iNews exclusive: Yankees reporter Meredith Marakovits’ 5 tips on breaking into sports broadcasting

And on her memorable interviews with the YES Network.


Via @mmarakovits on Instagram

Zach Kaplan, Editor-in-chief

When you mention the name Meredith Marakovits to Yankees or baseball fans, they know who you’re talking about. Marakovits is the Yankees’ clubhouse reporter, and has worked the role since 2012, where she has worked tirelessly to get the scoop from Yankees and opposing ballplayers. She has always been there to ask players questions immediately following big moments, and sometimes has been in the line of fire with a few too many unwanted Gatorade showers and champagne baths. The iNews Network sat down with Marakovits over Zoom to discuss her career path and trajectory, her role models, and her many memorable interviews that she has conducted while with the YES Network. 

iNews: What did Meredith Marakovits want to do when she was in middle or high school?

Meredith: You’re looking at it. I wanted to do TV in some capacity, I had a feeling that it would be sports broadcasting because I grew up in a very athletic oriented family, I always played a lot of sports and got a D1 volleyball scholarship. So I guess that’s what I thought going into my later years of high school that I wanted to focus on and most of the schools that I looked at I wanted to make sure they had a strong communication department and had a TV station, was one of my requirements, that they either had a station or was near a major city that would give me access to some of those big professional sports teams. 

iNews: Did you ever have a “eureka” moment, like where you knew you wanted to be in broadcast?

Meredith: I really didn’t, I grew up with two older brothers, so all we did was sports, whether it would be playing at the basketball hoop outside our house, or going to games, that was basically what our whole life revolved around, so it’s not much of a surprise that I ended up doing something in the sports industry. I know some people say “I know as far back as I could remember I was announcing games on the TV” and doing stuff like that. I had people that I looked up to in the industry and people that I certainly watched, especially women in the industry. 

iNews: You mentioned that you had a bunch of people in the sports industry that you watched and looked up to, could you name a few of those people?

Meredith: I loved Linda Cohen, who’s still on the air at ESPN, she always did a wonderful job, Lesley Visser, who I had the privilege of meeting, along with Suzyn Waldman, those two are pioneers in this industry, and to be able to have a drink with them and hear about their experiences was absolutely amazing. There have been several, I was in the Philadelphia area, so Dei Lynam who was doing the Sixers games at the time when I was growing up, I wound up getting the Sixers’ sideline gig and becoming friends with Dei. I remember speaking to her like you’re speaking to me now, I was either in high school or college. 

iNews: To make this story as relatable to the readers as possible, I’d like to ask you about rejection real quick. Sports broadcasting is such a competitive industry, what advice would you give, from your experience, to someone who has gone through or will go through that kind of rejection professionally, and how they can get through it even if it feels devastating?

Meredith: Well while the rejection is frustrating, it is part of the process. In my mindset, I only needed one person to say yes, I didn’t need 20 people to say no. I needed one person to say yes to me and take a chance on me and then it’s up to me to prove that they made the right choice. To me getting in, all I needed was one person to like me, to say yes, and once you get your foot in the door it’s easier to move around, the struggle is just getting that first job, and trying to work on your craft. I would tell them, while it is frustrating, if this is what you want to do, keep working at it, keep getting your reps and keep putting yourself out there. You also don’t have to hole yourself in, a lot of people say “Oh, I want to do sideline, I want to be a play by play guy on TV.” One of my first big breaks was on radio, and I never had any interest in doing radio, but I took that gig because it was in Philadelphia, and to me it was better to be in a major market, and try to work it out that way as opposed to going to, say, somewhere in Montana. At that same time I was able to do TV at a local station in Allentown (Pennsylvania), but I think you have to look big picture and think, the journey is part of the fun too and you’ll look back at some of those rejections and think, “I can’t believe I doubted myself there.”

iNews: One thing about sports broadcasting is you have to really think on your feet. Have you had a situation where you’ve been sort of a “deer in the headlights” and really had to think on your feet?

