It was a big day on University of Western Ontario's campus this past weekend for women's sports coverage. For the first time in its 35+year history, Radio Western (CHRW 94.9) set a new precedent in sport broadcasting by having an all-female broadcast crew cover Western's women's ice hockey game against Laurentian's Voyageurs last Saturday. From colour commentating to play-by-play, photography and technical support staff, all positions were very capably filled by female staff members. Although there have been a number of successful female broadcasters start their careers at Radio Western, for John Urban, the station's Director of News, Sports and Spoken Word, the significance of this day was definitely not lost on him.
"They've pioneered a path for women in sports broadcasting and opened up the doors and the eyes of women who can now consider sport broadcasting as a career option."
The fact that it also involved covering the traditionally male sport of ice hockey made the significance of the day even more special. All women involved in the broadcast definitely recognized the gravity of this pivotal event.
For most of the broadcast crew, watching and experiencing sport was an important part of their lives growing up. Whether watching the National Hockey League or taking in the Olympics every few years, the primary message most of them received as an observer was that sport broadcasting was primarily for men and there were very few options for women in the field. With today's all-female broadcast, these expectations have been upended in the minds of this broadcast crew.
Many of these women also believe strongly that it's vital to have more women represented in the media and in the sport coverage that's provided. "I would love to see lots more women in sports on tv" play-by-play announcer Emily responded when asked what she would recommend current broadcasters do to get more women watching sports.
"Women do all kinds of things in sport but we just don't see them...representation is huge...and it's important that women see what opportunities are available to them in sport."
Given the passion and sincerity with which these thoughts are shared, it would definitely be in the best interest of today's broadcasters to listen well to what these women are saying. The same women who will potentially be tomorrow's future sport broadcasters.
Rachael Bishop - Play by Play
Emily Renneberg - Colour Commentator
Emma Jones - Ice Level Reporter
Karina Leung - Social Media
Kristen Liang - Photography
Jennie Malone - Studio Coordinator (not pictured)
John Urban - Director of News, Sports and Spoken Word
Head here to see and hear more coverage of last Saturday's Western's women's ice hockey game against the Laurentian Voyageurs.
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Blog and photos by Caroline Wiley. Caroline bridged her 20+ years of professional experience in the sport and recreation industry together with her passions for photography and supporting women in sport to create SeeWhatSheCanDo. Her vision is to create a welcoming space where active women find a sense of belonging within a local community, see themselves in authentic and awe-inspiring ways and find resources to help them be their best active selves..
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