Back on October 6th, 2014, Men’s Health Magazine committed such an egregious faux pas, that the magazine was forced to do the unthinkable. They retracted an online article. In case you missed it, this is how the article read:
The Secret to Talking Sports with Any Woman (via Men’s Health Magazine)
Not all women share your passion for sports, in case you hadn’t noticed. The reason? They need story lines. “Most women don’t care about stats,” says Andrei Markovits, Ph.D., coauthor of Sportista: Female Fandom in the United States.
So while you’re enthusing about Dominic Moore’s scoring record, she’d rather hear about how he supported his wife’s battle with cancer—and even took a season off from the NHL at the height of his career. Treat your heroes as people and not just players on a field and you’ll suck her in. Just don’t expect her to wear the foam finger.
That got me to thinking, so much so that I even tried out their recommendations at home with my wife, and wrote about my results here at The Scoop. My next question was: Where are women in sports broadcasting?
There are a lot of women who make a living covering sports.
Everyone who follows sports knows who Pam Oliver, Erin Andrews, Suzy Kolber, and others are, because of their visibility. The younger generation knows these names like they know their favorite players. The older generation will remember names like Jane Chastain, Donna De Varona, Jeannie Morris, and Phyllis George.
These women are considered the pioneers of women’s sports broadcasting in the mid to late 1960s. It is generally regarded that Chastain was the first woman to work for a large network (CBS), and thought to be the first woman to do play-by-play.
This lead to doors opening for women like Phyllis George, Jayne Kennedy, Leandra Reilly, Lesley Visser, Suzyn Waldman, Gayle Gardner, Gayle Sierens, Linda Cohn, and Hannah Storm.
In 1987 Gayle Sierens was the first (and so far only) woman to do play-by-play for a national NFL game. That Chiefs-Seahawks matchup was blacked out in Kansas City and seen by only 10 percent of the country. In 2009, Visser became the first woman to do color for a televised NFL game, a preseason matchup between the Dolphins and the Saints, and Waldman was the first woman announcer to do play-by-play for the New York Yankees.
The opportunities are there. Now, where is the talent?
Jamie Kelly, Founder and CEO of The Scoop, revealed to her Twitter audience this past Friday night that she had been given the opportunity of a lifetime.
Kelly announced that she would be doing radio play-by-play for the the Joshua Owls-Everman Bulldogs football game, airing live at samsclassicrocknroll.com. Sam Meyers, aka Slammin’ Sam Meyers, said that he was thrilled to have a female voice on the air. Meyers said, “When I got thrown into the fire and had to start doing my own broadcast, I was very uncomfortable. When a friend mentioned Jamie, I said sure bring her out. I didn’t give it a second thought about the fact that she was a female. Before the broadcast I brought up the fact that one of my favorite local DJs was a female, and I would rather hear a female voice than a male on the air. So I had no issues with her doing the broadcast based on her gender.”
Meyers went on to say, “She seemed very relaxed, and no pun intended, just literally took the ball and ran with it. She has that natural talent and ability to do play by play. Give her a few games to get her feet wet and she will be just as good as any male play by play announcer out there. She has that passion and desire to do this. That right there is what will make her successful.”
Meyers’ station is the official football voice for the Joshua Owls, a class 5A school in District 8-5A in Texas, which includes state powerhouse Aledo.
I had a chance to visit with Jamie via email about this incredible opportunity.
RG: What brought about this desire to broadcast a football game?
JK: It has always been a dream of mine, since I was a kid, to do live play-by-play for a football game. However, being a female, I knew realistically that the odds were not in my favor. When my friend Dave approached me to see if I knew anyone who could fill in for a couple weeks to finish out the radio broadcast season for Joshua High School’s varsity football team, I took a risk and volunteered myself. I know this sounds crazy to most people, but it was a dream come true for me. All of the good things in my life have come as a result of taking a risk, and I saw it as an opportunity that may never present itself again.
RG: Tell me about the experience. What made it great? What surprised you about it? Did you have any preconceived ideas as to how you were going to “make a call?”
