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Making the Call

Local sports broadcaster Sarah Spain is going nationwide. 

ESPN’s Sarah Spain strikes a pose in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel’s game room.

Here’s a piece of advice: Don’t get in Sarah Spain’s way.

The statuesque sports expert has already made a mark on the local media scene. But now, Spain, 34, has gone nationwide as the co-host of a weekly show on ESPN’s national radio network with another rising female sports journalist, Prim Siripipat. Spain’s two-hour Saturday radio show is titled Spain & Prim, and the Lake Forest native says it’s her way to focus on sports issues that go beyond the field.

“We try to tackle a lot of the same topics that everyone’s talking about—play the hits, as they say—but we want to do it with our own unique perspective,” she says. “We talk about things that other shows do, but we also bring in thoughts about women’s sports more often, or more serious sides of issues like domestic violence in the NFL.”

ESPN recognizes Spain’s engaging style—she easily tosses off references to everyone from Woody Allen to Regis Philbin to Scottie Pippen—and the network keeps her busy. In addition to her day job as SportsCenter anchor on WMVP AM-1000, she writes for and appears frequently on national ESPN programs, including His & Hers, Olbermann and the daily national SportsCenter broadcasts.

Spain’s ability to blend smarts, humor and pop-culture savvy has made the Ivy League grad a hot commodity. Fox Sports 1 made a big play to bring her on board a few years back, as have the ESPN higher-ups in Bristol, Conn.

Spain loves her hometown (and her two dogs and River North condo) and wants to stay, but she admits that the offers aren’t always easy to turn down. “I’m digging in my heels, but it’s getting harder and harder,” she says. “I’m at a point now where I need to temper my ambition with what will actually make me happy. It’s got to be some sort of crazy dream job, amazing money, perfect situation for me to mess with what we have going here, which makes me really happy.“

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