Meghan McPeak Is Living Her Dream As A Play-by-Play Broadcaster

Bryna Jean-Marie

t was never Meghan McPeak’s goal to make history.

But in 2020, the play-by-play commentator did just that, as part of the first all-woman broadcast crew in NBA history. And that history-making moment came before the one in ‘15, when McPeak became the first (and still the only) female play-by-play broadcaster in the G League. Now, the Canada native just wants to keep enjoying sports and showing people that women’s voices belong in this lane in the sports world.

“It was an all-female broadcast,” says McPeak, the voice of the Washington Mystics and Capital City Go-Go. “There were five positions. We had an in-studio host and an in-studio analyst. The three of us, that were specifically on the in-game broadcast, were all women of color. It was like double history because it was all females calling the game, but it was all women of color calling the game, which has never been done before in the NBA period.”

The game featured the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets. McPeak adds that it was amazing to be a part of this broadcast with her friends, WNBA All-Star Kia Nurse as the color commentator and TSN anchor Kayla Grey as the sideline reporter. It was a collective decision made by MLSE and TSN with Raptors staff members—such as the vice president of organizational culture and inclusion, John Wiggins; and the senior director of content, broadcast and distribution, Rebecca Ross—pushing to make it happen. The sports world is already following suit.

“ESPN literally just did one [on Feb. 9],” says McPeak. “Beth Mowins was the play-by-play voice. Doris Burke was the analyst. And Lisa Salters was a sideline reporter. They took it to another level in also making sure that there were as many women as possible behind the scenes. Producer, director, audio—everything that people watching don’t see that allows us to go on camera. The real stars of the show as I like to call them, because without them we’re not on TV.”

Her experience—as the voice of Toronto’s G League affiliate Raptors 905; hosting pregame, halftime and postgame for the Raptors’ 2016–17 NBA season on TSN 1050 radio; and as a guest analyst on NBA TV Canada’s The Hangout along with Bell TV’s Open Gym: Fast Break—has prepared her for this historical moment that has underscored her career ever since. As far as she’s concerned, she can do play-by-play forever.

“If someone came up to me and was like, Here's the amount of money we're giving; you can pick which chair you want to sit in, I'm a thousand times out of a thousand, I'm taking play-by-play,” she says. And that seems like how every person in that position feels.

The field is tough to get into, says McPeak, who is a former athlete who played basketball and graduated from the Radio Broadcasting program at Humber College in Toronto. There are 30 NBA teams. “Once you do get in, like you do not leave that position,” says McPeak. “If you can retire in your 60s, 70s or 80s, still doing that job, like that is basically what everybody’s trying to do.” She says that many women—at least those in her generation and the generation before her—thought that they were “not allowed” to do or couldn’t do play-by-play, especially in men's sports.

“There are women doing it in women's sports. That’s no big deal. But it's the men’s sports aspect where there are so few of us,” says McPeak, adding that it wasn't until social media that she saw other women in sports that looked like her. “And I’m hoping that being part of this sisterhood, of this little group of us, that we’re showing the next generation that you can do it, because there really is no difference between men’s and women’s basketball.”

Being the only woman in a male-dominated group can be daunting. McPeak is blunt about the fact that it just doesn’t feel good sometimes. “I mean it's cool, and at the same time it sucks because it’s just me and like 28 other guys,” she says. “It would be nice to have other women.”

McPeak says there are other hurdles women face, such as sexism and racism. “Even being a woman in women’s sports, you’re still going to deal with sexism,” she says.

Having your knowledge questioned is yet another obstacle. “Why do you feel the need to ask me who the MVP of the 1925 Super Bowl was? Or who the MVP was of the 1960 NBA Finals? Why do you need to ask me that on the spot in a conversation?” How does she deal with it? Thick skin and a tight professional sister circle that keeps her grounded, focused and resilient. “If you truly want to be in this business, you have to just be able to push through the noise,” she says.

McPeak credits social media with being able to build relationships with women such as Tiffany Greene, the first Black woman to call college football games. And ESPN host and analyst LaChina Robinson is a very good friend and mentor, as well as ESPN play-by-play announcer Angel Gray, among others. She says that she tries to build a support system, connect with mentors organically and establish some groundwork before asking for anything.

“Having people that you can talk to is important,” she says. “And I can do that with a lot of these people, which is why I keep a specific circle around me, so that I know, depending on the situation, who I can go to.
“These are some of the women who allow me to be vulnerable and they are like, All me. No big deal. I got you. And that’s really important in this business.”