JK: I was truly surprised at how naturally it came to me. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. There were words coming out of my mouth, but they were just flowing from some place deep within my brain. I had to go back and listen to the recording to fully appreciate everything. You know, I may not be well-versed in all things, but I am very observant. I absorb everything around me, 24/7, and information comes back to me in the exact moment that I need it. I think that being able to spontaneously recall information is a necessity in this line of work, and I was grateful for the years spent at Soccer News USA which helped me hone that practice. You can’t write notes for everything.
RG: Are you thinking about doing it again?
JK: I will absolutely be back in the booth for Joshua’s last football game of the season this Friday, November 7th, and look forward to being a regular fixture in a booth next season!
RG: Aren’t you primarily a print news journalist? You have a new project on the ground running, correct? Tell our readers more about The Scoop.
JK: What a lot of people don’t know about me is that the bulk of my experience in media has been in television. Back in the late 90s, I was a reporter for a weekly show called Soccer News USA, which aired on Fox Sports Southwest and the Pax Network. It was insane to me that there were actual paying jobs in the world that would allow me to talk about sports, and I caught the bug BIG TIME. Sports writing is a relatively new arena for me, but I thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve had the opportunity to cover the Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, and Dallas Stars, as well as work for the Dallas Mavericks as a contributor to their official website.
The Scoop was born this past August after I decided that wanted to bring a unique voice to the sports media world; lots of people write game summaries and player profiles, but very few write about sports from a fun perspective. I wanted to create an outlet for people to write stories that represent conversations you might have with your buddies while watching the game and sharing a few cold ones.
The next project on the horizon for The Scoop is The Scoop Radio, which is set to make its debut next month. We have found an incredible partner to help us attract a large listening audience, and the best news is that you will not only be able to hear our show via a live Internet stream, but we will also be available on the TuneIn Radio app. It’s a major jump for us to go from shooting a Webcast using a webcam and a laptop to broadcasting live on a radio station with actual call letters! The details are still under wraps, but I’ll have lots more to share in the next couple of weeks.
RG: What drives your desire?
JK: I’ve always been one to try and prove people wrong. If you say I can’t do something, I’m going to move heaven and earth to make sure that I not only do it, but that I do it well. This felt like one of those moments. A female doing live play-by-play for a football game is practically unheard of; however, I knew I was perfectly capable of doing it. It was a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream, and to show the world that at least for one night, a female could hold her own in a role traditionally held by men.
RG: For anyone who still thinks what guys like Joe Buck, Al Michaels, and Mark Followill do is easy, what do you say to that? Is there preparation time, what about learning terminology?
JK: I studied up on the players for each team, records, playoff situations, recent games, etc. all week. Preparation is everything. As far as the actual broadcast, I went in with the plan of just being myself. I didn’t practice any lines, or try to come up with any silly catch-phrases. My goal was to describe what was happening from a factual perspective so that those listening at home could keep up with the action on the field. And I knew that once I got settled in, my personality would start to peek out a little bit, and I’d be more comfortable making funny comments (which I did). I’ve always enjoyed the radio stylings of Eric Nadel and Brad Sham. What they do better than just about anyone is make you feel like you are in the stadium, or at the ballpark, including even the smallest details like the color of the piping on the visitors’ jerseys. All of these live broadcast professionals, especially those who are tasked with being the eyes of the home listener for a game that moves at such a rapid pace, are personal heroes of mine. You have to eat, breathe, and sleep your sport. Doing live play-by-play for high school football is a tiny microcosm of the world those folks live in, and the respect I have for the incredible job they do is immeasurable.
Jamie has a business degree from the University of North Texas and completed MBA work at West Texas A&M University. She is obviously a learned woman. The interesting tidbit to this is while her background is firmly rooted in business, she is all about the sports business. One only needs to see her work to understand and be impressed with her knowledge of just about any sport. There is no doubt, that Jamie will be successful in venture at The Scoop, but you will probably hear from her on the airwaves, too. On a personal note, I was in the radio business for over ten years, doing the same thing as she has done. Broadcasting football games, basketball games, baseball games..it is hard work. However, if you love what you do, as she clearly does, then it is HARDLY ever, work.
It’s clear that Jamie Kelly is not a one hit wonder; she may wind up back on television, if she’s not careful.
There you have it, I may have just gotten The Scoop, for you.
Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. You can follow him on twitter @CapnDD.