Sports director Rosie Langello was hard at work on a digital project Jan. 10 at WSFA 12 News in Mongomery, Alabama, when a coworker said something was coming across the wires about Nick Saban.

A few seconds later, the Cedar Crest High School alumna let out a scream when she learned the longtime Alabama football coach was planning to announce his retirement at age 72 after six national championships in 17 seasons at the SEC football powerhouse.

To call this breaking news in a place like Montgomery would be an understatement.

So Langello did some quick research and preparation, applied her makeup and was on the air in 10 minutes.

In her coverage of the story over the next several days, she managed to get an interview with Saban’s replacement, Kalen DeBoer, who left the University of Washington to fill Saban’s immense (figurative) shoes at the main campus in Tuscaloosa.

“He’s an insanely nice person,” Langello told LebTown. “I think the players will like him.”

Langello, 29, is the first woman to be sports director of WSFA, an NBC affiliate. She said she normally sports anchors the 6, 9, and 10 p.m. broadcasts and fills on the weekend, too.

Her department also includes sports anchor/reporter Jahmal Kennedy.

“I never have to worry about walking on eggshells or being nervous around working with Rosie,” he told LebTown in an email. “She provides a comfortable environment to be myself and allows for my personality to shine through my work. She understands what it’s like to be the No. 2 or worse on a team and has no issues affording me the same opportunities to cover big events as she has being the sports director. From the very beginning, we’ve had a two-person team, because of how easy she’s made it….”

Dream job

Langello wasn’t born in Lebanon County but said her family moved there when she was about 4. She played sports at Cedar Crest, mostly field hockey; her three older sisters were into soccer.

Her parents were natives of Northeast Philadelphia, and her dad, Michael, was a running back for the Philadelphia Little Quakers and throughout high school. She and her father coached the Lebanon County Special Olympics soccer team for many years, a team on which her sister Anna played. Like other families, they also shared their passionate fandom of Philadelphia’s sports teams, passing it from generation to generation.

Upon starting college, Langello didn’t make the move to sports journalism until she was at Bloomsburg for a while, but Mo’ne Davis’ playing in the Little League World Series – and the response to that – influenced her career choice change.

A Bloomsburg ballplayer tweeted a derogatory comment about Davis that went viral, and Langello asked other students in the quad their opinions.

Her curiosity was sparked. Exercise science was out as a major, mass communications was in.

After she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2016, Langello earned a spot at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern for a one-year master’s program.

During her time there, she was assigned to cover the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, the one where the Pats overcame a 28-3 deficit.

Her first job in the industry was as a weekend news producer in Wilkes-Barre with WBRE-TV and WYOU-TV, where she was quickly promoted to digital media manager. Langello’s first on-air job was in Altoona, as a sports reporter at WTAJ-TV.

She was then hired at WPRI in Providence, Rhode Island, where she covered the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, plus colleges like Providence, Brown, Bryant and the University of Rhode Island.

When Langello was named sports director at WSFA in Alabama’s capital of Montgomery more than two years ago, she was the seventh person to hold that job – and the first woman.

All one would expect, Crimson Tide football is heavily covered, but so are the sports teams of other colleges, Langello told LebTown, including Auburn, Alabama St., Tuskegee, Huntingdon College and Falkner University.

Still short of age 30, Langello said she has achieved her dream job: informing the public and, working for a TV station that is dominant in its market. “I like being involved in the community, covering athletes as they move on.”

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Paula Wolf worked for 31 years as a general assignment reporter, sports columnist, and editorial writer for LNP Media. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, she is a lifetime resident of Lancaster County.


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