You’ve seen her reporting for the NBA, NFL and Top Rank Boxing. Now, she’s back home working as a sideline reporter for the Las Vegas Raiders. She followed her passion and has some great insight about creating opportunities and propelling a career forward. Please welcome Molly Sullivan.
Molly: We have two perfectionists here, so this should go well. This should go swimmingly.
Amanda: I love it. I feel like I should say welcome home. You’ve been away from Vegas for a while, but now you’re back for an exciting new opportunity that has really brought your career full circle. You’ve spent a lot of time telling important stories from the sidelines of all kinds of major sporting and entertainment events. I want to talk about all of that. But I think to understand the importance of the current moment you’re in, we need to go back a little further and it all started with sports for you.
Molly: Stella Productions! Can we talk about Stella productions? That’s why I’m here. Sorry, I don’t want to bury the lead. Carry on, carry on.
Amanda: There’s one very specific moment that I will be bringing up during this because I have to talk about it, because it’s one of my favorite things of all time. Was there a particular moment that made you fall in love with sports? Or was it just in your blood?
The NBA was my first love.
Molly: Yeah, it’s totally in my blood. Great question. I was a tomboy with a dress, similar to… I’ve got a four-year-old and she’s kind of following suit, so it totally is in the blood. I played basketball growing up. I did a little bit of swimming, but I enjoyed basketball because growing up it was a 1A/1B situation with Bird and Jordan. So my father, you know, taught me everything I know about basketball. The NBA was my first love. I’ve been very open about that now, of course covering the NFL, but yeah, growing up basketball was my jam. And then I started to get ultra-competitive with swimming, and so that took over and you know, ultimately swimming got me to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, an education. I’m not smart enough to get in there by myself. I didn’t really study until… Amanda, you know, this, too… I didn’t really study until after graduation. And now I’m constantly studying, whether it’s football or just my craft as a reporter. You don’t stop. So perhaps I was just pacing myself for the real world. But yeah, you know, I’ve always loved sports. Now, I will say this, Amanda, because I know we haven’t spoken much about our background together. But I fell into entertainment reporting right out of college, and I was horrible at it. Amanda will tell you in a moment. But I did that because in my hometown of Las Vegas at the time, it was the entertainment capital of the world. It was not the sports and entertainment capital of the world that it is today. So I fell into entertainment reporting. I did that right out of college and then ultimately got back to sports down the road.
Amanda: Did you ever have any passion for journalism? Or is that something you picked up as you started building this career? Like, I know I just fell into production. Did you intentionally get into this world? Or did you kind of fall into it also?
Molly: Well, I don’t think anyone really falls into it because you were really clearly born to do this. So I’m a firm believer in the universe and everything attached to it and somebody is always listening. I will say that at Carolina I majored in Communications, broadcasting was… and Dramatic Art. Go figure. Even if you pull up, if you do a simple Google search and look at the media guide from Carolina, it said distance swimmer Molly Sullivan, I want to be a sports reporter or an actress. I mean, same same? No, not at all. Like you don’t get into reporting because… you get into reporting because it’s not about you. And so I needed some clarity, but I am there now. It was one of those things where I love telling stories. And I love connecting with people. And one of my favorite things of my current position is just sitting down, those sit-down interviews that obviously we don’t get much of. We have zoom interviews like today with Fred Biletnikoff, one of the greatest Raider of all time, but there’s a disconnect, right? Because we could be chillin’ on your couch right now, Amanda, behind you. But yeah, I just always loved telling stories.
Amanda: When we met, you were a producer and reporter for a weekly entertainment segment all about Vegas. Long after you left, I actually ended up taking over the producer role, although you would never catch me on camera there.
Molly: You’re too smart for that, that’s why. You’re too smart for on air.
Amanda: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I’m also very awkward, so there’s that.
Amanda: But I have to say that one of my favorite moments of all time was the day you quit that job. Because we were working for someone who didn’t necessarily treat his employees well, specifically women, and in the middle of one of his condescending speeches about something he didn’t agree with, you asked if he was done. He said he was. You said, “I quit,” and you walked out the door, and he was dumbstruck. And I was sad to lose you, but I was really proud, too, because it’s so important for people to realize they do not need to work at a place where they aren’t valued and respected. No matter how scary it might be to walk away, you have to have that respect for yourself.
Molly: You know what’s crazy? And I just had one of those a-ha moments. I totally forgot about that.
Amanda: Oh, it’s in my brain.
That was the best move of my career, and I didn’t make it.
Molly: I’m not gonna lie. No, I totally forgot, only because I’ve had so many moments since, and I don’t even recall what went down. We’ll have to talk off camera about that. But I’m super grateful. I think that every moment I look back and you know, I look at how I got into the NFL. And at the time I was kicking and I was screaming because I wanted to continue covering the NBA, and it just wasn’t in the cards. But that was the best move of my career, and I didn’t make it? You know what I’m saying? So I owe those people, six or seven to be exact (but who’s counting?), a thank you card because it led me to the NFL. It led me back home to Las Vegas where I grew up, and now my daughter can grow up in the same community that has been so tremendous to me. So it’s crazy how things work.
