NFL Network’s Marc Istook ’98 is on demand

Television personality worked his way to success in pro football after stops on the red carpet, Food Network and other places.

Marc Istook, NFL Network annoucers, TV guide personalities

Marc Istook '98 is host of "NFL Now" on the NFL Network. It's the latest in a series of high-profile gigs from sports to food to Hollywood.

NFL Network’s Marc Istook ’98 is on demand

Television personality worked his way to success in pro football after stops on the red carpet, Food Network and other places.

There’s no truth to the notion that Marc Istook ’98 can appear in two places at once. It only seems that way.

Case in point: On a weekend in late September, Istook performed his regular duties as host for “NFL Now,” the NFL Network’s on-demand digital video service. He also found time to go backstage at the Emmys to interview TV’s biggest stars for the Television Academy. And in his spare moments, he sounded off on TCU football, politics, entertainment and countless other topics to his thousands of followers on Twitter.

Some days are rather frenetic when you’re a budding multimedia sensation. But a breakneck pace suits the self-described news junkie just fine. “Whether it’s hard news, politics, sports or entertainment, I’m compelled by keeping up with what’s going on in the world,” Istook says. “My job requires that. Along with that, I’ve had some really awesome interview experiences, getting to meet and talk to some dynamic people whose work I really admire.”

Istook’s knack for landing sensational interview subjects surfaced long before he traded the cozy, but predictable, anchor desk at a North Texas news station for the bright lights and glaring uncertainty of Los Angeles.

When he was just 14, Istook stumbled into an exclusive encounter with a super model/actress and her rock star husband while on assignment for Class Acts, a publication for teens produced by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The then-Southwest High School freshman was assigned to interview IndyCar racer and equestrian enthusiast Johnny Rutherford at a cutting horse show. As it turned out, Rutherford missed the event with an illness. But Istook spotted Christie Brinkley, who was there competing with her then-husband Billy Joel.

“So I ended up interviewing Billy Joel instead – as a 14-year-old high school freshman,” Istook says. “That was my first taste of how much I enjoyed interviewing and putting stories together, though I never thought about a career in the media until later on at TCU.”

Istook, who earned a degree in Radio-TV-Film with a minor in journalism, envisioned a career path that would begin with local sports coverage in Dallas-Fort Worth and lead to the anchor desk ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

Things turned out a bit differently than the younger Istook imagined – but in a good way. Istook freelanced for ESPN for a year after graduating from TCU. In 1999, he landed a job at KTEN in Denison. He began as a weekend sportscaster but soon was promoted to news anchor of the station’s 6 and 10 p.m. broadcasts. He later became sports director.

Fine gig for a young broadcaster. But after a few years in Denson, he found Hollywood too alluring to continue playing it safe in Texas. “After an interview in Los Angeles for an on-air job at “Jeopardy!” – which I didn’t get – I made the decision to move,” Istook says. “I figured if I wanted more opportunities like the “Jeopardy!” job, I’d have to be where they were. And that was in Los Angeles.”

Finding on-camera work in the City of Angels wasn’t easy. “I spent several years struggling and juggling freelance work and off-camera jobs to pay my way as I pursued bigger and better opportunities,” he says.

The opportunities eventually came. He became host for a year of Food Network’s “Gotta Get It.” He also got a gig as an entertainment and red carpet reporter for the TV Guide Network and got the chance to be a fill-in entertainment reporter for CNN and a technology reporter for BBC. Along the way, he also hosted a reality show for Speed Channel and did assorted work online for, Yahoo! and others. Those many gigs provided chances to interview A-list actors, most notably the Toms – Hanks and Cruise. He’s also visited the sets of TV shows and movies, such as “The Office” and the Harry Potter franchise.

Istook’s biggest break to date might have come in July 2014, when he started as fill-in host of NFL Network’s morning show, “NFL AM.” That opportunity developed into his regular role hosting the network’s digital on-demand show.

Working for the NFL comes with a number of perks. He interviews some of the league’s top stars and he hangs out and watches the games in studio with former NFL stars-turned-analysts such as a certain TCU star.

“On the sports side, obviously as a TCU fan interviewing and working with LaDainian Tomlinson is pretty special,” Istook says. “Getting on the field for Super Bowl XLIX was a pinch-me moment.”

Life is busy sometimes, sure, but it’s good. Still, that doesn’t mean Istook’s accomplished all of his career goals just yet. “I’ve got a pretty fantastic job right now,” he says. “But when I look ahead, I love the idea of juggling a few different dream jobs. It would be incredibly challenging and exciting to work on one of the national morning shows.”

Istook’s also drawn to the thrill of live-event television. Someday, you might see Istook at the Super Bowl one day and introducing celebrities-turned-tango-dancers the next. “When Tom Bergeron retires from hosting ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ I’ll happily take over,” Istook says. “And as a football fan, I’d love to continue covering the game on the collegiate and NFL level.”

Your comments are welcome


  1. A wonderful young man! So proud of him and look forward to seeing
    what is next for him.

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