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Bissell discusses career in local television

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — As the first female to work full-time in the sports department at 21 WFMJ, Brittany Bissell is definitely a television trailblazer in what has been a male-dominated profession.

Her sports knowledge, however, takes a back seat to none.

“People always ask me how I got into the sports world and where my love for sports comes from. I grew up in Wellsville, was born into a family that loves the Dallas Cowboys and I have an older brother who played all sports,” Bissell told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center. “Sports became a big part of my life at a young age while football Sundays have always been a big deal with my family.”

While in high school, Bissell played basketball, where she served as team captain, was on the Tigers’ volleyball team and played AAU basketball for the Columbiana Ballers.

“I fell in love with basketball after becoming a big fan of Kobe Bryant when I was young,” Bissell added. “I played basketball from third grade until I left high school, spent some time playing volleyball but after seeing women like Erin Andrews on the sidelines, I became really interested in becoming a sports reporter.

“I wanted to make a career out of something that I love and what better way than with sports, so I went to Youngstown State and enrolled in their communications program.”

Serving as an intern under sports director Dana Balash her senior year only validated her dream of working in sports media upon graduation.

“I interned with WFMJ Sports my final year in college and loved every second of it,” she said. “I knew that I was on the right path and shortly after graduation, was hired as a sports reporter at WFMJ, that coming in 2015. Being from southern Columbiana County, it was fun to learn about all the schools in the Youngstown area and their storied athletic programs.”

Bissell is a huge part of the station’s award winning high school football Overtime Report, which just completed its 30th year and has covered over 6,900 scholastic regular season contests.

“There is nothing quite like ‘Friday Night Football’ in the Youngstown area and being on the sidelines at those games,” Bissell stated. “I spend time throughout the week researching the teams that I am covering and talking with coaches. Fridays are jam packed. I set up and shoot my own live shot, shoot highlights from three games then hustle back to the studio to get our show ready. We go on-air for 21 minutes, it’s exciting and we put a lot of hard work into it.”

Having worked in both radio and public relations has helped Bissell hone her skills in television and her current position in the WFMJ sports department.

“I have also had some amazing experiences outside of WFMJ,” she added. “I worked at a radio station in Pittsburgh where I covered the Steelers and Penguins, also covering the Steelers Training Camp and Pens in the Stanley Cup Finals. Not only was it great to cover sports at that level, but also to observe sports reporters who had many years of experience so I learned a lot.

“I also worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, the year they won the championship. What an experience it was to be at the NBA Finals and then receive a personalized championship ring so I picked a great year to work for them.

“There were several years where I worked as a news reporter and in public relations as well. Although I found my way back to sports and covering what I love, those experiences really helped me grow and challenge myself. I gained valuable skills that have helped me become more confident in my work.

“I get asked a lot about what it’s like to be a woman working in sports and I will say that I’m blessed, mostly because everyone has been really supportive and helpful. My crew at WFMJ has always helped me succeed while coaches and athletic directors have been great, too.”

Talking about her football knowledge, she picked the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII, 27-24. With the Chiefs winning in overtime, 25-22, only two of the 22 WFMJ newsroom members that participated in the picks did better.

Next week, Colt McFadden, YSU assistant athletic director for sales and development, will serve as guest speaker.

sports@vindy.com

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