Last week was another busy week in terms of WNBA news with not all of it being fortunate happenings throughout the W.
There was the unfortunate revealing of domestic violence allegations leveled against the Las Vegas Aces’ Riquna Williams, the continued heating up of the WNBA’s playoff push and a YouTuber getting banned from WNBA/NBA events for a social media prank at Gateway Center Arena.
Gateway Center Arena is, of course, the home court of the Atlanta Dream who have had an impressive 2023 to follow up a 2022 where the Dream nearly made the playoffs and Rhyne Howard was named Rookie of the Year.
But there was a bit of WNBA news that broke last week that flew under the radar that perhaps deserved a bit more attention.
The publication called Radio Ink covers radio news across the United States and Canada. Last week, Radio Ink penned a report regarding one of the Dream’s co-owners in Renee Montgomery. Along with being one of the team’s co-owners, she also does WNBA Weekly on NBA TV and hosts the Montgomery & Co. podcast via Dan Le Batard’s Meadowlark Media.
Radio Ink reported that Montgomery will indeed be bringing her show to 90.1 WABE-FM beginning on August 12. The program will air Saturdays on the radio station under WABE Studios similar to how many public radio programs based out of New York City air as part of WNYC Studios.
For those that may be unfamiliar with WABE 90.1, it is the main public radio station for the Atlanta media market. WABE is owned and operated by Atlanta Public Schools and airs plenty of NPR, PRX and BBC programs for the ATL. Many of those programs also air on WRAS-FM 88.5 – the flagship station for Georgia Public Broadcasting Radio that is owned and operated by Georgia State University. WRAS, which has been a GPB Radio station since 2014, airs music programs from GSU students from 7p-5a along with a 24-hour online stream and HD-2 feed that is all student programming.
For Atlanta’s WABE to be another distribution outlet for Montgomery’s program opens the possibility for a radio avenue to be opened up in terms of WNBA coverage and interviews. With all of the growth that the W has experienced in recent years in terms of its coverage expansion, it still is lacking in terms of having a more robust presence on the radio.
This is even the case, for the most part, even in the 12 markets that the WNBA calls home. Sure, radio stations such as WZGC-FM 92.9 The Game will do occasional interviews with players such as Rhyne Howard. WFAN in New York City once interviewed former New York Liberty coach Walt Hopkins prior to the Liberty’s drafting of Sabrina Ionescu in 2020.
But that is the problem. The fact that we can name actual instances of when WNBA luminaries were interviewed by mainstream media outlets is a massive indictment of those outlets.
The WNBA has made strides in previous years in terms of its coverage on television, online and particularly in the social media space. Sirius XM’s NBA channel has also seen an uptick in WNBA content. Audio (podcasts) has actually been a stronger point of emphasis for WNBA coverage than traditional radio.
As of today, zero out of our 12 WNBA teams has a flagship radio station. The Minnesota Lynx used to have its games carried on a country station for many years. Hopefully, Montgomery’s show being picked up by WABE is a step toward eventual national distribution of her show on other public radio stations – including those in the other 11 WNBA markets.
Sometimes, in this era of podcasts, Clubhouse rooms and Twitter spaces (Yes, we are still calling it Twitter, Elon Musk instead of “X” with its Microsoft Paint logo), it can be easy to overlook that there is still a large contingent of individuals who still listen to radio.
Montgomery getting her show carried by an Atlanta radio station is a step in the right direction – and a step in the right direction is, of course, better than no step at all.
But with the growth of the women’s game having been noticeable for everyone to see in 2023, those steps in the right direction could easily be leaps. We will take any increase in coverage we can get, of course, but let us look at women’s hoops coverage on the radio as if it were the power of its signal.
It used to barely register – now it is approaching 5,000 watts. We can at least up that power to 50,000.