If you’re a football fan then I’m sure you’ve watched NFL Network’s NFL Total Access before. Which would also mean you’ve seen and heard of Dan Hellie.
Dan Hellie is the co-anchor to this flagship and has been since 2013. However, getting there was no easy ride. Dan says he had to face a lot of challenges as an upcoming journalist to earn the career he has now.
“It took persistence and perseverance,” says Hellie.
“Getting that first on-air job seemed impossible. I had to be willing to move anywhere, learn to survive on a very small $18,000 salary, and once I got the job I had to be self motivated.”
Growing up in Washington D.C., Dan says his dreams of being an on-air sports journalist began when he was in middle school.
“I did a career day in 7th grade with a legendary local sportscaster in Washington D.C. named Glenn Brenner. I spent the day with Glenn and his producers watching them put together the days sportscast and helping pick out highlights.”
Glenn became one of Dan’s inspirations as he continued to watch him as he got older. Other sports broadcasters that Dan also admired were George Michael and Frank Herzog from D.C.’s local news.
“I wanted to be just like them,” says Hellie.
Years later Dan Hellie attended the University of Tennessee. After graduating in 1997, he says it only took him a few months to land a job all because of the advice he was given while interning at Knoxville’s ABC News station.
“The sports director at the time encouraged me to apply for an open news photographer position. I wasn’t interested in being a photog, but he explained to me that it would help when I got my first on air job because I’d have to shoot and edit all of my own stuff.”
Dan got the job as a photog and worked the position during the last 3 months of college and 2 more months after he graduated.
“While I was working there I was firing out resume tapes— yes, when I was in college we actually sent out tapes. I started my first on air job at KCCO in Alexandria, Minnesota a few months after.”
From then on Dan spent the next several years working in Minnesota, Orlando and then in West Palm Beach, Florida. 2006 was when he finally made it back home in Washington to work for one of his inspirations; George Michael at NBC News.
Dan moved on to become one of the longest-serving and best connected broadcasters at NBC after working there for seven years. During those years he had the dream job for a sport anchor, seeing that NBC was one of the most powerful local stations with the strongest sports brand in the country.
“When I was a sports anchor in Washington D.C. I auditioned at several places: ESPN, FOX Sports and NFL Network. I had never planned on leaving NBC Washington it was my dream job, but the time was right to make a move.”
Out of the all places he auditioned, Dan took his opportunity with the NFL Network. And even today he still faces some challenges and sacrifices like he did when he first began his career.
“I was once told by an old boss if you want regular hours work at a bank. I think the biggest sacrifice is the schedule. Working weekends and holidays in this business is the norm.”
Dan also has multiple work settings including being the TV voice for the Tennessee Titans, and the host of the UFC Contender Series.
“It can be a difficult balance. I also call NFL games for Fox, college football games for Facebook, and college basketball for Spectrum Sportsnet here in LA.”
“The most important thing for me is to try and stay ahead so I always feel prepared for each event or show that I’m doing.”
In addition to hosting, Dan says that he works alongside the producers of the show.
“Hosting the show includes working closely with the producers to decide what stories and discussions will be included on the show on a daily basis.”
Even though Dan has moved up the ladder in sports broadcasting, he says he’s unsure if the LA life and The NFL Network was another dream job.
“I don’t know if it was my dream job. Channel 4 was my dream job. That’s the only place that I ever wanted to be so I’d really never thought beyond that. I had no desire to do national television.”
However, The NFL Network worked out in the favor of his career and family. Now Dan aims to continue to diversify hisself as a sports host, continue host and play by play.
Dan concluded his interview with offering advice to aspiring sports journalist in college.
“Internships are the key to getting your first job. Get a resume reel or writing portfolio together as soon as you can.”
You can watch Dan Hellie chopping it up about football with analysts Monday-Friday at 7 p.m. on the NFL Network. You can also find him on twitter @DanHellie.