New Reporter For 'The Fan' Won't Be Another Marks

Posted on May 12, 2010

By Dave Hughes,

Jen Royle (Mitch Stringer/PressBox)
Usually people in the sports media biz climb the ladder of success and advance their careers with moves from smaller markets to bigger ones. If they are lucky, they end up in the biggest market of all -- New York City.

Not Jen Royle. The new Orioles beat reporter for Baltimore's 105.7 The Fan started her media career in New York, and then moved to Baltimore. 

The move south was all her decision. Royle could have stayed in New York, or moved to Philadelphia or Washington D.C., but she chose the smaller, more "hometown" Baltimore market, where she's also seen on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

"I've had enough of the rat race," Royle said, after spending 10 years in the Big Apple, the last four working at YES Network, MLB/Advanced Media and Sirius XM.

"It's very expensive up there," says the Boston native who headed to New York in 2000 for a gig in the fashion business after attending a small Catholic college in Rhode Island.

"I didn't want to be that girl anymore," she said of her years in New York, where she covered the Yankees and later the Mets. "Up there, I was always riding the subways at 1 a.m., lugging my computer around. I'd rather be a bigger fish in a smaller pond."

She also would rather not give her entire paycheck to the landlord. Royle moved to a apartment overlooking the Inner Harbor earlier this year, just a short walk from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. A similar apartment with the same work-to-home proximity in New York would have been simply unaffordable for her, she said.

"I have fallen in love with Baltimore," Royle said.

Royle is the beat reporter for CBS Radio's 105.7 The Fan, WJZ-FM, focusing primarily on the Orioles, but also doing some coverage of the Washington Nationals for MASN, which will have her doing online videos and player interviews and often spending time with visiting teams.

Even with her Boston and New York connections, Royle swears she's not a Yankees or Red Sox fan. She now sings the praises of her "new hometown" and the Orioles.

Even though she is good friends with Anita Marks, Royle insists she's not a new version of her.

The controversial Marks didn't get her contract renewed in January for her afternoon co-host gig at 105.7 -- much to the delight of some of the station's listeners, judging by comments posted on Internet comment boards and blogs.

"I am not a replacement for Anita, even though I am the only female at The Fan," said Royle.

Her boss, CBS Radio Baltimore vice president of programming Dave Labrozzi, agrees. There is no rush to get Royle paired full-time with Scott Garceau on 105.7's afternoon drive show to fill Marks' shoes.

"I think she'll slowly work her way to co-hosting," said Jim Williams, who covers local sports media for Examiner. "They can't put her on suddenly like they did with Anita."

In the meantime, WJZ-FM has brought in Jeremy Conn to co-host with Garceau in the afternoons, and that's the game plan for the foreseeable future, Labrozzi said.

"I don't want people to get sick of me, before they get to know me," Royle said of her attempt to ease into the Baltimore market. She stresses she's perfectly happy spending time "on the field" covering the team, instead of four hours every afternoon in the radio studio.

"I am not aggressive like Anita," Royle said. "I don't want to ruffle any feathers. We are very different people, very different types of reporters. … I love covering the team. I want to stay out on the field."

Royle's hiring "is the logical next step in MASN's continuing arc to cover and to promote Major League Baseball throughout Washington, Baltimore and the entire mid-Atlantic region," said Todd Webster, a spokesman for MASN. "She is a veteran sports journalist who brings experience, insights and baseball knowledge to the network and to MASN's expanded online presence."

Royle's first sports media gig was with New York's YES Network (mainly Yankees games) in 2003, but after the network sold its Web site to MLB and Advanced Media in 2007 she went along with the transfer.

However, she began to get restless. While MLB was in the process of launching a TV network, Royle spent most of her time on the writing side, mainly doing reporting and videos for the Web.

A friend soon lined her up with a gig at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, covering the Yankees, Mets and their visiting teams. But, not making much money and without job-provided health insurance proved tough, and Royle wanted out of New York, even though she had a job offer at WEPN, ESPN 1050, one of the city's major sports talkers.

She interviewed with Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia and with the new John Riggins radio show in Washington, but decided instead to come to Baltimore. Royle fell in love with the place when she guest-hosted the 105.7 show with Marks at the Orioles' home opener in 2009.

Conn had been using Royle as a commentary voice with Marks whenever the Orioles played the Yankees. Royle says Conn claims to have "discovered" her, at least for Baltimore, by choosing her from a baseball media guide.

It just so happened MASN officials were listening to that 2009 show and liked what they heard. After last season ended, talks with CBS Radio Baltimore started. Early this year, she made the move.

Having the Yankees win the World Series in October put a punctuation mark on her NYC career, Royle said. That was a nice way to end the years there and signify a big change was in order.

"I live in South Point and have a luxury apartment on the water," she said. "I bought a car (something she didn't have or need in New York) and got my Maryland driver's license. . … I love it here."

Issue 149: May 2010 -- Updated May 18, 2010


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