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Roberts A Role Model To Many

Jason Barrett

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When Robin Roberts first appeared on air as a small-market sportscaster in the mid-1980s, she was sure she could “feel beer cans pelting the TV sets.”

The only drinks in the air Monday will be respectful toasts for a pioneer in sports broadcasting. That’s when Arizona State University presents Roberts with the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism at a downtown Phoenix hotel.

She is an ideal recipient.

To the dismay of curmudgeons who wanted to take the “broad” out of broadcasting, she persevered. To the delight of viewers who took the time to pay attention, she delivered sports news with an approachable style and professional air.

She paved the way for the underrepresented in sports journalism with asphalt made of integrity and concrete shaped by determination.

She is the personification of her ESPN catchphrase, “Go on with your bad self!”

Many know Roberts, 53, as an anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” My female peers and I remember her most for her work in sports. As we navigated challenging moments early in our careers, her poise and voice of authority on national TV was the nudge we needed to forge ahead.

“My earliest memories were (broadcasters) Phyllis George and Jayne Kennedy,” Roberts said. “I had great admiration for them, but I didn’t want to be stuck talking to the coaches’ wives. I wanted to be Brent Musburger.”

Amen.

For all the advancements women in sports journalism have made, challenges remain. It took until last week for an all-women sports talk show to appear on TV: “We Need to Talk” on the CBS Sports Network. Intriguing concept, dumb title.

Fingers are still wagging over Fox Sports’ decision to remove respected reporter Pam Oliver, 53, from her NFL sideline gig and replace her with Erin Andrews, who is 17 years younger. Many saw the move as confirmation that ageism is alive and well for women in sports broadcasting.

At least we are a far cry from the pre-Roberts era, when networks gave pageant contestants (George, Kennedy) first crack at sports broadcasting jobs.

Roberts pursued the route because she was crazy about sports.

She grew up in Mississippi, the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman. She passed up a basketball scholarship offer from Louisiana State, preferring the more intimate setting of Southeastern Louisiana. After a standout basketball career, she graduated cum laude and followed the path of her sister, Sally-Ann, who worked as an anchor at a TV station in New Orleans.

In 1983, she landed a job as a sports anchor and reporter in Hattiesburg, Miss., making $5.50 an hour. She was giddy.

No one wanted a woman sports broadcaster in the deep South but news was a four-letter word to me,” she said. “I was just so passionate about sports.”

A year later, she took a job in Biloxi and two years after that in Nashville. She was grateful for the opportunities but admits she tired of the hearing station managers say they were “taking a chance” on her.

“Taking a chance? Really?” she said laughing. “I graduated with honors. I was an athlete. C’mon.”

She also was a woman. An African-American one. Doors weren’t exactly flying open in the sports broadcasting world.

While in Nashville, ESPN courted her. A rumor circulated that a rival Nashville station had sent tape of her work to Bristol to get the talented sportscaster out of the market.

ESPN was just seven years old and still figuring out its identity. Roberts wasn’t sold and said no. It came back three years later with better ideas and she made the jump.

That was good news for all of us. It gave her a bigger stage and helped a skeptical audience warm up to the idea of female sports journalists.

Viewers liked her. She was knowledgeable. Prepared.

“People can sniff out an imposter,” she said.

Roberts never was. That’s why she lasted 15 years with the same company in a business that rarely delivers employee longevity. When ABC News and “Good Morning America” came calling, she said, no, several times.

“I love sports,” she said. “It’s part of my DNA.”

Only when close friend and former tennis great Billie Jean King delivered a “Moonstruck”-like “snap out of it'” moment and pushed her toward the bigger stage did she go.

She made the most of it and was promoted from “Good Morning America” reporter to anchor.

To read the rest of the story visit AZCentral where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

670 The Score Hosts Congratulate Mike Mulligan on Award From Loyola Chicago

“They’re giving me an award for correctly picking the Super Bowl on September 8th,” Mulligan joked.

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670 The Score morning host Mike Mulligan is being awarded the Father Finnegan Memorial Award from Loyola University Chicago this weekend, and some of his colleagues congratulated him on the air Friday morning.

The award is given “in recognition of outstanding humanitarianism and service to youth through athletics”. Mulligan — a 1984 graduate of Loyola University Chicago — will receive the award Saturday during the Loyola Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony during a game against George Mason.

“Tremendous award,” co-host David Haugh said. “Proud moment for the show. Proud moment for you family.”

“They’re giving me an award for correctly picking the Super Bowl on September 8th,” Mulligan joked.

“That is fantastic,” Laurence Holmes said, while his co-host, Dan Bernstein, continued to say “wow”. “Congratulations. You shouldn’t be embarrassed. You should be proud.”

“I’m being celebrated for being old,” Mully joked.

“That’s not what that award says,” countered Holmes. “It says something completely different.”

The Mully & Haugh host eventually admitted he was appreciative of the award bestowed upon him by his alma mater.

“It’s a good thing. I’m very moved by it. Sister Jean will be there,” Mully said. “She has a book coming out with — I think — Seth Davis.”

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Sports Radio News

Colin Cowherd: Tony Romo Regressing Because He Loves Golf

“I’ve always felt like Tony Romo is one of those guys — and we all have somebody in our social circle like this — he got the golf bug. He’s had it for 15 years.

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The performance of CBS Sports NFL analyst Tony Romo has been a hot-button topic in sports media circles, especially after a widely-regarded lackluster performance during the AFC Championship Game. Colin Cowherd believes he knows why Romo has regressed.

During an episode of The Colin Cowherd Podcast, the sports radio host claimed golf is the reason behind Romo’s regression.

“Romo wants to be on the Tour. He literally wants to be on the Tour,” Cowherd said. “And what’s the first thing Aaron Rodgers does in the off-season? He goes and golfs, he loves it. Both, by the way, great golfers, especially Romo. But I’ve always felt like Tony Romo is one of those guys — and we all have somebody in our social circle like this — he got the golf bug. He’s had it for 15 years.

“Tony wants to be on the PGA Tour — but he likes the paycheck from CBS.”

Cowherd also added he hasn’t hired potential employees in the past if they told him they loved golf during the interview process, saying he has a theory that as men age they “get addicted to golf”.

“They’re on PGATour.com, they’re putting in the backyard, they’re thinking about it at work, they’re scheduling a trip to Scotland and they lose sight of their other job,” Cowherd said.

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Sports Radio News

ESPN Radio Adds Lakers Games As LeBron James Nears Scoring Record

“As of Friday, February 3, LeBron James is 63 points away from Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career points.”

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The NBA’s all-time scoring record has stood for a long time. Kareem Abdul-Jabar, the current record holder, retired in 1989. LeBron James is on the verge of overtaking him though, and ESPN Radio wants to make sure it is part of history when it happens.

ESPN Radio has added two upcoming Lakers games to its schedule. The network will carry the national feeds of games on February 7 and 9. The first game is against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The second is against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Both games will be played in Los Angeles with a 9:30 PM Eastern tip. Marc Kestecher and Vince Carter will be on the call for both games.

As of Friday, February 3, LeBron James is 63 points away from Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career points.

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