While the New York Islanders’ fan base continues adjusting to the commuter lifestyle of its new Brooklyn home, MSG Networks host and reporter Shannon Hogan is hitting her stride in the second season of her stint with the team.
Hogan joined the Islanders broadcast squad last year, at the beginning of what turned out to be somewhat of a renaissance for the long-beleaguered franchise. Rather than squeaking into the playoffs as they did in 2013, the team dominated their division for much of the 2014-15 season, before finally losing to the Washington Capitals in a hard-fought, seven-game series.
Nassau Coliseum went silent after that playoff exit, as the team found a new home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But for Hogan, the static created by raucous island crowds during the old barn’s final season is a sound she still hears reverberating to this day.
“I told everyone that was the best professional year of my life,” said Hogan, who went from a small, northern California market to Detroit before joining MSG. “I’ve covered a lot of things. I’ve worked covering the Red Wings where the playoffs were a given every season. While those fans didn’t take it for granted, there was something special about last season. I felt so lucky to be a part of it in my first season with the team. And I feel lucky to be a part of the team’s transition from the Coliseum to Brooklyn.”
Before landing on Long Island, Hogan made a name for herself in the sports world covering big events including the 2010 U.S. Open, the 2010 and 2012 World Series and the 2010 Big Chill, a massive outdoor college hockey game featuring Michigan vs. Michigan State. During her time in Detroit, Hogan won a Michigan Emmy Award for her work with Fox Sports Detroit.
But it was in Salinas, CA, where Hogan sharpened her skills as an on-air personality. She covered sports, but with plenty of hard news in Salinas, Hogan got a taste of the grittier side of journalism as well.
“There was a lot of good stuff to report on there and, unfortunately, a lot of serious stuff. I’d cover shootings and stop and think, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this right now,’” said Hogan, who studied broadcast journalism at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and dreamed of being a journalist since she was 8-years-old. “It was a small TV market and it gave me a wonderful opportunity to shoot video and write everything and edit and produce.”
Amid the shootings and the rest of the bad news Salinas had to offer, Hogan always knew she wanted to move into sports full time. She ended up in Detroit, where she spent much of her youth, covering the Tigers, Red Wings and more. Hogan cherishes the good-natured escapism inherent in sports—and views it as an important necessity in a chaotic world.
“The rest of the news is bad, but no matter what is going on in life or at home, a lost loved one or lost job, you can always turn on the TV and watch your sports team and win or lose it’s a good part of the day,” she said. “I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be the good part of someone’s day.”
And through the many ups and downs of the hockey season, Hogan injects energy into the Islanders’ pre-game, post-game and intermission coverage, while also interviewing coaches and players, interacting with fans and bantering with the rest of broadcast team, including Howie Rose, Butch Goring, Rick DiPietro and “hockey maven” Stan Fischler.
Hogan also feels a kinship with other women in the sports industry throughout the country. She looks back at the professional women in sports broadcasting that have opened the door for her, while looking forward to her own potential to help others break into what was historically a male-dominated industry.
“More and more women are saying we are good enough to do this. We are credible journalists and you should listen to us,” she said. “While there are still hurdles to being a woman in this industry, as far as access goes, it is not much of an issue anymore.”
Hogan’s heroines in the sports world include Detroit’s Jennifer Hammond, ESPN’s Linda Cohn and MLB Network’s Sam Ryan. Meanwhile, in the Metropolitan area hockey scene, Hogan said women have been making an impact in the broadcast booth for a number of years with MSG Networks’ Deb Placey and Devils’ radio commentator Sherry Ross.
“Without all the ones who came before me, I wouldn’t be here and I can only hope that I am in some way helping the next generation,” she said. “It doesn’t even have to be a gender thing. It’s just good people doing a good job. There is plenty of room for everyone.”
And Hogan believes there is room for hockey in Brooklyn—and that the fan base will learn to shake Barclays just as they shook the Coliseum.
“The Coliseum was the only arena the fans knew for so long. Because of that history, it’s unfair to hold Brooklyn to that same standard,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to grow the Islanders’ fan base and the sport of hockey.”
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published December 14, 2015.