THE BLOG

Women in Business: Ann Liguori, President of Ann Liguori Productions / President & Founder, Ann Liguori Foundation

04/01/2015 08:59 am ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

Ann Liguori, sports radio and TV personality, talk show host, journalist, reporter, author, business owner and philanthropist, continues to shine as a leader and visionary in the world of sports media.

Ann is the Golf & Tennis Correspondent for top NY sport's station, WFAN Radio, and nationally on CBS Sports Radio Network, covering the Majors each year including The Masters, U.S. Open golf, PGA Championships, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships and special events such as the Ryder Cup and the Olympics.

Ann has been an inspiration for both men and women in the sports broadcasting arena as a woman of many 'firsts' including being the first woman to host a call-in sports show on WFAN, the first all-sports radio station in the country, where she hosted a five-hour, weekly call-in sports show for 25 years.

Ann is also the first woman to host and produce her own weekly, prime-time series on The Golf Channel (TGC) which aired the first four years of TGC's inception. "Conversations with Ann Liguori" featured Ann interviewing top names in Hollywood, music, sports and business, while golfing with them.

Ann is President of Ann Liguori Productions and owner of the award-winning Sports Innerview Radio & Television properties. The cable series is the longest-running sports show, hosted, owned and produced by a woman. 'Sports Innerview with Ann Liguori' aired on sports cable networks from 1989-2008 and featured interviews Ann did with sports legends such as Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Wilt Chamberlain, Hank Aaron, Julius Erving, Harry Carson,among 600 others.

Ann is a media and marketing consultant for Independent Group Home Living (IGHL), Platinum Maintenance and Travers & Associates. She is the Vice President of the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association Board and she is on the Advisory Board of Doonbeg Golf Club in Western Ireland and on the Women's Advisory Board of the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.

The LA Daily News named Ann among the top forty women in sports media in the last 40 years.

Very important to Ann is her work raising money and awareness for many charitable causes and organizations. For 17 years, Ann has hosted the Ann Liguori Foundation Charity Golf Classic at a prestigious course in The Hamptons. In 2015, the charity tournament will be held at Friar's Head on May 18th. With her own tournament and other events in The Hamptons, Ann has helped raise over 1.5 million dollars for various charities, for those focused on cancer prevention, research and awareness and a variety of other worthwhile causes and missions.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Being an athlete from as far back as I can remember and competing in a variety of sports throughout my youth, taught me so many skills that I use to this day. I earned 16 Varsity letters in high school and played #1 singles on the boy's tennis team my senior year in high school. All of these experiences taught me how to compete, how to be a good sport, how to overcome when the going got tough, how to handle winning and losing, etc.

Once I started my career in Manhattan immediately after graduating from the University of South Florida with a broadcast journalism degree, I learned quickly how to network and meet people in decision-making capacities. Those who were in charge of hiring freelance production people, on-air talent and eventually marketing executives and CEO's in charge of saying 'yay' or 'nay' to sponsorship proposals for my 'Sports Innerview' TV and radio properties.

I learned at an early age how to be a leader, how to take the initiative and create my own opportunities, particularly in a field, and at a time, when there weren't too many women hosting and producing and owning their own sports series.

How has your previous employment experience aided in your TV & Radio Career?
I'm happy to say that aside from teaching tennis lessons when I was a kid, I've only worked in the field of sports broadcasting/journalism starting with a freelance position I had at CBS Sports following a fellowship I was able to secure via the International Radio & TV Society which brought me to NYC directly out of college.

