CBS Sports Network to launch first sports show hosted by women; Talk landscape still lacks female voices

Late Friday, Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead broke the news about a first in sports TV:

CBS Sports will make television history in September when it debuts the first all-female sports talk show, the network confirmed exclusively to The Big Lead.

The weekly show, which will air on CBS Sports Network, will not only feature an all-female cast, but will also be produced and directed by women.

“We’re really excited and proud to be launching the first ever all female sports talk show,” David Berson, the President of CBS Sports told The Big Lead. “We have been discussing and developing the show for well over a year. Internally and externally, there’s been universal enthusiasm and across-the-board support.”

Berson would not confirm any names connected to the show – it’s still unclear if the as-yet titled show will have one central host – but people familiar with the show’s plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were supposed to remain confidential revealed to The Big Lead six names who are expected to be regulars: CBS Sports veteran Lesley Visser, Dana Jacobson (who previously worked at ESPN), CBS NFL analyst Amy Trask, and sideline reporters Allie LaForce, Tracy Wolfson and Jenny Dell.

It’s a great idea, considering the lack of women on these shows. Last week, Paul Fahri of the Washington Post wrote a column about the issue:

ESPN, the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” has had just two female panelists (Jackie MacMullan and Jemele Hill) among the 33 regular and guest panelists who have appeared on “Around the Horn,” its signature daily debate show, since the program started in 2002. “The Sports Reporters,” another ESPN blabfest, is somewhat better: It has put seven women on as regular or semi-regular panelists over the program’s 26-year run. (ESPN declined to comment for this story.)

Among the top 100 sports-radio programs ranked by the trade magazine Talkers last year — a list containing 183 hosts and co-hosts — only two women made an appearance (Fox Sports Radio co-host Amy Van Dyken, whose program was ranked No. 76; and Dana Jacobson of CBS Sports Radio at No. 99).

Of the 143 sports pundits whose picks and predictions are tracked by the Web site Pundittracker, only one is a woman (Ramona Shelburne, a columnist for’s Los Angeles site).

Now to be fair to ESPN, its espnW is focused on women’s sports and the network has numerous women in anchor positions. Focusing on one show doesn’t tell the complete story.

Fahri looks at sports talk radio. He writes:

A different dynamic may be at play in sports radio. Women just aren’t clamoring to become hosts of the pugnacious call-in shows that dominate the format, says Chuck Sapienza, vice president of programming for ESPN 980 and Sportstalk570, two Washington-area stations owned by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

“Most women interested in broadcasting are interested in TV,” he says. “We try [to attract women]. We try a lot. It’s next to impossible.”

Sapienza regularly asks would-be interns and young job candidates about their career ambitions. Many of the young men want to break into, or move up in, sports radio. But Sapienza says, “I’ve never had a young woman tell me she wants to be a radio talk-show host. They want to be on ‘SportsCenter.’ They want to be sideline reporters.”

Indeed, there is some truth there. In my short experience teaching sports journalism at DePaul, the majority of my women students were interested in being the next Erin Andrews or Pam Oliver.

Ultimately, it is about creating role models. One of them is my old friend, Christine Brennan, the columnist for USA Today.

Brennan herself is proof of the improving climate. A one-time panelist on “The Sports Reporters,” she is a regular sports commentator on NPR and on such ABC News shows as “Good Morning America” and “Nightline.” “I’m doing more TV in my 50s than I did in my 30s and 40s,” she says.

Having more women on sports broadcasts isn’t just a question of equity, she argues, it’s smart business.

“TV sports has just about maxed out the male audience,” Brennan says. “If you want to grow your ratings, you’ve got millions of girls and women in this country who are growing up to be consumers of sports news and products. They’re obviously used to hearing a man talk about sports. But maybe there’s a 12-year-old girl somewhere who hears a woman’s voice and says, ‘Let’s watch.’ And the sport and the network have just created a new fan.”

2 thoughts on “CBS Sports Network to launch first sports show hosted by women; Talk landscape still lacks female voices

  1. I think its true that a majority of women in sports journalism aren’t interested in radio, but it would be interesting to find out why. Is it because there are no “role models” in sports radio?

    My own guess would be that its a medium that isn’t friendly to female sports fans. It’s very “guy-centric” and frequently includes stuff that can be off putting to female listeners. Even the better shows on ESPN, will still talk about how “hot” athletes’ girlfriends & wives are. It still seems like an old boys club. I think if radio made a better effort to be more inclusive, more women would be interested.

  2. Just a gut feeling, With so many TV talk shows, this one will fail like the majority do. Has nothing to do with the sex of the hosts just that the majority of talk shows are poorly done, sensationally driven, fail from a journalism stand point and it’s an over saturated market.

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