Bonnie Bernstein ’92
By Nathan Bubes
Bonnie Bernstein has reported for radio and television. Covered everything from the police and court beats to local and national sports. She has been a moderator, sideline reporter and correspondent. If you are tired already, don’t be. She is now adding digital media and business executive to her resume.
A broadcast journalism major at Merrill College, Bernstein uses the word versatile to describe the requirements of her position. However versatile does not give her sufficient credit.
For Bernstein, her flexibility has made her indispensable throughout all of her stops. Her rapid ascent from a startup country music station in Lewes, DE, to ESPN was no coincidence.
At the radio station she would arrive at 4:30 a.m. to do news hits from 6-9 a.m. and then report all day for stories for the 5 p.m. news show. They were long days, but Bernstein never looked for shortcuts.
“I pushed myself to constantly be re-writing those updates, instead of just regurgitating them,” Bernstein said. “I really forced myself to make that as valuable an experience that I could make it in that seven months.”
From there she did local news for the ABC affiliate in Salisbury, MD, before making it out west to be a news reporter and part time anchor for NBC in Reno, NV.
After a year in Reno she was moved to her desired spot at the sports anchor desk. A member of Maryland’s gymnastics team and a part of a sports centric family in Howell, NJ, Bernstein was where she wanted to be.
Just three years following her graduation from Maryland in 1992, Bernstein received a call from ESPN. In terms of years she had little experience, but it was quality she emphasized in her time at each spot.
“I crammed so much learning experience into that time frame that I do not necessarily think I was ready for the network when ESPN hired me just before my 25th birthday, but when that opportunity comes knocking, you can’t turn it down,” Bernstein said. “I felt I was as prepared as I could be knowing that my experience only had a relatively small time frame up to that point.”
Once she was hired at ESPN her career soared. She hosted NFL Live and Outside the Lines to name a few, roamed the sidelines for baseball and college football games, and was a the radio host for New York Football Live. She also spent time at CBS where she was the lead sideline reporter for their NFL and NCAA college basketball coverage.
Bernstein has been on the sidelines of Super Bowls and Final Fours, but has never been nervous on air. It comes down to one thing for her, knowing your material.
“I try to be as prepared as I possibly can,” Bernstein said. “I’m also trying to think forward, to anticipate any sort of glitches that may occur so I can handle that and be prepared for that, but if your level of preparation is what I pride mine in being there is never a reason to be nervous. So when that red light goes on you can speak confidently and articulately without worrying about anything else.”
Part of her preparation is writing all of her material. Bernstein’s passion for writing goes back to the third grade when she completed her first creative writing assignment. Nothing has changed since then.
“We need to be talking to kids everyday about the importance of writing. Particularly in broadcast, you have one shot to effectively rely a message and if your writing is not clear and precise, your message gets diluted,” Bernstein said. “The importance of brevity and clarity in the broadcast cannot be undervalued.”
Bernstein urges students to put writing at the top of their priorities when it comes to all of the new technologies. She is a part of the new technology wave at her new company Campus Insiders, a digital college sports network.
She is the public face and vice-president of content and brand development at the network. Campus Insiders is a product of IMG College, the largest college sports marketing company, and Jerry Reinsdorf’s digital media company, which is the latest in the new wave of how fans consume sports.
She will be hosting a weekly college football show this fall and also a March Madness show for college basketball. She will also be working with the sales and marketing departments at the new company.
“It is a really exciting role for me because for years I sort of felt like my entrepreneurial creative spirit has been dormant,” Bernstein says. “For the first time in addition to the talent hat that I’ll also be wearing a business executive hat. Which for me is about as exciting of an opportunity as it comes.”
You can follow Bonnie on Twitter, @BonnieBernstein.