And I say that I was not good at the time. Brandy Williams was our reporter, right? And I was producing for her, and she didn’t show up for one of the shoots. She was out with the boyfriend, right? And the suit said, “Molly, step in. Go!” And I was like, “I’m in sweatpants, but I wrote everything. Okay, let’s roll!” And from that point forward, you know, I covered it and it went on to do my own weekly show after that, and then my own daily show at one of the affiliates here, and ultimately it led me to Philadelphia, so I’m thankful for that moment. It gave me thick skin. You know, I’m an athlete. It’s certainly in sports, people say it’s a male-dominated field. I don’t get that. You know, I’ve never been one to be like, listen, I’m the female at the table and you need… yeah, I’m entitled. No, that’s not what this is about. And that’s why I kind of always cringe with female-oriented shows, if they’re not done properly. You know what I’m saying? And maybe that’s, again, the athlete in me. I trained with all guys, so I’m probably more comfortable around the boys. I don’t know what that says about me. But yeah, you know, I’m super grateful for my time with you. And I was a horrible entertainment reporter. But it ultimately led me to where I’m supposed to be.
Amanda: Whatever it says about you. It says the same thing about me. I’m the same. I never wanted to work with women at all. My friends have been men. I’ve gotten along better, and I think it’s because the drama wasn’t there. And I always felt that there was some cattiness with women that there doesn’t need to be.
Molly: Nobody’s got time for that. Right? We don’t have time for that.
Amanda: And we don’t need to compete with each other.
Amanda: I’m with you. I co-hosted another podcast. It was called the Womanpreneur Podcast, and I hated the name. We argued about that from the beginning because I was like, this isn’t what we’re trying to do. It’s not just about women. There are just good people. We want to be featuring good people.
Amanda: And I’m also with you on appreciating those moments, even though they’re not ones we always look back at and say, “Oh, I’m glad I worked at that terrible job where I was miserable.” But it pushes us forward. And I’m quite the same. If I hadn’t gotten that job, I wouldn’t have had anything else that happened to me. Or if I hadn’t worked for another person who didn’t value what I had to do, I probably wouldn’t have quit entirely and started working for myself, which is the best thing I’ve ever done. So I’m always about learning from the moment and appreciating it. You also learned from that, because I got to a point where I’m like, I will not put up with this from anyone. I wouldn’t do it in my personal life, so I definitely won’t do it in my professional life either.
I don’t take myself seriously. I take what I do seriously.
Molly: Yeah, Amanda, and going back to just kind of almost laughing about certain things, right? Like I don’t take myself seriously, clearly. I take what I do incredibly serious, probably too serious. I’ve been told I approach everything like a game seven. That’s a separate conversation. Howard Lefkowitz, we crossed paths in Philadelphia. He came to a Sixers game when I was covering the NBA. And we laughed because there was one shoot where he pulled our former boss aside and said, “Listen, my daughter could do what she’s doing. What is she doing? She may be able to write, but she’s not a reporter. And she doesn’t have that ‘it’ factor, you know?” And so we laughed about that, right? Because it’s just because I didn’t love what I was reporting about. I wasn’t passionate about Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, which you know, whatever. I remember my first sit down with John Legend, we ended up talking about college football rather than, you know, his album and what label he was wearing. So it’s funny how things work. But Howard and I got a good laugh out of that. He’s a good man. It’s neat when things come full circle, like I interned where I am working at today 18 years ago! I mean, that’s wild. I interned for Chris Matthews, who’s the sports anchor still, dominating. Those moments are cool in life. And you don’t want to let them pass by.
Amanda: When everybody says you need to love what you do, that’s why. If you’re not connected to whatever it is that you’re doing, there will be that that disconnect, for lack of better words. You kind of have to feel it because then you can channel your emotion into that, or your excitement or whatever it is. And then that resonates with whoever is on the other end. And I think that ties into your storytelling
Amanda: because that’s what you’re doing. You’re telling a story, and you’re very passionate about these people and what they’re doing, and what you’re doing, so it all comes together. And then people watch and are like, “yeah!” And then they get excited about that because you’re excited about it.
Molly: It’s genuine, right? You can’t fake that stuff, you know? I remember someone, way back in the day, telling me that you want the commute from the person that you are on camera to your real you to not be a commute. You want that to be you, and that’s maybe when you’re starting out, you’re trying so hard to be somebody that you’re not because you’ve studied things and you think that, you know, you need to be a certain way and dress a certain way. And that’s why I, when I talk to young sports broadcasters coming up, I just say, “Listen, you got to stay true to yourself, because if you don’t, this business is cruel. And if you’re true to yourself, then everything kind of just always falls in place.” And I’m a testament to that.
