Student reporters meet Philly’s first female sports anchor

Leslie Gudel speaks with students in Pearson-McGonigle. She was the first female sports anchor in the city when she started at Comcast SportsNet in 1997.
Leslie Gudel speaks with students in Pearson-McGonigle. She was the first female sports anchor in the city when she started at Comcast SportsNet in 1997.

A small group of Temple University School of Media and Communication students got to sit down for an intimate discussion with Philadelphia’s first female sports anchor Oct. 7 in Pearson-McGonigle Hall.

The students — many who hope to work in sports journalism — got to hear from Comcast SportsNet’s Leslie Gudel how she worked her way from the evening news in Pocatello, Idaho, to the anchor desk in one of the nation’s largest markets.

Gudel didn’t major in journalism and started her professional career in sales, so when life started pushing her toward sports reporting, she had to work extra hard to get in the door.

The mother of a son and a daughter, she says, “there is something about boys that makes them want to watch sports the minute they come out. I never read box scores growing up.”

When the small market job was offered to her, her financial adviser looked over her $14,000 a year contract, let her know that it was an awful deal, but encouraged her to accept right away.

“Sign it,” he told her. “You got a job.”

Gudel looks back fondly on her time in Pocatello, especially since her time there in the pre-You Tube era allowed her to make on-camera mistakes without the world knowing about it.

The Temple students gather with Leslie Gudel.
The Temple students gather with Leslie Gudel.

As a cub reporter, Gudel said she watched her broadcast every day, much like athletes gather to watch game footage. “It was really important for me to improve.”

The sports broadcaster urged the students to perfect their writing skills.

“Writing is the greatest fall-back that no one ever talks about,” she said.

The students asked her what it was like covering a not-so-exciting Phillies team this year (to which she replied, “I get paid to work on a baseball field,) and about the relationships she builds with the players.

Gudel spoke of two incidents in which pitcher Cole Hamels was negatively impacted by her stories and actions, which they were able to work through since she had built up a level of trust with him.

She also spoke about work/life balance and how her priorities have changed in recent years.

“Live [your professional dreams] as much as you can, because you live it in a very different way after you have kids.”