“The first all-female sports show hosted by university students.”
When C&IS students Katelyn Heffler and Jayde Saylor transferred to The University of Alabama in 2019, they never thought that they would be meeting their future business partner among their classmates. In the male-dominated field of sports talk and radio, these young women are determined to strengthen their reporting packages while completing their degrees. By creating Bama Network, a YouTube channel covering topical sports stories from UA sports and around the world, including a recent tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, Heffler and Saylor have successfully created and launched the first all-female sports show hosted by university students. They have seen their following increase exponentially within the past year and are confident that their channel will continue to grow.
Read below to hear how Saylor and Heffler’s determination to build Bama Network has made them better journalists and how C&IS is helping them create their story.
Tell me a little about yourselves and what made you come to UA and choose to study within C&IS.
KH: I’m from San Diego, California and transferred to The University of Alabama last spring to pursue my dream of becoming a Sports Broadcaster. I know that this field is very competitive. Therefore, I knew that I needed to find the best program possible. I chose to come to C&IS to study News Media with an emphasis in sports.
JS: I am from Kentucky and originally went to Eastern Kentucky University before transferring to The University of Alabama last January. I’m currently in a junior studying sports news media. I transferred to UA specifically to change my major and study within C&IS to pursue a career in sports media. I couldn’t think of a better school to do that, especially since I’ve always been an Alabama sports fan.
How did you meet?
JS: Katelyn and I met through our sorority. We joined around the same time because we both transferred to UA in the same semester, and realized we had the same major and shared a class together. Shortly after meeting our friendship bond grew quick over our love for sports and the idea of a career in covering it one day.
Why did you start Bama Network?
KH: Over the summer, I was brainstorming with my parents ways that I could improve my resume and set me apart from others as I started to apply for summer internships. We came up with the idea to start a show that would be broadcasted on YouTube. I reached out to Jayde and told her about my idea and she immediately loved the idea and we started to get to work that day! We are the first college female co-hosts to start something like this.
JS: We started Bama Network to begin practicing for our future careers. We wanted to use it as a way to stay on top of sports news, research, practice our on-air broadcasting skills, writing skills, and editing skills. We also use it as a way to gain exposure in the industry and network with other people that have given us several opportunities.
What challenges have you faced while starting Bama Network?
KH: Some challenges we have faced would include time conflicts. We are both full time students and our school work is very demanding, especially with upper-classmen courses. In the beginning, we also had a lot of technical issues. Our first episodes were filmed from our iPhones so they weren’t the best quality. Now, our latest episodes have improved tremendously with our new camera and learning how to adjust the audio.
What has been the highlight of building Bama Network?
KH: The highlight of Bama Network is the number of supporters we have gained and people that have contacted us to be on their podcasts and radio shows. We have been featured as guests on the Gary Harris Show on Tide 100.9 FM which led us to an internship opportunity with them this semester. Furthermore, we are also going to be on a podcast Thursday, Jan. 23 and also another radio show on Friday, Jan 24. We love talking sports and learning from the best!
What is your favorite thing about Bama Network?
KH: My favorite thing about Bama Network is honestly the experience. Jayde and I are just two best friends with the same dream. When we first started this, we had no idea what it would turn into. We spend each day researching stats and studying teams. We are constantly in communication throughout everyday coming up with new ideas and ways to make our next moves. Whenever we film, we are hardly ever agreeing on everything. We have our own opinions and aren’t afraid to share our differences. I think that is how we have learned so much.
JS: My favorite thing about Bama Network is just being able to talk about sports with my best friend and give our opinions on games and what is going on in the sports world. It’s a lot of fun for us because we are constantly texting or meeting up to talk about sports or attend games/watch them on TV together so we can stay up to date on everything going on for our next episode, or the next time we are on the radio.
How do you plan on utilizing your experience with Bama Network to further your career?
KH: Bama Network really helps us in every aspect of our future career. We have learned technology techniques as well as how to speak clearly and develop unique and individual ideas. Furthermore, we have to be on top of stats and what is happening every day in all sports so that we don’t fall behind or miss anything. This experience has taught us how to be real journalists and reporters.
JS: In the future, I plan to utilize my experience with Bama Network by taking all the advice I have received from people in the industry and using it to better my skills. Not only have I learned how to stay on top of sports and talk about them through this, but I have learned the technical side of things and what it takes to write and film and edit a good episode. We have gone from filming on an iPhone to using a camera and microphone and learned in our most recent episodes how to edit our audio. I also plan on utilizing it as a highlight reel. Anyone that needs to see a video of me talking about sports in front of a camera can pull up Bama Network and it will always be there.
What tools have you implemented from your courses in C&IS into your work at Bama Network?
KH: In class, we are taught how to cut, edit and film through projects. We utilize these skills by putting it into practice outside of the classroom and creating real life content that we can use for our professional portfolios. We do all of our own research and keep up with what’s going on in the sports world on our own, and this has made us better students in the long run. I guess you can say it all comes full-circle one way or another!
Thank you, Katelyn and Jayde!