Where are the Black voices or Black faces in local sports electronic media — radio and TV?
On one sports station, there’s Henry Lake, whose weekly show airs during the most segregated hour in America — Sunday mornings at 11 — and Trent Tucker, who’s relegated to second banana to an overzealous Green Bay Packers fan on Saturday mornings.
Then we have Lea B. Olsen doing fluff halftime features on low-rated Minnesota Timberwolves telecasts.
Both Olsen and Lake are Minneapolis natives while Tucker played ball at U-M. All three are sorely underutilized in this town nonetheless.
Lake is a prime-time-worthy talent who should be on drive time or morning drive. Instead, for many years he was paired with less talented folk or did fill-in work for others.
Tucker, a former top Big Ten player and NBA first rounder, is well versed in basketball. He should be able to carry a hoops-related program on his own.
Olsen’s personality and competency continues to be overshadowed by other female, and less personable, broadcasters. Other less talented folk in this town have gotten solo hosting duties or featured in prominently scheduled programs, but not Olsen.
Meanwhile, virtually every hour of the sports broadcasting day, every day, sounds like a Stevie Wonder song book: a bunch of Misstra Know-It-Alls who Haven’t Done Nothin’. There are hosts who either egotistically put themselves above the sports news they supposedly are reporting, or were once non-athletes who now display their holier-than-thou attitude for the world to see or hear.
A Whitewash of voices on Twin Cities sports radio, or a Whiteout on local television — in either case, to quote our president, it’s an outrage.
If it wasn’t for attending my church’s early Sunday services, I wouldn’t hear Lake. If I could only filter out his co-host, I’d listen to Tucker more on Saturdays. And although I rarely watch Wolves games on television, I’m very familiar with Olsen’s work.
Since I am a longtime satellite radio subscriber, I self-imposed a radio listening embargo on local sports radio, lifting it only for my car radio, where my ears can take it in small doses only. I prefer listening to Tony Bruno’s nightly radio show (KFAN also carries the show, but it’s often cut up due to Wolves games). His shows are not only entertaining but also informative, a clear contrast to the constant buffoonery broadcast locally.
Or it’s Only a Game, heard early Saturdays (but not locally) on National Public Radio. It’s a one-hour magazine-style show that occasionally features women’s sports, which seemingly is prohibited on local sports radio unless the commentary is of a disparaging nature. Without satellite radio, I wouldn’t be able to hear it either live or replayed later in the day.
Apartheid ended over a decade ago in South Africa, but it’s alive and well on local sports radio. And with KSTP radio now all-sports, it’s even more so.
Unfortunately, change won’t come from the top as management is as un-diverse as its on-air staff, and stiff-necked as well. Change only will come from a groundswell effort.
We boycotted stores, buses and trains in order to get our point across that change is needed, and eventually change came.
Why not boycott local sports radio? This columnist is doing it, and even though it probably won’t put a dent in the consciousness of the powers that are, the personal satisfaction comes from the fact that I don’t do business with the businesses who advertise on these stations. My green goes elsewhere.
If only the community would do the same — tell these businesses that advertise on local sports radio that unless real diversity is heard, then our money walks. Money does talk, whether it’s spent by Blacks or Whites. However, most Blacks still haven’t yet realized that fact.
Individuals such as Lake, Olsen and Tucker should be more supported. But unless we start, and be serious about it, then we too become like one of Stevie’s songs:
You haven’t done anything.
Unless the Gophers’ women basketball team advances in this week’s Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis — they are scheduled to play Northwestern Thursday — senior point guard China Antoine’s Minnesota career concludes.
One of two seniors, the 5’-3” Antoine — a junior college transfer — will graduate later this year with a recreation and management degree. “Minnesota has been my cold home for the past two years,” wrote the Madison, Alabama, native for last Sunday’s regular-season home finale’s game program, “and I have enjoyed the journey.”
Junior Kiara Buford (St. Paul Central) reached the 1,000 career points mark Feb. 20. She is the 20th player in school history — but the first Black player since Ashley Ellis-Milan (2006-10) — to reach the four-figure plateau. Linda Roberts and Kadidja Andersson are the other Black players.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.