Here is an article I wrote for the company, Globe Of Love. In this article I conduct an interview with the famous sports broadcaster, Lynsey Hooper on how she achieved her job and the difficulties she faces because of her gender in her chosen field of work. This company is an online magazine that provides inspiration and positive messages around the globe for everyone.
You may well recognize the name, the voice and the face of Lynsey Hooper if you are a football fan. She has been on TV screens up and down the country with networks from BBC (Final Score and Five Live), ITV, Sky Sports and BT Sport, Lynsey has combined her forte of sports with her passion for presenting through not only TV, but Radio and even voice overs. Lynsey’s enthusiasm and work ethic has allowed her to flourish in the environment she knows so well: the world of media and I am privileged to grab a moment of her time whilst we chat about her career, sexual equality and inspirational figures.
So Lynsey you live a very hectic lifestyle, first of all: how do you have the time to fit everything in?
Well, like most people nowadays I wish there were 36 hours in a day. It’s a case of forward planning and juggling things as best as I can. I know that Saturdays are for football so I try to catch up with my friends and family outside London during the summer and international breaks. They’ve got used to it now. I am my own worst enemy too, I started an all-female football podcast called The Offside Rule (We Get It!) with my friends Kait Borsay and Hayley McQueen two years ago and so any down time I do get I end up working on that!
You have worked for a number of networks, BBC and ITV just to name a few, how did you break through in to the media industry in the first place?
I got my break doing student radio and TV. I was fortunate to get a few radio presenting jobs whilst at University and they then led to other jobs when I graduated. After hosting music shows for a few years I got approached to host a classic hits and sports results show for Classic Gold Network on Saturday afternoons. Sport and football in particular is what I had always wanted to do so I jumped at the chance. Once I got enough material to send out some sport demos I sent them to Capital Radio and talkSPORT where I started freelancing in the sports departments writing bulletins and doing occasional reports. Around that time I also started presenting online TV football bulletins for a company called Football 365. Within six months of being there they were taken over by Sky Sports and I got to audition for a new job with BSkyB which I got and the rest has gone from there…
So you are able to work in various fields of media, is there a certain area where you find more comfortable or challenging?
Radio is my natural home. It’s where I started out and trained for years so I always feel very comfortable in a radio studio. I love the immediacy of it and how personable it can be. Having said that, in terms of challenges nothing beats live television, there’s no hiding and because you are in vision the audience will always notice if things go wrong. I must be a little warped because I love it when the unexpected happens. I think that’s when I’m at my best because my personality gets to shine.
What would you say has been your proudest moment so far in your career?
I’d consider myself to be a creative person and I love coming up with programme ideas and pitches. One show I came up with was called Sporting Chapters – it was a 20 minute interview with big sporting names who had released autobiographies. The show started as a digital production for Sky Sports but quickly got picked up as a filler show broadcast on Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and 4 and on Virgin Atlantic in-flight entertainment. Seeing someone watching one of our shows when I was on a flight to Barbados was a great moment – I remember wanting to tap the man on the shoulder to tell him all about making it and then realised he might not be as excited as I was!
“I feel passionately that women shouldn’t have to sacrifice money, time or motherhood in order to be the best in the field.” You say this on the Women’s Sport Trust website, do you feel modern women are sacrificing aspects of their life for a career or motherhood?
Yes I do, most sportswomen sacrifice so much to do sport at a top level and often with little reward. I’ve worked in women’s football for the last four years and still most of the players hold down full or part-time jobs and/or motherhood alongside playing. Things are slowly changing, but there’s a long way to go.
When it comes to working in media, or any other career, to be the best you can be often means making huge sacrifices. I can only speak from the world of presenting/reporting but most of this tends to be freelance or fixed term contracts. Until there is some provision for female broadcasters who want to take time off to have children I think you will find the proportion who go on to have children is very low in comparison to those who have the entitlements of a full or part time employee. I know that I worry should the day come that I want to have a family.
Being a woman in a male dominated industry, have you faced any struggles before you reached where you are today? Or do you still today?
Sport is a very male dominated industry. Due to that, there have been obstacles to overcome. You do get the odd sexist remark or comment (usually via social media) but equally I have received plenty of support too.
My own personal compaint when it comes to sports broadcasting is that men are often deemed experts and women ‘totty’. This is down to the bosses at different networks. If a blanket requirement was introduced across the board that to do the job you must have knowledge to back it up then there wouldn’t be any issues. There are some very knowledgeable glamorous women who fit the bill. However there are still some women who are given opportunities because they have a glamorous look rather than the required expertise which creates problems when it comes to encouraging the next generation of aspiring sport broadcasters.
Do you think woman are equally represented in a number of industries and if not what can we do to change this?
Like many others I think the problem comes at board and management level. We don’t have enough decision makers who are women and until that changes across the board issues like equal pay will never properly be addressed.
I am a big fan of the “offside rule” podcast, for those who don’t know it, could you please elaborate on the conception and what was the inspiration behind it?
You may recall the Keys/Gray incident at Sky Sports when the pair got sacked for comments they made about female referee Sian Massey when they didn’t realise their microphones were live. I had been football reporting for around five years at that point and it very much angered me that women were still deemed to not know what they were talking about when it came to football. Might I point out Massey’s decision was spot on despite what Keys/Gray said. I have always been very passionate about football and know first hand that many women go to games and have no problem understanding ‘the offside rule’ so I decided to start a weekly podcast with two friends where we discussed football in a knowledgeable yet un intimidating way. It’s a mix between Fighting Talk on Five Live and Loose Women.
It has proved to be very popular and has surpassed any of our expectations. We are now working with sponsors Continental Tyres and HTC making bespoke content and we get a really positive response to the work we are doing.
We also recruit volunteers to help on the podcast giving some opportunities to students and graduates looking to get involved in sports media.
If you’d like to see what we get up to visit our website www.offsiderulepodcast.com