Making it in sports broadcast

ESPN presenter Rebecca Lowe is a judge for ESPN’s sports reporter search with the FA Women’s Super League. She tells us about her own route to the top

Getting a job on the telly is a dream job, but an incredibly tough one to land. Getting a job talking about sport on the telly, meanwhile, is much, much harder. And if you want to be a woman on TV, talking about sport, you’re basically out of luck.

Well, that’s not quite true. Nearly 10 years ago, a 21-year-old Rebecca Lowe entered a major BBC talent search on the off-chance. She beat the odds to score a sixth-month presenting gig, and a decade later she’s the face of ESPN’s football coverage in this country. How did she come so far so fast?

“I’d planned on being an actress,” she admits. “My mother was an actress, and that was all I was going to do. Then a friend of mine gave me a leaflet for the BBC talent search. I just thought ‘Oh, I’ll apply for this’ and didn’t think anything of it.”

She makes what must have been a gruelling process sound so simple – she filled in a (12-page!) form and got through to the next few rounds, and then the final, where ‘it was suddenly getting a bit serious!’. She got the job after a day of practical trials at Television Centre, and stayed with the BBC for four-and-a-half years, before moving to Setanta and finally stopping at ESPN.

A typical day’s work doesn’t exist; football moves so fast that a presenter’s job is rarely office-bound. For instance, on the day of the interview, Rebecca was on her way to Wembley to cover a glamour clash between Wembley and Uxbridge in the preliminary round of the FA Cup. Her work for that was mostly preparatory research,  which means a lot of time spent in the car.

“I spent a lot of yesterday reading statistics for both teams, so I’m fully knowledgeable about the stories of the game – players’ backgrounds, what’s at stake and all of that,” she says.

“We’ve only got a 15-minute build-up, so I haven’t got a huge amount to do, but I’m with Chris Waddle this evening, so I’ve had a think about my questions and what topics I want to cover.”

That day’s coverage was hard work; a morning of intensive preparation, followed by a two-hour car journey. The broadcast didn’t finish until past 10pm, and that was followed by a long trip home. But even this pales into comparison with the work she’ll have to do for a big game up north. Friday night will be spent in a hotel room with a laptop: “I have to make sure I know absolutely every last statistic about all the players. I get a stats pack from our researchers – it’s about 100 pages long.”

Despite the workload, she loves the job: “every day is different,” she says. “The variety [of teams she sees] keeps me on my toes – so I need to know about a lot of different subjects.”

“The other thing with football is that people love it,” she adds. “I’m really lucky to work in an industry that people see as something so special.”

How to get the job

So the big question is – how should a budding young sports reporter go about getting into such a tricky industry?

“I would say ‘be prepared to start from the bottom’ – because you have to learn everything,”  she says. “There’s no doing it quickly. The thing about sports broadcasting is that you are learning all the time. I’m still learning loads, and I’m ten years in!”

“When I won the competition I had a lot of shadowing and following and listening.”

She values work experience, too: “Before the competition, I actually worked for TalkSport radio, literally making tea and answering the phone. That was work experience – which was supposed to be two weeks long, but it lasted two months and then it turned into a job.”

Unfortunately though, work experience usually means working for free.

“If you can possibly, possibly find a way that you can work for free – maybe do an evening job as well, because that’s what you have to do these days – you should do that,” she says. “It gets your foot in the door, and it shows you’ve got a work ethic, which is really important. If you work for free and you’re good enough, then they’re not going to want to let you go and they will start paying you.”

“I also advise you to try and contact as many people as you can. Send your CV, send your showreel, send your audio tape, whatever it is, and follow it up. Be persistent. A good friend of mine sent a showreel to a producer every day for a week, with a different chocolate bar in the envelope. It made her look unique, and it made the guy laugh, and she ended up getting a job. You’ve got to do something different to get noticed, because it is so competitive.”

“The last thing I would say is: know your subject as best you can. Knowledge and research is crucial in an industry like this. Everyone knows a lot, and you’ve got to know a lot as well.”

ESPN football TV presenter Rebecca Lowe is a judge on the broadcaster’s and FA Women’s Super League search for a new sports TV reporter. The winner will present their own TV report for ESPN. For more information on how to enter the competition, please visit www.FAWSL.com

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

C# .NET Developer (SQL, Algorithms, Data Algorithms, Artificial

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Develo...

Cover Supervisors needed in Wrexham

£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Job Opportunities for Cover S...

Cover Supervisors needed in Flintshire

£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Job Opportunities for Cover S...

MATHEMATICS TEACHER- CITY OF LONDON- APRIL 14

£135 - £160 per day: AER Teachers: An excellent opportunity has arisen for a M...

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players