NFL media personalities Charissa Thompson and Erin Andrews have nearly 40 years combined experience covering sports but are just now getting comfortable enough to open up and be authentic on the air.
Discussing their respective starts to the NFL season on their Calm Down podcast this week, Thompson and Andrews explained how and why they both, in their 40s, finally feel free as broadcasters.
“I’ve worked my *** off and I still do, and it’s finally … getting to the point where I’m comfortable in my own skin and I think that’s insane,” Andrews said. “But it has taken me so long.”
Andrews explained how she second-guessed an on-air joke about an interview with Lions coach Dan Campbell based on the studio crew’s reaction before remembering that authenticity is what connects with viewers.
“For a beat I thought about it on the sidelines, like ‘should I be funny during a report like this?'” Andrews added. “Terry (Bradshaw) is funny all the time int he studio. Terry adds personality. That’s why Terry’s the face of Fox. This isn’t brain surgery.”
Andrews elaborated that of course there is a time and place for humor and personality, but any seasoned professional can make that distinction.
“It’s gotten to the point where I’m like, I’m never going to be other people in the industry, I’m just not,” Andrews said. “How did I get here? I have a personality, I make athletes feel comfortable.”
Andrews even said the Aaron Rodgers injury brought clarity. Even though it wasn’t a Fox game, Andrews seemed to take comfort in the fact that she knows Rodgers and would have been at ease reporting on that moment.
“We got this. We just got it. And I dont know why we build **** up in our heads so much,” Andrews said to Thompson. “It’s pretty crazy how for so long, you’re so hard on yourself … let’s just be us.”
Thompson responded by connecting the sentiment to what listeners might feel.
“I’m OK with not being the smartest person in the room, but I ain’t the dumbest person in the room,” Thompson said. “I like that we question certain things that we’ve done along the way … but I’m just really comfortable and I don’t really give a **** what people think anymore, and I think it’s such a free place to be.”
While Andrews listed Bradshaw as well as Joe Buck and Troy Aikman as examples, Andrews and Thompson are clearly highlighting gender expectations in sports media too. Bradshaw is expected to be loose and even make mistakes. It’s part of the shtick.
But women broadcasters are usually held to a higher standard. Their appearance is scrutinized. They are expected to be charming and intelligent. There are only so many jobs they will be considered for.
Hopefully with a podcast like Calm Down, Andrews and Thompson can detail the inner workings and improve the work atmosphere for future generations of women sports broadcasters.