CBS’ Tracy Wolfson talks sports media, NCAA Tourney (exclusive part 1/3)

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Tracy Wolfson did the sideline work for CBS at the Big Ten Tournament. Her Michigan Wolverines, she’s a UM grad beat Ohio State in a nail-biter and then lost to my Michigan State Spartans, I did my MBA at MSU, in the Tourney final. Although I can’t talk smack because 1.) The Wolverines eliminated my Illini (I did my undergrad at UI) and 2.) I was at press row as well in Indianapolis, and we all know there’s absolutely no cheering in the press box.

As you watch March Madness this week/weekend, the premier event of college basketball, and the biggest sporting event of the spring, you will undoubtedly notice Wolfson. Tracy Wolfson will work in St. Louis this weekend: New Mexico versus Stanford and Kansas vs Eastern Kentucky on TBS on Friday. Then Wichita State versus the play-in winner on CBS Friday night; followed by Kentucky versus Kansas State. Here are all the tip times, TV channels and on-air talent assignments for the week/weekend

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Tracy Wolfson formerly worked for MSG Network as an anchor and reporter as well as covering golf, college football and Arena Football for ESPN from 2002–2003. Her on-air career began at WZBN in Trenton, New Jersey as a sports anchor. Tracy Wolfson also appeared as a reporter for Long Island News Tonight (LI News Tonight) a local Long Island college-run news station.

You can follow Tracy Wolfson on Twitter (@tracywolfson), on her Facebook fan page and on her blog Tracy Wolfson .net. (She just launched it last week)

In the first part of this interview, we talk numerous topics, including putting your fandom aside when working in this business. Working in this industry does make you become less of a fan, and instead you develop an affinity towards the personalities that provide good quotes/content.

On putting the Michigan partisanship aside, and the ideas I just mentioned….

Tracy Wolfson: “That’s a very good point. It’s a great way to say it, exactly, you lose your fandom and you do become fans of those that you enjoy covering. It happens all the time. We’re completely unbiased when we cover a game, but it’s always fun to have a team to root for. Michigan vs. Michigan State may be a rivalry, but it’s not a rivalry to me. I happen to love Tom Izzo. We always joke about how I’m from Michigan and he coaches for Michigan State. It would have been great for Michigan to win, but I was by no means upset with the outcome. It’s very easy when you work around great coaches to that extent.”

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This summer I had an exclusive with Jim Nantz and he told me how he saved “One Shining Moment” from being eliminated. Thoughts on OSM and working with the legend, Mr. Nantz……

Tracy Wolfson: “It’s an honor to work with Jim. I’m glad he saved One Shining Moment, you need to have that consistency because there’s so many things that can change. It’s one thing everyone remembers, and the end of the game and the montage after the championship. We get to see that again during our meetings before tournament time. They just showed it to us two weeks ago, and in my ten years at CBS, every time I get chills, and I even shed a tear. You’re a part of it, and it’s emotional.”

“I wrote a blog on my website, “My Favorite Time of Year.” I get to cover some of the best college football games there are in the SEC. But there is nothing like covering March Madness and the Final Four”

On role models, mentors in the industry….

Tracy Wolfson: “I really didn’t have a role model growing up, I didn’t know how to get into the business, so I just watched a lot of broadcasters growing up, I learned my craft that way, but once I broke into CBS, I looked up to Lesley Visser. What she’s done throughout her career, the longevity of it, how she broke barriers, her intelligence and her humor, she really knows what she’s talking about and she makes it personal and brings a human side to it. She’s taught me a lot and really paved the way, I can’t thank her enough. I just look to have that longevity with one network that she has. I’ve been with CBS for 11 years and there’s something really nice about that.”

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on advice to women breaking into the industry….

Tracy Wolfson: “I have a few pieces of advice. For one, do not Google yourself or search your name on Twitter because nothing good comes out of that. There are a lot of horrid people out there that are just going to put you down and you’ve got to ignore those outside influences and voices, and just worry about yourself and doing a good job. Number two, know your stuff, because if you know your stuff, then no one can say anything about you, and you’ll be fine.

Number three, versatile. Do everything, it kind of got me to where I am today. Anything and everything they ask. If it’s ‘hey our lighting man disappeared, can you help us carry this?” Don’t be a diva, go do that stuff. And people are going to want to work with you, and they’re going to want to work with you for a long time.”

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“And the other simple thing, just be nice. People forget about that, but those who last for a long time in this business are really good to work with.

And this was from a conference call I was on last fall; previewing the Texas A&M versus Alabama match-up

Tracy Wolfson on Johnny Manziel: “I think social media itself blows everything out of proportion to begin with, and I think Verne mentioned this at the top, without all of these avenues, we might not see all of this taking place behind the scenes with Johnny Manziel. We’d probably only be seeing what happens on the field, but we do see what happens off the field and there’s a lot of judgment that goes into it and a lot of questions of why and how.”

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Tracy Wolfson exclusive part 1 (Sports Media, NCAA Tournament)

Tracy Wolfson exclusive part 2 (March Madness, Bracket picks)

Tracy Wolfson exclusive part 3 (meeting Bo Ryan again after the infamous interview)

Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also a frequent analyst on multiple news talk radio stations. The former NBC Chicago and Washington Times contributor has also been featured on the History Channel.

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