Journey to the Unknown

Over the last month, I’ve spent extra time thinking about women in sports broadcasting, specifically radio. A college student asked for my help with his senior project investigating females in sports media; so I answered a series of questions about how I got into this business, what obstacles I’ve faced along the way, what industry changes I’ve seen, and what can be done to create more opportunities for women. The introspection gave me a chance to look back with gratefulness at how far I’ve come and peak forward at how far I still have to go. There has definitely been progress in the last 15 years, but women in sports radio face an uphill climb that stretches to infinity and beyond. Just last week, a male listener took exception to a word I used in talking about the Thunder-Lakers playoff series. He sent me a tweet to tell me and tagged it by saying, “This is why women shouldn’t be allowed to talk about men’s sports.” While I’m certain his sentiment doesn’t represent every male listener, I’ve received countless messages of similar prejudice during my time in the business.

My ultimate career goal is to earn a job as a radio play-by-play announcer in the NBA (thus the title of my blog). If I happen to be the first female to reach that plateau, so be it. I didn’t set out to be a trailblazer, but it comes with the territory. Play-by-play is dominated by men, more than any other area of sports broadcasting. There are several women who call football and basketball games on TV like Doris Burke, Pam Ward, and Beth Mowins; and Suzyn Waldman serves as the analyst for Yankees’ radio. But in more than a decade of play-by-play, I’ve never once crossed paths with another female handling the same duties on radio. A couple female analysts and a handful of sideline reporters, yes; but play-by-play? No. This past winter, I had the privilege of filling in on a Hartford men’s basketball broadcast. More than 10 years as a play-by-play announcer, and that was my first men’s college game. I recently had a conversation with a company that hires radio talent for college sports broadcasts all over the US. Forty-nine schools with roughly five voices per school, and they don’t have one female voice. Not one! No sideline reporters or analysts and certainly no play-by-play announcers.

As I use this year to seek out new opportunities in this area, I anticipate resistance. As one NBA broadcaster reminds me, some people simply don’t want to hear a woman’s voice calling games on the radio, no matter how talented she is. Others will always see sports as a “man’s world,” no matter how knowledgeable and credible the female sportscaster. To that end, plenty of universities and pro teams see hiring a woman as a risk. Of course, I need experience to be considered a serious candidate for an NBA job, and that means putting more men’s basketball on my resume. That first men’s game in January was a HUGE step forward. While I always believed I could handle the speed of a men’s game, having the audio to prove it is like holding a winning lottery ticket.

There is no timeline…no true precedent…no road map to follow to the NBA. But I’ve come this far, so there’s no turning back. It’s truly a journey into the unknown, accomplished with baby steps. While there’s no way to know when that door will open, I will be ready when it does. All it takes is one team to give me a shot, and I’ll prove that a woman blazing a trail into NBA play-by-play isn’t as risky as it seems.

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15 Responses to “Journey to the Unknown”

  1. Do you do a podcast? Maybe if you started podcasting some play-by-play calling when youre watching games you could get some good audio? (if you’re already doing that, then I obviously need to be a better fan.) you got peeps in your corner. You’ve already come wicked far! We got your back!

  2. Laura Scales Says:

    keep taking those baby steps….. you have a lot of people behind you encouraging you every step of the way…GO, AMY!!!

  3. Jack Murray Says:

    I do not doubt you will succeed, Amy.

    Keep knocking on that door until they let you in to do play-by-play for men’s basketball games. You obviously know the game and are able to convey your passion to the listener.

    Good luck.

    PS: We learn more and more about you with each blog post and each tweet.

    • I know you can do it! Personally, a female voice calling a game would not bother me, I’d be listening to the words describing the game to me. My concentration would not be on the voice itself but the game, who has the ball, where it’s going, who’s defending. So, don’t give up and keep trying with your head up, if God wants this for you it will happen.

  4. Elise Newman Says:

    Have you ever heard of Sherry Ross?
    She was the first female in the US to do the full play-by-play for an NHL game. She did it a few years back for the NH Devils.
    Maybe you could contact her and find out how she got her career on the right track.
    If your career isnt going the way you want ask for advice from people who have been there before.

