Bethel Alumna Has Bright Future in Sports Broadcasting

Kelly Hinseth ’16 loves the unconventional sports stories, the ones she has to dig beyond the box scores to find. She gets to share those stories with viewers across northern Minnesota as sports director and main anchor for CBS 3 in Duluth.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, content specialist

January 22, 2020 | 10:45 a.m.

Kelly Hinseth

Kelly Hinseth '16 graduated from Bethel with a degree in communication studies and a minor in journalism.

CBS 3 sports director Kelly Hinseth arrives at her desk around 2 p.m. Coffee in hand, she starts writing her script, cutting video footage, and mapping out coverage plans for the 6 p.m. broadcast. After the show, she’ll race to the rink, camera in tow. Then, it’s back to the station with the hockey game highlights she’s filmed and edited for use on the 10 p.m. broadcast. “In a local market, everything you see on TV, from graphics to script writing, is all on you. You’re a one-man band,” she laughs. And tomorrow, she’ll do it all over again.

Hinseth’s career has always been fueled by a love for sports, which runs in her family. “My brothers were good at sports, but they were never the star,” she says. “They showed me what it means to put your ego aside, put your team first, and play because you love to play.”  While she says she was never a great athlete herself, she was always looking for opportunities to be close to the action.

As college approached, Hinseth began to imagine ways to turn her love for sports into a career. She was inspired by the women she saw reporting from the sidelines during NFL games.  “I thought it was really cool,” she says. “I was watching them break barriers by showing up and proving themselves in a field that was predominately male.”

When she arrived at Bethel, Hinseth found a place for her sports passion in the journalism program, where she had professors and mentors who equipped her with the tools she needed to pursue a career in broadcasting. “Scott Winter, Phyllis Alsdurf, and my other professors were constantly making us work for things,” she says. “They had us going beyond what was right in front of us and digging deeper for the story. They didn’t want us to settle.”

That push from her professors helped Hinseth land a senior year internship at KSTP-TV in the sports department, which served as a springboard into her broadcasting career. After graduation, she was offered a weekend sports anchor job in Washington. In a leap of faith, she took it.

“Being a Christian [in journalism] means seeing your source as a person first and not just a sound bite or a scoop. It also means giving people the benefit of the doubt while constantly seeking whatever is true, right, and noble.”

— Kelly Hinseth '16

The drive to Hinseth’s new home was long. Having been raised in Andover, Minnesota, and attended Bethel, Hinseth had never lived more than 20 minutes from her parents’ house. “My mom and I cried the whole ride out there,” she remembers. She spent the next year and a half building her portfolio of professional experience, but also wrestling with the challenges that came with moving away from her community.

Then, one day, Hinseth’s questions and frustrations came to a head when she didn’t receive a promotion she’d been hoping for. “I remember storming out, standing in the parking lot, looking to the heavens, and being like, ‘What am I doing, God? I don’t know where to go,’” she says. “It felt like a door had slammed shut and I wasn’t sure what my next move should be.”

Soon, Hinseth found an opening for a sports anchor in Duluth, Minnesota. She applied and was offered a sports anchor job—a step up from her previous role and much closer to home. She accepted and moved to Duluth, and about a year later, she was promoted to the role she holds today.

Kelly Hinseth

In addition to leading the sports department at CBS 3, Kelly Hinseth also serves as an ice-side reporter for University of Minnesota hockey broadcasts.

While she’s closer to her home community, this season for Hinseth isn’t without challenges. As sports director, she’s learning how to navigate a high-stakes leadership position. She’s also the first woman to lead the sports department at her company. “It’s a thing that hasn’t been done before, so there’s going to be growing pains, no matter what era it is,” she says.   

Daily, she balances her leadership responsibilities with the responsibility to create content herself. And on the hard days, she leans on her faith. “I read a lot of devotionals by superstar Christian women who have done it,” she says. “They all say the same thing—that God has you exactly where He wants you at this moment in time.”

Whenever Hinseth moves next, she hopes it’s in the direction of the Twin Cities. But in the meantime, she’s happy to continue chasing the sports stories and developing her craft.  “I love talking to athletes as human beings rather than just a box score or a stat sheet,” she says. “Stories that tug at the hearts of our viewers are the reason I’m here. They are usually the stories you have to work for, but darn it, they are worth the work.”

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