Play-by-play announcer Kate Scott has broken a ton of barriers. Scott is the first woman to call a Golden State Warriors game, the first woman to call an NFL game on the radio, and over the summer, she made her Olympic broadcasting debut as the play-by-play voice of men’s and women’s basketball in Tokyo.
Kate Scott is the new and first female television voice of the Philadelphia 76ers on NBC Sports Philadelphia. She takes over where Marc Zumoff left off when he retired in June and is teaming up with analyst Alaa Abdelnaby. Morning Edition host Jennifer Lynn recently asked her to take us back to when she first leaned in to the wide world of sports.
I’m a girl who grew up loving sports, playing every sport, watching sports, playing with all the boys at recess, then coming home and playing sports with all the guys on my street, called a tomboy growing up. And since I was a little kid, I was just told, “You don’t belong here. This isn’t for you.” But I loved it, so I kept at it. And thankfully I had really supportive parents who told me I could do anything.
And, Kate, who are you reflecting when people see you now on TV related to the 76ers?
I represent women. I’m gay. I hope I represent the LGBTQ+ community very well and anybody who wants to do this as well, because I know there’s very few out broadcasters right now. Kids who identify with that community can also see themselves doing this, if this is something they want to do. I hope to be a role model for any group who sees even a little bit of themselves in me.
And you are busy. It’s not just TV with the 76ers, you also have a college football gig as well. Tell us about that.
They like to say when it rains, it pours. Probably not just in this industry, but in every industry. But there are those months when you’re wondering if you’re ever going to work again and then all of a sudden, wonderful things happen. So I’m doing a national college football package for Learfield Radio right now with former Philadelphia Eagle Mike Golic, who played defensive line for the Eagles. So every Friday morning, I’m flying to some college town. Saturday night, we’re calling a college football game on over 110 radio stations across the country, and then Sunday morning, I’m taking the first flight out and getting back here to Philadelphia so I can call Sixers games as soon as possible. So yeah, it is a very busy time right now.
I mean, that’s the norm? That’s how it goes?
It is the norm, and these are the things you always dream about, obviously, as somebody who does what I do. The goal is now that I have this amazing, wonderful gig that I didn’t even think was possible when I agreed to the college football gig… hopefully next year, it’ll just be Sixers during the season.
I was looking at your Twitter feed and you write all kinds of things. You are very supportive of other women, other athletes who are living their dreams. You wrote something: “I’m here in Philadelphia because of all the women who have come before me who had it much harder than me who proved we deserve a shot.” And I’m interested about that… “Had it much harder than you.” In what ways?
Oh, I can’t repeat the stories on the radio. But I’ll tell you, Jennifer, you know, it wasn’t 15-20 years ago that the things that the women who were trying to get into locker rooms, that were simply trying to do their jobs… I’ve heard horrific stories from print journalists, from radio reporters, from television journalists, just the stuff they had to put up with from athletes, from coaches, from fellow reporters who didn’t want them around, who told them they didn’t belong and did very vile things to try to get them out of the industry. I have taken all of those stories to heart and told all of those women, thank you for opening the doors that allow this to be a possibility and a dream for me. And I’m going to do whatever I can to, not just crack the glass ceiling or crack open the door, but hopefully shatter the ceiling and rip the door off the hinges and throw it into the ocean, or the Delaware River. Because I have not had to put up with things nearly as awful as a lot of the women who were just 10, 15, 20 years older than me.
You’ve done a lot of voice work, podcast work as well. So talented. Do you ever feel like your voice is a separate part of your identity? Like, there’s you, and then there’s you, the performer?
Oh, that’s a really great question. I’ve never thought about that before. Interesting.
I guess you’re one thing.
Yeah, I guess I am one thing because I’m trying to think if I can differentiate the two… but I do know that it is a large reason that I’m here. It has been a huge part of my success. I know that especially when it comes to play-by-play, and especially for men’s sports, since we are all — men and women, any of us who’ve listened to games at any point in our lives — we are so conditioned and used to hearing a male voice, which tends to be deeper than a woman’s voice. I’m extremely lucky to have a deep voice because I think that there’s no doubt that’s made it easier to integrate myself into what I do, because it’s not as jarring as it may be for all of us who listen to sports, [as] if I had a higher-pitched female voice.
Are you in journalism or entertainment or both?
I think both, but I consider myself a sports journalist. You know, I started as a print journalist back in high school, and then I did TV and radio, and now back to mostly television. I’m not here to say “gotcha” to anybody. I’m here to check my second source before I report a story. But then at the same time, being a television play-by-play announcer for a team, I do need to be entertaining because sports seasons are long. And you know, why does somebody want to tune in to game 53 of an 82 game season with three months of playoffs to follow? You gotta make it fun and entertaining, so I also am very aware of that too.
Well, terrific. Thank you so much. Really appreciate your time, and good luck.
Thank you so much, Jennifer. It was wonderful being on with you.
Kate Scott has joined the Philadelphia 76ers TV broadcast team. She comes to Philly by way of the West Coast, and a funny aside, she told me when she auditioned for her new job, her now co-host, Alaa Abdelnaby, couldn’t be there. And the first time they met was live on the air and they are fabulous together.
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