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Emmy-Winning Producer & Penn State Alum Dan Cronin’s Road To The Show

Dan Cronin graduated from Penn State in 2014 with a degree in broadcast journalism. Now, as an associate producer with MLB Network, he’s receiving national acclaim for his work on the network’s flagship program, “MLB Tonight.”

Cronin’s desire for success didn’t just come out of the blue, however. He sat down with Onward State to discuss the hard work and dedication that fueled his career.

Cronin’s foray into the world of sports began at a very young age. He experienced the dreams of playing for his favorite teams as a professional athlete, as most young sports fans do, but quickly realized that a career in top-tier athletics was not in the cards for him. However, being involved with sports media became the primary focus after this realization, and he went on to become the editor of his high school sports paper.

With his career goal set, choosing the right college was the next step in the process. Cronin considered many top journalism schools like Syracuse, Northwestern, and NYU but narrowed his focus down to Northwestern and Penn State. Unfortunately, at the time, Northwestern rejected him, so he decided to call Happy Valley home for the next four years.

“In retrospect, getting rejected by Northwestern was the best thing that ever happened to me because there’s no way I would have gotten as enjoyable an experience there as I did at Penn State.” Cronin said, “And there’s no way my career could be any better because I’ve had so much success already in my career.”

Once at Penn State, Cronin got involved with several extracurricular organizations outside of his broadcast journalism coursework. He ran cross country for the club team and also volunteered his time with THON. But the student media opportunities were the biggest part of Cronin’s Penn State journey.

As a member of both Centre County Report and CommRadio, Cronin gained valuable production experience that helps him even now as an award-winning associate producer.

“My junior year, I got to fly to Iowa to call the Penn State-Iowa game on CommRadio, and Penn State killed Iowa in 2012,” Cronin said. “And then the following year, I got to call the Penn State-Syracuse game, which was played at MetLife Stadium, and I grew up a Jets fan my whole life. We actually used the same radio booth that Westwood One ended up using for the Super Bowl that was at MetLife Stadium.”

Cronin also looked back on his trip to Indianapolis to cover the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament with CommRadio, but he said that the MetLife Stadium experience would probably be the one that he would choose as his favorite. Following that, he recalled a thought that he had following the trip to MetLife that drove him to do bigger and better things.

“I remember telling myself then, ‘This can’t be the peak of your career. You can’t peak in what you want to do with your broadcast journalism career when you’re 21,'” Cronin said, “I think now I can look back when I told myself that and see I didn’t peak then.”

It’s pretty safe to concur with Cronin on that one. But before his tenure began at MLB Network, he improved his craft by taking jobs at MLB.com and CBS Radio. He says that these entry-level jobs provided him with a smoother transition from college life to professional life.

“It’s obviously different when you’re doing it for real, you know, you’re not a student anymore, you’re a pro.” Cronin said, “You learn better workflows, better practices, and I think those early jobs teed me up better to have success at MLB Network.”

And have success he did. After being hired as a broadcast associate in 2015, Cronin’s career took off. He won his first Emmy award with MLB Network in his very first year there and was promoted in 2018 to his current position of associate producer. Now in his seventh year with the network, he remarked on how winning the first award compared with the latest.

“Some people kind of start to trail off when you start to win multiple ones. But to me, it feels cooler every single time,” Cronin said. “It was just a really good feeling knowing that all my hard work throughout a year culminates in something substantial like winning an Emmy award, especially a National Primetime Sports Emmy.”

A regular day of work for the award-winning producer begins at 7 p.m. and involves a lot of editing supervision, which includes cutting game highlights or preparing montages for MLB Tonight. His particular job is a very versatile one within the hierarchy of the network, though, and it comes with a variety of responsibilities throughout the course of a baseball season. For instance, “MLB Tonight” is not the only show that he works on. In fact, MLB Network runs programming 24/7, so his work could be shown at any moment throughout the day.

While seeing all of his work displayed on a national television program is one of his favorite parts of the job, Cronin said that sacrificing time during the season is one of the big downsides of working in sports. The support he received from his family is a big reason that he continued to work down the path he is on, and he is thankful for the encouragement he has received along the way.

“My family was always incredibly supportive, and I really appreciated that.” Cronin says, “My first Emmy, I gave to my parents, and it is still at my parents’ house because that would have never happened without them.”

Missing summer holidays like the Fourth of July have become the norm for Cronin, so he kept it real and emphasized that to break into the sports media industry, you will need to make some sacrifices.

“If you’re trying to break in, you have to really be willing to sacrifice and put the time in and put the hours in to set yourself apart and have success.” Cronin said, “You’re going to have to give up things you don’t want to give up. But if you want to have a career in sports, you’re going to have to be working when sports are on.”

Cronin plans to continue working for MLB Network for the foreseeable future, and who knows. Maybe there will be some more hardware to add to his trophy case soon.

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About the Author

Matt Rudisill

Matt is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism from a little town called Parkesburg in Chester County, PA. More often than not, you can catch him yelling about the Phillies and the Steelers on his Twitter (@mrudy26). Matt is also an elite wiffleball pitcher and is not afraid to back up that claim. Direct all wiffleball challenge invitations, or other legitimate requests, to [email protected]

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