You may know Taylor Budge from her sports coverage at WDAY. She talks with Ladyboss about playing by the boys’ rules, the importance of having your dreams supported, and the pressure of being a woman on air.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
My name is Taylor. I live in Fargo and work at WDAY. I grew up in the Twin Cities, went to Saint Cloud State, and did a broadcasting major. I hate winter, but I keep making my way further north.
Did you always know you wanted to get into broadcasting?
I am that weird person who has known what I wanted to do since I was five. In kindergarten when they’d say “draw a picture of what you want to be when you grow up” I’d draw myself talking to a camera with the TV screen behind me. I knew that was what I wanted to do. My parents supported me from the beginning and never said no. My high school had a great TV program that was ahead of its time. I got involved in that and just never looked back!
Do you feel like having encouragement from early on helped you feel confident in your career choice?
I was the kid who was always in sports. So, it made sense that [sports reporting] is what I would want to do. I played baseball. My parents didn’t think twice about me being the only girl in the league. I wanted to play, and so my parents said “Okay!” I was the only girl in the league for the six or seven years that I played. I’d always played sports so it made sense I would want to talk about sports for a living.
You were the only girl in the league?
Starting in kindergarten I was on the San Francisco Giants baseball team. I played until middle school and then switched to lacrosse. I had shorter hair, so I was able to tie it back and hide it in my hat. I never wanted to be “the girl” on the baseball team. I wanted to be the best hitter or fastest runner. I became the girl whose parents brought the best treats.
When I switched to lacrosse in middle school there wasn’t a girls league. It was co-ed, but you played by boys rules, used boys gear, there was checking, all of that. There was only one other girl in the league. It was fun. I took out one of the big popular guys in our school.
How did you get involved in your work?
I knew what I wanted to do. By the time I was a freshman in high school I could take classes like speech to help me prepare. I took a class called intro to graphics and video that clicked for me. I learned the behind the scenes, which you need in order to be on camera. My sophomore year I did a college visit at Saint Cloud State and toured their TV program, and I committed right away. When I got there I was the first sophomore age eyesight reporter, and I held that position my remaining three years.
Did you always want to cover sports?
I loved watching the weather channel, but I realized how much math and science were involved. I took a meteorology class in high school. I held out hope because I knew I’d get paid more, but it was always sports for me.
Was it ever challenging to be a female broadcaster covering sports?
I’ve heard stories about women having to try so hard to prove themselves in this field. I don’t know if I’ve just been lucky or if I’m super naive, but honestly no. This is a really image-focused industry. There is pressure to be attractive and so I feel like I have to prove myself in that way. I have the work ethic. I have the knowledge. I work hard, and I’m incredibly driven and passionate. My two best friends from college are also women who work in sports. It’s nice to be able to chat with them about our experiences.
I’ve been so supported along the way, I truly feel like it isn’t a crazy thing that I’m a woman who covers sports. I feel really blessed to have gotten to cover the stories I’ve gotten to and the relationships I’ve made. I love storytelling, and I feel so lucky to do what I do.
For women in your field I assume there is an additional pressure to be attractive or to have a certain image. Has it been challenging to have a public persona, or be a known face in the community?
That’s my least favorite part of this industry. It can be really image-based. I want to be known as Taylor Budge the journalist, not Taylor Budge the person who you see on TV. I want people to love how I write something or how I tell stories. When I’m not at work I’m in sweatpants, no makeup. There’s a pressure to be on when in public, too. Maybe not when I’m in sweats at the grocery store and no one will recognize me, but at a game if I’m going to just get some quick footage and come back. You’ve got to look put together and be chipper and happy. That part can be difficult. But I feel so lucky to do what I get to do. I feel like I can’t complain because I just feel so lucky to do what I love.
What makes WDAY a great place for women to work?
I’ve had other reporting jobs where they made such a big deal about the fact I was the first female sports anchor. At WDAY I think I was one of the first, if not the first, but they didn’t make a big deal out of it. I don’t like to make a huge deal out of something like that. They encourage us to continue to grow and seek out opportunities, just like the Ladyboss retreat!
Who are you outside of your work?
I feel like I’m truly myself on air. If I’m not at work, I’m at a sporting event. I’m also a proud dog mom. I spend a lot of time with family and friends. That support is really important in a career like this because I work weird hours and work holidays. I try to really enjoy and make the most of the time away.