Fox 2 News broadcaster Jennifer Hammond aspired to be a sports reporter as a child, and the fiercely competitive trailblazer is now an institution in Detroit sports.
“At 13 I knew I wanted to do this,” she said. “I was a tomboy. I watched sports and I saw (female sports reporter) Phyllis George and I thought, ‘Wow, this is what I want to do.’”
Hammond, affectionately dubbed “The Hammer,” has lived up to the moniker with her unyielding journalistic style. The tenacious reporter descends from a line of determined women.
“My grandma was born in 1895, and she was one of the first women to graduate from college. She was a trendsetter,” she said. “My mom was a single parent and always had a job. She remarried when I was 10, and we moved to Birmingham. She was very independent.”
After graduating from Seaholm High School, Hammond pursued a degree in broadcast communications with minors in English and journalism from Western Michigan University.
Hammond worked as a radio broadcaster in Kalamazoo and had her first on-camera job in Chicago before returning to Detroit.
“I came and interviewed at WDFN (1130AM). They hired me on the spot,” she said. “That’s what really established me in Detroit.”
Hammond’s vast knowledge of sports and her gregarious charm earned her a position at Fox 2 News in 1995, where she remains today.
“I travel with the Lions,” she said. “I travel for playoff baseball, NCAA tournaments, Pistons and Red Wings playoffs. My favorite place to be is on an NFL sideline, but I love all the things that I do.”
As a woman in sports broadcasting, Hammond quickly proved she had the chutzpah to command respect on the field as well as in the locker room.
On one occasion, she was asked to vacate the locker room while conducting interviews.
“I wasn’t leaving,” she said. “I turned my back, let (the athlete) put his pants on, turned back around and got my positioning.”
In short order, “The Hammer” was embraced by viewers, colleagues and athletes.
Hammond considers her gender to be a unique professional advantage.
“I think, as a mother, there are certain sensitivities,” she said. “I think it’s OK for emotion to be part of the story. I’ve done some stories that have really touched the audience. I’ve done stories about players giving back. I’ve seen the Lions give away houses to families who didn’t have the means. I’ve gotten really emotional sometimes.”
The two-time Emmy Award winner also received the Ty Tyson Excellence in Sports Broadcasting Award for the 2015-2016 sports season.
“That was really exciting. I was the first woman to ever receive it.”
Once a Seaholm High School cheerleader, Hammond now is raising her own two children in Birmingham and living out her dream at Fox 2 News.
“This is it. I love this,” she said. “I used to think I’d want to be a small fish in a big pond. But, it’s a perfect fit and I’d never want to leave.”
Photo: Laurie Tennent