For CMT’s Marley Sherwood it’s all about family
By: Robin Dillon
Developing a passion for journalism and entertainment at a young age was the driving force behind the success of CMT’s Marley Sherwood .
Chicago native Sherwood serves as an associate producer on CMT’s “Hot 20 Countdown,”along with a more recent stint as a co-host with Cody Alan on “CMT After Midnight” on CMT radio. Sherwood is also the Nashville correspondent for “A Drink With,” an online publication with a goal to provide fun and candid interviews over a drink with celebrities, artists, athletes and entrepreneurs.
Originally from Chicago, Sherwood grew up in a family with an undeniable love for music, especially country.
“I for sure grew up listening to country music, and I didn’t even necessarily know a genre was attached to it,” Sherwood said. “I always liked country growing up because even though I’m from the north up by Chicago, if you go 30 minutes outside of the city it’s all cornfields.”
Also when growing up in Chicago, Sherwood’s love for journalism and entertainment really came about.
“I was always attached to a story,” Sherwood said.
Sherwood explained her excitement from following a story on the news to eventually being able to write the stories herself, and how the passion for telling a story has always been a constant in her life.
“In my hometown, if there was a fire that I could see from a horse barn or if there was a really bad accident or somebody had been robbed, I always wanted to know the full story. I would always go back and check details on the news and go online and see if anybody reported this and I always found it fascinating to take a story and hear everybody’s firsthand accounts and make a real story out of it.”
Following her passion for journalism and telling stories, Sherwood studied broadcast journalism at Colombia College Chicago furthering both her writing and reporting skills along with production skills.
“I would take a reporting class, a writing class, and a copy editing class and then I would go over and I would learn how to run a camera and write for teleprompter and work lighting studios and do voice-overs so I kind of had a mix of both.”
While in school, Sherwood filled her time with a variety of different internships. Sherwood credits her internship at US 99.5, the country music radio station in Chicago, as the place that helped her get her first exposure to what the music industry is like.
“I loved country music and I loved going to concerts and festivals but that internship really opened my eyes as to how close the Nashville community is,” Sherwood mentioned. “Seeing how everybody in Nashville knew everybody and even when they would come to Chicago they treated us like family. That internship really introduced me into seeing how tight-knit the country music industry was.”
Sherwood also mentioned the internship she had at “Windy City Live,” Chicago’s morning television program, and how it taught her how important a strong work ethic is.
“It was a live show every single morning with all new content that constantly needed to be produced,” Sherwood stated. “I learned how much effort it takes and how you might start at 5 a.m. for a morning show but you might have to stay till 11 p.m. to talk to the publicist and get the information you need for the next morning.”
The work ethic Sherwood learned from “Windy City Live” has not gone unnoticed at her current position with CMT.
“Marley has that combination of relentless work ethic paired with easygoing personality that’s rare in this business,” said Quinn Brown, the vice president of production at CMT. “Usually you find one or the other but she proves they are not mutually exclusive.”
After working on a live set, Sherwood said one of the biggest adjustments when she began her producing job at CMT was realizing that they were able to redo any takes to get the best one since the show is pre-recorded.
“When you are working on live TV, if you mess up on air it’s like ‘Oh, OK, there it goes,’ but here it’s like ‘OK, let’s shoot it again.’ And I’ll be like ‘OK, we already got a good take and they’ll be like we need a better one.’ ”
Sherwood was able to adjust to CMT quickly especially because of the work environment within CMT and Nashville itself.
“I knew after five shoots of being an intern that this is a family. I’m living hundreds of miles away from my family so I knew if they’re going to take me in and they’re going to show me the ropes and accept me and treat me like their family then this is going to be a good place to work. Not only are we creating great content and I’m doing what I love, but I’m also surrounded by people that I love,” Sherwood said about CMT.
The CMT family Sherwood speaks about spends a lot of time together, often traveling to concerts or festivals for interviews with one or multiple artists.
“Sometimes we’ll go to festivals where we’ll interview 15 artists and then sometimes we’re going to a Dierks Bentley show where we’ll only interview Dierks Bentley and his opener,” Sherwood said.
One of Sherwood’s most memorable interviews on the road was with Toby Keith.
“We were on the bus with Toby Keith and Toby is honest to God one of the nicest guys in the entire world. We get on this bus and he’s just like ‘You guys want a Jack and Coke?’ And I’m like, “Wait a second we’re here to interview you. We’ve got to work,” Sherwood said. “Like that’s what country music is. You go on their tour bus and they’re asking if you want food and drink when you’re there to work.”
Along with her production work and her radio gig at CMT, Sherwood spends her spare time writing more traditional journalism pieces for “A Drink With.” Sherwood serves as the Nashville Correspondent for the Chicago-based online publication of candid and casual interviews with celebrities, artists, athletes and entrepreneurs.
Sherwood has had the opportunity to sit down with Ward Gunther, the founder of Whiskey Jam and Zachary Quinn the founder of Love Your Melon to name a few. Sherwood also most recently sat down with Cody Alan – someone whom she works close with daily – and was able to provide a fun and candid interview about him.
Sherwood values the opportunity to write for “A Drink With” because it allows her to use her journalism skills, along with allowing the reader to use their imagination.
“It’s also only captured by photo so it kind of lets the readers imagination as to how they explained it which is what I always loved about editorial magazine pieces,” Sherwood said. “It’s like you are there imagining the celebrity sitting with a journalist.”
At the end of the day, Sherwood gives everything she has to her work and to her colleagues. At such a young age, Sherwood has been fortunate enough to have gained experience in so many areas making her a truly pivotal part of the CMT family.
Sherwood attributes a lot of what she has been able to accomplish to her parents, and the work ethic and values that they instilled in her, along with their everlasting support.
“They [her parents] were always really big supporters. They would never tell me ‘Oh you’re not going to move to Nashville.’ They were like ‘Yes absolutely. We’re here for you if you want to do it.’”
Having succeeded in making a career in this business at such a young age Sherwood quite simply says, “Don’t give up.”
“I think a lot of people might not know the first step to take and they might not know how to get into a certain company, but don’t give up after your first no. You have to keep going,” Sherwood says. “You have to work hard and you have to be passionate about it and be open and accepting to change. But you also have to be nice because literally being nice will get you farther than anything in this world.”
And nice things are all her colleagues have to say about her.
“She does everything with a smile, and you know you can always count on her for a good laugh,” said production coordinator Erin Mercer. “As her witty tagline states, she’s not here to under deliver, which is something I highly admire.”
Sherwood has seemingly already done it all in this entertainment and music industry, and says there is still so much she hopes to explore. But for now, Sherwood will remain with the people she calls family at CMT and continue to bring her passion to light through the “Hot 20 Countdown” and “CMT After Midnight.”