Watch a baseball game on TV or listen on the radio, and it’s most likely man’s voice you’ll hear. Unless you listen to Frisco Roughriders broadcasts. That’s where you’ll hear Melanie Newman calling games. While it’s still rare for females to be broadcasting baseball games, Newman said it’s not her gender that took her to the booth. It’s her love for baseball and for storytelling.
Where did you grow up/go to school?
I grew up just outside of Atlanta and attended school at Troy University.
How did you become interested in broadcasting?
I started with a big interest and talent for print journalism. By the time I got to college, the industry had taken a big tilt towards digital, and my advisor suggested I try broadcasting.
Where did you work before joining the Roughriders?
I still actively work for the ACC Network and Big South Conference as a reporter, I am the on field host for Troy University football and I work for Major League Advance Media (MLBAM). Previously, I worked for the Arizona Fall League, the Arizona Diamondbacks AA-affiliate in Mobile, Alabama, the Atlantic Sun Conference and WKSY-TV.
How did this job come about?
I had actually spoken with Frisco the previous year about a different opening and kept in touch. When this opening posted in the fall I applied online and expressed my interest, the process moved from there.
What was your history of baseball before this?
I grew up around the sport, it’s played year round with a wealth of complexes near us. I started working for tournaments and our high school team at 15, expanding my role in college on both the media and team relations side of things and continued to network out. I have worked sidelines and play by play for Troy, sidelines for the Atlantic Sun Conference, in the booth and on the field for the Mobile BayBears, as a media correspondent and then coordinator for the Arizona Fall League, an employee for Major League Advanced Media (the analytical and experimental side of MLB) and sidelines for the Big South Conference.
Where can people hear you on the air?
Most of our games are on the RoughRiders Radio Network which is available on TuneIn. However, 11 games are on FOX Sports Southwest and six are on The Ticket.
How would you describe your “style” of broadcasting?
I delve into the human interest side of things, I love to give people a sense of who the athletes are off the field, sans stats. The numbers will play in later but are always secondary for me.
Do you pattern your broadcasting style after anyone?
Not anyone particularly, I think everyone has strengths you can draw off but the biggest advantage is to try to be yourself more than anyone else, those other people already exist. I highly admire the work of Sophia Minnaert, Jenny Cavnar, Cindy Brunson, Jessica Mendoza and Alanna Rizzo, however.
Working in a traditionally male dominated role, do you think this will serve as inspiration to others, or was that not really a factor in why you chose to be a baseball broadcaster?
My gender was never a factor in my personal aspect of my job. My family was always supportive to simply do what you love and never taught me that my gender “should” determine what I pursue. I have begun to notice just how rare it is for a female to have this position though and am so excited to be an example to other females that, even if their interest is sports, their gender has no bearing on what they should choose to pursue.
What's been your favorite moment/game to broadcast so far?
My first home run call didn’t happen until this year, and I believe it was my first game in the booth that Scott Heineman hit a home run. It’s a riveting moment to give a voice to an offensive triumph.
Where do you hope your broadcasting career takes you in the future?
I have no set path, I just want to be in a role where I can contribute and develop people’s emotional connections. Sports are entirely emotional, no one is a fan because a certain player bats a certain average, they hold on because of an individual or team moment. Those are the stories I want to tell to bridge two worlds.
What's been most challenging about broadcasting a game so far?
Trusting I know what I am watching and learning to read our park. Where you sit to broadcast can change how you read plays and every park plays differently.
What do you like to do in your spare time/hidden talents?
I enjoy reading, painting, traveling, working out and the occasional run. I don’t get much spare time in-season though, so it’s usually spent on catching up on chores and sleep. Not a hidden talent but everyone thinks because my voice is a huge part of my profession that I can sing, for the record (my mother is adamant), I CANNOT!
Did/do you play sports?
I wasn’t the athlete of the family by any means, but I did play tennis, ran track, rode horses, danced, cheered and briefly participated in gymnastics and as a baton twirler.
Who's your favorite baseball player of all time?
Bo Jackson takes favorite overall athlete, I believe we will never have an athlete as prolific as him and especially to have a career end so quickly. What he continues to do philanthropically is amazing.
Favorite TV show?
“New Girl,” “The Office” and “Golden Girls” are my go-to’s
Vance Joy and Jon Bellion are current repeats, but I love ‘60s and ‘70s country, and always George Strait.