Arizona Sports Radio Gets it Wrong
Sports 620 KTAR needs to re-name its website.
I live in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona. Other than being hotter than sin and not very accepting of diversity (and now, apparently, women’s sports) it really is a great city (wink, wink).
All in all, we are a pretty good sports town. I wouldn’t place us with the likes of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or Pittsburgh but we hold our own since, generally speaking, our teams are competitive more so than not. The Arizona Cardinals have been, at the very least, compelling to watch over the past few years, the Phoenix Suns are the heart and soul of the city, the Arizona Diamondbacks will always hold a special spot in our heart for the 2001 World Series, the Phoenix Coyotes are on the rise, and our college teams are all fun to watch no matter what sport. We haven’t been fortunate enough to win a ton of championships but the ones we have won are certainly treasured.
Or, so I thought.
The Phoenix Mercury are the only professional basketball franchise in the Valley to win a championship – and they’ve won two (2007 and 2009). For as good as they’ve been, the press and media attention they receive locally is shameful. If we’re lucky, we’ll see a small scoring update on the news and if it’s a really good day, we’ll hear them mentioned on local sports radio. Of course, when I say “mentioned,” it’s usually in jest and with a tone of mockery and degradation.
The three main local sports radio stations are Sports 620 KTAR, The Fan AM 1060, and XTRA Sports 910. Of the three, XTRA Sports 910 covers the team the most and has players on as guests several times each season (i.e. Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor). Dan Bickley, a fantastic columnist for The Arizona Republic, is co-host of Bickley and MJ (with Mike Jurecki) and makes a point to talk about the Mercury every year and give them their well-deserved props more so than anyone I’ve heard in the press besides myself.
As for the other stations? Nada. Zilch. Nothing.
Well…that’s not entirely true. Every once in a while they’ll make undignified remarks on how inferior women’s basketball is compared to men and report on the scandals of the league. But, unless you visit the Mercury or WNBA main website, you’d never know when, who, or where they play.
Sports 620 KTAR is the official radio home of the Suns, Diamondbacks, and Cardinals. Their games are broadcast on the network and it’s usually the go-to place for official, local sports radio coverage. Recently, they launched a brand new website called ArizonaSports.com. They brand it as “Arizona’s Sports Page” with nine columnists discussing all things Arizona sports related. However, for a website called “Arizona Sports,” they are forgetting a major Arizona sports franchise – the Phoenix Mercury.
Inexplicably, the Mercury is nowhere to be found on the site. In fact, if you’re new to Arizona and turned on local sports talk radio, you might not even know there is a professional women’s basketball team in Phoenix; much less that they’ve won two championships and feature, perhaps, the greatest women’s basketball player on the planet.
To date, Sports 620 KTAR has offered up no justification as to why the Mercury isn’t on their site. Although, if I’m honest, we really don’t need an official statement because the reason is already clear – they simply don’t value women’s sports. If they did, they’d put the Mercury’s logo on the site and update their section with (at the very least) generic reports from the Associated Press along with scoring updates and a team schedule.
But, they don’t.
Is it because it’s women’s basketball? Or, perhaps even worse, simply because they’re women? Virtually all of their on-air “talents” (picture me making the air-quotes gesture) have made fun of women’s basketball at some point and, frankly, couldn’t care less about the Mercury.
Unfortunately, what Sports 620 KTAR is doing is nothing new in today’s society and is a microcosm of coverage of women’s sports. I’ve been on a few local radio stations during the last few WNBA seasons and each time was for a very brief segment; I never really got the feeling that they cared about their local WNBA team. For all 12 WNBA cities, I’d say 50 percent of them are exactly like Phoenix and give the women’s game zero respect. For those wondering, Seattle, Connecticut, Indiana, and Minnesota are probably the best in terms of local coverage.
As far as we’ve come as a society, it has become increasingly clear that we still have a long way to go in terms of attaining true gender equality. Although that was probably an obvious statement, it’s still shocks me to see the gap in respect. Even so, the WNBA has managed to defy the odds and proven itself as not just watchable, but fantastic basketball. We’re seeing increases in attendance, media coverage, and revenue in spite of what people will tell you. The facts cannot be ignored even if the detractors try to skew them. Thankfully, the fans of the Mercury (and every other WNBA franchise) are the best I’ve ever seen and more than make up for the lack of coverage.
Here’s my gripe: don’t label or brand yourself as “Arizona’s Sports Page” if you’re not going to include all of Arizona’s professional sports teams. This is irresponsible, reckless, and (frankly) derogatory.
Unless you’re covering ALL of Arizona Sports, get a new name.