Amanda: That’s one of those things that, I think no matter what business you’re in, that’s important. Because these days, especially with everything being so public-facing and social media and all of that, there are so many people who are trying to be what they think everybody wants them to be. I have gotten criticized for that myself in that I don’t do that. And people are like, well, you need to play the game a little better. And you need to market yourself this way. And you need to do that. And I can’t. That’s not who I am, and who I am is worked for me, so I’m not going to shy away from that.
Molly: How cool is that? You gotta… Yeah, how cool is that, Amanda? I mean, that’s a moment you gotta embrace there. That’s really neat.
Amanda: And that allows me to connect with the right people. Because if they want the bubbly, happy, not sarcastic person that’s out there showing off their lives every day, they’re not going to be that right person for me to work with any more than I’ll be right for them.
Amanda: Being authentic has become such a big business theme, but I think it’s important no matter what, even if you’re not in the public at all, which I don’t consider myself in the public because I sit at home and I do what I do.
Molly: You make the magic happen.
Molly: Wherever you may be.
Amanda: You kind of answered this already, but when you were immersed in entertainment… because you had done the reporting, you did a TV show, you wrote a book, you were on E!, you were doing all of those things. And I think from my point of view, I thought that’s really what you wanted to do. But was pursuing sports always kind of in the back of your mind? Was that really where you wanted to get to?
I found a school project from the seventh grade saying that I wanted to work for Channel 8, which is where I’m working now as a sports broadcaster.
Molly: From the jump. And I mean, even moving back home to Las Vegas, my mom and I went through our storage here and I found from Greenspun Middle School, which is in Henderson, Nevada, right around the corner, a school project from the seventh grade saying that I wanted to work for Channel 8, which is where I’m working now as a sports broadcaster. I had a basketball and an airplane and palm tree, things, you know, it was like, you know what, that’s cool? In terms of entertainment, the phone was ringing. You know what I’m saying? I was I was making a lot of money at a young age, and I was busy, and I was having fun and I got to dress up and go to parties. I was never really into the partying, but I love energy, which is in part why I love the city of Philadelphia. And we live smack dab, you know, in Center City, and I miss that hustle. I’ve always enjoyed being in the middle of the energy, so with entertainment reporting, again, we didn’t we didn’t have the pro sports teams that we have now.
And how lucky was I where, when I left entertainment news in September, 21st to be exact, but again who’s counting? And I got into sports and I basically had reached the national level for entertainment and with sports, you know, I started at ground zero, if you will. The Mountain West Sports Network – it was owned by Comcast at the time – and I was able to do sideline reporting for UNLV hoops and football, and I was a lone sideline reporter for basketball. You know why, Amanda?
Molly: Because I was the only one that fit their budget, which was nothing. I did basketball for free, because I ultimately wanted to get to either the college basketball national ranks or the NBA. And then what happened was, in Philadelphia, Comcast SportsNet again, NBC they had yet to merge. Their sideline reporter was called up to the Yankees. She’s a baseball girl. It was her dream job, and I wasn’t their first pick. Their first pick was a colleague, Sammy, out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and she got in a bike accident prior to getting over there, and prior to the Indiana-Sixers game, and so I had about two days’ notice, you know? This is my dream job, so I thought, and I had two days’ notice and I’m looking over and… remember how I said Bird and Jordan 1A/1B situation growing up? I look over, there’s Larry Bird in the front row, and I about passed out because it was one of those moments where you work so hard and you just got to stay ready, because had I not stayed ready. You know what I’m saying? Had I got complacent or had I thought, well the phone’s ringing in Vegas, you know, I’ve got the life, then I would have never gotten there. So again, entertainment reporting was never the end all be all. I just didn’t go the traditional route with sports, you know? I didn’t go to a market 300 and work my way up. I was able to cut my teeth in my hometown of Las Vegas. And how cool is that, right? And to now come back and utilize… I call my time in Philadelphia basically an 8-year boot camp where I learned everything, I saw everything, and now I’m back home to utilize that knowledge with the Raiders. So it’s pretty cool.
Amanda: You mentioned the energy and that’s something that… I’m not a sports girl. I never have been. I grew up in Colorado, and my family would disown me if I wasn’t a Denver Broncos fan, but that’s kind of the extent of it. I haven’t watched regularly since Elway won the last Super Bowl he won, which was quite a long time ago. So, I don’t know that world, but I go to a lot of concerts, so I’m familiar with the concert energy. And I’ve been to a lot of them, in giant places, but I’ve never felt the same energy at a concert as I have… I went to a boxing match at the MGM. That energy was palpable. And I had never experienced that because those sports events that I had been to had been like minor league baseball, and kind of little things, and that was the first kind of major thing, and we were basically one row back, and we just barely missed all the spit that was flying during the fight. I still haven’t experienced that level of energy.
Molly: There is nothing like boxing. There really isn’t.
Amanda: I go to a lot of U2 shows, and I always put that at the top of my list. But even U2 in a giant Stadium, the energy is great, but different, completely different than that sports excitement.
