Bay Area Sports Broadcaster (and Trailblazer)
In preparation for the first event in the Cal Alumni Association (CAA)’s brand new Alumnae Career Advancement series, we spoke with alumna and panelist Kate Scott about her flourishing career in sports broadcasting. At our panel on March 28, we’ll dive deeper and discuss Kate’s success in an industry dominated by men. We hope you’ll join us! Register today >>
CAA: After more than a decade of reporting, you’re one of the few women to move from the sideline to the broadcast booth. What was it like entering sports broadcasting in the mid-2000s?
Kate: It was incredibly exciting. After getting a taste of the TV industry while working on the “Cal Sports Report” during my time at Berkeley, I knew sports broadcasting was what I wanted to do. To get the chance to do it so soon after graduation was an absolute dream. It wasn’t without challenges though. I learned very quickly that almost every sports fan thinks they could be a sports broadcaster. As a result, you better say yes to every gig offered, even if it’s filling in for a friend who does radio traffic on Christmas morning to get ahead. (Did I mention the schedule stinks?) And I also realized if I wanted to make it, I’d have to be patiently impatient.
What I mean by that is I learned very quickly I’d have to work my tail off and not wait for opportunities to come to me. But building relationships with colleagues and earning the respect of my fellow broadcasters, the coaches and teams I covered, etc., would take time. You can’t rush others’ belief in you. All you can do is work your tail off to earn those things and be patient, with the hope that one day–if you work hard enough–they’ll come.
Last year you became just the third woman to do play-by-play in the NFL and the first to call an NFL game on the radio. Why do you think that took until 2016 to happen?
I think there are a variety of reasons it’s taken this long. I think visibility is a big one. The lack of female play by play (PxP) role models means there are far fewer qualified women in the PxP pipeline than men (a lot of women I talk to don’t even consider the booth an option). Another reason is lack of opportunity, and finally, I think fear plays a role as well.
As I told Sports Illustrated when asked a similar question while prepping for those 49ers games last year, it takes a rare bird to think, ‘Hey, absolutely no one that looks or sounds like me is doing this, I think I’ll try it!’ And at the same time, it takes a decision-maker with a whole lot of guts to say, ‘Okay, I’ve got an opening, but no woman has ever been given a chance to do this in my organization. I think I’ll be the first to put my skin on the line for one!’
Those are both major risks. And with risk comes fear, especially as we get older and risks affect spouses and kids. Thankfully, I’ve been extremely lucky to build relationships with decision-makers willing to take those risks. And I went to Cal, so, as my friends back in Clovis tell me, I’m obviously a little crazy–so here we are!
Who are your role models in sports media?
Oh my goodness, I have so many I don’t even know where to start! Robin Roberts and Linda Cohn were the first women I remember seeing on ESPN as a little girl, anchoring SportsCenter, so those two for sure. Bonnie Bernstein, one of the top sideline reporters and hosts for ESPN and ESPN Radio when I was growing up has been a mentor since the very start of my career. Fellow Cal alums Mike Silver and Amy Trask have been instrumental in showing me how to navigate this wild world of sports, while also teaching me the proper ways to discreetly spread Cal propaganda. Another Cal alum, Michele Tafoya, is a big role model of mine. She’s always so prepared and professional, and you can tell how much her colleagues respect her–that’s something I strive for every day. Lesley Visser, Beth Mowins, Pam Ward, Gayle Sierens, Doris Burke, Mindi Bach and Mary Murphy locally. I could go on and on.
If you weren’t in sports broadcasting, what would you be doing?
Probably working in the food and wine industry. Right after I graduated from Cal, I told my parents I knew I wanted to work in sports broadcasting, but that I needed a short mental break before beginning what I hoped would be a long career. And for some strange reason, they took me at my word, so I spent the next six months waiting tables at The Sunny Side Cafe on Solano Avenue and working the tasting bar at Darioush Winery in Napa and absolutely loved it. So if I wasn’t a broadcaster, I’d probably be trying to sell you something delicious somewhere in the Bay Area.
You can see Kate on the Pac-12 Network in March as she reports from the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament (March 2 - 5), hosts Pac-12 Sports Report (March 16, 17, 23, 24), reports from the Cal men’s rugby match against Saint Mary’s (March 25), and does PxP for Cal’s softball series against Stanfurd (March 25 - 27).
Kate is also a part of CSN’s upcoming documentary
TOMBOY, which explores the obstacles young girls encounter on the recreational stage; the stereotypes, language issues and cultural disparities that follow; and ultimately, the insufficient media coverage and compensation that afflicts elite professional athletes seeking recognition for their talents. TOMBOY debuts Friday, March 10 at 8 p.m. on CSNBA.
Join Kate Scott and other successful women at Alumni House for the Alumnae Networking Reception & Career Advancement Panel (March 28, $10–15).