LSU Alumna Works Dream Job for Fox Sports
LSU in NOLA: Jen Hale
BATON ROUGE - You might recognize LSU graduate Jen Hale from Fox Sports. But you may not know that the sports reporter and anchor initially had plans of becoming an attorney, studying political science at LSU.
“What’s a better place than Louisiana to study political science? The classes were just so interesting, and with it being a state capital, and such an interesting state capital, there were so many great hands-on experiences and examples that it really brought the studies to life as a student,” Hale said.
Hale was born in New Orleans, on the West Bank, but grew up in Mobile, Alabama. She said her family would come back to New Orleans for holidays and vacations.
“It had just been a dream of mine since I was young to figure out a way to live here, so LSU was a natural inclination when I started looking at colleges and then their Honors College is so amazing,” Hale said. “It really helped insulate me and make sure that I got just the right start in LSU. The professors there I think they did a fantastic job of challenging you but also supporting you – making sure you individually had the right balance of encouragement so you didn’t get down on yourself, but really challenging you to expand your horizons and think differently. I really think that was my first experience to think critically, and I'm so grateful for it.”
Hale said she used her knowledge to become a political analyst for Tiger TV, LSU’s student-run television news program.
“It was for one of the elections and that was my introduction to television, and I fell in love with it. I thought maybe I could use this political science degree in a way I wasn’t originally planning,” Hale said.
After graduating from LSU in 1999, Hale received her master’s degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, where she studied journalism. To begin her television news career, she returned to Louisiana.
“I started in Monroe, Louisiana, then went to Baton Rouge and was the capital correspondent for WAFB. Then that led me to Birmingham and then MSNBC,” Hale said. “I covered [Hurricane] Katrina here [in New Orleans] for MSNBC, and I was here for 6 months. When the assignment was over and they sent me off to the next natural disaster, I did not want to leave. I wanted to be here and be part of the rebuilding process and that’s when I started looking for jobs here and found the morning anchor job at Fox 8, WVUE. And I loved it.”
But Hale also always loved sports, learning about first downs and touchdowns from her father. During her time at LSU, Hale was a cheerleader, Miss LSU and Homecoming queen.
“It’s true, there’s really nothing like a Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I still get chills and goosebumps thinking about it. I miss being out on the field,” Hale said.
She found time to return to football while anchoring at WVUE.
“It just so happened our sports department had lost two out of three folks who worked there, and it was Saints training camp back, when they had two a days. My boss knew I loved sports and was very well versed in it,” Hale said. “One thing led to another. I met the Saints folks, talked to people there, and the Bensons [the owners of the Saints] ended up recommending me to the NFL on Fox for a sideline reporter position. I actually didn’t apply for the job, they called me. I almost hate telling that story because it was so easy, but there were so many other jobs that I stalked news directors in parking lots for hours to hand them a resume reel.”
2019 marks Hale’s 9th season on the sidelines for the NFL on Fox and the 8th season with the New Orleans Pelicans. She splits her time between New Orleans and Los Angeles.
“It’s just been a crazy journey,” Hale said. “I try to always be with the Pelicans for home and away games. I do miss Saturday and Sunday’s when its football season for NFL on Fox duties,” Hale said. “I love it, it’s a lot of fun. I think what really helped me succeed in juggling it all is because of the organizational skills and journalism skills I learned at LSU.”
When she’s not traveling with Fox or filling in on the Fox Sport’s show “Undisputed,” Hale gives back to the Louisiana community.
“We have an organization known as Sideline Pass. It is made up of bunch of greater New Orleans women and some from Baton Rouge too. We’re all about empowering the young woman of our community. Teaching them what that means,” Hale said. “Making sure they have solid educations, making sure they’re exposed to different life experiences. We do some outreach programs that bring girls of every income level together and then we have several specifically for just at-risk girls, girls in foster care or girls living in homeless shelters.”
She also volunteers with the American Heart Association after she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at the age of 38.
“The summer of 2016, I was just exhausted all the time,” Hale said. “I kept making excuses for it, that it was part of getting older. When I finally did go to doctor, they said I was low in vitamin b and vitamin d, but I still didn’t feel better, was actually feeling much worse. I was getting short of breath, I couldn’t exercise which was bizarre for me. I went to another doctor who did a chest X-ray, which didn’t show anything. Six weeks after that, my limbs started swelling, and I couldn’t put shoes on.”
A trip to the emergency room made the diagnosis, which she said doctors told her would require a heart transplant, or medicine, or only five years to live.
“The left side of my heart stretched way out. The right side takes blood in, and the left side pumps it. It wasn’t able to pump the necessary blood to my body and get oxygen all around. That’s why my lower limbs were swelling, the blood was being concentrated to my vital organs,” Hale said. “So, it was a long journey and no doubt, the most stressful time in my life. But the medicine worked, and my heart is back to normal. I feel like God left me here for a reason and gave me a purpose, so I try to encourage everyone, especially women to not dismiss those symptoms, trust your body.”
To read more about LSU's accomplishments and alumni, visit our accolades website.
Contact Rachel Holland
LSU Media Relations