Lisa Hillary's farewell at CSN DC was slightly emotional. (And that dude does NOT like Philly.)
Recall our story from the other night, where we shared the news that Lisa Hillary would be leaving CSN Washington to cover the Flyers at CSN Philly. We had a chance to speak with Hillary on Wednesday afternoon about a ton of different things, from her career thus far to her decision to come to Philly to her dislike of Toronto. Oh, and the rat. We talked about the rat.
On her career before CSN Washington:
Lisa Hillary: I did news and I was the Assistant PR Director for the Ottawa Senators. I did a bunch of different things before I actually got into sports broadcasting. When I left TSN I went I actually went back to my home town of Ottawa. I wasn't a big fan of Toronto to be honest with you. It's kind of an impersonal city. It was sort of like a mini New York. I wasn't a huge fan, not to mention, you know, my schedule didn't allow me to have much of a life.
On moving to the United States and deciding to cover the Capitals:
LH: [Leaving TSN] was a personal decision. It had nothing to do with the things I did there. Working in Calgary, first of all, was fantastic. Then they promoted me to SportsCentre anchoring in Toronto, which was great. But in hindsight, I love reporting and were I to do it again I probably would've stayed in Calgary. It's a great city.
Eventually, I just got the itch to get back into sports again. With Alex Ovechkin getting the drafted, you knew he was going to be such a huge star, so when the opportunity to come here to Washington to cover who was, to me, the best player in the world -- and I still believe he is -- you know, it was a no brainer.
That's why I decided to come and it's been a wonderful three years.
On her move to CSN Philly and her departure from DC:
LH: Then, I just got the call about a month ago. I had just signed a contract, a new contract, to stay here in Washington until next summer. But I guess when you transfer within, even though you signed a contract you can still move. So I just got a call out of the blue saying, "hey, we have an opening here in Philly. Would you be interested?" And to be honest, I said no. I just moved to a brand new place here in Washington, in Georgetown, on July 1.
And I said no, I can't, and he said, well just because you have a new place don't let that sway you. So I said I'd think about it. I went back to Ottawa, I had a couple weeks off, and I really thought about it. I thought, you know, why not? I've covered the Caps for three years. I certainly wasn't bored of it, but you know, eventually everything becomes the same, so let's try something else now.
So I did. I got a little bit more money, which at the end of the day always helps. That wasn't the deciding factor by any means, but it helps, and it's a lot cheaper to live in Philadelphia than it is here in Washington.
On her role as a reporter in Philadelphia:
LH: They have a lot more programming. I'm going to find out on Wednesday [September 8] when I go in, you know, exactly what I'll be doing. But I know I'll be covering the Flyers and doing some anchoring. They have a magazine show, they had it last year. You probably know more about it than I do.
BSH: Yeah, The Orange Line.
LH: Orange Line, yeah, that's it. I'll have a lot to do with that. I have a big interview coming up on Thursday, a sit-down with somebody on the team. So yeah, I'm excited. I don't know any of them aside from obviously sticking a microphone in their face from time to time. So it's good. I'm actually looking forward to a clean slate where you don't know anybody. It's fun.
People think I'm crazy. You know, "oh, how can you go from city to city when you don't know anyone?" But that's all part of the fun, you know. I think eventually I'd love to go back to Canada. My parents are getting older and I miss my niece very much and my sister and I are the best of friends, so eventually I'd like to go back, maybe in the next five to ten years. I don't want to leave any stone unturned. I want to experience some more things.
So yeah, I'm psyched. I'm coming on Saturday. My first day is Wednesday. I don't know when I'll be on the air, but I'm doing this interview on Thursday but I don't think it's going to air on Thursday.
BSH: From my understanding, when you went to DC, you were expecting to do more beat reporting but then they threw you into more of an anchor role. Is that the right perception, and if so, do you think you're going to do more beat stuff in Philly than anchor stuff?
On the differences between her role in DC and her role in Philly:
LH: Judging by what John [Boruk] did, I think he did a lot more hockey than I did [in DC]. Having said that, now that I'm leaving, they are going to be doing hockey here in Washington even a little bit different than they did before. They're actually going to have set anchor teams, where they didn't have that before.
Now, Jill Sorensen is going to be doing my beat here in Washington, she'll be going to more practices than I did. I was at every game, but unfortunately, I was hoping -- and again, there was a change in my boss, the guy who hired me, the guy who told me all of this, wound up leaving. There were changes that were out of my control.
It makes you feel good at the end of the day because they want you on the desk as well. They think you're good in both roles, which is great. But to me, the term beat reporter is somebody who travels with the team and is with them at all times, similarly to someone who is a writer. They're the ones that travel.
Like, in Toronto, I did a lot of Leaf games, but I was never a beat person because I didn't travel. I guess you could say I was a "local beat" because I stayed local and then traveled in the playoffs [Ed Note: Guess she didn't rack up those frequent flyer miles].
I wouldn't say I was disappointed, but the term beat reporter to me is someone like Tim Panaccio, someone who is with the team at all times. That's all. I think that person then has the ability to break stories and all that stuff. Not to say that I won't do that, but it's a lot harder to get any kind of a relationship with a player or a coach when you're not with them all the time.
