Why Was Jenny Dell Picked for the All-Female CBS Sports Talk Show?
USA Today reported big news recently that CBS Sports is set to “make television history” this fall. The network is debuting their first ever all-female sports talk show, a program akin to The View, and former NESN reporter Jenny Dell is allegedly in on it.
Six notable female sports journalists are expected to be regulars on the program, and according to the report, those names include Dell, CBS Sports’ veteran reporter—and former Globe sportswriter—Lesley Visser, CBS Sports’ morning radio host Dana Jacobson, CBS NFL analyst Amy Trask, and CBS sideline reporters Allie LaForce and Tracy Wolfson.
Looking back on Dell’s action-packed timeline since last January, it seems like the reporter is moving up her professional ladder despite publicly mixing business with courtship.
A sports journalist dating a player is taboo, especially for ladies. Celtics sideline reporter Abby Chin addressed the concept as such: “It’s a bridge I’m not willing to cross…Even the slightest nick in your armor could have much larger effect. Women in this business don’t get three strikes; they get one.”
OK, point taken, but Dell clearly didn’t strike out. Between her hefty diamond ring, her pro athlete fiancé, and now her kick-ass new job, she definitely has something going for her. But what exactly is it? She was picked for a reason, right?
Any successful talk show needs a believable dynamic of characters. If we’re sticking with the comparison, where would The View be without the variety of personalities comprising Whoopi, Sherri, Rosie, et. al.?
WEEI’s Kirk Minihane—who was recently shamed for calling sports reporter Erin Andrews a “bitch” on-air—stayed true to his form on Tuesday’s Dennis & Callahan show when he said Dell is “a nice person,” but doesn’t “think she’s shown any personality.” The folks at Barstool Sports seem to have similar opinions:
— David Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 11, 2014
Mundane comments like Portnoy’s aside, Minihane did make solid points about how the dynamics should work in order for the show to be a standout:
If they’re smart and funny and make fun of each other and talk about stuff, I’m in. If they don’t, if they talk about how great athletes are, and this and that, then…after a day or two people aren’t going to watch because Jenny Dell and Allie LaForce are good looking.
And, like The View, the show needs more than just the “all-female” angle to get people to watch. Guest host/WEEI’s Red Sox columnist Rob Bradford made the same argument as Minihane:
If you want to have all women on [the show], great. But do it because they’re good. Do it because they’re entertaining and good at what they’re doing. Don’t just do it because hey, we have all women!
But CBS may actually be trying to pull off something closer to the latter, and the media is taking notice. An unamused writer at Deadspin says that if this show is anything like The View, then it will air when no working person can watch it. “It’s a stinky bone thrown at women by men who assume we’re dumb enough to get excited about it,” Diana Moskovitz claims.
Another female writer at SBNation.com, Sarah Kogod, is not buying the all-female pitch at all:
The network could have chosen to add more women to its existing programming, including them in the conversation and sitting them alongside their male colleagues. Instead, the network is creating its own little corner for the women to play in and calling it groundbreaking.
This is a ploy that actually may be happening, and if so, may explain why Dell—good-looking, fairly new to the CBS scene, yet relevant in the media—may be in on this project despite not being the most charismatic reporter on TV. In Dell’s defense, her predecessor Heidi Watney used to do segments about battling Fenway Park’s food.
Regardless, Dell is consistently proving that she will be successful. Let’s face it, homegirl knows what she’s doing. In the grand scheme of things, it looks like Jenny Dell is coming out on top.