Better Know a Broadcaster: SEC Network host/reporter Alyssa Lang
As we hopefully approach the start of the 2020 football season, we at Saturday Football are speaking with a number of college football broadcasters and analysts. This week, SEC Network reporter and host Alyssa Lang spoke with newsletter editor Adam Spencer.
Lang is a graduate of South Carolina and spent the 2019 season as the sideline reporter for a broadcast crew that also included Taylor Zarzour and Matt Stinchcomb. She also hosted “Thinking Out Loud” and was an anchor on the “SEC Now” desk. We discussed spilled soda, Mia Hamm, a not-so-secret Virginia Tech fandom and newfound cooking skills.
(Note: Interview edited for clarity and length.)
Adam Spencer: When did you know that being a reporter or host was what you wanted to do?
Alyssa Lang: When I was in middle school, I took a public speaking class. At the end of the year, my teacher said something to my parents about looking into career paths utilizing public speaking. My parents encouraged me to look into more as I got into high school.
I ended up doing the morning announcements, writing for the school newspaper, drama club, etc. Combine that with being sports-obsessed from the age of 6, and I had the realization that talking about sports was something I could do for a living. Friends signed my high school yearbook with, “see you on ESPN,” which is crazy to look back at.
AS: When you got started in the business, who were some of your biggest inspirations? And, who do you still enjoy watching or listening to now?
AL: Tom Rinaldi was always someone I tried to emulate early in my career. He’s just so good at everything he does. He’s very kind, too. I met him when I was in college and he left a lasting impression.
Suzy Kolber is another broadcaster who I always looked up to. She gives off such great energy. She’s so knowledgeable, but has this ability to make it all seamless and fun.
When it comes to sideline reporting, Tracy Wolfson was and is one of my favorites. She always has the best composure and asks great questions. I would constantly take notes on what kind of interview questions she had in the tank.
AS: As a reporter, what has been the best game you’ve been a part of?
AL: I’ve gotten to see some great games so far in a short time with SEC Network, but if we’re talking “best” game so far, I have to go back to my local TV career. When I was working in Jacksonville, I covered the Jags’ playoff run in 2018. They went to Pittsburgh for the divisional round and won big to advance to the AFC Championship. It was amazing to see a franchise and a locker room that had long been laughed at prove so many people wrong. And it was awesome to see up close.
AS: What’s the funniest moment/mishap you’ve had either on the field or in the studio?
AL: This past year, during a women’s basketball show, one of our analysts (I won’t snitch and say who) spilled a giant cup of soda ALL OVER the underside of the studio desk and floor. I mean there was ice and soda all over everything — papers, shoes, our bags — and we were literally 15 seconds to show time. All we could do was laugh while it just seeped through the studio floor. We came on the air pretending like everything was fine, even though I think you could see some of the spillage in the background of one of the shots. It was definitely a test of willpower to not lose control laughing!
AS: As a South Carolina graduate, what is your top game/memory from your time as a Gamecocks fan?
AL: South Carolina vs. Georgia, 2012. It was in Columbia. College GameDay was there. It was one of those night games that I think HAD to be among the loudest in Williams Brice history. It was electric. When Ace Sanders ran that punt back 70 yards to the house… I thought there was about to be an earthquake.
AS: Is there a random, non-SEC team you’ve always liked for no particular reason? (For example, I always find myself wishing Wake Forest was more consistently good since I love the Demon Deacons nickname and mascot.)
AL: Both of my parents graduated from Virginia Tech, so I grew up bleeding maroon and orange. We actually had a dog named Beamer, and there was more than one occasion when I shed a tear over a Tech loss. I’m an SEC girl now, but my heart will always have a spot for the Hokies. I became the football fan I am today because of Blacksburg, Virginia, and Lane Stadium on Thursday night remains one of the coolest college football sights.
AS: If you could do a long interview with any athlete (alive or dead), who would it be and why?
AL: Mia Hamm has always been a bucket list interview. I grew up playing soccer, and the 99ers were my heroes. What she and that team did for women’s soccer, and girls everywhere, will be remembered forever.
AS: Now that we’ve been without sports for a couple of months, is there something you’ve learned about yourself or a new skill you’ve developed with some of your free time?
AL: If you’d have told me this a year ago I’m not sure I would’ve believed it… I’ve actually become a decent cook! I’ve never particularly enjoyed cooking, but I think much of that is because I haven’t had the time to really sit and correctly execute a recipe. I’ve had some more time to do that now, and to my surprise, I can cook things without burning them.
Bringing new meaning to ONIONS!!! this evening pic.twitter.com/AZAlXAL67a
— Alyssa Lang (@AlyssaLang) April 2, 2020
We’ll see how long that lasts once sports come back, though.