KCTV, Meredith’s CBS affiliate in Kansas City, is doubling down on sports coverage with a daily, half-hour sports show called The Locker Room Show. The show is hosted by Dani Welniak and produced by Nikki Rushing. “I don’t feel an immense amount of pressure, like: oh, two women are in charge. I think it adds to the product versus adding pressure,” Rushing says.
In Kansas City, KCTV, Meredith’s CBS affiliate, is doubling down on sports coverage with a daily, half-hour sports show called The Locker Room Show. Launched in April, The Locker Room Show airs weeknights at 7 on KSMO, the MyNetworkTV affiliate in K.C. also owned by Meredith.
The Locker Room Show is hosted by KCTV’s sports anchor, Dani Welniak, and produced by Nikki Rushing.
Welniak is no stranger to being in a professional sports locker room, having captained the women’s professional football team, the Dallas Diamonds, where she was a receiver and running back, and three-time Pro Bowl and 2008 Super Bowl champion.
Welniak said when she gets into the locker room to interview a player, she often has to wait until the player gets dressed, but it’s no big deal.
“You are not even really looking at the players. You are looking at the name tags on the top of the lockers. So you are more concerned about getting a good shot of their face than anything else.”
So why is KCTV doing a daily half-hour sports show when some local TV news operations are cutting back on sports coverage?
Welniak said that in a normal newscast, she felt handcuffed because sports didn’t get enough time for sports coverage, usually just two or three minutes. In a market like Kansas City with the Chiefs, the Royals, college basketball and high school sports, Welniak said now KCTV has the time to devote to all the sports.
“It is definitely a rare phenomenon,” said Rushing.
“The response has been so overwhelmingly positive. This is a product that people want especially in a city that is so gung-ho about sports.”
Both Welniak and Rushing credit KCTV’s general manager, Chuck Poduska, and news director, Casey Clark, for throwing their support behind the show and having two women host and produce it. Clark even bought the lockers used on the set from Craigslist.
“They have been wanting to have this opportunity to really showcase our awesome sports department and like Dani said, there is so much to cover,” said Rushing.
Rushing said the station did a half-hour show during the Kansas City Chiefs post season and “that went really, really well. And I think after that, they thought this is something that we could make a regular thing and that sort of got the ball rolling.”
“The two of them, I can’t even speak to how much I respect them and admire them for giving both Nikki, myself and Tom and Neil this opportunity. We are getting opportunities that we have never had before.
Tom Martin and Neal Jones are KCTV sports reporters and anchors who also provide coverage for The Locker Room Show.
And since The Locker Room Show went on the air in April, the opportunities have been nonstop, some of them tumultuous.
In its first week, The Locker Room Show went to the NFL draft in Nashville.
Then, a Kansas City Chief football player, Tyreek Hill, was suspended for allegations he assaulted his 3-year old son, a story that went national.
“It just kind of catapulted the show straight off the bat,” said Rushing.
The show usually has one guest every night, sometimes local beat writers and local pro athletes, but the show has become such a phenomenon that national writers from Yahoo Sports, Sports Illustrated, and NASCAR want to be on it.
“I think the overwhelming response I have seen from the analysts, from athletes, from the public, is Kansas City needed a show like this,” said Welniak.
And how are the two ladies handling the pressure in the locker room?
Rushing said they don’t even think about it.
“I still don’t feel an immense amount of pressure, like oh, two women are in charge,” said Rushing.
“I think people have embraced us and accepted us,” said Welniak.
“When you are a woman in this industry you have to know your stuff. We are here to have fun, but we are also going to be very accurate and we are going to give you what you need to know.”
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