Meredith: So, my first TV gig ever, I was either a sophomore or junior in college, and I was just so excited that someone was giving me an opportunity and that I was going to do sidelines for TV. It was a doubleheader, a men’s/women’s basketball game, they used to have doubleheaders back in the day. While I had done a few things for LaSalle 56 which is now named LaSalle TV where I went to college, I showed up at Stabler Arena (in Bethlehem, PA) that day having never worked in a professional capacity before, and they handed me a microphone, and simply said “When the red light goes on, talk.” I kid you not. I don’t even think we had IFBs (monitoring systems used in broadcast and radio), so I couldn’t hear what the announcers were saying, it was like “Here ya go, kid, have at it.” So that was kind of like a “What are we doing here” moment, but you learn fast that way, and I’m kind of glad it happened, because it forced me to think on my feet and be ready and have something to say. Now, would I love to see those tapes? I probably wouldn’t, it would probably be very cringeworthy, but it was great experience. 

iNews: There are people out there who know what they’re interested in doing and know their passions but are struggling to figure out their personal brand and ways that they can project themselves to the world. What advice would you give to someone on how to manifest their interests online, especially on social media?

Meredith: I don’t think you need to figure it out all right away, you can find yourself a little bit along the way, and I think that’s one of the beauties about the evolution of technology, and how much stuff you have access to that other people might not have access to. You can start a YouTube channel at a very young age, there’s so much available to you at your fingertips and I think what’s key is to find what you’re passionate about, because if you’re passionate about it, it will show, whether it’s on camera, writing, on radio, whatever you wind up doing the passion will shine through. If it’s something that feels like a job that you don’t really want or like doing, don’t do it. You guys are so young and you have a ton of time to figure it out, and it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers right now, that’s part of the process. You might think that you want to be on-air and find out that you like producing much more and like being behind the scenes and editing more. As far as building a brand, I think you need to be as smart as possible about the decisions that you’re making, especially at a young age, knowing now, in the digital world, things stick for a long time, so just make sure what you’re posting and talking about, if it follows you, that you’re okay with it following you. You guys have access to people, you can send somebody a DM, send someone a Twitter message, it’s easier to find email addresses, and doing Zoom calls like these are great for people to work on interviewing skills and get comfortable with the camera and seeing themselves, watching it back and seeing what you could’ve done differently. 

iNews: To build on what you said about Zoom, we’ve all had to become acquainted with using this platform during the pandemic, and some things that you’re used to doing as sort of a routine like pregame and postgame interviews with players and coaches, have had to be transferred to virtual. What, if any, strategies have you used to navigate virtual conversations and communications?

Meredith: Luckily I had a fairly good handle on the technology aspect, I already had a circle light, tripods, I already had some production equipment at my house, so I feel like early in the pandemic I already had a leg up because I had access to it and knowledge on how to use this equipment. I will tell you that there is no substitute for in-person conversation, and I do find that sometimes some stuff isn’t lost in translation but it is more difficult to conduct interviews like this, because you do get a better feel when you’re looking at the person physically instead of on a screen. But it is what it is, you have to make the best of the situation and try your best to get what you want going into the interview. You have to have an idea in your mind of where you want the interview to go and what you want to achieve from it, if you have that it’s not much different than what I had been doing. But, it’s just that everyone’s internet speed is different, with Zoom it feels like every day is a new adventure, and something always inevitably pops up so you have to be prepared for technical difficulties and almost laugh them off. You can’t let every little thing bother you. I’m trying to think about who we had, and I kept freezing, or they kept freezing, or they’re not recording on this end, something always happens. It’s like, 2020, we’re still working, it could be worse.

iNews: What’s been the most memorable interview you’ve done with someone? Aside from this one, of course.

Meredith: This one’s definitely number one. No, I would say, and this is what a lot of people point to, unfortunately I’ve never covered a World Series with the Yankees but there have been some unbelievable moments over the years. If you think about some of the players who’ve retired while I’ve been there: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, C.C. (Sabathia) last year, so I was able to do some of those closing interviews and I think the Jeter game when he retired with his final game at Yankee Stadium (where he got a walk-off single to end the game) was just a storybook, movie ending. Like no one’s career, one that’s so charmed, could end like that, and of course it did for him. His final interview at Yankee Stadium in 2014, I want to say it was September 27th, 2014, I was one of the last interviews that he gave at Yankee Stadium. They had it looped into the loudspeaker, it was funny, I said the first couple words and you could hear people quieting, but as soon as Derek (Jeter) said one word, you could hear a pin drop in the stadium. It got quiet so fast, it was wild to me. Another thing about that game that I found looking back on it, was how the energy at the stadium for such an ordinary game, like, the Yankees had been knocked out of the playoffs, it didn’t mean anything. David Robertson was the closer, he was having a really nice year closing and he wound up blowing the save to even give Derek the opportunity to get up to bat again in the bottom of the 9th. There’s so many things that had to fall into place for Derek to have that chance, and the fact that it felt like Game 7 of a World Series in there for a meaningless September game, is just wild to me.