Molly: Well, in boxing, too… you’ll appreciate I actually covered boxing for Top Rank, and Bob Arum and Dina and everybody’s good family friends. And I’m very self-aware, I wasn’t that great at boxing either because I got so invested. I mean, here’s a fighter where it’s between putting food on the table, you know what I’m saying, and many more zeroes, and the dichotomy of that I just could not get over. So I got super invested with that. I enjoyed it. Like you said, I mean, this is a boxing town and that fighter’s mentality is kind of what I latch on to with the athletes that I cover. Again, Fred Biletnikoff, I know I mentioned him earlier, but his father… one of the greatest Raiders of all times, Fred Biletnikoff, by the way, wide receiver… his father, Russian immigrant, and was an old school fighter from Erie, Pennsylvania, you know? And so when he was talking to me about the mentality of a wide receiver, and how you you’ve got to be perfect, right, and how you’ve got to chase perfection. He talked about being a fighter, and dancing around the ring, and dictating the pace and, and letting go when you need to be but then coming back in, and I thought that that was just brilliant. And again, Amanda, it goes back to how great it is to be living in the city of Las Vegas with the opportunities that we have to experience here, because a lot of people haven’t experienced a live boxing match, you know? And there’s really nothing like it other than the National Football League, because really, there’s nothing bigger than that.
Amanda: As I’m listening to you tell the story about what you learned from him, it kind of sounds like you’re talking about yourself, and I don’t know if you realize that. And I wonder if the reason you connect with so many of these stories, and kind of the underdog…
Molly: Are you gonna make me cry?
Amanda: Like you’ve mentioned a few times, you were being told, “You can’t do this” and “You’ll never be this” and “You don’t have the ‘it’ factor.” But you pushed through all of that anyway, and you said, “No, I want to do this. This is what I’m going to do.” Not only that, but you took your ego out of it and you threw yourself into the opportunities where it might have been pretty scary. Like you said, you had no notice, and you’re in your sweatpants, and then suddenly you’re on camera.
Molly: Yeah. On KTLA Morning News. Yeah.
Molly: Yeah, not just on camera.
Amanda: But you were able to take the ego out of it also and say, okay, I’ve made it here, I’m doing really well in entertainment. And this is something that other people on the outside probably look up to and are like, “Wow, that’s such a fantastic life. I want that.” But it wasn’t right for you, so you were willing to go back and start again, like you said, from the bottom and work your way back up. And that drive and dedication is why you’ve been as successful as you’ve been.
I can’t tell you how many times I was told that I just didn’t have ‘it.’
Molly: Well, thanks for that, Amanda, and I appreciate you seeing that. And again, that’s the producer in you. I think when I left entertainment news, and I remember the moment. We have a mutual friend, Jarrod Oram, and he was producing my week… was it a daily show at that time, or weekly? Whatever. He was producing it. And, you know, he was teaching me football a little bit at the time. I’ve always known basketball, but footballs’ always kind of been, you know, the next in line. And you know, I chopped my hair because I was bleached blonde at the time. and long extensions, and tons of makeup. And people could question that I still, you know, have questionable choices. But listen, I wasn’t being true to myself. And I knew that at my core, I am a reporter. And you know, certainly the rules change from a red carpet to, you know, the sideline, but I knew that I could do it. And I’ve always wanted to do it. That’s the athlete in me. But I can’t tell you how many times I was told that I just didn’t have this or that or I was lacking this or, you know, you want to put me in a box.
I actually I brought this out, “Range.” It’s good book. I actually, this isn’t by design, but I was rereading a couple parts of this. And growing up, I was always the distance swimmer. And that’s all I did. And that kept me on the straight and narrow. I stayed out of trouble. I never did drugs or anything like that, because I had to get up at 4am, you know what I’m saying? I never was into partying because I had to get up early. And so “Range” talks about kind of being in a specialized world, why it’s so important to branch out. And so there’s that push-pull because now as a mom, you think about those things right? Do you just put her in ballet, or do you put her in ballet and soccer? There’s no right answer.
But I think, you know, at the end of the day, I look back at my time as an entertainment reporter, and it’s just like it’s another world. And I’m just so thankful to be where I am today. But it also helped me in that I never got starstruck covering the NBA, and certainly not in the NFL. But I’m talking about when I crossed over to Philadelphia, I never got starstruck by anybody. I was never rattled. Nobody could really rattle me, you know? I walked into the locker room on day one on a mission. I was there with a job to do. And you set that standard with the players and the coaches, and they know, yo, okay, she’s in it for the right reasons. There’s no agenda here, you know, and I think that perhaps some before, and some after, will have different agendas. But I think if you set that precedent from day one, you know, I’m not just this chick coming to Philadelphia from Vegas. I know basketball. I know football. And I’m here to tell your story. And you come in there with that attitude, everything else kind of falls into place, you know?
