End the boys club: ESPN 1000, WSCR &The Game need to hire female radio sports hosts

End the boys club: ESPN 1000, WSCR &The Game need to hire female radio sports hosts
Talker's Magazine image of the highest-ranked sports radio talk show featuring a woman.

Listen to Chicago radio sports hosts. On 670 the Score, there’s Mully & Hanley, Boers & Bernstein, etc.  At 87.7 The Game, there’s Kap & Haugh, Jarrett, Harry & Spike. At ESPN 1000…Mike & Mike, Carmen & Jurko, Waddle & Silvy.

What’s the similarity between all these shows?  Obviously: THEY’RE ALL MEN!

Four decades after Title IX was ratified, why are radio sports shows lagging so far behind?

I’m glad for my role as sports commentator for WRLR 98.3 FM. Paul Lepek, the morning drive host of ‘Lepek & Company,’ is an enlightened man, and I enjoy the back and forth we have for 20 minutes or so Monday-Friday. You can catch us at 7:20 am on http://wrlr.fm

But WRLR is a small, progressive  station in the #3 market in the country. Late last week, I asked my Facebook friends/media colleagues to weigh in. Apparently, some of my fellow writers have been thinking about the same subject.  Ed Sherman the respected sports media journalist, had his own column on the subject in his twice-weekly Sherman Report.

Are women’s voices not as entertaining?  Are women not as knowledgeable?

The Weekend Sports Report Team

Me on The Weekend Sports Report’   with Steve Leventhal (left) and the Score’s Les Grobstein, which aired Saturdays on WKRS-AM from 2009-2012.

Now, the larger sports landscape is about to change. Sherman announced, via the media website ‘The Big Lead’ that CBS Sports was creating a new show with women as co-hosts.  Which co-hosts, they’re not saying. But the Big Lead says the regulars will likely include CBS Sports veteran Lesley Visser, Dana Jacobson (who previously worked at ESPN), CBS NFL analyst Amy Trask, and sideline reporters Allie LaForceTracy Wolfson and Jenny Dell.

The Big Lead went on to say the show would be a cross between ‘Pardon The Interruption,” and ‘The View.’

I have my concerns. I like being catered to, not pandered to.

That’s why I’m hoping this venture will not try to make it a perceived ‘women’s discussion’ about sports. I don’t need a discussion about ‘girl things’ like nail polish, jewelry, high heels and fashions at the gym, or how to perspire instead of sweat.

When I cover sports, my concern is the game. And when my reporter friends and I talk about the game, we don’t usually mix in talk about nail polish. Yes, we like to look good. But it’s not the point of our existence. We share our love of and passion for the game.

My advice, for what it’s worth: Let’s just have a discussion about sports, all sports, from passionate co-hosts who just love talking about team sports. Basketball. Football. Baseball. Softball. NCAAs.  And something like this:

Samantha, "Sweet Feet" Gordon of Salt Lake City, Utah, has been compared to the great running back Jim Brown and is a YouTube Video sensation after 35 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards.

Samantha, “Sweet Feet” Gordon of Salt Lake City, Utah, has been compared to the great running back Jim Brown and is a YouTube Video sensation after 35 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards.

How do people feel about having women as  radio sports hosts?  Here’s what some of my friends/colleagues told me last week:

Cheryl Raye-Stout  Alison, I have been doing it for a few decades as you know. It is up to the management of stations and they still see women is a poor light. They use them for updates and appearances, just like TV does for sideline reporters. The all-sports stations in Chicago have yet to figure it out. When the Score was starting and they contacted me, I was told “we really are not interested in women.” That was years ago and that is still true, why do they only toot their horns about the male demographics-they don’t care.

Sarah Spain Absolutely. And if there weren’t reason enough already, the Ray Rice situation, the Incognito/Martin situation, the Redskins naming controversy, Brittney Griner’s ascent, etc prove that conversation would benefit from a more diverse group in radio studios. Hosts are nearly all middle-aged white men and too often discussions become echo chambers that result from shared life experiences and backgrounds.

Ronald Murchison The “old boy” network lives on. Some things will never change.

 Kevin Kaufmann  I would love to hear more women on sports radio and in other spots as well. It amazes me that there are almost zero play by play women, or studio hosts for teams, basically any broadcasting besides news updates and sports anchors. I get (though loathe) the former athlete turned commentator, but I think a woman could do that job just as well. What’s more a different voice, from, if the NFL is to be believed, half of the fan base is missing not just from the broadcasts, but from much of the discussions about sports.

Jerry Arkenberg Sure. Better yet, I’d like to hear women announce, on a regular basis, games for the Cubs, Sox, Hawks, Bears, Fire, Northwestern, Notre Dame, etc

Texsbill Gran yes…female reporters, hosts…female any thing & every thing.

Matt Smith The interesting thing is that there are some women heard semi regularly on national radio. Anita Marks has a weekend show on NBC Sports Radio Network, and Kate Delaney does a great job filling in on a regular basis. Kate has a great issues oriented talk show, so she’s likely happy with her fill in status, but Anita belongs on a daily show.

 Margaret Laing Alison, you lost me at “Token Female.” IF the woman is the best possible person for the job, fine, hire her — just not for the sake of being able to say “I hired a woman.” (And this is being written by a lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan!)

Let’s make sure CBS Sports Network does this show right.  And that the local media will follow.  Let’s make it sooner rather than later.

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