A Pioneer in Sports Broadcasting
Andi Petrillo, Host, Leafs Lunch TSN 1050
Men used to dominate hockey talks on TSN 1050’s Leafs Lunch – now there is a woman.
Earlier this year, Journalism grad Andi Petrillo took over hosting duties for the radio show made popular by Bryan Hayes, Jeff O’Neill and Jamie McLennan. While radio was relatively new for the veteran television broadcaster, hockey was not. After covering the Toronto Maple Leafs for a decade, Andi has stickhandled on-air insights and analysis alongside rotating co-hosts with ease.
“I’ll be honest, it took me a month and a half to be comfortable,” Andi says. “This is hardcore sports talk, you have to have an opinion. I feared expressing it at first.”
Andi isn’t the first female radio sports personality to have emerged from Seneca – alumna Barb DiGiulio was once the sole female sportscaster at The FAN 590 – but she is the first woman in Canada to host a daily radio sports talk show. Andi’s other career firsts have included being the first female reporter to travel with the Leafs, the first woman to serve full time with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada studio team, and the first woman to win a Canadian Screen Award for best sports host.
“The fact that people are talking about me means there aren’t enough women doing this,” Andi says. “Of course women can talk sports. The question is whether or not people are ready for it.”
An only child, Andi says her Italian-immigrant parents raised her to be well rounded – “to do laundry, cook, cut the grass, and change the oil and tires.” The family watched hockey religiously; her grandfather was a Leafs loyalist. He died in 2011, a few months after Andi got her Hockey Night in Canada gig.
“He was proud of me,” she recalls. “Hockey made him feel Canadian and there was his granddaughter embracing it.”
Andi’s love for sports flourished at Seneca, where her instructor noticed her voice would change to sound “happy and energetic” during sportscasts. Her first sports host and producer job was with Rogers Cable York Region, where she volunteered at age 19.
Andi has since worked for Leafs TV, ESPN and NHL Network, and covered major international events, such as the Rio and Sochi Olympics, the Pan American Games and the FIFA World Cup for the CBC.
“I love storytelling and the adrenaline rush in the field,” she says. “As a woman working in a male-dominated industry, I don’t listen to the word ‘no’ often. You become thick-skinned. You become a target sometimes. But I’ve learned not to let it bother me. I think I’ve proven I can talk hockey.”