Amanda: Being professional, and I’ve seen that in my world in producing too, is that the second somebody gets starstruck around somebody, it affects their ability to do what they need to do. And as a producer, especially working in entertainment, or with any kind of celebrities, you can’t have that. You can’t be freaking out and going ballistic because you’re excited. You can be excited to meet somebody, but you have to kind of put that on the backburner and put your job first and say, this is what I’m going to do. And I saw that quite a bit, making the documentary about U2.
Molly: I’m sure. I was just gonna bring that up. Yeah.
Amanda: People would get in front of Bono and cry and lose the ability to speak. And when there are that many people, you might have 10 seconds or 30 seconds to say what you need to say. And people would fall apart and they’d completely miss their opportunity. To me, I don’t care who you are, you’re just a person. And all of what I do has to do with people. So for as much as I’m not necessarily a people person in the social aspect of things… I’m not always going out and doing things, but I feel like I can connect with people because I have no agenda, like you said, and to me, you’re just a person. You happen to have had all this success in your life, and that’s great, but I want to talk to you on that human level. Because, like you, storytelling is what I am completely driven to, and that’s why I watch so many documentaries. And if I could just make music documentaries all the time, that’s what I would be doing because that’s just really what I connect with.
It’s not so much the fame and fortune, it’s the “who are you?” And those guys in U2 are genuinely really good human beings, and that’s why I connect with them so much. The music is one thing and that’s great, but it also… there was a point when I kind of had to scold Bono, and somebody that was next to me… there were only a couple people there… got it super wide-eyed after he left and was like what was that about? Like, “You just yelled at Bono!” I’m like, I didn’t yell at him, but I had to get his attention because people weren’t doing what they were supposed to do.
Molly: You had a job to do!
Amanda: So I had to let him know.
Molly: And I’m sure that he respected you for that and respects you for that. And that’s cool, right?
Amanda: It worked out because he ended up doing the interview that we needed him to do.
Molly: That’s all that matters.
Amanda: You talked briefly about making your transition into sports from entertainment. I know you were with the NBA reporting for the 76ers, and then you moved to the NFL with the Eagles. How did the move to Philly come about? Did you move there and then you found the opportunities? Or did you have the opportunity and that’s why you moved there?
I got the call from Philly and they said, “You’ve got two days. Get over there.”
Molly: Yeah, so I was covering for the Mountain West Sports Network at the time, which was owned by Comcast, and I was a sideline reporter for UNLV basketball and football. And at the time, Comcast also owned Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, prior to NBC taking over. And so, you know, I got the call from Philly and they said, listen, you got two days, get over there. It was all under the same umbrella, you know, that I had been working for the four years previous. And then I covered the 76ers for seven years, and I saw a lot of bad basketball. I saw a lot of good basketball. My daughter was born and they had a 10-win season. I know you’re not a big sports fanatic, but that’s not good, Amanda.
Amanda: I do know that much.
Molly: And my daughter traveled with me, because I travel with the team on the team charter for every game, and so my daughter was inside. And that was that was a challenging season in more ways than one, extremely challenging, and I look back at that. I’ve done a lot of soul searching… like all of us right, in this in this quarantine… and things, priorities, putting in check. And I look back at that period and I don’t know how I got through it, legitimately, but I sure as heck am glad that I did because here I am today and still standing tall, and to come full circle, it really is a beautiful thing.
Amanda: I have a feeling your daughter probably was part of the reason why you were able to get through all of that.
Molly: Yeah, she’s one strong cookie, just like you. She loves life. Pretty neat.
Amanda: You were in Philly, that was her home for a while. You started your family. At that point, had you ever thought about coming back to Vegas? I know we didn’t have all the sports. In the last few years we’ve gotten hockey, we’ve gotten women’s basketball, we’ve gotten soccer, we’ve gotten football.
Amanda: For the whole time I lived here before, it was always oh, Vegas will never have sports because there was some conflict with the gambling and this and that, and it was never, and now suddenly they’re all here. And that is pretty incredible, even for somebody that’s not that into sports, it’s an exciting opportunity for a lot of people, and I think that’s great. And same thing, I will go to any live sporting event. I’ve been to some Vegas Golden Knights games, any live sports, I’ll go to… Well, back when there were live sporting events, I would go to. When they come back, I will go to them, just because that energy is something very rare. I can’t think of anything else that gives you that kind of feeling.
All you need is one person to believe in you, one person to understand what our community is really all about.
Molly: Yeah, I agree. It’s why I do what I do. I think back in the day, Amanda, that Las Vegas was like a bargaining chip for a franchise already in place to get the bigger, better deal, if that makes sense. You know, it was always a pipe dream. And I think all you need is one, right? All you need is one person to believe in you, one person to understand what this city, what our community, is really all about. And we got that, and we showed what we can do. And I love being able to say “we,” because in Philadelphia people would say “we” and I would cringe, but now I can say “we” and whatever. But you know, you think the Raiders weren’t watching how the city of Las Vegas rallied behind the Golden Knights and everything, and that the best story, not only in sports but in life period, that we’ve seen in modern day? And that’s what sport is all about. You know, it’s about bringing people together, and what a privilege it is for me to cover the Raiders’ inaugural season here in my hometown. It’s still surreal. I still pinch myself. We had Raiders Pregame Live this morning, and I’m pinching myself.
