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Women and Sport: The Long Road Up

Among women’s sport fans and advocates it is widely known that the attention to women’s sport in the mainstream media is virtually non-existent. Research by respected social scientists peg the average percent of airtime ranging from 1%-10 and up to 20% (at certain ‘super high times’ such as Olympic Games). These results are basically global as there is no ‘media hotspot’ for women’s sport. Recently, two Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) frequent research collaborators Cheryl Cooky of Purdue and Toni Bruce of University of Auckland, suggested that a short-term remedy is to move into the burgeoning world of social and niche media allowing the networks and major print outlet ratings to go where they will as women’s sports create their own media.

This summer I took a foray into just that; creation of my own media niche. A company called World Talk Radio contacted me to ask if I would agree to join with them in creating 13, one hour per week shows in a Series of my own design and content. The more individuals they can ‘sell’ on this idea, the more content they have for their internet radio channels under the umbrella name VoiceAmerica.com.

I decided to create a Series called ‘Women and Sport: The Long Road Up’ which would feature a fantastic array of my friends and colleagues who work in the sports world. ‘Women and Sport: The Long Road Up’ traces the pathway of women’s place in sport from the 1950s when girls and women were limited to play days, milk and cookies after “light competition,” to the impact of some of the most driven, talented, and charismatic figures who re-defined and transformed sport itself. Few people know these incredible women. I saw this opportunity as an enjoyable and informative way to promote women’s sport in a new format.

Of course, this experience is not free. World Talk Radio has a rather complex operation including web art designers, experts for music and audio features designed in association with the host for each Series, formats for social media exposure, a set of engineers who manage the shows that are “live” and a set of engineers who carry out tapings when guests are not available at the appointed hour for a show.

Thus, an initial outlay of dollars is necessary to carry out the Series but if an interested party had even one or two sponsors, they would be launched and perhaps even benefit financially at some point. I describe these details because nothing would be better than if World Talk Radio were inundated with requests to design women’s sports series!

VoiceAmerica has several specific ‘channels;’ Variety, Business, Health & Wellness, Kids, Sports, Women and Empowerment. ‘The Long Road Up’ could have well fit into any number of these channels but I chose Empowerment as, for me, that was the main message of the series. If enough programs were available, we could have our own specific channel ‘Women and Sport’ with 24/7 content of all types, twelve months a year. What a concept!

The ‘Long Road Up’ seemed to be a creative success. As of this time the series drew about 3500 listeners from 18 countries including India and Nepal, Vietnam, Brazil, China and Botswana. The programs are all archived and available to be freely downloaded until December 1, 2016.

I run a Facebook group for Women Sport International and we just passed our 2000th member. Of my VoiceAmerica listeners I say what I say about the Facebook Group, “we are not yet into Ariana Grande or Queen B numbers, but we all start somewhere.” I sincerely hope you will listen, download and share the Long Road Up shows with teams, clubs, and classes.

I am deeply indebted to the unparalleled guests on my 13 shows. The full “Run of Shows” can be found below. The overall purpose of these shows was to offer a brief description of the long, and hard road women’s sport development has followed in the past 50 years. While this series was not specifically designed to honor the contributions of the Women’s Sports Foundation alone, I have marked with an asterisk the many individuals who had a formal role with WSF and it is impressive to see just how many of them appeared.

VoiceAmerica Internet Radio – Women and Sport: The Long Road Up

  1. Launch, Beginning, Growth: Women’s Sports Foundation
    Deborah Larkin* WSF CEO;
    Marj Snyder*, WSF Senior Director of Research and Programs
  2. Where have we been on the Long Road Up?
    Maureen Smith*, PhD;
    Jaime Schultz, PhD Sport Historians
  3. “261 Fearless:” Then and Now
    Kathrine Switzer*, Marathon Champion and Advocate
  4. Before the medals, you have to get in the Game
    Pam Boteler, WomenCan;
    Robin Farina, Women’s Cycling Association
  5. Transforming and transitions: Fame a long time coming
    Yolanda L. Jackson*, YLJ and Associates Founder
  6. Transforming: What does it mean to hit your PEAK?
    Leeja Carter, PhD, Long Island University;
    Angela Hucles*, Champion athlete and WSF President;
    Sam Mirror, Poet/Activist
  7. Breaking speed barriers: Motors, tracks and stereotypes
    Lyn St James*, Indy 500 racer, author and advocate
  8. Bringing different abilities to the starting line
    Becky Clark*, PhD, MSW;
    Andrea Woodson-Smith, Paralympian
    Tiffany Williams, Former CEO International Council Deaf Sport
  9. Media: New rules for new times
    Cheryl Cooky*, PhD, Purdue;
    Toni Bruce, PhD, University of Auckland
  10. Gaining resources: By any means necessary
    Tuti Scott*, Imagine Philanthropy;
    Kim Kenny, Vice President for Advancement, Mt St Mary’s University;
    Ernestine Miller*, WISE
  11. Safe (and empowering) spaces for diverse communities
    Eli Wolff, professor/advocate, Brown Univ;
    Mary Hums, PhD, University of Louisville;
    Hudson Taylor, NCAA collegiate wrestling champ and Founder, Athlete Ally
  12. Transforming through Empowering Coaching
    Joan Duda, PhD, University of Birmingham;
    Isabel Balaguer, Professor, University of Valencia
  13. Where are we going: The Long Road Up?
    Game Mothibi, Secretary General, International Working Group, Botswana;
    Boitumelo Kenosi, IWG Manager of Resources;
    Alpha Alexander, PhD, Morristown, Tn. Community College;
    Ellen Staurowsky*, PhD, Drexel University