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Broadcaster's unconventional journey out of BU landed him on ESPN

April 17, 2002

By Erin Townsend, reporter

A change in Immigration and Naturalization Services policy means that anyone wishing to study in tIn 1982 Trey Wingo, of Greenwich, Conn., came to Baylor to pursue a career in television broadcasting. Because Wingo's father, Hal C. Wingo Jr., was a successful reporter and editor for Life Magazine and a founder of People Magazine, young Trey's interest in the media only seemed natural.

'I remember going with my dad to the office and thinking that what he did was the coolest thing,' Trey Wingo recalled. 'My two earliest memories are watching live sporting events with my dad and going to work with him.'

Today Wingo works for ESPN as a sportscaster, living out his childhood dream of combining two of his greatest loves, television and sports. A normal day at work for Wingo includes a meeting each morning with producers and directors, followed by writing up the sports stories for the day and finally going on the air at 5:00 p.m. central standard time to report the day's news in the world of sports.

ESPN provides a unique working environment that fits well into Wingo's fun, laid-back style of reporting.

'I love everything about my job; the hours, the creativity, the sports and especially the excitement of being on camera,' Wingo said.

The road from a Baylor communications specialist major to working for one of the world's top sports news networks has been a 'long and interesting one' Wingo said. By the time Wingo received his degree in communications, he no longer felt that he had any interest in the media field.

'When I left Baylor, I didn't know what I was doing,' Wingo said. 'I think that is the biggest miss in the world, that when kids graduate college, they think they are supposed to know what the hell they are supposed to do with their life.'

For Wingo, since the answer to that question seemed unclear, he decided to forget his lofty ideas of a television career and get a real job working for an accounting executive.

'At that point I was unhappy, and I hated my job,' Wingo said. 'All I knew was that I loved sports, and I still had a desire to be on camera, so I quit the accounting thing and got a position as a paige at NBC, which was more or less a glorified internship.'

Wingo was not crazy about his job with NBC, but he was relieved to be on his way to the job he really wanted. It was during his time at NBC that Wingo married his high school sweetheart, Janice and was given the opportunity to make a demo tape on the NBC set.

'After I made the demo tape at NBC, I sent copies to stations all over the country in hopes that I could catch a break and find a job where I could get some experience on camera.' Wingo said.

His opportunity came when he got a call from WMGCTV in Binghamton, N.Y., where Wingo filmed, edited and produced sports coverage for the station.

'It was hard work, and I hated it, but my two years there gave me the experience I needed to move up,' Wingo said.

Wingo's next job, which allowed him some play-by-play action and camera time on the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news, was all he needed to get his first big break working for KSDTV in St. Louis.

'The funny thing about the St. Louis job is that I gave the guy who hired me a tour back in my NBC days,' Wingo said. 'He asked me for a free tour and I told him I'd give him one if he'd give me a job. A few years later he was hiring me.'

Wingo said he loved his job in St. Louis, where he continued to cover the local sports news. But in 1992, Wingo received a call from ESPN offering him a job with them as an evening sportscaster. He had to decline the position until 1997 when his current contract was up.

'The move to ESPN was a good one for me because it put me back in Connecticut, living in Avon and working in Bristol.' Wingo said.

While at Baylor, Wingo changed his major four times and spent very little time contemplating how his classes and involvement was helping him towards a successful career.

Dr. Lee Polk, who was the chairman of the communications department while Wingo was a student, recalls having the fun-loving, bright young man in class.

'I knew he would be successful, although I had no idea he would be this successful,' Polk explained. 'He was just confident and had all he needed for success.'

Wingo did enjoy his years at Baylor, however his most fond memories are not of the time he spent inside the classroom.

'Baylor prepared me for life in unconventional ways I guess,' explained Wingo. 'Any growth I experienced there was more social than academic.'

Wingo said his biggest influence during his years at Baylor was a person not involved with the institution. Instead he sought to duplicate the reporting tactics of a sports reporter for television station WFAA out of Dallas, named Dale Hansen.

'Dale Hansen was funny and sarcastic,' Wingo recalled. 'He made sports fun, which is exactly what I want to do.'

Despite Wingo's social growth at Baylor, combined with his admiration for Hansen, he said the most influential person in his life to this day is still his father.

'My dad worked hard and had a cool job that he loved, that brought him great success. He showed me that there is really no right way to do it, you just have to try your best and it just works out,' Wingo said. 'I would say I am evidence of that.'