It is said people watching the local news typically hear about one out of every 10 words and usually because they are doing something else during the newscast. But when Emmy Award–winning KPIX weekend sports anchor and reporter Vern Glenn is on TV, this fact likely doesn’t apply. We caught up with the man nicknamed “Mr. Involvement” (for the way he throws himself into the action) before he headed out to report on a game, take a blow from a boxer, ride a bull or be blitzed by the Cal football team.
1. Were you always into sports?
It was always about sports for me. In the eighth and ninth grade I liked talking about them, writing about them and debating about them. I was also heavily influenced by my peers who had like interests and by my dad and cousins. The sportscasting bug really hit me when I was in the 10th grade.
2. Explain how you adapted after switching to KPIX in 2012 after 22 years at KRON.
I knew that if I was going to make any impact, I had to “bring it” different from anyone else they’d seen. If you want to make a mark in any media market, you have to be yourself but also deliver something that viewers will remember. You also have to know your audience, know who exactly is watching. Yes, we have to inform, but in sports there is also an opportunity to entertain, show a personality. That is right in my wheelhouse.
3. Describe your most hair-raising “Mr. Involvement” moment.
Most viewers remember the bungee jump off a bridge where the instructor counted me down six times before I finally let go. I was also anxious about riding a bull, getting hit the hardest I ever have been in my life by [former] 49er linebacker Jeff Ulbrich and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.
4. Advice for future sports reporters striving to go big? Be versatile. Have the skill set to do everything. You really have to be a “Swiss Army knife”: shoot, edit, report and produce. And if you have that passion, that itch, go for it. It’s that ambition that afforded me the chance to cover Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, the Olympics and NBA championships.
5. How did you last so long in such a volatile industry?
My hunger and passion for local TV sportscasting and reporting is what kept and keeps me going. No day is the same. No matter how bad it got with the business, I could still cover sports.
6. What is the best Bay Area spot to watch a game?
Nothing beats the SAP Center in San Jose or Oracle Arena in Oakland. There is a nonstop electricity you can’t get from watching the Sharks or Warriors on TV at home. The atmosphere is awesome.
7. Favorite sports celebrity you interviewed?
Hank Aaron, April 1993. That was the first time I was really starstruck. It was a live interview at Candlestick Park and I was all cool, calm and collected on the outside but jumping up and down on the inside. The then home run king was giving Barry Bonds (now the leader in home runs) his 1992 MVP Award.
8. Howard Cosell or Frank Gifford?
Howard Cosell. Got to go for the polarizing guy. He was the first one who managed to get half the audience who hated him to watch anyway, just to see what he would say.
9. Looking into your crystal ball, any predictions for the Warriors?
For the Warriors, I see another NBA banner to hang from Oracle and later the Chase Center.