    • Elise Newman Says:

      NJ Devils that is. Auto-correct gives. Auto-correct takes away.

    • Elise –

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog & pass along Sherry’s name. I’ll definitely look her up!

      Not sure where you got the impression my career isn’t going the way I want. Nothing could be further from the truth! This is about the journey, not just the destination. I’m blessed beyond belief that I get to do what I love for a living! In addition to ESPN Radio, I travel with the Hartford women’s basketball team and call 30 games a year. Anyone who hears me on the air recognizes the passion & enthusiasm I pour into my work. It’s my signaure. (One of my managers would actually like me to show less enthusiasm – ha!) God has given me an amazing group of family & friends who pray for me and support me. When God opens the door to the NBA, I’ll be ready. Until then, I’ll keep working hard and staying thankful for how far He’s brought me in 15 years!

      Have a great weekend – Amy

  5. As someone who wishes he could actually do something in this business, I very much enjoy reading your blog posts. And especially this one. I am totally blind, but I have heard of some blind analysts at some levels of sport. I just enjoy the game and often am able to retain a lot of information and pretty much say what the paid analyst says. Haha. Failing that, maybe I’ll at least become some sort of sports reporter, who knows.
    I wish you all the best in your career endeavors. Will have my ear to the air awaiting your call of an NBA game, maybe even on a national feed someday! Just keep building toward your dream, no reason it won’t happen.

  6. Bob Levesque Says:

    Amy, Congratulations on setting your sights on such a worthy and ground breaking goal. You know I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time, and I certainly support you in this mission…you CAN do it!
    I am a member of an organization called WTS (Woman’s Transportation Seminar). Their primary mission is “Advancing Women in Transportation”. By “transportation” we mean the transportation agencies like MBTA, MassPort, MassDOT, RMV…etc. Members of this organization include very high ranking official in each of these agencies, as well as many Engineering company’s CEO’s, Department Heads, Engineers, and many more.

    Much like your industry, the Engineering field was very much a “good ol’ boys” network, and I have witnessed some very Neanderthal type mentalities and attitudes within the workplace, that disgusted me, which is why I joined this group. Most of that happened at the beginning of my career, and I am happy to say that Women, and Diversity, in the field of Engineering have come a very, very long way, thanks in part to the efforts of this WTS organization.

    WTS Boston has luncheons once a month, and invites guest speakers to enlighten the group on various aspects of Women in Transportation, Politics, and many other interesting topics. Not only would you find this group of value and inspiration, I think you would make a great guest speaker. Women in your industry face issues and road blocks that the members of this group have already faced and overcome, and are still successfully dealing with.

    I would be happy to send you more contact information via email.
    My email is: bob_levesque@yahoo.com

    Keep up the good work, I’ll be listening!
    Bob Levesque
    Malden MA

  7. susan knoll Says:

    Very nice blog. This is the first blog I have read from you and I loved it. Going to go back and read your older stuff now.
    I’m sure I’ll find the rest just as entertaining.
    Good work, Amy

  8. Kareem Haywood Says:

    God and your show are two of the reasons I am able to make it through what has been a difficult time in my life. Keep following your dreams – you surely have the passion to do so! Love listening to you on 1050 ESPN in NYC.

    As far as Shelly Ross is concerned, she is an excellent color commentator for the Devils games. You should definitely look her up.

    Best,

    KH

    • This means so much to me! Thanks for taking the time to listen AND read! God gets me through the wilderness times in my life, too. Wouldn’t know what to do without him! Hang in there.

      Sincerely,
      Amy

  9. Steve K3 Says:

    Amy- you’d be phenomenal doing serious play-by-play (I have no problem assuming that you’ll be doing the ground work – “moonlighting’?)

    • Thanks, Steve! I’ve been 10 years on the sidelines doing play-by-play for various women’s college basketball & high school teams, both TV & radio. I’m working toward the NBA and won’t give up on that dream! Appreciate your support and the time you’ve spent reading my blog! Have a great day – Amy

  10. Andy Davis Says:

    Amy, absolutely love your take on all sports topics. You are the greatest. Only concern, how come you are not on more?

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