Milwaukee Talks: Fox Sports Wisconsin reporter Telly Hughes
East St. Louis, Ill., native Telly Hughes didn't have a hard time adjusting to life in Milwaukee. Other than a short stint in Georgia, the Fox Sports Wisconsin sideline reporter has worked all over the Midwest, from Des Moines to Minneapolis and finally to Milwaukee – a city that he says feels like home.
The 33-year-old Illinois State University graduate played baseball in college, and sports have always been in his blood. Hughes says that the on-field experience has helped him build a rapport with the players in the clubhouse, he's a lot less star-struck than he was earlier in his career.
Hughes, who won an Emmy in 2008 for "Our Heroes: A Black History Month Special," sat down with us in the dugout before a Brewers game last week, to talk about his career, how he got here, and the difference between covering Brewers and Bucks games. Enjoy this latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: Tell me the Telly Hughes story.
Telly Hughes: It started in East St. Louis in a single-parent home. My mom raised five of us, and I actually have a brother who's a news anchor in Miami.
OMC: So broadcasting runs in the family?
TH: It wasn't by design. I played baseball, and when I graduated from high school, I actually just wanted to go to college, get drafted and leave. I didn't even think about graduating, but I used to get compliments on my voice. I didn't know what I was going to do, so I thought maybe I could do radio and talk about baseball, since I'd been playing it since I was 5 years old. In about 1998, my junior year of college, there was a TV internship available. I looked at the sports guys, and I was like, I could do that. That's how I got started.
OMC: Were you playing baseball and pursuing broadcasting at the same time?
TH: When I was playing baseball, I wasn't pursuing anything, to be honest. I was taking mass comm courses, just because it was always intriguing, but I didn't take it seriously.
OMC: At some point, did you realize that your career wouldn't be playing baseball?
TH: Exactly. My sophomore year of college I had to actually make a decision because my grades were suffering. It was either baseball or a degree.
OMC: You've worked at a few places before landing in Milwaukee, right?
TH: Macon, Ga., was my first job. I had never anchored before in my life, and while I was in college I started off in St. Louis as a production assistant running the teleprompter, ripping scripts and getting coffee. I ended up teaching myself how to run a prompter and shadowing reporters at night, even though I worked the morning show. I got an audition in Macon, and it worked out, though I don't know how it worked out, because I was terrible. I was there for two years, Des Moines for two years, back home in St. Louis for two years, before joining Fox four years ago.
OMC: You moved from Minneapolis to Milwaukee three years ago. What has that been like?
TH: It's been great. I've really enjoyed my time in Milwaukee. It's a lot closer to my hometown, of course, and it has more of a Midwestern feel, even though Minneapolis is considered the Midwest. It feels a lot more like home.
OMC: Do feel adjusted to Milwaukee yet?
TH: It wasn't much of an adjustment, though it's tough when it's this cold in May. But Milwaukee has been great. Viewers have accepted me from day one. It was a tough position to come into. Trenni (Kusnierek) was well-liked and from here, and I had some reservations when I first got here, but the fans have been great. They respect my work and they seem to like my work. No one has come and told me I suck and they hate my work, so that's a good thing!
OMC: Does being a former athlete make your job easier? Can you relate to the players on a level that people who haven't played cannot?
TH: I think it's an advantage. I don't think that if you're not an athlete you can't do this job. It helps with the guys knowing that I've been around the game my whole life just like they have. I do have a good rapport and I think that he really helps me in my relationship around these guys.
OMC: So why don't they put you on the on-field instructionals?
TH: Well, somebody has to go in there and get the interviews in the clubhouse!
OMC: I'm told you still get a little star-struck when doing interviews. Is that true?
TH: It has subsided tremendously, but I'm still a fan. When I get to a ballpark, it is work mode, and you turn the switch. For most people my age, they can't say they've been to every Major League ballpark, and I have.
OMC: Where were you nervous when you interviewed Michael Jordan?
TH: I was only 22, so yeah. Now, it takes a whole lot to be star-struck.
OMC: From a work perspective, what's more fun, a Bucks game or a Brewers game?
TH: I think Bucks, only because in baseball there are so many games, and you play the same team three or four times in a series. You may see LeBron in November and not again until February. I'd say basketball is more fun because more famous people go to basketball games. When the Bucks played the Knicks on Carmelo Anthony's debut, Madison Square Garden was just unbelievable. You rarely get that at a baseball game.
gbush 2004 has it all wrong -- clearly needs to go back to flipping burgers or picking up (my) trash! Telly Hughes is AWESOME, and clearly has a bright future in TV biz -- can't wait to see him on the national level!! Keep up the good work -- Telly, you are the best! We LOVE you!!!!
Since I guess no one has told Tully, I'll tell him right now: Your work sucks!!!
I like Telly, I hope FSW keeps this guy longer than the last few that left so quickly. I wish we could've kept bob brainerd but Telly does a great job so let's keep him!
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