On Feb. 2, 2024, SUNY Oswego's student-run TV station, WTOP-10, made history with a broadcast team of all women.

The game was a success from the broadcast to the ice, where the Laker men's hockey team defeated Brockport 5-1 to secure the program's 1000th victory. But the bigger milestone might have been the team of 21 women staffing all of WTOP's positions that night, the first all-women-run sports broadcast in the university's history.

"I'm really excited about this because it's something Natalie and I have worked extremely hard for," said Jolie Santiago, a broadcasting and mass communication major who served as co-producer with Natalie Barden, as well as an on-air analyst for the show.

"We couldn't be more excited to have all these women on board," added Barden, a journalism major who also serves as news director for WTOP-10.

"There's so much preparation that has gone into this," Santiago said. "I first found out about this when the sports director put it on his board as this is the day of the all-women's broadcast. Immediately when I saw it up there, I was like, 'I'm gonna take charge of this.'"

The broadcast falls just ahead of National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Feb. 7.

"So I got involved in this in the beginning of December, me and Jolie kind of, got started," Barden recalled.

"We were like, 'We're gonna do this together. This is gonna be something that we're gonna work on and make it happen,'" Santiago. "This broadcast is extremely important because it puts women at the forefront of sports media and we don't see that very often."

"Men's sports, an assumption, an incorrect assumption may be, 'Well, women have never played that sport, or they play a different version of that sport, so how can they commentate on it?," Barden said. "And I think that is absolutely ridiculously false. It does not matter if you've played it or not. It just, it matters that you have knowledge and that you're willing to work hard and put in the work."

One purpose of this broadcast is to shatter any lingering stereotypes of sports journalism being a man's world.

"I think all of us as women on this crew have experienced times where we've been treated differently in a professional environment because we are women," Barden said.

"We have a staff of talent and crew, and it's all 21 women on there," Santiago said.

Empowering experience

"People underestimate how important representation really is," Barden noted. "It kind of opens the door for you to realize that you can do it too."

"And when that empowers you to do it, it's a ripple effect," Santiago said. "Everybody wants to try it."

"I don't know that I would've gotten involved at all if I didn't see other women who had done it before me," Barden added.

"This is about the alumnae that came before us, that it was very hard for them to start because they didn't see anybody doing WTOP sports," Santiago said.

As part of the project, they reached out to alumnae who helped pave the way over the years, and aired several videos from them during the broadcast.

"I think it is so awesome that you girls are taking the initiative to do an all-women's broadcast, especially in sports," said Lexi Bruening, a 2020 graduate who is now a multimedia journalist for WWNY-7 in Watertown.

"I'm just thrilled for all of you and everyone involved," said 1981 graduate Linda Cohn of ESPN, who has been a trailblazer her whole career, including in anchoring the show's iconic "SportsCenter," as well as the Super Bowl, the World Series, March Madness and the World Cup.

"I'm very happy for you guys," said 2021 graduate Barbara Barrino, now a news producer for CNYCentral in Syracuse. "I'm very proud."

"Female alumnae or alumnae that are contributing to this project are women that have been in WTOP," Santiago said. "They've graduated from Oswego and they were part of WTOP during their years here. And they were able to send in homemade videos talking about where they are now and what they think of this broadcast because this is for them. At the end of the day, we did this for them."

"I hope young women who are looking to make a decision about where they want to go to school, see this and it inspires them and maybe kind of peaks their interest and draws them in to find out a little bit more about the school," Barden said.

"And when we're done with the broadcast, when we're off air, I'm definitely going to be feeling a lot of things at once, I imagine," Barden said. "A lot of excitement, a lot of pride in all of the women who've worked on this, including myself and Jolie. Extremely accomplished that we told a story that's one of a kind. No other story is like this one today. Ready to celebrate and enjoy and be proud that we made this happen. And to be a part of that is something I will never forget."

In addition, the broadcast received significant attention from local TV stations, including: