When you're working in television, you can't be afraid to pack up and change locations for work. Kacie McDonnell certainly knows this.
The Pottsville, Pa. native and Villanova graduate has worked in Philadelphia, Kansas City and Boston in her career. Now, she's been hired as a sports and lifestyle host at FOX Nation.
Viewers will have a chance to get to know McDonnell better during her upcoming FOX Nation special "Meet Kacie," which will air on December 5. Before that, though, you can find out plenty about the budding star in our "21 Questions" feature.
We caught up with McDonnell to find out her thoughts on Thanksgiving food, Christmas music, balancing work and a long-distance relationship with MLB player Eric Hosmer, her broadcasting influences and much more.
Let's get started.
1. What ultimately led you to FOX Nation after your stint at NESN? What is your role going to be there?
KM: My contract was ending at NESN. I was asked to re-sign – though I loved every single person I worked with and worked for -- I decided to take some time to spend with family and friends. I really haven’t had a break since I started working in 2012. I had already been a big fan of Fox Nation, so I was over the moon when I was asked to come in for an interview.
As for my role…Right now I’m wearing a few hats! And it’s been nonstop fun since I walked through the doors. My first assignment was the Patriot Awards in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was humbling and an honor to get to know some of our nation’s heroes.
As for what’s on deck…We’re still throwing around ideas I’ve pitched as well as a few others. But I promise you I’ll be cranking out new series in no time.
2. What was it like covering a championship team in Boston, which you did multiple times?
KM: My first day at NESN was full-on coverage of the Red Sox postseason. They didn’t get it done that year (2016)… but we all know what happened in 2018. It’s incredible. It’s cool knowing the ins and outs of a team, covering them for the entirety of a season and watching their hard work pay off. You also got to watch a star manager in Alex Cora come in and win a World Series his first season as skipper. That in itself is astounding.
The Sox aren’t the only team that won during my time in Boston. I’m talking about the powerhouse that is the Patriots. I was just getting settled at work and was tasked with covering practice and press conferences leading up to that week’s game. I remember looking at my producer and saying “there’s no way in hell I’m asking that man a question today.” You already know who “that man” is -- Bill Belichick. I listened to reporter after reporter ask questions that I deemed thoughtful and relevant and he shut them all down. I covered two Patriots’ Super Bowl parades. The year in between, when the Patriots played the Eagles - Super Bowl 52 - I had to remove myself. I requested off because there was no way I could be unbiased in my coverage. Fly Eagles fly, baby! But don’t get me wrong, I respect the heck out of the Pats.
3. You’ve been open about your relationship with San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. What have been the challenges for you guys maintaining a relationship given your careers and both being in the public spotlight?
KM: Any relationship has challenges. When you add 3000 miles between two people, you would think it would become even more difficult to maintain…not the case! We work so incredibly well together. It also helps that we’re dating when we are. Technology bridges the gap and allows us to talk and “see” each other every day. I think the foundation of our relationship is built upon our unwavering support of the other following their dreams. Eric has been one of my biggest cheerleaders for almost four years now and vice versa! We find happiness in each other as well as each other’s success. He’s THE BEST. Communication is key in any relationship — but especially so when you’re loving long distance. We’ve pretty much mastered it. And if I’m being totally honest, going to visit him when it’s single-digit temperatures in New York is not a bad thing!
4. What do you think about the Padres’ new uniforms?KM: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE NEW PADRES UNIFORMS. If you take the temperature of Twitter folks it seems a little bit split… But I think they are classy and elegant. In talking to some folks within the organization before the unveiling, you can tell how much time, energy and thoughtfulness went into the new unis. Bravo! I’ve already begun gathering new gear for 2020. No girl’s ever going to turn her nose up at revamping the wardrobe.
5. What are the best and worst parts of the Thanksgiving meal?KM: Best: stuffing. Worst: turkey. I know, hot take. I don’t eat Turkey on Thanksgiving. My plate consists of 60% stuffing (with bacon on top), 20% sweet potatoes, 10% cranberry sauce and 10% creamy corn. And I ALWAYS go back for stuffing seconds. I’m not a bit interested in wasting stomach space on something you can have any day of the year. Stuffing is an art. Miss me with the carrots and raisins in it also.
6. Describe the opportunity you had to cover your alma mater Villanova as a sideline reporter at the Final Four.KM: UH-MAZ-ING. I’ve always been so proud of Villanova. This was a cherry on top of my incredible time there. Turner Sports had the great idea to include alternate “Team Streams” for the Final Four and Championship – the play-by-play, color analyst and courtside reporters had some tie to each school. Let me tell you, being a homer is loads of fun…It’s also extremely hard to contain your emotion post buzzer-beater. Head coach, Jay Wright, could not have been more wonderful to work with. I remember interviewing him and his wife, Patty, after the win. Patty could barely talk. I could barely talk. Jay took the wheel. It’s an experience I am forever grateful for…and what do you know, I got to do it twice!
7. You have a pet cat named Phil you post about on social media. Can you tell us a little bit about him? Also, what makes you a cat person?KM: Phil is my lifeline! He’s rocking a lion cut and I don’t think we’ll ever stray from it. Big flex. I was never a cat person. After watching Homeward Bound 18 thousand times as a child, I begged my parents for a kitten. We got one, “Sassy.” Every bone in her body and hair on her head was sassy. I was over my cat phase. Fast forward about 20 years. I was living in Kansas City and I met one of my girlfriend’s cats. She was the sweetest thing. I always wanted a dog but couldn’t commit time or money-wise to taking care of a pup. I was working morning news Monday through Friday and on the weekends covering/traveling for soccer. (I was pre-and-post-game host for Sporting Kansas City for two seasons!) But then it dawned on me that a cat (the RIGHT cat) would be the BEST companion! I basically lived on shelter websites. One day a fell in love with this sweet face online, immediately drove to meet him and totally fell in love. I adopted him that day. He doesn’t know he’s a cat. He thinks he’s a dog. Don’t tell him. He greets me at the door when I come home and loves to chat. He’s my dude.
8. What are your favorite MLB ballparks not named Petco Park, Fenway Park, Citizens Bank Park and Kauffman Stadium?
KM: Ha! Those are all so beautiful! I love Progressive Field in Cleveland. It’s gorgeous and the skyline in the outfield is a nice touch.
Can I also add old Yankee Stadium? Miss that place. My family would take bus trips from Pennsylvania for games. My paternal grandfather grew up in the Bronx. My dad and Uncle Jimmy actually Sandlotted a ball signed by the 1932 Yankees. I made that word up but I think you catch my drift....they played ball with it! Babe Ruth, Lefty Gomez, Lou Gehrig, Red Ruffing, the whole lot of the champs. His grandfather’s buddy owned a bar near the stadium that the players frequented. Gave the ball to my great grandfather. Clearly it made its way into my dad’s hands way too early. My brother has it in in a case.
9. From the beginning of your broadcasting career until now, what areas do you feel you’ve progressed the most?
KM: I’ve learned a lot about listening. And I still have a lot more to learn. Whether I’m doing a one-on-one interview or gathering information for a story or segment, it’s my responsibility as a journalist to capture the essence of the subject(s). Who are they? What are they going through? How are they dealing with it? My job is to tell other people’s stories on this grand platform I’m honored to be on. I don’t take that lightly. When you listen and listen well, it’s reflected in your work. Another thing that’s important in this field: don’t ever stop learning. This business is changing and evolving every day. If you think you know it all, you’re on a dangerous path. There’s no such thing as a “stupid question” and you’ll gain a lot more respect by asking for help or clarification. Everyone wants to put the best product on the air. No one will judge you for asking for help and wanting to be better. If they do, not your problem.
10. What is the last book you read?
KM: It’s hard to find time to read books. When I was covering sports, I had local and national sports talk shows on before I went in to work. (News sprinkled in of course...but now it’s mostly news). But then I decided to try audio books and I love them! I can do chores around the apartment and listen. The last one I listened to was Oprah’s “The Path Made Clear.” I’m definitely going to listen again. I wrote down a list of people she spoke to or about in the book and need to get their work cued up.
11. If you played in the MLB, what number would you wear?
KM: 13!! I know it’s “unlucky,” or whatever, but it’s always been my favorite number. Couldn’t tell you why.
12. Which broadcasters do you watch or have you watched and tried to emulate?
KM: I KNOW I’m going to sob while answering this one. I was beyond blessed to get my start in the city that owns my heart: Philly. At Fox 29, I learned at the feet of the masters, the king and queen of the 215: Mike Jerrick and Sheinelle Jones. To know them is to love them. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe them. Kind, loving, supportive, caring, real, honest, trustworthy, brilliant, funny, beautiful (you too, Mike) and just good, GOOD people. Not to mention good as good can be at what they do. Like I said: masters. They taught me to be raw and authentic, open-minded, empathetic and to work hard to be better than I was the day before. Sheinelle said once “Take what you get and make it what you want.” That has carried me though my career and will carry me though life. (I’m crying.) Mike produces from the desk (which isn’t producers’ favorite thing in the world), shifts gears on the fly and makes just about anyone laugh uncontrollably. They’re my family and, in a way, you could say they raised me. They’ve been by my side since my first day in August of 2012. They’re my angels on earth.
Speaking of angels on Earth let’s talk about FOX’s own Charissa Thompson and Ainsley Earhardt. WOW. I remember I was wanting to make to move to sports full time and out of the blue Charissa DMed me on Twitter. It wasn’t a long message but it was so sweet and supportive and gave me such a boost of confidence to make the jump. I hadn’t even had met her at that point. Not only is she a sports TV superstar, she’s a girl’s girl...and that is one of the best things you can be.
You don’t have to go much further to find another who’s cut from the same cloth. “Ainsley Earhardt is the real deal.” I’ve been at FOX three weeks and I’ve heard that sentiment more times than I can count. I concur: Ainsley Earhardt IS the real deal! I made my first appearance on the network on Fox and Friends. I was waiting off set before my segment and Ainsley was prepping on the curvy couch. She caught my eye, sprang up and b-lined right to me. She gave me THE biggest hug and welcomed me to the FOX family. It took everything in me not to tear up! She didn’t have to do that. But she did. And she made me feel so welcome with one gesture. The truth is she started at the channel right around when I started working in Philly. I followed her career and retraced her steps to getting to the national level. I had always been such a fan and always looked up to her. Now I can tell you: she’s even more fabulous than I could have ever imagined.
13. In a recent Fox News press release you discussed your love of sports, saying "I'm from a small town. 'Friday Night Lights' is real. The city shuts down and there is a mystique to it." Where did you go to high school and who are your school's biggest rivals?KM: I went to a small, Catholic school, Nativity BVM. A lot of my guy friends (Shout out Brad, Jeff, Lefty, Corey, Cory, Mikey) played football at the public school in town: Pottsville High School and took the team to States their senior year. They lost and I cried. But I’m so proud of the boys they were and the men they’ve become. I’ve stayed close with them and actually need to text them to find out who will be home for Thanksgiving this year. The town really would shut down on Friday nights. There were crimson and white streamers on every telephone pole in town. Businesses had their windows painted all season. It was a very cool way to grow up.
My high school’s women’s basketball team, the Golden Girls, was on another level. My best friend since preschool, Gwendolyn, was on the team, while I was a cheerleader! Their biggest rival was Marian Catholic. You couldn’t fit another human being into the gym for those games.
14. Would you rather have the temperature outside always at 90 degrees or always at 60 degrees?KM: If it's a dry 90 degrees, I’m down. If it’s humid, no thanks. I’ll take 60. I hate sweating.
15. You started your career as a traffic reporter. What was the most interesting thing you experienced in that role?KM: The most interesting experience was just that: reporting the traffic. I never said “when I grow up I want to be a traffic reporter,” but the job taught me much more than I even could have imagined. No one likes traffic. Naturally, you’re going to connect with viewers as they’re the ones stuck in it day in and day out. You’re the one trying to help them best navigate around and through it. You also learn a lot about compassion. Unfortunately, there’s a gravity about what you’re reporting at times. You need to handle that with care and sincerity.
16. What would I find in your refrigerator right now?KM: Not much. I’m in the process of moving but I’ve got the essentials: blocks of Gouda and Muenster cheese, charcuterie meat, all of the ingredients for ham and white American cheese roll ups (that was supposed to be funny),mayo, honey mustard , champagne, orange juice, sake. Of course a few bottles of red next to the fridge.
17. What are your thoughts on the appropriate time to start playing Christmas music?
KM: Now! Always! Definitely November 1st. It’s been so warm this year though...I’m having trouble getting into the holiday spirit so I bought a tree for my office. Fingers crossed. I plan to go see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular with friends. That should do the trick!
18. What movie have you watched the most times?
KM: Wizard of Oz. You can’t count the number of life lessons in that one. There’s no place like home, never give up, never stop dreaming, you can do anything. I actually wrote my college admission essay about it. Growing up, I’d watch it over and over at my grandparents’ house. Little did I know Dorothy and company were dropping some serious knowledge.
19. You've worked in various different cities for various different networks. What characteristics are necessary for a network or company to be a fulfilling place to work?
KM: I’m of the belief that if you’re a good and kind person, you’ll excel in this business. Your first thought might be: “That’s pretty naive of her to say.” It’s not. That’s how I was raised. That’s all I know. You don’t achieve greatness by stepping on and disregarding those around you. And if you do, there’s not much staying power. One of my bosses and I would talk about this way of thinking often. From time to time he would stop by my desk and simply say “Don’t change.” It shook me. That was the biggest compliment I could ever or will ever receive. Know this: there’s always going to be someone more knowledgeable or more experienced or more accomplished than you. Always and everywhere. Be a good person first and foremost. No one can take that away.
20. Have you tried the new Popeyes' chicken sandwich?
KM: Negative. But any food fried is food for me.
21. Browsing your Instagram, you're very fashionable on the air and off. Who/what are your favorite designers and looks to wear?
KM: Wow. Thank you. It’s a constant struggle to try to wear colors other than black, white or tan. Those are my go-tos. On air I tend to dress a little bit more vibrantly. I only have two looks: total athleisure head to toe or dressed up! I’ve never been good at those cute, casual day outfits. I am a giant Pinterest fail. I stick to dresses because coordinating pants and a top is way overload for me. Usually high neck, square neck or off the shoulder.
You can read more of our interviews with sports media stars here.