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Q&A with Curt Menefee

Host of the NFL on Fox Pre-Game Show

Sports Broadcasting Career Advice from a Television Triple Threat

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If you close your eyes for a moment and just listen, the golden voice you hear deftly deferring to his more heralded collegues on set of the NFL on Fox pre-game show is one of the industries only true triple threats.

I don’t know how well Curt Menefee can run, pass or kick – but he has mastered the art of anchoring, hosting and play-by-play announcing over his almost 30 years in the broadcast industry.

“Each job, to me, is a totally different discipline," says Menefee "I love the creativity of being a local sportscaster, play-by-play is like being given a test on national television…but being a host, that is probably the most challenging."

Menefee doesn’t have a fancy journalism school degree, just a wonderful small college education and an unparalleled work ethic that set him apart early in his career. Here’s more with Curt Menefee:

Curt Menefee’s TV “Stats”

curt menefee ufc on fox host and football play by play Education: Coe College (Nickname: The Kohawks)

First Job On Camera After College: WOI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa (currently market #72)

Best piece of advice: Be willing to do anything and everything. You impress people a lot more with your work ethic than your resume.

Hosting Duties: NFL on Fox, UEFA Champions League, UFC on Fox

Follow Curt on Twitter

When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career on camera?

Menefee: I originally thought that I wanted to work behind the scenes in television, either as a Producer or Camera guy. But as an 18/19 year old “freelance volunteer” (for lack of a better term) during my sophomore year in college, the Sports Director at the local station I was working at suggested that I take the nightly highlight tapes and voice them over after the show. That way I’d learn to write and hear how my voice sounded on tape and could work from there.

Many great sports broadcasters have gone to big schools like Syracuse and Missouri, you went to tiny Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa…why Coe? And what the heck is a Kohawk?

Menefee: Because Iowa is the Hawkeye State, practically every school there has “hawk” in it somewhere (University of Dubuque is the Duhawks, Prairie HS is the Prairiehawks, etc). I decided to go to Coe simply because I wanted to go to a small school away curt menefee coe college cedar rapids iowa from home (Atlanta) and I loved the personal touch and Liberal Arts curriculum that it offered. I’m now a member of the school’s Board of Trustees, so it worked out!

I truly believe the Liberal Arts background helped develop my sense of wonder because the curriculum encouraged you to dabble in a lot of different things. Nothing has served me better for a career in which investigation, research, writing, and communication are key. Also by going to a small school (with no journalism program) it allowed/forced me to learn the craft on the john at a local station rather than studying theory in a classroom.

When I graduated at the age of 21, I’d already been working for 3 years in an actual television news department which, I believe, gave me a huge advantage over others my age.

After graduating from Coe, how did you land your first job on camera?

Menefee: I was working as a full time sports reporter at KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids from my Sophomore year in college on. First job after college was at WOI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa. My internship experience gave me invaluable contacts that help set me up for my first job.

Looking back at your early career, what was the most important lesson you learned on the job?

Menefee: Be willing to do anything and everything. Don’t worry about the prestige, or where you’re gonna end up. Be the best at the task that you are given at that moment, and say “YES” to every task you are offered.

You impress people a lot more with your work ethic than your resume.

What would you consider your “Big Break”?

Menefee: Because I attended Coe, the summer after my freshman year I went back home to Atlanta where Fred Hickman (then of CNN Sports, and a fellow Coe Alum) helped me get an internship. After we were done each night at 11 p.m., while the other interns went out for a beer, I’d stay late at night after work and hang out with the editors where they taught me to edit video tape.

By doing that, I quickly rose to the one paid internship in the sports department ($5 for every 3 hours of work!!), that led to producing a few of their morning “cut-ins”. Knowing how to edit allowed me to call up the local stations in Cedar Rapids and offer my help. There, the Sports Director, John Campbell (who’s still there), kind oftook me under his wing and suggested that I put my voice down on tape. One thing led to another, I became an on-air reporter, and the rest is history.

You’ve worked as a local sportscaster, Football play-by-play announcer and host for the NFL on Fox pre-game show, which role is the most challenging? Which do you enjoy the most? And which affords you the most creativity?

Menefee: Each job, to me, is a totally different discipline. I love the creativity that being a local sportscaster allows, because you are basically given a block of time (2 or 3 minutes) and you can put together a sportscast however you wish. Writing, editing, funny videos, all to be used in whichever manner you decide.curt menefee nfl on fox pregame crew super bowl

Play-by-play is like being given a test on national Television every week. I loved the spontaneity, the instant recall and the chance to use research.

Being a national host is probably the most challenging, though, because your first task is for it never to be about you, but the sport you’re covering, and the experts you’re sitting beside. Your job is to bring out information and other people’s personality. We all know how to tap into our own, but how do you bring out the best in others every single time?

What advice would you give to someone looking to get their career started on camera?

Menefee: As I stated earlier, be willing to do anything and everything. And always be yourself. You can only pretend to be something/someone else for so long.

Which is harder – dealing with Terry Bradshaw and crew or hosting the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final?

Menefee: Ha Ha!! I love them both!!

Your career is skyrocketing, what challenge would you like to take on next?

Menefee: Everything that I have achieved is already beyond my wildest dreams!! I can’t imagine a better gig than hosting the NFL On FOX Pre-game show. It’s the biggest sport on the biggest platform!!

I love the UEFA Chanmpions League stuff because I’m a fan of international (particularly European) soccer, and I’ve recently added UFC On FOX hosting duties. I’m learning that sport more and more each day and really, really loving it.

I guess someday I’d love to host Olympic coverage. Fox has come close on the last two bids, maybe the third time will be the charm!

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