The Fox Sports reporter and Dancing with the Stars cohost needs to be in three cities in a typical week. Business aviation makes that possible.
“This is chaos,” Erin Andrews said when she took a brief pause in her whirlwind pace to sit down for our interview at the Atlantic Aviation FBO in Santa Monica, California. A sideline reporter for Fox Sports and cohost of ABC-TV’s Dancing with the Stars, Andrews thrives on her busy schedule, which she said is made possible by business aviation and her relationship with Wheels Up, the membership-based private aviation company for which she is a spokesperson. “This is how I kind of roll, anyway,” she said. “I’m in three cities in one week.”
Andrews grew up in Tampa, Florida, where her father, Emmy award-winning investigative reporter Steve Andrews, worked for the local NBC-TV station. She was a cheerleader in high school, and in college she joined the dance team, though she admits that dancing was not her forte.
“I didn’t work very hard in high school and college,” Andrews told me. “I feel like if I worked as hard as I do now, I probably would have made a lot better grades. I think I learned in my jobs now that I need to work hard.”
You seem like an independent person. Did your parents encourage that?
To be independent? No. I think the biggest thing my parents encouraged was just passion, a drive, being competitive, hard working. It wasn’t hard for me to learn that because my mom and dad are both very hard working.
Where did you get your love of sports?
From my dad. Since I was a little kid, that was our bonding. My dad is from Springfield, Massachusetts, and he would say, “These are the Boston Celtics, and these are the Boston Red Sox, and this is why I love these teams.” I would watch games with him, and he would tell me all about the organizations and the players and the coaches, and the competition, and who on the other team we liked and who we shouldn’t like. That’s where my passion developed.
So…New England Patriots fan?
Nope. My dad said when he was growing up that the Patriots weren’t very good and that they were never on television, so it was hard to see their games. So he grew up a Packers fan and big fan of [former Green Bay Packers quarterback] Bart Starr. I had a chance to meet Bart, and was with him in Lambeau [Field] and got to do a little back and forth with him. I was so excited to text my dad that photo.
How do you respond to criticism that women broadcasters are hired just for their appearance?
I would say those people don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t hear credible people say things like that anymore. I think if you take that seriously that’s really sad.
Is sports a huge part of your life?
If you’re only going to be home two, three days out of the week because you are doing your job and living out of a suitcase and living and breathing football you have to be a sports geek.
In 2014, when you interviewed Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, there was a viral reaction online to his emotional attack on San Francisco 49ers’ Michael Crabtree.
I think it’s because an athlete has never done that on air before.
So it surprised people?
It seemed like you appreciated his candor.
Well, why wouldn’t you want an athlete to give you an answer like that when he’s so excited? Of course, you want an athlete to show he’s completely overwhelmed when he made a career-changing game-saving play that is putting [his team] in the Super Bowl.
That’s raw emotion. Why do people freak out [when they see that]? They freak out ’cause you don’t get it [often].
In 2010, before you became a Dancing with the Stars host, you competed on the show along with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. How does it feel to be the host instead of performing?
As much as I loved dancing with Maks and competing, I was horrible. I’m a lot more comfortable with a sequined microphone in my hand than with ballroom shoes on, trying to learn the routines and worry about my posture and my toes being pointed, then being judged. But I was very grateful for my experience in 2010. It was a wonderful time.
You did pretty well—third place.
Yeah…I stunk. I’m my harshest critic. I was not good at all. I went up against the [pop group] Pussycat Dolls [lead singer Nicole Scherzinger] and an Olympic gold medal figure skater [Evan Lysacek]. I beat the football player [Chad Ochocinco], and that’s all I cared about.
Now you’re the cohost.
I love it. The cast and crew are phenomenal and [host] Tom Bergeron is one of the best out there, and his humor and the way he’s nurtured me and brought me along…it’s been wonderful. He’s fantastic.
You have a busy schedule.
As crazy as it sounds, we’re always looking for ways to make me more busy. Which is delusional and nuts, but that’s the kind of person I am. I’m driven. I don’t like to have a free minute. I’m almost happier when I’m choatic. It’s pretty crazy, I know.
