When I ask sports anchor Aaron Levine about his passions outside of work, he replies: Golf.
Levine, 29, is the lead sports anchor Monday through Thursday on the Fox Network’s Seattle affiliate Q13. He also hosts his own half-hour show, “Q It Up,” on Sunday nights. Levine pretty much eats, sleeps and breathes sports.
“My first love was the L.A. Lakers,” Levine says. “My other passion beginning in high school was writing.”
Sports journalism fuses his love of the game with his love of writing.
“I always wanted to be a sports journalist,” says Levine. “My mom always reminds me that I was reading the sports section of the L.A. Times when I was 4 or 5 years old.”
Levine’s star is rising. He recently won the Pacific Northwest Regional Emmy award for best sports anchor in 2009 and 2010. But as anyone in journalism can tell you, success comes with grunt work.
Levine covered sports on his college radio station and in the paper, and then, in his senior year, he came within inches of scoring a year-long gig as an ESPN SportsCenter anchor through the “Dream Job” competition.
ESPN “did a casting call for anyone who wanted to be an anchor, but you couldn’t have any professional experience,” he says. As a finalist, Levine had to take a quarter off from school during his senior year to fly back and forth between San Francisco and New York. He was runner-up.
“In fact, I’m extremely happy that I didn’t win the ‘Dream Job’ show,” he says. “I didn’t have enough experience to start at ESPN.”
Instead, he spent the next two-and-a-half years reporting for KBAK in Bakersfield, Calif., trying to break in.
“I had to do everything for myself,” he says, spending endless hours on the road covering stories for Cal State Bakersfield, five minor-league baseball teams, and 24 high school teams.
At Fox since 2007, “I still do everything for the most part. I write, edit, produce, on a daily basis,” he says. “I put feature packages together. I go to press conferences, interview athletes and coaches.”
He notes how fortunate he is to have creative freedom. He begins each edition of “Q It Up” with a commentary, something different from most sports shows.
“I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to be a media director of the top-15 media market,” he says, adding, “I felt lucky to get a job in Seattle at the age of 25.”
Levine was raised in Calabasas, Calif., attending Hebrew school and traveling to Israel three times before the age of 11. He considers his Judaism unique: His mother, who is Filipino, converted before he was born. Though he does not consider himself observant, he says with conviction, “I definitely identify myself as a Jew.”
Due to the coinciding nature of the sports calendar and the Jewish calendar, he adds, “If I have a regret it’s not being able to go to be with my family for the holidays.”
And no, he never gets sick of sports.
“However, when it’s your job you don’t appreciate sports as much as fans,” he says.
On his days off, when he’s not playing golf, “I’m a huge homebody,” holing himself up with movies and TV.
The industry is “more stressful than people give us credit for,” he remarks.
“I tend to sleep all day,” says Levine. “I’m not afraid to admit that.”