Amid continued controversy in the sports industry about the roles of women, sports, athletes and leagues, Tuesday will see the launch of CBS Sports’ high-profile new series We Need to Talk, a nationally-televised all-female weekly, hour-long sports show that will run in primetime at 10p on CBS Sports Network. Each week, the series will offer a slate of announcers that include the likes of CBS’ own Lesley Visser, Amy Trask, Tracy Wolfson, Dana Jacobson and Allie LaForce as well as notable names such as Andrea Kremer, Laila Ali, Lisa Leslie, Dara Torres, Swin Cash, Summer Sanders, and Katrina Adams. Behind the cameras, the weekly program will be led by Coordinating Producers Emilie Deutsch and Suzanne Smith. Amy Salmanson and Julie Keryc will produce with Smith directing. The rotating group of panelists will take on the headline-grabbing topics and the news from across the sports spectrum including the NFL, MLB, college football and basketball, NBA, NHL, golf, tennis, auto racing and much more.
Cynopsis Sports chatted with Suzanne Smith and CBS Sports President David Berson about the series, its reception and how it will look to make history.
Berson on the development of the show: We’ve been discussing and developing this content for a long time and have been really focused on it in the past six months. Interestingly, while the show has been in development for a really long time, I think the news we’ve seen in the past couple of months shows that there is a need for a show like this in the sports landscape. We feel the time is right and long overdue and that CBS is really the right place for it. Our team has a lot of women who are at the top of their game both on-air and off. We are thrilled to showcase all of these core CBS people and also to welcome these women from other media companies and leagues.
Smith on talent: The thing I liked about it is that the people on the panel are smart, experiences in sports and are passionate about what they do. They look at things from a different point of view, not just because they are women, but because of the experiences that they have had. We have women who won multiple gold medals and trained for years; we also have women who have been at the top of the position in both TV and sports. It is a unique group that is put together and the opinions that are going to come out of this and the facts and experiences that they rely on are going to be unprecedented.
On content: The show is an hour, airing on Tuesday nights on CBS Sports Network from 10-11p. On any given night there will be six to seven segments, depending on content and what’s going on in the world of sports. Of course the issues at the forefront of sports with the NFL going on, we have excellent people to talk about that to not only give their opinions, but to take their story to the next level and add another layer to the story. With that said, the whole show is not going to be serious issues, we’re going to have fun on the show, we’re going to have different segments such as ‘Turn Back Tuesday,’ where they will share experiences and stories from these women that will be great to listen to. Of course, we are going to have a social media segment that will see both serious issues as well as some fun.
On diversity: I think that no matter who did this show, you have to have Leslie Visser on the panel. She’s been the pioneer for women and sports and has the pulse on what’s happening in both world issues and sports issues. The fact that she is part of the CBS Sports family is good for us. To take it a step further, what we are trying to do is to get diversity in so many ways, with different experiences and perspectives. I welcome anybody and everybody who wants to be part of the show, no matter the network, to come in a do it because it is a matter of what we are talking about. We’ve gone out and gotten the best of the best in their field and I think it is important to do that.
Berson on early reactions to the show: Ever since we announced this, both internally and externally, we have received universal support and enthusiasm. Once news of the show started to spread, it has been amazing and really rewarding in how many people from across the industry congratulated us and thanked us and wanted to be part of the show. I think this series is poised to be something really special and address sports in a way we’ve never seen before.