On the Fast Track in Sports Broadcasting

by Marketing Services - Cedarville, OH

One thing’s for sure: Paula Faris Krueger ’97 has played her professional game well. Just 10 years out of college, Paula is working at the #2-rated station in the #3 media market in the country. At the time of her interview with Inspire, she had curlers in her hair and was preparing to anchor the evening sports report. After the newscast she was off to Miami to cover the Super Bowl.

While the pace is hectic, Paula is doing what she aspired to do while a communication arts major at Cedarville. She loves her job. As a sports anchor/reporter for WMAQ-TV in Chicago, Paula has worked hard to get where she is today. “I took an unconventional path towards my current gig,” she explained. “TV work was difficult to come by after graduation, so I floated through a number of communications-related positions.”

After acknowledging that her heart was in television, she quit her radio sales job and took an entry-level position as a production assistant at a television station in Dayton, Ohio. She recalled, “It paid $18,000 — a huge cut from what I had been making — but TV was my passion, and I wanted to pursue it.”

Her job was grunt work, but it gave her access to video and studio equipment, and so, in her spare time, Paula put together a sports reporter’s resume tape. Her news director liked what she produced and gave her a shot at anchoring and reporting. However, Paula still had to fulfill her production assistant’s role, which put her in a situation both challenging and humbling. “One hour I was reading the teleprompter; the next I was running it!” she said.

Paula soon “got tired of being stretched in eight million directions” and started looking for something specifically in television sports broadcasting. Although Paula turned down a sports producer job at a station in Cincinnati, the station’s news director was impressed with Paula and mentioned her name to a colleague in town who was looking for a sports reporter/anchor — a perfect match for Paula. She interviewed and was offered the job the next day. Paula spent three-and-a-half years as WCPO’s weekend sports anchor and weekday sports reporter. She loved the Queen City but was itching for a bigger challenge, and her heart yearned to be closer to her parents in Michigan. An opportunity in Chicago opened up and she accepted.

Paula feels extremely blessed with her career. “It is humbling to think that this is what God has for me and that He opened the doors,” she said. But along with that, she says the stress of broadcasting can be overwhelming. The hours are long and the pace is fast. Paula constantly prays for wisdom and strength to deal with the pressures. “The thing about our business is that our worst day at work is witnessed by a million viewers, so I have to always be on my game,” she noted.

As a Christian, Paula says another source of stress is from others’ expectations, perceived or real. While her testimony is important, Paula doesn’t feel she should have to use her high-profile position to preach. “My pulpit is not the television camera, nor should it be. The taxi drivers and the fast-food workers whom I see a lot are my mission field!” she candidly quipped. “I would hope the people whom I personally interact with would notice that I am different and want to know why.”

Fortunately, in the sports side of broadcasting, Paula says she can avoid a lot of the controversy that news reporters face. “I would be more scrutinized if I were in the news side,” she explained. “A news story is typically juicy or controversial — that’s what makes it newsworthy.” Paula notes that journalists have to be both objective and entertaining. And that, she says, “may not please every group.”

So what’s next for this outspoken, high-energy broadcaster? Paula admits that this is her dream job, but she also knows it may not be a dream job 10 years from now. Her desire is to find balance. “Working in TV may look glamorous from the outside, but the rigors of working nights, weekends, and holidays distort your sense of normalcy,” she stated. That being the case, Paula’s long-range goal is to share her professional knowledge with others, possibly in a training or supervisory role or even teaching at the college level.

Paula looks forward to a time when her life will be simpler and less intense. She said, “I want to actually go to a game and watch it from somewhere other than the press box. I want to get a hot dog and a Coke and sit and enjoy the game rather than worrying about stats and analysis. I want to remember what it is like to be a fan.”

On the personal side, Paula’s biggest fan is her husband, John Krueger ’99. The two met while at Cedarville. Their relationship, of course, involved sports and broadcasting. John played basketball while Paula, the aspiring sports reporter, was shooting the games for cable broadcast. John and Paula married in 2000, and Paula’s career started taking off shortly thereafter. She attributes much of her success to John. “He has been my biggest supporter,” she noted. “He has encouraged me through every step of my career and provides emotional support when I am stressed or having a bad day.”

Paula is thankful that while she is on the professional fast track, her personal relationships are keeping pace. “God has blessed me with a patient husband, supportive friends, and unconditional love from my family. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank Him for the people He has put in my life,” she said.