Sarah Spain Charlotte Wilder Credit: Pablo Torre Finds Out

As the sports media industry changes along with media as a whole, the age and gender trends of those who get jobs and opportunities are hardly much different. For longtime ESPN personality Sarah Spain and current Meadowlark Media host Charlotte Wilder, that means embracing the wisdom of aging personally while suffering the consequences of aging professionally.

On a Thursday episode of Pablo Torre Finds Out, Wilder and Spain discussed what it’s like to be a woman in her 30s and 40s, respectively. They explained the difficulties of feeling more prepared to take on the industry, and at the same time, it can start to turn on you.

“For me, especially in this industry, the older I get, the more established I become, the longer I do this, the less f***-withable I am,” Wilder said.

Yet the slightly older Spain expressed the other side of that confidence once you hit a certain benchmark.

“The problem is, your career now feels like you’re in charge of it, you’re unf***withable, you get to decide,” Spain said. “I was getting better at my job every day, I was getting more knowledgeable, I was meeting more people, I was bringing new stuff to the company I worked for, and I started to feel what every woman in her early 40s starts to be told to feel which is you’re going to be squeezed out.”

Spain believes there is a wide gap in a woman media personality’s life when the business decides she is no longer worth hearing from. The former Spain & Fitz host and contributor on Around the Horn and Highly Questionable cited examples in news and Hollywood to drive home the way women can be erased in middle age.

“If you look across the media landscape, there’s a giant divide from about 40 to maybe 65,” Spain explained. “Women get to be old and then we want to hear from them maybe, but in that way that we love Betty White or Gloria Steinem. But between 40 and 65, we kind of don’t want to hear from you anymore because you remind us that aging happens, and we place so much value in women’s aesthetics. Even if they’re writers and radio people and people who are ostensibly not connected to their looks, we deeply and maybe subconsciously associate their value with youth, and then we stop listening. And there’s this giant gap where we just don’t hear that much from women of a certain age.”

In a tender exchange between two women established in their profession but with different experiences and life situations, the two continued to discuss the pitfalls of sports media.

Wilder absorbed Spain’s warnings and said she hopes to be ready when and if the business tries to screw her over.

“I feel like when the day comes that people do try to f*** with me again … I hope that I have the wherewithal to be strategic enough to navigate that as well,” Wilder said. “I can see it coming, and it’s more about not reverting to what I did before, which was still trying to please people, but doing what I need to do even if that means I am no longer at the place that I thought I was going to be.”

At the same time, Spain emphasized that she maintains perspective. She appreciates the wisdom she has gleaned over the years as a person, even if it can be a struggle to navigate this point in her career.

Spain appears to be on a hiatus from ESPN. She has not appeared on the network in over a year and recently removed it from her bio on X.

“The industry is negative, my thoughts on aging within the industry (are negative),” Spain explained. “I’m trying to reconcile now this general happiness and satisfaction in life that feels like I know more about myself and the world than ever before while simultaneously fighting this unfortunate reality of a business that doesn’t give a f***.”

It’s one thing to face down the limited opportunities and doubt of being a woman in the masculine arena of sports, it’s another to maintain a career. Wilder and Spain have both done it, but are still quite uncertain about what the future holds.

[Pablo Torre Finds Out on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.