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April 12, 2014

Sports talk radio show on LGBT issues to debut

Premiere of "The Outfield" will discuss openly gay college ball player

NEW YORK (AP) — The premiere of "The Outfield" this weekend on satellite radio will open with a discussion of Derrick Gordon, the UMass guard who on Wednesday became the first openly gay Division I men's basketball player.

Seemingly perfect timing for a sports talk show about LGBT issues to debut just four days after that news broke. But the philosophy behind the weekly program on SiriusXM is that such stories are common.

"Not a week goes by, not a month goes by without another headline about an athlete coming out," said Dave Gorab, the company's vice president for talk programming.

When Eddie Robinson, who has worked for the SiriusXM SportsZone channel, pitched the idea, Gorab said his immediate reaction was "we have to do this."

As host, Robinson envisions a mix of news analysis, features and listener call-ins. One of the guests for Sunday's premiere is Sheryl Swoopes, the women's basketball star who at one time was the most recognizable athlete to come out in a team sport. The college coach at Loyola of Chicago later became engaged to a man.

Robinson's resume reads like someone preparing for this job — except the position never existed until he created it. A former high school football player, he has worked for CBS News, public radio and MTV. He was also an engineer and producer for New York sports talk radio station WFAN, remembering the discomfort of spending time in that testosterone-soaked environment when he was still in the closet.

But there's much about the in-depth analysis and relaxed banter of sports talk radio that Robinson wants to emulate. And he suspects many in the LGBT community long for those kinds of conversations, too.

"Here is a platform that's outside 'Glee,' outside 'Queer Eye,' outside RuPaul," Robinson said.

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