To be honest, that's not my style anyway. I want to be a reporter and I want to be the best reporter there is. I want to give people at home, if they didn't go to the game or they didn't watch the game, I want to be able to tell you what happened without giving you a play-by-play, because you're going to see that in the highlights.
I want to pick some kind of story and some kind of angle and focus on it. I don't want to be the gossip, this is what's going on in the locker room -- that's just not who I am. Obviously, if there's a disconnect, I'm going to find out what's wrong with the team, but I don't want to stir the pot.
On the locker-room/media gossip in Philly the last few seasons:
LH: I can't believe it. I've been reading about it. It's so sad, and no wonder these guys hate us. Unfortunately, I have to say us -- it gives the media a really bad name, because I don't think, it's not fair that I'm in that category or so-and-so is in that category, but when you're all fighting for the same story and somebody has a little bit more information than the other, and then our bosses put the pressure on.
They'll say like, well, "hey Lisa, how come you didn't get that story?" and well, "hey, can you call Ovechkin--." And I'm like, no, I'll call Ovechkin when it's something that we really believe in. I'm not calling him for any friggin reason. I'm not going to bother him.
For the most part, I've heard the guys are pretty good. There are some that unfortunately have gotten a bad case with the media and I don't blame them because they've obviously been burned in the past. Hopefully they'll like me and they'll respect me and I'll handle situations as delicately as I can.
On cruel people on the Internet:
LH: Not everybody is going to love me. Unfortunately, you read stuff and it breaks your heart. My mom called me the other day in tears, telling me these horrible things she read about me on the Internet. And she was believing them, like "why do people say that Lisa?" And I'm like "Mom, I don't know these people, I can't control it." So I forwarded her the things that people were saying about other people, too, so it wasn't like it was just me. *laughter* It's like, "Mom, stop reading the comments and just read the article." *laughter*
On Philadelphia, the city:
LH: To be honest with you, I haven't heard one bad thing about the city. You know what I will tell you? I think that being in Philadelphia reminds me more of Canada. You know why? I like to think that we as Canadians are very up front and we'll tell you exactly what we think of you. We won't back stab, we don't -- any of that.
I'm not going to say they do that in Washington [Ed. Note: she covered sports, not politics]. But I will say from the few times I've been in Philly -- and obviously I've been there for work and that's it -- but in the last couple of weeks I've been down for day trips to look at different places to live and stuff, I found the people so friendly. It's unbelievable.
Just walking down the street and holding a book, someone will ask, "oh, do you need any help?" And I have a dog, so I'm asking people in Old City about if it's dog-friendly, and of course everybody had a dog. So yeah, it really reminds me so much more of where I come from. It's a major reason why I took the job, for sure.
I thought I was going to be overwhelmed, because when you look at Philly, it's what, one of the top five biggest cities? I thought it was going to be like New York, and I thought, well there's just no way. But I couldn't believe how small town it felt, especially Old City. It reminds me of Georgetown, where I am now, with the old buildings, you can go for a walk. It's not like New York where you can't see the sky because there are so many skyscrapers.
On rooting interests as a kid in Canada:
BSH: Did you hate the Flyers growing up?
LH: It's funny, yeah -- no I didn't. I never did. People always ask me, oh, well, you must cheer for the Ottawa Senators. And I worked for the team, but it's funny, as soon as you start doing this business, I mean, I'm just so not a homer. I never have been.
I guess, growing up, Ottawa didn't have a team initially as you know. We would go as kids with our families to Montreal and Toronto and we caught a few games there. But we were skiers growing up so we skied every winter. I could've played hockey or skied, you don't usually do both. I raced every weekend, so I didn't watch a whole lot of [hockey], but when we did, it was usually Montreal or Toronto.
But we loved, even my whole family, we loved just good games. Period, it doesn't matter. Even going to an Ottawa game, we never wanted to see something that was one-sided. We just wanted to see a great game.
I grew up and my father owner a CFL team, the Ottawa Rough Riders. So we sort of just grew up in sports. I always wanted to be a sideline reporter. To me, that was the most glamorous thing in the world and I was able to do that with at TSN with the CFL. I was sideline reporter in Calgary. That was fun. I really, really, really enjoyed that. I just remember seeing Hannah Storm and when I was younger, watching them on TV, doing the sideline thing. That was great.
On the rat:
BSH: How big was it?
LH: Dude, it was the size of a beaver! It was freakin' huge.
BSH: This was at the Verizon Center?
LH: Yes, and apparently they're everywhere but that was the first one I saw. There I was doing my live shot and it was -- Brett Haber, who used to be on ESPN, who's now with a local station [in DC], he saw it first. He was doing his live shot right next to me. This was during the playoffs, yeah, we were at home. All of the sudden he spotted it, and I guess it was coming my way, and it ran right over my feet.
Oh yeah, I just completely lost it. And apparently everybody's seen it now.
Thanks to Lisa for taking the time out of her day to chat with us. It's no doubt a hectic time, what with the moving to a new city thing and all, so we really appreciate that she took the time out of her day.