Dear 98.5 The Sports Hub,
You were quite the topic of conversation on Tuesday, appearing literally out of nowhere with the sudden morning announcement of the demise of WBCN. With your August 13th arrival, Boston will be home to four sports radio stations – fitting really, given that Boston is the capital of obsessive sport fandom.
Before you go around stealing talent from the existing three stations (which you are already rumoured to be doing), let’s talk about one aspect of Boston Sports Radio that no one ever mentions:
Where are the women?
Yes, there is a woman, Jayme Parker, who does WEEI’s Sports Flashes on occasion. And WEEI.com recently hired a recent BU grad to host it’s morning video clip segment and do brief sound bites. Yes, many of the upper administrators calling the shots on WEEI and ESPN890, like Julie Kahn (Vice President of Entercom Radio New England) and Jessamy Tang (General Manager of 890ESPN), are some strong-willed and successful females. But besides that, Boston sports radio is all male dominated.
In 2009, when one of the most consistent and coveted football analysts/hosts of the past decade is female (Suzy Kolber), and when the Red Sox beat writer for the largest newspaper in Boston is female (the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin), and when our regional sports television network host is female (NESN’s Kathryn Tappen), why are females largely absent from manning the microphones in Boston’s sports radio scene?
Since I was twelve and would watch Fox NFL Sunday in amazement that a woman like Kolber was reporting on football, sports media has made significant strides in including intelligent and insightful women in television sports media and print work. It almost seems, however, that sports media is still reluctant to put women in a position where they can be heard, and not seen – the radio. It seems as if that unless you can visualize the female, have they Erin Andrews-like looks or otherwise, they do not have a place in sports media. Think about it – Boston.com pimps out photos of Benjamin throughout their sports section. Even as a print journalist, they have felt the need to create a visual presence for her more so than the men on their sports desk. Kolber has had to become more feminine looking as the years go by – her hair got longer, she started wearing heavier makeup when she switched to ESPN. Are we still at a point where women in sports media still have to be eye candy, and thus, can’t just appear as a voice through a radio?
This is Boston, Massachusetts, home to more female sports fans than probably any other city in the United States. A large majority of those female fans actually have an in-depth knowledge of their favorite teams, players and sports. Thus, excluding female voices on sports radio is ignoring a giant demographic, and is not reflective of the area in which we live. Instead of hiring a female or ten to add to insightful and legitimate sports commentary, WEEI and 890ESPN rely on idiotic, light-weight old-school radio guys to fill their programming hours. These are the men who debate politics instead of pitching rotations during their morning shows, who will publicly discount some sports over others, and admittedly know very little about some of the sports in which they are hired to report on. At least a woman’s voice could lend something new to these broadcast, and might even keep the broadcasts more on-topic than the meandering nonsense that fills some of the broadcast hours.
Thus, Sports Hub, I expect you to consider some female voices when you begin hiring on-air talent. You want to win the quickly developing “sports radio wars” over WEEI? Hire a woman. WEEI and 890 ESPN, if you want to make a giant change to win over a new demographic and have a chance against the Sports Hub’s FM signal? Hire a woman. Because if Boston can entrust a woman with their Red Sox beat work, and entrust a woman with hosting Bruins and Red Sox post-game analysis, then you can certainly trust a woman to host a sports radio program. You have no excuse.
Sports Girl Kat
P.S. If you need a woman to fill some of your late night or weekend programming, I might know a certain blogger who might be interested and would come cheap…