Q&A: Jennifer Royle talks about leaving 105.7 The Fan and Baltimore

Jennifer Royle

Tuesday night, radio sports reporter Jennifer Royle confirmed to Z on TV  that she was leaving WJZ-FM (105.7 The Fan) at the end of the Ravens season to return to her hometown of Boston.

Wednesday, the 37-year-old journalist  talked about her decision, her 21-month stay in Baltimore and future plans.

Q. Now that the news of your decision to leave Baltimore  has been out for a while and people have reacted to it, how are you feeling about it?

A. First of all, the overwhelming amount of love that I got on my Twitter account has made me feel very good. You know, I'm a little emotional today, but I definitely feel good about my decision. I feel better today that I made the decision, because I have been going back and forth in my head for the last three months. It feels good to know that 2012 will hold something different for me. I've made it no secret that I want to be closer to my family and I'd like to build a life back home. That doesn't mean I wasn't happy in Baltimore. And that certainly doesn't mean that anything negative here drove me away. Something positive just pulled me forward.

Q. Can you elaborate a bit?

A. I think everybody knows that my father passed away five years ago, and I have a nephew, Frankie, who is my godson, who was three months premature. When tragedy strikes your family, you start to wonder, "What am I doing eight hours away?" Over the past few months, I've been traveling home to Boston, and for the first time, I've kind of looked at my city and said, "You know what? It's time. I want to go home." So, I made the decision. I'm sticking to it, and I feel great about it."

Q.What are your feelings about your time in Baltimore? When we talked yesterday, you briefly mentioned that you were proud about your growth as a football reporter. Do you feel professionally that you had a chance to grow here?

A. I do. The Baltimore Ravens changed my life. (Voice breaks). See, I'm going to cry. You read something the other day that said, "Jen was so bad that two years ago, she didn't know who Ed Reed [Ravens safety] was." Well, that's a fact.

Q. Really?

A. "It's a fact. I covered baseball for 10 years. I challenged myself in ways that I never could have imagined. I learned football in two months. And people can say all they want about me not knowing what the cornerback is or what Ed Reed does, but if they only knew that I buried myself in my apartment and watched the entire 2009 Ravens season in slow motion. And I was not ashamed to ask players, 'Hey, I don't understand this. Can you explain it.' And I was a sponge. And the media helped me, and the players helped me. And I'm proud to say I now know what a Cover-2 defense and a 4-3 defense and a blitz are. And I'm a better person for it. Covering the Baltimore Ravens has been the greatest experience of my career. And I didn't think anything could top the 2009 Yankees World Series. But the Baltimore Ravens found a way to do that. And now, I'm so emotional, but I love that team.

Q. Do you feel like you earned the respect of the players?

A. I have really great relationships with those guys. I'm one of the only girls who cover the team, and I pride myself on being one of the guys. I grew up with brothers, and obviously have been around locker rooms and athletes for a decade, and I think they respected the fact that I didn't pretend to know everything. I was very humble, and I would say to Jarret Johnson, "I don't understand this, can you explain it to me?" And Chuck Pagano and Wilbert Montgomery and some of the coaches would take the time to say, "Do you understand this? Here's what's going on here. And here's what's going on there." ... When I got there [to cover the Ravens], I wasn't like, "I don't get it, I quit." I learned it and I love it and I'm so proud of myself."

Q. When we talked last night, you said you don't know what will happen next in terms of your career in Boston. Is there anything you can say about Boston and your career?

A. I'm still talking a few outlets [in Boston] and a couple of places outside of Boston. Hopefully, I can start a new career in my hometown. The reason for me leaving is to be closer to home and to cover the teams I grew up with. I'm not certain that's going to happen, but I know I definitely put things in motion. And I had to make a decision. I had to tell CBS for budget purposes what I was going to do next year. I finally had the guts to tell Bob Phillips [senior VP for CBS radio in Baltimore], "You have me until the end of the Ravens season, but I'm definitely going to go to Boston and spend some time with family and get my mind clear and detox from Baltimore and figure out what I want." So, that's kind of where I'm at. But with that being said, I am so excited for whatever the future holds, because I know in my heart I'm making the right decision and it's time to move on.

Q. Was Phillips supportive?

A One-hundred percent. I have a great relationship with Bob Phillips... I told Bob six months ago, "Hey, I'm kind of thinking about going home." I am so lucky to be able to go to my boss and say, "Hey, I'm thinking about leaving, what are your thoughts?" In fact, Bob Phillips was more than happy to make some phone calls for me. So, I never really had anything to hide... "

Q. Let me get to this under the heading gender and sports.  Here's my perception: It's difficult being a women in Baltimore who has strong opinions about sports on radio or TV. There are a lot of attitudes out there that have nothing to do with professional competence.

A. Absolutely, I refuse to play the female card and I refuse to blame the negative reactions I've gotten from some fans because I'm not from here. But I do believe that the latter certainly played a role in people not accepting me. And if anyone in Baltimore denies that they don't like me solely based on the fact that I'm from Boston, then they're not being true to themselves. It's been an uphill battle from the day I got here , because I'm not from Baltimore. And that's sad. I'm still a person. And I'm going to take a quote from Joe Flacco, and say I think I'm a "damn good" reporter. In regard to females, I don't think females in this town have an uphill battle, and I don't think they get a bad rap. But females who have an opinion certainly do ... I am paid to give my opinion. I'm not paid to read a TelePrompter. I'm not paid to be pro-Orioles. I am not paid to be pro-Ravens. I am paid to give my opinion, and a lot of people can't handle that coming from a woman. And I'm not playing the female card, but it's much easier to insult a woman with an opinion than a man with an opinion."

Q. Talk to me about your use of social media.

A. I tweet every day from the Ravens facility, which is mostly facts. And I certainly have put my opinions out there about the Ravens and Orioles. I've also let people into my life. I tweet photos of my nephew. I tweet photos of my dog. And I was overwhelmed with the amount of tweets I got last night from people saying, "We're going to miss Truman." That's my dog. "Please keep us updated on Frankie's health." And it meant the world to me.

Q. These are fans of yours.

A. And believe it or not, I know a lot about those fans as well. ... I can talk to you about Darrin, who's upset right now because his daughter just turned 11 and he thinks she's growing up too fast. I can tell you about Todd, a truck driver, who gets up every day at 4 a.m. and works 12 hour days -- and is struggling to get along with his family. I can tell you about Ashley, from Dundalk, who is struggling to pay her way through school. And, of course, there's my favorite, Lance, who works for BGE in Baltimore and gets up as early as Todd in the worst weather conditions to make sure our electricity in working properly. So, anyone who tells me that I haven't taken the chance to get to know fans has no idea how much I am taking away from some of the people in this community."

Q. What are you feelings today about the lawsuit. (In March, Royle sued Nestor Aparacio and two of his employees at radio station WNST for defamation. In August, she dropped the suit.)

A. I have mixed emotions about it. However, I'm not harassed any more. So, regardless of what people say about it, in some ways, it was successful. People are going to have their opinions about it. However, this is the last time I will ever talk about it. I never wanted a red cent. I wanted to make a statement that there is a line that has to be drawn between professional and personal attacks. I've said this several times, I hope to God I made things easier for the female coming in after me. And I will never talk about this again.