From CBS Sports, I freelanced as a producer and reporter for ABC Radio Sports Network, became a reporter after being assigned to cover tennis at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. While working at ABC Radio Sports Network, I also contributed to the USA Today sports section by writing articles from a variety of sports venues in the New York area. At the same time I was hosting and syndicating my own weekly commentary called 'Ann Liguori in the Line-Up' in which I got on my soapbox about issues in sports and society. When WFAN Radio, the first all-sports radio station in the country started in 1987, they hired me to host my own weekly sport's call-in show. 'Hey Liguori, What's the Story' aired weekly for over 20 years. In 1989, I put together my own production company and hosted, produced, acquired the sponsors for and distributed a weekly interview show with sports legends called 'Sports Innerview with Ann Liguori.' That series aired for over 17 years and I'm thrilled that Hulu and Amazon.com and a variety of other digital platforms are now airing many of these treasured interviews I did with legends such as Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Wilt Chamberlain, Hank Aaron, Jim Brown, Wayne Gretzky, etc.

What have the highlights and challenges been in your TV & Radio Career?
It was difficult in the early days of my career to get the opportunities to host and produce a sports series. I had clear ideas of what I wanted to do and so rather than wait to change a particular mindset I put the shows together myself and pounded down doors on Madison Avenue to acquire sponsors and advertisers to support my 'Sports Innerview' series. I basically adopted the notion that I was only limited by my own imagination and made things happen for myself. The highlights are so many -- interviewing the most interesting and famous personalities in sports, Hollywood, music and business, covering the most prestigious sporting events in the world including the Olympics, The Masters, the U.S. Open golf and tennis championships, the Ryder Cup, Wimbledon, Super Bowl, to name a few. And being a part of both WFAN and The Golf Channel (hosted my own series called 'Conversations with Ann Liguori' which aired prime-time, each week for the first four years of TGC's inception) from the very beginning was special.

Tell us about any new projects that you are working on.
I'm working on a new 'Sports Innerview' series for a digital platform. There are always new people to interview and share their success stories. I continue to cover golf and tennis for CBS Sports Radio Network and WFAN Radio and I'm working on my second book. My first book, 'A Passion for Golf, Celebrity Musings About the Game' came out several years ago in second edition.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
Learn as much as you can about the business before committing to owning your own company. Learn from experts in the field. Knowledge is a powerful tool! Research and preparation are key. Be focused, set your strategy and goals and then work harder than the next person to make your dreams come true. And never compromise your integrity, honesty and professionalism.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
My family is most important to me so everything else comes second. I've never had children but I'm very close to my Mom, my sister and her family, my brother and my significant other, Scott. And I spend a lot of time with our golden retriever, the handsome and wonderfully affectionate Skye man. Keeping fit and in-shape is also an important part of maintaining a healthy, balanced life. The busier we are, the more organized we have to be. Women are used to juggling a lot of activities and responsibilities. But always make time for yourself!

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Getting equal pay and opportunities is still a big issue in many fields. That challenge continues for many women!

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've mentored many young women and men who now are doing extremely well both in and out of the sports broadcasting industry. In fact, I attended weddings this year of two of my former interns. To see each of them grow, both personally and professionally, is very satisfying to me.
My Foundation, the Ann Liguori Foundation, recently established a sports media scholarship administered by NY Women in Communications. I do a lot of public speaking and encourage students to follow their dreams. Giving back is very important for one's happiness and inner peace.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I admire leaders such as Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto and Condoleezza Rice and visionaries like Billie Jean King; women who overcame tremendous odds and challenges to make a huge difference in our lives and throughout the world.

What do you want to personally and professionally accomplish in the next year?
My 'Sports Innerview with Ann Liguori' shows are doing well on Hulu and amazon.com and a variety of digital platforms. It would be great to host and produce a brand new 'Sports Innerview' series. I'm hoping to finish my second book this season for a 2016 publication date. I'd love to be invited to play in the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach -- that would be a dream come true. And personally, I hope for continued good health for my entire family.

And I hope for continued success with the Ann Liguori Foundation. As Founder & President of the Ann Liguori Foundation, we raise money and awareness for organizations that focus on causes such as cancer prevention and research. Each year, I host the Ann Liguori Foundation Charity Golf Classic. This year's charity golf tournament will be my 17th Annual tourney and it takes place on Monday, May 18 at prestigious Friar's Head in Baiting Hollow on the East End of Long Island. It's very satisfying to be able to support a variety of worthwhile causes.