So yeah, you know, I think the NBA is next. Commissioner Adam Silver has always embraced the innovativeness, if you will, of Las Vegas, and not necessarily the gambling side, but the new Las Vegas, right? It’s not all about the seediness and everything, and Commissioner Adam Silver has always been at the forefront of that. And certainly Commissioner Roger Goodell with the NFL likes what he sees in Las Vegas. And it looks like Las Vegas will be a Super Bowl city coming up, which, that’s pretty cool. Perhaps too early to book hotel rooms, but it’s on the way. And I just think that Las Vegas steps up. And this city is resilient, and it is filled with a melting pot of people. And how cool is that? You know, the one thing that I miss about Philadelphia is just the good people, and they’re hard workers, and they’re no nonsense, no smoke and mirrors, and their sports teams reflect the city. And that’s the way that it should be. And so that’s why I am so fond of my time in Philadelphia and so appreciative of each and every person in that city.
Amanda: I’m hoping this helps bring an awareness that there is a community in Vegas, because it’s never even been my favorite city and I’ve lived here more or less since ‘92. There’s always this outside opinion that all Vegas is is the strip, and the gaming, and the excess, and basically whatever sin or vice you have, you come to Vegas to do that. But the strip is one street. That’s it. It’s actually a very small part of our town.
Molly: Do you think people still think that though? I feel like that’s…
Amanda: I think people in the production world in LA think that.
Molly: Gotcha. Okay. Okay, fair enough.
Amanda: Only because the show that I’m working on right now, it’s been this impossible task to find a specific location that they want, because they have this image in their head of what Vegas looks like, but it doesn’t look like that.
Amanda: It kind of comes back to back in the day when people just assumed that everyone lived in the hotels. And that was a big part of it.
Molly: Mm hmm.
Amanda: I think the Golden Knights helped. And then unfortunately, out of tragedy when the shootings happened here, or that big shooting happened, was right in the middle of that season starting, and the community really rallied around trying to help the victims and their families.
Molly: Yeah, eight days prior to the first game. Yeah, crazy.
Amanda: And the Golden Knights came, and that was the biggest underdog story you could imagine, coming from being a hockey team in Las Vegas that everybody thought was ridiculous to go as far as they went in the first season.
Molly: Mm hmm.
Amanda: People on the outside weren’t expecting, but people here in Vegas, I feel like that was the first time I’ve really been aware of a community here. And I think the sports expansion is bringing that around even more because that is something that people bond over, where you can go and watch a game. Even if you’re watching it with a rival, you can bring these people together in a game, and they’ll be connected for that. So it’s not like politics where people are fighting all the time. You can be on opposite sides but still understand…
Molly: Well, some people still fight about their teams. Let’s be honest. Yeah, no, you’re right, Amanda, and that’s very perceptive of you to say. I think that, too, specifically with the Raiders, it’s generational. The home debut, they were playing the Saints on Monday Night Football. My assignment was in the parking lot, right, and we’re going live all day, and you look around and, you know, you may see the big bright costumes, but what I saw were families. And it was generational, as being passed down. I still remember this five-year-old little girl, Michelle, and she was catching the ball from her brothers. And she had one heck of an arm, and it was cool. And she wasn’t flustered. You know, it’s generational. And that’s why I love Philadelphia. It’s why I love Las Vegas. It’s just a loyal, very loyal fans. And that’s really what life is about, right?
Amanda: Was this ever not your home? Because I know for me, home will always be Colorado. Even though I’ve lived in Las Vegas for so long, my home is Colorado. I am very happy living in Vegas. I don’t plan to leave here anytime soon. But home to me is just always there. It’s green mountains and all of that.
Amanda: And I’m a mountain snob because I grew up in Colorado. So people are like oh, you could just go to Mount Charleston. I’m like, no, that’s not the same.
Amanda: And again, kind of that full circle moment where you started as an intern at KLAS, and now you’re back in the middle of this amazing career that you’ve built for yourself. And that really is a crazy full circle moment. So now that you’re back home, do you feel like you’re home again?
Las Vegas has always been my home.
Molly: Yeah, yeah, this has always been home. This has always been my hometown. I wasn’t born here. I was born in Montana, which you know, you read my bio and such, it doesn’t say born in Great Falls, Montana. It says hometown, Las Vegas, because I think again, going back to the athlete in me, you tend to wherever you grew up, and you were raised, that’s where your hometown is. So yeah, this, Las Vegas has always been home. Philadelphia, you know, holds a very special place in my heart. And I miss it. I really do. I miss the city. I miss the people. But again, it wasn’t about me coming back to Las Vegas. We took a leap of faith, if you will, at the time. We moved the day before the Super Bowl, February 1st, and I had some opportunities in the mix. And then of course, real life happened, right? Like legitimately was supposed to meet some people and some big meetings the day before the NBA and the world shut down. So life is funny like that. But yes, Las Vegas has always been my home. I’ve been so proud to carry that flag, wherever I go.