What does your schedule typically look like?
I’m at a game on Sunday, and then I fly home that night [to Los Angeles], wake up early Monday morning. I’m at the studio all day until 7:30 at night. I come back home. I’m either flying to New York to be at my other apartment or I’m on a random [assignment] here in L.A. And then I’m home Tuesday and Wednesday, and then Thursday I leave to go to my next game. It depends if I’m in New York or L.A. and where I’m flying to. Friday I do a sit-down feature with a player and coach, and then I go to coaches’ meetings, and then Saturday we’re in meetings all day with the opposing team, and then Sunday I’m at the game, and I start it all over.
Do you encourage young kids to get involved in broadcasting? Is it a good career?
Well, I do it for a living, so I hope it is. I definitely encourage young girls. I have dads and moms come up to me all the time and say, “My daughter looks up to you. She really wants to do what you do. What advice would you give her?” And I say, “read.” When I got out of college, my dad said to me, “You’re not going to work just college football your entire life. You need to become well rounded. You need to learn other sports. If you want to do this, you’re going to have to know about everything.” So my biggest advice to kids is you’ve just got to read. And you’ve got to study.
And that has helped you?
It’s the biggest reason why I’m here.
What else would you like to do career-wise?
I like where we are in reaching two demographics. I’ve got the sports world, and I’m working in the entertainment industry with Dancing with the Stars. I’d like to keep it that way.
Where would I like to see my career go? Michael Strahan [cohost of the Live! With Kelly and Michael TV show] has me come in every season when Kelly [Ripa] goes on vacation, to fill in for her. I love that kind of venue. I think that would be fun to do. But I can’t imagine not being involved with football on Sundays. I just love the sport way too much to not be involved with it.
What do you like about business aviation?
There’s no TSA, no waiting for your bags—you drive up and you go. It’s efficient, and you don’t have to worry about delays.
Is this how you travel mostly, using Wheels Up?
Yeah, I use that to get me from football to Dancing with the Stars every Monday. [Without business aviation] it wouldn’t be possible for me to do a game in Green Bay, Wisconsin, at four o’ clock Eastern and then be back in Los Angeles to do Dancing with the Stars the next morning.
Do you like the King Air 350?
It’s fabulous. You can do the lie-down bed, which is wonderful. There’s wireless, which is huge for me because on Sundays I’m on the plane before Sunday Night Football, so I’m able to keep up with the game, with the scores, and with Twitter, what everybody is saying so I don’t feel like I’m wasting time. I’m able to read my articles to get prepped for next week’s game and also I can check my emails, check the scripts that Dancing with the Stars is sending me.
The layout is wonderful, the Wi-Fi is huge. It’s just a wonderful experience. It makes it efficient for me because when I get on the plane it’s not about relaxing. It’s just getting ready for my next show that morning, and it’s also getting me ready for the game on the next Sunday. So it allows me to have an office, lie down, have a drink, get something to eat.
Any desire to get your hands on the controls?
No. I don’t need that in my life. I’m very big on not trying to do what other people do better.
Would you like to fly privately more often?
Oh gosh, I don’t know anyone who would ever turn their nose up at it. It is the best way to travel. When my boyfriend [Minnesota Wild professional ice hockey player Jarret Stoll] and I are on private jets, we’re always just saying, “We need a jet!” Whenever we book deals or anything like that, we’re always like, “plane money, plane money!” It’s the way you want to travel, absolutely.
NAME: Erin Jill Andrews
BORN: May 4, 1978 (age 37) in Lewiston, Maine
OCCUPATION: Fox Sports sideline reporter and cohost of ABC-TV’s Dancing with the Stars
TRANSPORTATION: Wheels Up King Air 350
EDUCATION: B.A. in telecommunications, University of Florida
PERSONAL: Enjoys working out and attending hockey games. In a relationship with Minnesota Wild pro hockey player Jarret Stoll.
Matt Thurber, a longtime contributor to BJT, is a senior editor at our sister publication, Aviation International News.