Chantel and I have been in touch since her days working with the Carolina Hurricanes and then we even briefly worked together at the NHL Network during the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. She has been nothing but gracious with her time, sharing her story and advice with SMG over the years, so it’s great to see her broadcasting nationally for the Golf Channel. As an active viewer of the channel, I continue to be a big fan of her work. I had the chance to chat with Chantel once again and she continues to share great advice for our readers here at SMG. Enjoy!
Taylor Shold: Tell us about yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Chantel McCabe: I’m in my second year at Golf Channel as a reporter and host for Golf Central, our nightly news program and Morning Drive. I cover the PGA Tour, LPGA, Web.com Tour, college golf, World Long Drive and anything that involves a golf club.
I began on-air work by stumbling into the scene when I was majoring in Sports Management at University of New Hampshire. I covered UNH sports for the school paper and grinded at internships every semester at local stations, and NESN. I was logging tape for hours on end, running the ticker and editing other people’s work. I knew NESN wanted more of an online presence so I asked if I could go the sports not already covered, in my own time to try out interviewing and stand ups. They were UGLY. Wow was I awkward. No training, just interested in the challenge.
I began my career in local news, right out of college in 2012. I got live reps through morning news. That was critical. Live TV can either be seamless and smooth or bumpy and awkward. It takes a lot of work and experience to make it “natural.” That was frustrating for me to digest.
After a few stops, a lot of patience and the right support, I landed at the Golf Channel headquarters in Orlando, Florida.
Taylor: SMG is all about networking, how important has it been in your career?
Chantel: I got a job with Fox Sports completely by the blessing of networking. At NESN, when I was running prompter, I made a point to ask questions to executives, talent, producers, directors, etc. It took some courage to do that but it paid off. An NHL analyst from NESN recommended me to Fox Sports Carolinas and was very enthusiastic about me applying. At 22-years-old, I had what was then my dream job.
Taylor: When people are applying for on-air jobs, what are some ways they can stand out from the crowd?
Chantel: What makes you stand out? That’s not a one-size-fits all answer. In any interview it’s important to know your flaws, and your strengths. Highlight what you know best in terms of subject matter and give examples of qualities like work ethic and creativity. Be HONEST. People always appreciate this, I promise.
Taylor: In your opinion, what makes a great on-air person?
Chantel: They say “be you.” At the start of my career I wasn’t. I thought I should be this polished, more mainstream personality like some of the people I look up to, but that stunted my growth. I now fully embrace my colorful and sometimes silly personality, and you can tell by how genuinely happy I am on camera.
Taylor: What do you think it takes for someone to go from reporting on their local station to a national one like Golf Channel?
Chantel: Young professionals and college students often contact me and say they have this goal in mind to be on X, Y, Z network by next year. It’s great to have direction but you’ve got to be realistic. And please be in this business for the right reasons. There are reality shows and plenty of other ways to just “be on tv.” You’ve got to put in the time. I know people don’t like that answer but that’s how you get trusted, respected, and get better. You don’t want to be making rookie mistakes on a big stage. The 2018 internet will roast you really good.
Most importantly, enjoy the stage your at and own what you’re doing. Your work will shine brighter, your coworkers and the people you’re covering will appreciate that attitude. Be proud of every stop because some people will never get as far as where you are right now.
Taylor: I’ve been speaking to a lot of people about agents recently, what is the process in getting one?
Chantel: Agents are a touchy subject. I know people who hate them and I know people who have gotten great opportunities.
The most important thing to remember is that your networking is your biggest tool, especially in the first few years. My agent connected me with my job at Golf Channel. I would’ve never known it existed.
I fired my first agent because it wasn’t the right fit and it got messy. This is your partner to help you find where you spend 80% of your life…the workplace. It’s hard to find a good blend.
Remember, they have a lot of people they need to serve so you may not be their top priority, especially if there are people on their roster with similar abilities to yours. The going rate is 8-10%. Choose wisely.
Taylor: What is your best practical advice for someone trying to succeed on-air in this industry?
Chantel: Don’t compare yourself to other people. Give as much as you can to your craft.
You can find Chantel on Twitter @ChantelMcCabeGC
MUST READ: So You Want To Be On TV?
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