Meet Bev Edmondson: Pioneering Sports Broadcaster & Instructor

Bev Edmondson is now a highly respected broadcasting instructor with decades of industry experience. But in 1977, she was a 19-year-old woman who broke new ground as the very first female play-by-play hockey announcer in Canada!

Originally from Winnipeg, Bev landed her first job at a radio station in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and quickly made a name for herself. Since then, her career has spanned news and sports, production, promotions, and program management.

She now shares her knowledge and expertise with students in the Broadcasting and Media Communications program at Herzing College.

We spoke to Bev recently to learn more about her remarkable career journey and the evolution of the broadcasting industry. Read on for her story.

Q. How did you get your start in broadcasting? What inspired you to get into this field?

Bev: Actually, I wanted to be a teacher. From the time I was in elementary school, I’d have the neighbourhood kids over into my basement after school with my blackboard and make them learn more.

Then in Grade 11, there were more women in the media that I was noticing. Sylvia Kuzyk was one. And I just started thinking what a neat idea it was always being on the cutting edge of what’s happening, not just in your own community, but in your own world.

The National Institute of Broadcasting had a booth at our career day, and I looked at that and went in for a voice test. That was more voice training. There wasn’t a lot of writing or researching or anything like that. It taught you how to be a DJ.

So I did that before I was even done high school. My first job after that was in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. I moved there the May long weekend of 1977. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Q. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a woman in a male-dominated field?

Bev: Some men didn’t take me seriously enough. But believe it or not, more of the problems came from other women.

There’s a saying that I see now on social media: a real princess is the one who fixes another princess’s crown and doesn’t tell her it was crooked.

We still don’t support each other enough, and we really need to. That’s why, when I hear someone coming forward claiming to be the first woman hockey broadcaster, I let her have it. Some of my friends will get incensed and write to the CBC or whatever saying, “She’s not the first! My friend was the first in 1977!” But I can’t even worry about that because I’m just so happy that women are finally breaking down barriers.

I started over 45 years ago, and we’re just now seeing more women doing hockey play-by-play and so on. It took a long time.

I was so lucky that the radio stations I worked at were extremely supportive. I’m not the greatest play-by-play person in the world, but I did my homework. I studied hard. I never gave people reason to complain. I just did everything I could to be as respectful as possible, and it worked well.

Newspaper story about Bev as a young hockey broadcasterA 1980 profile of Bev as a young hockey broadcaster


Q. What skills would you say are essential for success in this field?

Bev: To be on the air anywhere, it is a 100 per cent rest of your life growing experience. You can never stop working your voice. You can never quit doing your face exercises, and you can never stop humming. You need to keep developing and working.

Don’t ever become complacent. I’ve had a few guest speakers, particularly young guys in radio, who say just wing it and fly by the seat of your pants. You know what? That doesn’t work if you want a long-term career where you move up the ladder.

So you need to work on your voice. Attitude is huge. And passion. This is a business that doesn’t pay well at the beginning. You have to do it because you love it. I know some people who flipped burgers or did bartending and stuff to get through those first couple of small-market jobs.


Q. What has been the most memorable moment of your career?

Bev: The day I did my first hockey play-by-play was December 2nd, 1977. The Swift Current Broncos were hosting the Estevan Bruins and my radio station made such a big to-do about it. There was so much feedback from people in the rink who brought their radios to listen. There were ads in all the newspapers. The prime minister sent me a teletype. So that day was very special.

The funny part is that in retrospect, it was kind of wasted on a 19-year-old. At the time, I thought oh yeah, this is cool. Now when I look back on it, I think I should have been so much more proud. But I was a little embarrassed at the fuss.

Anyway, that was certainly a highlight.

Newspaper clipping of Bev’s play-by-play workA story about Bev as a play-by-play announcer


Q. What changes have you observed in the industry since you started?

Bev: Technology has had a big impact. I think people are now more afraid of the media because with our editing and whatnot, we can make people say anything we want just by cutting and moving things around. It would take a pretty good expert to realize that wasn’t the way you said it.

I also feel the media is a bit intrusive. I’ve never been a fan of paparazzi. I think there’s nothing more important than safety and saving lives, and nothing in the media should ever threaten that. And I feel like not everybody feels the same way as me.


Q. The Broadcasting and Media Communications program at Herzing is 100 per cent online. How do you feel about that as an instructor?

Bev: I think it’s great. I didn’t at first, because I couldn’t figure out a way to do it. But if anything, being online has made our program better because students don’t come here and use my studio. I teach them how to build their own studio.

We have free online software and a virtual mixer. They populate the software with music for their radio station. Then they populate it with commercials and station breaks and IDs. And it’s the same type of software they use in radio stations. You can push automation so it just plays all on its own, or you can turn it off and talk. It totally simulates a live radio show.

Students never had that opportunity before because they just came in and used our studios. Programmers have said to me how great it is to have rookies who understand music rotations and who can do music work in the library.

We have people from all over the country taking the course. So a lot of our students are starting in more major markets. I have a fellow who’s doing his internship writing hockey blogs for the NHL. He’s also going for an interview with one of the companies that does broadcasts for the Ontario junior hockey league. Right out of school!


Q. What advice would you give to young women who were looking to get into sports broadcasting?

Bev: I would say you have to know your stuff. You need to know it better than the guys. If you go looking for reasons to blame somebody because you’re a woman, that’s not going to fly.

You don’t have to be one of the guys; you need to be one of the team. Do your thing and be serious about it. Be friendly and approachable and give it your best shot.



Herzing College’s Broadcasting and Media Communications program takes just 12 months to complete and includes a six-week internship for real work experience. Training is delivered online.

Click below to get full program details and chat live with an admissions advisor. We’re here to help!

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