While NESN Red Sox reporter Jenny Dell hasn’t been in the Boston media market for long, she certainly already has developed quite the following. Dell grew up in Southbury, Conn. as a Yankees fan, but once getting to college at UMass she converted to a Red Sox fan following the 2004 season. From UMass Dell went to work for ESPN in the event production department before being asked to try on-air positions after a few short months, which led to many appearances for the network before getting the Red Sox reporting job this past winter. A major change for someone who in high school had her own catering company and actually was offered a scholarship to attend culinary school. Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to catch up with Dell following her first season covering the Red Sox for NESN:
BSMW: You didn’t take the conventional path to becoming an on-air personality. Was there a specific moment or advice that you received which made you really consider a career being an on-air reporter? As a child, what was your dream job?
JD: As a child, my dream job was to be a chef and own a restaurant. I loved cooking and even had my own small catering company in high school called “Simply Dell-icious”. This passion lead to my initial major at UMass Amherst in hospitality and tourism Management.
I picked up my second major in Sport Event Marketing my sophomore year in college. UMass has a program where you can create your own major, called Bachelor Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC). You come up with a course plan that completes a certain number of credits and I combined my love for sports with my interest in event planning and marketing. I started working for the UMass athletic department my junior year, where I helped out in the advancement office and assisted with the event planning for the football and basketball programs. I loved the constant energy and excitement that came along with the job and it was then that I decided to pursue a career in the sports industry.
I applied for a position as an administrative assistant for three coordinating producers at ESPN, with the intention of eventually making my way to the Marketing department. They ended up offering me a position as a production assistant, working on the NBA. I immediately fell in love with production; helping in the creation of show segments and creative video packages for our live game broadcasts. It was about four months into my time at ESPN that I was approached in the ESPN cafeteria about working on-air. I’ll never turn down an opportunity, so I went for it. I started off doing a few fantasy segments here and there, and that turned into weekly shows, and major interviews. I truly believe that working both behind-the-scenes in production and on-air made me well rounded in the field. It’s been beneficial to know both sides.
I decided to pursue a career in front of the camera about a year and a half ago. I really enjoyed conducting interviews, being in the middle of the action and the challenge of working on-air. I realized I could combine my passion for production into a full-time career in front of the camera.
BSMW: Coming into this season were you nervous at all? What were your thoughts upon arriving in Ft. Myers for spring training?
JD: Coming into spring training, I was more excited than nervous. There were so many unknowns and I had so many questions, but I was eager to jump right into it all. My first priority was to get to know my production crew and introduce myself to the team. I wanted to establish relationships, get to learn everyone’s personalities and start to understand the job as a whole. The whole NESN crew and team were so inviting, and helpful. Even former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine pulled me aside and said, “We’re all rooting for you this season. Let me know how I can help.”
Getting this opportunity in Boston has been a dream come true. I welcomed the challenge and knew exactly what I was getting myself into. Boston fans are so passionate and knowledgeable. It makes me strive to be the best I can, and to always be prepared. There is an immense amount of pressure in this position and this market, but I think the majority of that pressure comes internally.
BSMW: What was the best moment for you this season? What is it like working for NESN with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy? Has the teams’ struggles on the field impacted your job at all?
JD: My favorite part of my first year was the fact that I was able to experience the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. All of the ceremonies and events were so exciting and it was amazing that I could take part in all of the celebrations. I enjoyed being able to report on the Red Sox 100 Acts of Kindness, where the players and Red Sox Foundation completed 100 acts of charity throughout the year.
Working for NESN has been a dream come true. The production team is full of experienced and talented individuals, who all had my best interest at heart. They made me feel part of the family and did everything in their power to put me in the best light possible in this new career.
What can I say about Don and Jerry? They are simply the best. They made me feel comfortable from day one, and have given me advice and support throughout the whole season. Don and Jerry welcomed me with open arms and I couldn’t ask to be a part of a better broadcast crew. They keep me on my toes, keep me laughing, and made a long baseball season so enjoyable.
My job is to tell stories, to share with Red Sox Nation what is going on with the team, the match-ups, Red Sox Foundation, Fenway Park, etc… I’ve had the chance to get to know these players over the year, and naturally, when you are surrounded by the same people every single day, you want to see them succeed. Whether they won or lost, I would need to report on the game and situation.
BSMW: Have you ever gotten this much attention at any other point in your career? How long did it take for you to adjust to being a celebrity in Boston, having people come up to you everywhere you go asking for you to pose for a picture, etc.?
JD: I have NEVER received this much attention at any other point in my career. It’s all a bit crazy to me, because (in my eyes) I am just a normal girl who grew up in Connecticut, went to college at UMass and has been blessed with this amazing job opportunity. I will never turn down a request for a picture or autograph, and to be honest, I don’t think I will ever get used to getting those requests. The fact that I can help someone have a positive experience at Fenway, or that I can help make someone’s day a little better just by signing my name or taking a picture is really special. I feel honored.
BSMW: What does the off-season have in store for you? Will you be making any appearances on NESN? What are you looking forward to most next year?
JD: This off-season, I will be hosting NESN Daily, which will provide an incredible opportunity to anchor a studio show. I had my first taste of hosting last Thursday, with the special edition of NESN Daily: The Bobby Valentine Edition. Working in the studio is so different than my normal job on the field and I am looking forward to learning the anchor role. Also, I will be working at the Patriots home games- providing content and interviews pre-game and post-game. As a huge football (and Patriots) fan, I couldn’t be more excited to work with the team.
I am looking forward to next season for so many reasons. First and foremost, I will go into spring training having a much better idea of what this job entails. Last season was full of unknowns. Now, I have a much better handle on the position and have established relationships with the NESN production crew, and the Red Sox players and staff. There are going to be a lot of changes to this Red Sox organization over this off-season and I can’t wait to see what next season holds.