Milwaukee Talks: Channel 12 sports reporter Stephanie Sutton, 2009
It's not unusual for a TV reporter to begin in a tiny market, like WISN-TV's Stephanie Sutton did when she cut her teeth in Monroe, La. But when a reporter makes the jump to San Francisco, he or she usually stays there.
Not Sutton. She missed Milwaukee and returned in 2003. Now, the mother of two can follow her beloved Packers and Badgers professionally, balancing her career and her family -- and even finding time to do some radio work on the side.
With her Downtown and East Side days now behind her, Sutton is more comfortable hanging out in Lake Country with friends when she's not working. We caught up with the former state doubles tennis champion for a sushi lunch at one of her favorite restaurants -- Wasabi in Brookfield -- for this latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: You're a Brookfield native, but you've worked in New York and the Bay Area. Now you're back home. Don't most people in your industry go in the opposite direction?
Stephanie Sutton: I've worked my way down. Some people might even say that having worked in market five and moving to market 30-something, it might be career suicide. But this is my home. I graduated from Madison and loved it, but I wanted to spread my wings. I went to New York City and was a secretary for a lighting board company for ABC, and that led to my gig behind the scenes at ABC sports. That led to my internship at Channel 4, which then led to my first on-air job in Monroe, La. So, I did start small.
OMC: What was it like working in Louisiana?
SS: I remember someone asking where I wanted to go for my first job. I said anywhere but the South. Well, how about the deep South? It was quite an experience. After a year, I moved to Jackson, Miss. That was like market 90. I was there for three years; I was reporter for one station then jumped ship to another station that was a Hearst affiliate (like WISN-TV) where I was the weekend sports gal. Then I got an agent, and the agent got me the job (in San Jose). I was there for three years.
OMC: Why did you choose to come home?
SS: I always wanted to come home, even when I was in Mississippi. I interviewed with FOX 6. I applied for the job that (now co-worker) Andy Kendeigh got back in 1999. I was sending tapes and kept in touch with (Channel 12 Sports Director) Dan Needles. Just having my name out there, and any time I'd come home, I'd meet with the news directors in town. But I was loving San Francisco when my best friend called and told me that Tom Sutton was retiring. So I called Dan and sent him my resume. Within a month and half, I had the job.
OMC: When was this?
SS: That was February of 2003.
OMC: So, one Sutton retires and another steps in. That must've caused some confusion.
SS: Well, my maiden name is Jurczyk.
OMC: That's a tough name for TV, though.
SS: Correct. In the South, I was Stephanie Jurczyk. I said that if I ever went to a big market, and they asked me to change my name, I wouldn't put up a fight. Sure enough, they asked me in San Jose. My mother's maiden name is O'Brien, so I was Stephanie O'Brien in the Bay area. When I moved back home, the guy who I just happened to marry, his last name is Sutton. During the interview process, I remember going to Dan and Andy and saying, "I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm going to be married in June and my new name will be Sutton." They were like, "You've gotta be kidding."
A lot of people think it's nepotism. Some people think I'm (Tom's) wife. None of the above. Very nice man, he's been nothing but pleasant to me. But (I'm) no relation to Tom.
OMC: I bet you get that question a lot.
SS: It is the No. 1 question that I get, and it's almost the No. 1 question that people in our newsroom get asked.
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Great story. We need to see MORE of Stephanie. Nice to see someone make it big, but find their roots back at home. We're lucky to have her in our market of terrible sportscasters. "The Boys Club"(and I do call them boys) might know a lot of Wisconsin Sports History, but that's in the past - who cares. Find us something fresh and fun. Why do I care what offense or defence the Packers are playing in? JUST WIN BABY!
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