Amanda: You came back here hoping to get the job, not having the job.
I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer when I know that I can get something done.
Molly: Yeah, I was gonna find a way to cover the Raiders in their inaugural season one way or the other. You know, you look at everybody, and everybody with the camera is a reporter these days. Listen, I don’t take no for an answer. You know what I’m saying? I just I don’t when I know that I can get something done. And certainly in Las Vegas, I feel a great responsibility here, Amanda. And again, going back to I don’t take myself seriously, but I take my craft and my role as a reporter very seriously. And I think we have a great responsibility here because we are no longer an amateur sports town. We are no longer an entertainment city. We are no longer an events-only city. We are a professional sports town. And we are an NFL city. And that means something. So I think as a reporter, and this isn’t this isn’t a knock on anybody, but you know, I’ve I watched closely since February. And even in the four years prior, when I knew that, you know, the NFL was inching closer and closer, I kept my eye on everything. And I just think that there needs to be a professional voice. I think that there needs to be someone that understands what the NFL is, what it means, right? And what it’s going to mean to Las Vegas. And so that’s why I’m here, because in Philadelphia, I mean, it doesn’t get any bigger than that, in terms of a market that understands their sports. They are smart, they are savvy, they expect their team to put out the effort and fight because they do. And so I think here now in Las Vegas, I joke about Philadelphia being an 8-year boot camp, but really it was. That’s my goal, every time I step up to the plate at Channel 8, is to just bring that professional feel. We are not an amateur sports town, you know, and some of the commentary until this point has felt like that to me. And again, coming from Philadelphia. So it’s, you know, it’s a great responsibility. And it’s just cool to be back in the mix.
Amanda: I just love that you create your own opportunities for yourself. That’s something that I’ve always been a big believer in.
Molly: You get it.
Amanda: You can’t sit around and wait for these things to happen. If you want something you have to actively go out and figure out how am I going to do that.
Molly: And take a gamble, right?
Amanda: And I’ve always looked at it that if you’re not willing to take the gamble on yourself, why should you expect anybody else to do it?
Molly: You’re right.
Amanda: That’s that fear that gets in the way for a lot of people. I don’t know why I don’t have it. I’m not immune to fear by any means. I have to get out of my comfort zone quite a bit, and it takes me time to get there. I don’t just have an idea and then say, okay, I’m gonna run with it. But if it keeps nagging at me, and it’s that instinct, then I know I have to do it, whether it’s comfortable or not. Because otherwise you go back to that idea of being complacent, and then you get bored, and I don’t want to be somebody who’s bored. Especially… I’m not maybe as super young as I was when I met you, but I still like to think that we’re on the young side. So there’s plenty ahead for us still.
Molly: But Amanda, we talked off camera here about you, you were talking a little bit of how you’re a perfectionist. And I said, “Oh, boy, we got two perfectionists here on the show. This is gonna go swimmingly.” But yeah, I mean, therein maybe there’s something to that, right? And chasing perfection, because you know what, sometimes, you might come pretty darn close. Right? And that’s the push and pull, the cat and mouse game. And so maybe there is something to having that perfectionist attribute? I don’t know. But we both have it.
Amanda: And I’m imagining that you’re the same as me with this, that my quest for perfection doesn’t have anything to do with anybody but me.
Molly: No, of course.
Amanda: I’m not trying to impress anybody else or live up to anybody else’s ideas. I need to set my bar very high. It doesn’t mean I expect everybody else to do that.
Molly: You have high standards. Yeah, absolutely.
Amanda: For myself, that’s what I need to do. And that’s what’s kept me going all this time.
Molly: Yeah, same. I get it.
Amanda: I think you’re going to be happy with the Raiders for a while. But I also don’t see you ever truly settling with any one thing. You’re such an ambitious person, and you’re going to keep finding opportunities, because that’s just who you are. Do you have any specific goals for what’s next? Or is it still too soon, because you just got into this moment?
Molly: You know, Amanda, I don’t think anybody’s ever asked me that, which is crazy. Because you kind of just look at my background, and I’m a reporter, period, end of story. There’s a lot more that I want to accomplish. I was laughing about it, brought this up on Twitter the other day. I don’t even know what happened, but let’s see. It was the summer of 2011 when I almost left sports broadcasting and entered the FBI. And I’m, of course, over the entry age now of 35. But I digress. But yeah, I almost left sports broadcasting in the summer of 2011. Had I left, then I would have never made it to Philadelphia, you know, I would have never been here full circle. So that therein lies the beauty of it.
