By Judith Salkin
CBS Local 2/KDFX news anchor and reporter Scott Hennessee admits he had it pretty good growing up on Alameda Island in the Bay Area.
The island, which connects to San Francisco via the Bay Bridge, offers a community of relative calm in the midst of the more fast-paced cities of Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and San Mateo. Getting to any of the surrounding cities is relatively easy, “It was like a bedroom community,” Hennessee said of the island that once housed one of the largest Naval Air Stations on the West Coast. “Close to everything.”
His mom was a nurse and his dad was a coach. So was an older brother, and Hennessee, now 36, grew up playing a variety of sports, from tennis to football.
In addition to playing, Hennessee spent a lot of time on the couch watching sports with his dad and brother, along with spending time on the field and courts playing and learning the games from experience.
“I played quarterback in high school,” he recalled. “Basketball one year, and tennis. A bit of everything.”
And by the time Hennessee was 16, he was already talking about his future in broadcasting. “A couple of years ago I found a profile that they did with me in the local paper,” he said. “I was already interested in doing sports on TV at 14 or 15 and I was already talking about television sports casting as my goal.”
Hennessee started his college career at a junior college in Walnut Creek, playing on the school’s football team, but a broken wrist ended his playing career.
“I probably could have come back from it, but by then I was ready to move on,” he said.
That move took him to UC Santa Barbara, one of the biggest party schools in the UC system. He plunged into his communications and still had time to meet his future wife, Renee.
It’s where Hennessee began his broadcast career, announcing games for the school’s radio station and writing for the Nexus, UCSB’s school paper.
He moved into television in Santa Barbara by interning and freelancing at KEYT, the regional ABC affiliate. By the time he and Renee graduated, Hennessee was ready for a full time spot and got it at a station in Grand Junction, Colo.
“Knowing the business by then, I was prepared to go anywhere I could to find work,” he said.
And that’s pretty much how Hennessee ended up in the Coachella Valley. In 2003 he was hired to do sports at the newly opened KPSP. “It turned out to be a great place for us,” he said of coming to the station about six months after it went on the air.
“The station was so new and the area was changing,” he said. “I was thrilled when I saw the building, which was state of the art. The station was so new, I had a chance to grow with it.”
It was a boom time in the valley, too, and as KPSP grew, Hennessee began branching out. In addition to reporting live from events like the Phoenix Suns exhibition games, the BNP Paribas (at the time the Met Life) Tennis Tournament, Skins Game and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (now the Humana), it was the perfect place for a young sportscaster.
While Hennessee might not have been announcing NFL or MLB games, “I loved all the big events we got here in the desert,” he said. “During those years (from ’03 to ’08), it felt like there was a new golf course opening every time you turned around.”
By 2006, Hennessee was beginning to branch out contributing to “Eye on the Desert,” and later hosting the events-driven show, and in the process, picking up two Emmy nominations.
During his time on “Eye,” Hennessee states that some of the more memorable events he has covered are the Presidential Summit at Sunnylands, the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival where he interviewed stars like George Clooney and Clint Eastwood.
A tennis player and golfer, Hennessee looks forward to talking to the world-class at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden every March and the Humana Challenge.
Working on “Eye,” also gave Hennessee the opportunity to stretch his writing skills.
“It gave me a chance to write features stories, sometime three or four in a day,” he said. “And that’s exciting.”
When Jim Houston sold the station in early 2012, Hennessee was one of the staff laid-off in the changeover to CBS Local 2 and combining of the news staff with KESQ.
As a new homeowner, at the time, “we were invested in the area,” he said. “We bought our house in June 2011 and the station was sold in January 2012.”
Rather than move from the valley or switch careers, Hennessee ended up back in radio doing “The Scott Hennessee Show” on Talk News 1010.
“I was lucky,” he said of the switch. “You have to be flexible and they offered me a spot and said I could make it what I wanted.”
Joining him on show was his old couch pal, his dad. At the time he said, “I mean, we talk sports most days anyway. The only difference is now we’ll be using microphones instead of telephones to communicate.”
When CBS Local 2 called this past spring, Hennessee returned to the station, this time as breaking news reporter and weekend anchor at 6:30 and 11 p.m. and on sister station, KDFX at 10 p.m.
“It’s different,” he said of the switch from sports. “But I looked at it as a new challenge. And as I’ve gotten older, I realized that it’s cool to do mostly hard news.”
And it gives him time to spend with his kids, Owen, 6 and Charlotte, 4. “Between work and the kids, I haven’t had a lot of time to get involved in a lot of community organizations, but I think that will happen in the future. At the moment, each day is exciting and that’s enough.”