee Har­tung says it is.

One of the new­est mem­bers of the Austin-based Longhorn Net­work’s on-air team, Har­tung serves as host and re­porter for a va­ri­ety of pro- gram­ming de­voted to Univer­sity of Texas sports, big and small. Foot­ball, women’s bas­ket­ball, swim­ming ... you name it.

The Amer­i­can-States­man chat­ted re­cently with Har­tung about her new gig:

Amer­i­can-States­man: What at­tracted you to sports broad­cast­ing?

Kaylee Har­tung: I was born and raised in Ba­ton Rouge, La. You couldn’t es­cape the ex­cite­ment of col­lege sports in that town if you tried.

My first me­mory of at­tend­ing a sport­ing event was some­time around 1989 watch­ing Shaquille O’Neal play bas­ket­ball. In my mini-Louisiana State Univer­sity cheer­leader out­fit, I was his big­gest fan.

In the 1990s, LSU base­ball had a his­toric run — five na­tional ti­tles be­tween 1990 and 2000. And of course, there was al­ways the crazi­ness of LSU foot­ball.

I be­lieve I was in mid­dle school when I first set my eyes on a job in sports broad­cast­ing. It just looked like a lot of fun.

How did you get into the busi­ness?

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Washington and Lee in 2007, there was a brief stint with a pub­lic re­la­tions firm in New York. It was a great op­por­tu­nity, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Shortly there­after, I found my­self at the in­ter­sec­tion of luck and per­sis­tence and got a job with CBS News’ Washington bureau. For the next five years, I had the great for­tune to be Bob Schi­ef­fer’s as­sis­tant and an as­so­ciate

pro­ducer for “Face the Na­tion.” My job evolved and in 2009 I be­gan con­tribut­ing to CBSNews. com.

Bob be­came aware of my pas­sion for sports and made sure to let the folks at CBS Sports know of my in­ter­est. In the fall of 2010, CBS Sports Net­work took a chance on me and gave me the op­por­tu­nity to work the side­lines for two Navy home foot­ball games. Those two games turned into five that first sea­son. And so on …

Where else have you worked?

Af­ter the ex­cite­ment of that first foot­ball sea­son with CBS Sports Net­work, I was hooked. As bas­ket- ball sea­son got un­der way, I was look­ing for ways to get in­volved. That year was the first of the CBSTurner Sports part­ner­ship for March Mad­ness. Dur­ing the tour­na­ment, I was in­volved on the dig­i­tal side with CBS/Turner’s March Mad­ness On De­mand cov­er­age.

Af­ter con­nect­ing with the Turner Sports folks, they put me to work cov­er­ing col­lege cham­pi­onships for NCAA.com. There was also work with CBSS­ports.com. A full foot­ball package with CBS Sports Net­work fol­lowed in the fall of 2011, cov­er­ing Navy and Con­fer­ence USA. And I con­tin­ued my work with NCAA.com an­other year.

What’s it like to be a part of the LHN team? What, in your opin­ion, makes LHN unique?

Ob­vi­ously the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the net­work and the univer­sity is unique. I’m very grate­ful to the Univer­sity of Texas folks for wel­com­ing me into the fam­ily. Ev­ery­one from Pres­i­dent (Wil­liam) Pow­ers to the man­agers on the foot­ball team have wel­comed me and been in­cred­i­bly help­ful as I’ve learned the ropes.

I’m really proud to be a part of the LHN team. I think we pro­duce a top­notch prod­uct day in, day out. It’s ESPN, but with a nar­rowed sub­ject mat­ter and a tar­geted au­di­ence.

I see what our “All Ac­cess” guys pro­duce and I’m im­pressed more and more with ev­ery show I see. I see the graph­ics that get drawn up on a dry­erase board in a pro­duc­tion meet­ing and a few hours later they’re fly­ing across the mon­i­tor in the stu­dio. I’ll sit down for an in­ter­view for a fea­ture story one day, ideas/ed­its for scripts will be emailed back and forth, then a day or two later I’ll sit in an edit both with the pro­ducer/ed­i­tor and be amazed by the way that story has been taken to an en­tirely new level when you put pic­tures to words.

The magic of TV still amazes me.

What are your fa­vorite sports to watch? Why?

My heart is in col­lege sports. Maybe that will change as I get older, but grow­ing up my love for sports was com­pletely based around LSU.

I re­mem­ber the Saints be­ing the Aints. We didn’t have an NBA team or a pro base­ball team. Col­lege foot­ball will al­ways reign supreme in my mind, but col­lege bas­ket­ball and col­lege base­ball are pretty spe­cial to me too. There’s noth­ing quite like March Mad­ness, es­pe­cially those first cou­ple of rounds. And I think the Col­lege World Se­ries should be on ev­ery sports fan’s bucket list.

I also have great mem­o­ries of watch­ing golf with my grand­fa­ther on Sun­days grow­ing up.

Did you play any sports in high school or col­lege? How’d that go?

I can­not claim to be an ath­lete. I grew up danc­ing com­pet­i­tively. That was how I chan­neled all my en­ergy.

I was on the soc­cer team in high school, but it’s far fetched to say I ac­tu­ally played. I used it for the work­out.

My par­ents were both ath­letes and my lit­tle brother was a high school quar­ter­back, but some­how the ath­letic gene skipped me.

What’s your ad­vice for some­one look­ing to fol­low in your foot­steps?

I al­ways find it funny when I’m asked this ques­tion. I still need all the ad­vice I can get!

I tell stu­dents that the job search be­gins with an in­tern­ship. If you’re at a school where TV net­works are cov­er­ing sport­ing events on cam­pus, find a way to vol­un­teer and make con­nec­tions. Af­ter that, my best ad­vice is to be per­sis­tent.

The first job you get of­fered may not be the job you’ve al­ways wanted, but you can make it a step­ping stone. When you’re young — and you’re not mar­ried and you don’t have kids — don’t hes­i­tate to work long hours, week­ends and hol­i­days. Make your­self avail­able. Make sac­ri­fices. It will be a lot harder to do later in life.

LONGHORN NET­WORK

Kaylee Har­tung is one of the new­est mem­bers of the Longhorn Net­work.

Longhorn net­work

Kaylee Har­tung in­ter­views Texas Longhorns foot­ball coach Mack Brown.

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