WTOP-10, SUNY Oswego’s student-led broadcast station, will air its first-ever sports broadcast with a team made up entirely of women on Friday, Feb. 2. Both the production team and on-air talent will be all women.

The Oswego men’s hockey game against Brockport will air live at 7 p.m., and will also have both a pre-game and post-game show also produced by the all-women team.

Co-producers Jolie Santiago and Natalie Barden say that the idea was first presented at WTOP’s first general interest meeting of the current academic year. The day of the broadcast was chosen purposefully to air ahead of National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Feb. 7.

When Santiago heard of this idea, she immediately had an interest in leading the initiative. The broadcast has been in the works since December 2023 and now involves a team of 21 female students in total.

“Being co-producer with Natalie… I am able to work with her and we have been able to get people involved in the broadcast and delegate roles,” said Santiago. “We’ve been able to make the rundown, see how we want to make the pregame show, what elements we want to see, how we want to make it different from other broadcasts, and also reach out to the alumni that are going to be a part of this broadcast with their special messages.”

The alumni Santiago and Barden contacted will have videos they sent to the station air throughout the historic broadcast. 

“The female alumni [will be] talking about where they are now and what they think of this broadcast. Because this is for them. At the end of the day we did this for them,” said Santiago.

The alumni who have shown their support for this broadcast are a diverse group from throughout Oswego broadcasting history.

“We’ve been able to hear from people like Linda Cohn, Donna Goldsmith, people who graduated in the '80s, and then some more recent alumni like Morgan Rumpf, who was the first female sports director, and my friend who graduated last year, so it’s exciting to have that array of alumni from different eras of WTOP and hear all of them be so excited and proud and hear their experiences,” said Barden.

Barden is hoping that their significant preparation will pay off during the live broadcast.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how much of a team effort any live production is. What you see on TV is a very small fraction of the whole equation,” said Barden. “In live TV, things go wrong. Maybe something isn’t working, maybe you missed a graphic, maybe something just won’t go up on the screen, the show goes on. We’re still live. You can’t stop and panic. You have to stay composed and just keep going. So making sure we have everything we can control beforehand controlled is setting us up for success.”

Both Santiago and Barden gave recognition to their professors, specifically communication studies faculty members Michael Riecke, Catherine Loper and Michael Cleland, for their support throughout the pre-production process, as well as the Oswego Alumni Association for connecting them with past WTOP members. They also expressed appreciation for the men in WTOP who supported this initiative since its beginning.

The future for female Lakers

Both Santiago and Barden reflected on their experiences in WTOP as they explained what this broadcast, and representation as a whole, means to them.

“I wanted to be a part of [WTOP sports media] when I saw a young lady, who’s on our crew actually, she was the first analyst that I saw that was a woman. And I was like ‘I can do that,'” explained Santiago. “I was so adamant that I could do it… so I [took on] small roles until I got to be an analyst. And when I was an analyst it was the best game I’ve ever been a part of."

“It’s moments like those that just make me so happy to be a part of WTOP because you feel the love around you, you feel like everybody is supporting you," said Santiago. "And that’s what we want for this all-women’s broadcast. We want everyone to feel included, everyone to be involved in what we’re doing, and honestly they are. Everybody has a role and they’re gonna do it perfectly."

Barden explained that although she has been a part of WTOP since she was a freshman, she only got involved in sports in her junior year.

“I think I’ve always had an interest but never really, I don’t know, I was always hesitant I guess and a little bit intimidated because there were only like three women who really did [sports] broadcasts,” said Barden. “So when I heard about the all-women broadcast, having felt that intimidation and now feeling a lot more comfortable, it was really exciting to me that this could help other women, maybe get involved a little bit earlier than I did.”

Reflecting on past female representation in WTOP, Barden expressed gratitude for women who paved the way for her.

“People underestimate how important representation really is. If you see someone doing it it kind of opens the door for you to make you feel like you can do it too. For me personally, that was a big part of my experience in sports media,” said Barden. “I don’t know if I would have got involved at all if I didn't see other women that have done it before me, so I think that’s a big credit to our alumni… they have done so much to lead us to where we are today.”

At their pre-production meeting held ahead of the all-women sports broadcast, Santiago recalled becoming emotional as she saw the team’s hard work and dedication begin to piece together.

“It felt so real just seeing everybody’s faces in the pre-production meeting and looking back at me and nodding their head in agreement,” said Santiago. “That made me feel so, ‘wow this happens to all of us and I don’t want it to happen anymore.'"

“It’s bigger than us. It’s bigger than Natalie and I, it’s bigger than the crew and talent that are here. This is about the alumni that came before us,” said Santiago. “It was very hard to see themselves being a host, being a director, being a producer, being in the control room let alone being in the sports department. So to see ourselves being the entire crew, the entire talent, that says a lot and it shows a lot to the women that are going to come next.” 

And if the first all-women’s broadcast wasn’t historic enough, the game against Brockport also has the potential to be the Lakers’ 1000th win of all time. 

Those interested in watching the notable broadcast can do so on local channel 96, or stream online on the WTOP YouTube channel.

Female students a part of the first ever all-women WTOP sports broadcast speak at their pre-production meeting.

The following women will be a part of the first-ever all-female WTOP sports broadcast:

On-air talent:  Jolie Santiago, Gabriella Giglia, Kaley Richmond, Sydney Selleck, Madison Flood, Madelynn Cummings. Crew: Natalie Barden, Mia Dircks, Samantha Keaney, Chloe Siena, Melina Williams, Gabby Lagatella, Aurora Fitzgerald, Emily Mike, Melinda Brancato, Kiley Wren, Fiona O’Sullivan, Patsy McFeeley, Soaad Hammoud, Abbey Schaumberg and Emily Rusinko.