Secrets of Success: Ann Liguori

We’ve launched Secrets of Success, a new weekly interview series here at’s Small Business Forum. I’ve asked some of the smartest, most innovative, most successful people I know to share their insights and success secrets.

Meet: Ann Liguori, sports radio and TV host, reporter, interviewer, philanthropist and author. Ann was the first female to host a call-in sports talk show on the first all-sports radio station in the country (WFAN). She hosted a weekly sports call-in show for 23 years and continues as the station’s golf and tennis correspondent, covering the Majors for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio Network.

Ann also hosts, produces and owns the longest-running sports show done by a woman, Sports Innerview, featuring interviews she did with 600 of the top legends in sports. Her company, Ann Liguori Productions, licenses and distributes these shows to various media and digital platforms.

Ann is the first woman to host and produce a weekly, prime-time show on The Golf Channel. On Conversations with Ann Liguori she interviews top names in Hollywood, music and sports. A collection of these interviews are featured in Ann’s book A Passion for Golf, Celebrity Musings About the Game, which was just released in its second edition.

Giving back is very important to Ann. She founded the Ann Liguori Foundation five years ago. To date, it has raised $1.3 million in support of cancer prevention and care.

You can follow Ann on Twitter (@annliguori) and “like” her on Facebook.

Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Ann Liguori: I’ve known I wanted to be a talk show host since I was 3 years old. Yes, it sounds bizarre but one of my earliest memories is being in a highchair in the kitchen and watching broadcast pioneer Ruth Lyon’s television show in which she interviewed all the fascinating names who came to Cincinnati, Ohio. (We lived in Cincinnati before moving to Brecksville, a suburb of Cleveland, when I was 6.) My Mom obviously tuned in to her show. It’s important for all of us to remember how influenced and inspired we can be at an early age!

I was an athlete from those early days as well, so it was a natural fit for me to pursue sports broadcasting. I earned 16 varsity letters in high school in volleyball, basketball, track and field and tennis (I played tennis on the boy’s team) and played junior tennis tournaments throughout the Midwest.

Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?

Liguori: I started my own business to actually pursue the kind of work in the business that I’ve always dreamed of doing. Back in the late 1980s, it was still difficult for women to have a plethora of opportunities as sports talk show hosts, reporters, etcetera, so I put my own Sports Innerview cable series together, acquired sponsors, produced and distributed the series on sports networks throughout the country. It aired for over 15 years. Ann Liguori Productions continues to produce special television and weekly radio shows. The current radio show airs on Peconic Public Broadcasting every Saturday morning from 9-10AM EST and is archived on my website and on BlogTalkRadio.

I enjoy the independence and freedom I have being my own boss and working on a variety of projects every day.

Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Liguori: There were many: being hired as a producer at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles for ABC Radio Sports Network and getting asked to report on tennis, which was a demonstration sport back then. That launched my on-air career. The first article I wrote for USA Today ended up on the front page! It was a feature on Wimbledon. Based on my work at ABC Radio Sports Network and my byline in USA Today sports pages, I was asked to host my own show on WFAN Radio, the first all-sports radio station ever in the U.S. I then put together my own sports cable series, which aired for over 15 years, and pounded down doors on Madison Avenue to acquire sponsors. That led to my own weekly prime-time series on The Golf Channel. There were many pivotal moments...all leading to more opportunities.

Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Liguori: I applied my work ethic and determination from being a competitive athlete to my business. Focus, persistence, hard work, creativity, rebounding from rejection, perceived failures, staying positive....Those attributes are the keys to success in anything.

Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Liguori: Honesty and integrity. Nothing beats trust. And doing excellent work. There’s way too much mediocrity and dishonesty out there.

Lesonsky: Do you have a favorite book?

Liguori: I get books sent to me from publishers every week who are pushing their authors to be guests on my show, so I spend a lot of time reading various sports-related books. I tend to read a variety of books at the same time. To give you an idea of what’s currently on my night stand, a couple of the titles are: The Monuments Men; Tell Me the Truth, Doctor; Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles; Zen Golf; Florian-Venezia 1720, and of course my own book, A Passion for Golf, Celebrity Musings About the Game. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking was a book I read years ago, and I live by it!

Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Liguori: “Clearly aspire and you’ll clearly acquire.” Once you are clear with your goals and desires, organize a game plan and then work like heck to make it happen!

Photo Credit: David Garvey

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Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.