That’s when I kind of knew it was it was time to move on.
But there’s a lot that I want to accomplish. A lot. And writing is at my core. I love to write. But beyond that, I think it’s just so important that when I leave my daughter for the day, right, and she goes to school, and when I leave… I always used to say this when I was covering the 76ers because it always just felt a little off. Like it didn’t feel… there’s other things going on, but it didn’t feel completely right. Because I wanted it to be, I wanted substance. I was craving substance. I was craving more. I could do that job in my sleep. You know what I’m saying? As grateful as I was for it, it got to the point where I could just go through the motions if I wanted to. Now that’s not who I am. That’s not in my blood. So that’s when I kind of knew it was it was time to move on. And lo and behold, I was moved on, and therein, again, is the beauty of it. There’s a lot more in life that I want to accomplish. You know, and I think whenever you put yourself in a box, yes, the easy way would just be continue reporting. The phone’s ringing, go, go go. But there’s a lot more to life, right? And I think now more than ever, we’re all understanding our priorities and what’s important to us.
Brett Brown, who I covered at 76ers, used to have his notes every day, and have WMI at the top of his notes – what’s most important? And so that he never lost sight of that. And that’s a tribute to his beautiful wife Anna as well, because he just, he never lost sight of what was most important, even when his team only won 10 games in the season, and with history chasing them. I think that’s kind of what I try to carry on a day-to-day basis now.
Amanda: I see a lot of business owners say, “remember your ‘why’”.
Molly: Mm hmm.
Amanda: Keeping in mind, why did you start your business? Or why did you start down this career path? Or what is it that you want to do, not just in terms of accomplishments, but I believe also in terms of what kind of person do you want to be? Because the two go hand-in-hand, where a lot of people focus on the business or the career, but they forget about their own values in the process. And I don’t think you can separate from those. If you want to have the kind of success you want to have, you have to stay true to who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. And if you go down one path, and it doesn’t resonate the way you need it to, change course.
Molly: You gotta pivot, right? Yeah, you got to be able to pivot. You’re right, Amanda.
Amanda: That’s the thing that also becomes scary. Because if I invested all this time and energy into doing this one thing, and what if I don’t want to do it anymore? Well, then you don’t do it anymore.
Molly: You move on to the next one. Yeah, yeah. You move on to the next one. And again, that’s the producer in us, too perhaps. Right?
Amanda: I believe so. If you had one piece of career advice for others who are building their empires of sorts, what would that be?
Stay true to yourself and fight for what you believe in.
Molly: Oh, it’s so difficult to give, like, the biggie, but I think just to follow suit with what you’re saying is to stay true to yourself and fight for what you believe in. And don’t let go of it. You know, for me, it was just always important to walk into that locker room on day one and set a standard and to never let go. For me, for instance, I did talk about that season where I was pregnant and going through stuff, you know. My daughter was my number one priority, and no one was going to get me off track of that, you know what I’m saying? It was, again, that swimmer, horse blinders on. Like, I cannot be bothered, get out of my way, my daughter’s my number one priority, and ever since continues to be my number one priority, and I will fight for her with anything. So I think just understanding, like you said, your why, and understanding what matters most and be prepared to fail. Gosh, you got to be prepared to fail. Because if you’re not failing, then you know what? You’re not learning. And I can’t tell you I mean, I look back at some of my tape… and some may argue that I’m still not quite there… but I look back at some of my early tape and, you know, you study just like a football player would go into the film session with Jon Gruden and study tape, right, from their big win in Kansas City, their biggest since 2016. But you know, you study things, and you got to be prepared to fail and to level up, because if you if you don’t, then what are you doing? Right? Then what are you doing? We’re not Stepford Wives. Nobody’s perfect, even though Amanda and I are, you know, trying to hit it, we’re never going to hit it. And therein is the beauty of what we’re doing. And I’ve certainly got a little Stepford Wife in me, where I will say everything is rosy and unicorns and rainbows when really the sky is falling, like legit. But I’ve got to move on, right? Because I’ve got a job. I’ve got a responsibility. And you and I, Amanda, we’ve worked tremendously hard to get to this point. And you know, you don’t let anything or anyone derail you.
Amanda: It’s like talking to myself in a weird way that I’d forgotten.
Molly: Is this the law of mirrors? The law of attraction?
Amanda: It is!
Amanda: Other than on the sidelines of the Las Vegas Raiders, where can people find you?
Molly: Twitter, Instagram, @mollysullivantv, and that’s about it. But yeah, every Sunday morning, if you’re in Las Vegas, we’ve got Raiders Pregame Live, and then I’m reporting throughout the week. That’s where I am. Where are you? I want to hang out with you.
Amanda: We’re gonna end the recording so we can hang out a little bit more.
Molly: Okay, fair enough.
Amanda: Molly, thank you so much for making the time to talk with me today.
Molly: No, thank you, Amanda. Thank you.
Connect with Molly @MollySullivanTV