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BTN broadcaster Lisa Byington braces for historic football assignment – Chicago Tribune

On the way to her first job in Alpena, Mich., a remote small town in the northern part of the state, Lisa Byington could hit the seek button on her car radio without finding a clear FM signal.

It was fair to wonder as a young sports broadcaster making $14,000 a year in America’s second-smallest television market if anybody ever watched or felt the impact of her work. Those memories came flooding back to Byington this week as she prepared to become the Big Ten Network’s first female play-by-play announcer to call a football game — Northwestern vs. Bowling Green on Saturday night at Ryan Field —culminating a journey from working in the hinterlands to making history. Of all the big gains in Big Ten football during 2017, this will rank among the most significant.

“No question in my mind that this is the mountaintop for me,” said Byington, who has been with BTN since its inception 10 years ago. “I’ve always wanted to do football. Football is America’s sport. You never know who’s paying attention. If I can be impactful to a 10-year-old girl somewhere, then I have to look at it that way. This is the most important thing I could do.”

Beth Mowins started a momentous week Monday at the Chargers-Broncos game in Denver earning raves as the first woman since Gayle Sierens in 1987 to call a nationally televised NFL game, blazing a trail Byington will follow Saturday in Evanston. Four years ago, Byington sat in the same press box observing Mowins, who has done college football for ESPN since 2005. To join a special sorority that includes Mowins, Sierens and former ESPN announcer Pam Ward humbles Byington as much as it excites her.

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