Jane Chastain - Biography and photos of the political columnist, author, and first female sports broadcaster

Updated
05-16-10



Jane Chastain

At five-foot-two-and-a-half inches, Jane Chastain seems safe enough, but let her loose on a political opponent during a talk show and look out! Jane Chastain contributes a weekly political column to WorldNetDaily. Jane is also well known as the first ever female sportscaster on both the local and national levels.

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First Female Sportscaster

WAGA-TV Atlanta

Jane the SportscasterBefore becoming a political commentator, Jane made history as the first female sportscaster at both local and national levels. She was the first woman reporter to be allowed on a major league baseball playing field and was also the first allowed in the NASCAR pits.

In 1963, just two years out of high school, Jane Steppe began making football predictions as Coach Friday for Atlanta's WAGA-TV. Each Friday on Ed Thilenius' show, she predicted the outcomes of Saturday's ten toughest games. Late Saturday, she returned to review her choices against the actual results. It was somewhat of a gimmick, but Jane studied the teams seriously, and her first year average was a whopping 79.9%. Her picks continued to be quite impressive.

When Jane married her husband in 1967, she relocated to his home area of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. There were two television stations there. She first approached the station in Durham and was offered a position as weather girl. She was then told by WRAL-TV in Raleigh that she could not do sports there, but Jesse Helms intervened, and she got the job.

WTVJ-TV Miami and CBS

Later, Jane went to Miami to work with CBS affiliate WTVJ-TV. At first she was allowed only three feature sports stories per week, with no hard sports and no live shows. When she left Miami after a number of years, she was sports anchor for the top news show in the market; her record was ten stories in one day. In 1973 she hosted The Jane Chastain Show -- Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Sports But Were Afraid to Ask, a series 90-second vignettes that were inserted in local news programs. She made 195 of the spots, which were shown on 88 of the nation's top television stations.

After many wonderful years at WTVJ, she was hired by CBS In 1974 as the first national female sportscaster. She was not treated well by CBS. Among other things, they made her tie her hair in a bun and remove her makeup. Instead of doing hard sports news, she interviewed sports wives. The producers wanted her to talk about what women in the stands were wearing or how cute a player was, and they wanted her to interview cheerleaders. Jane states that her year at CBS was the most miserable of her career. She covered NFL and NBA games until she became pregnant. After that, she was assigned only junk sports, and CBS did not renew her contract for the second year. Jane then anchored sports for KABC-TV in Los Angeles until she left sportscasting in 1978.

Pioneer Sportscaster

Jane broke many barriers and cleared the way for the numerous female sportscasters who were to come. Leslie Visser, another long-term woman network sportscaster, said, She's our Jackie Robinson. Other beneficiaries of her pioneering work include Suzy Kolber, Pam Ward, and more recently Brandi Chastain, who was hired by ABC-ESPN in 2005 as a side-line reporter for soccer. Jane was no longer a sports gimmick; she surprised people on a regular basis with her sports savvy. Bernie Rosen tells the story that, Joe DiMaggio showed up at spring training in Fort Lauderdale once and refused to talk to Jane. She said to him, 'Mr. DiMaggio, I'm going to go back and tell my boss that I didn't get the interview because I'm a woman. Would that make you happy?' DiMaggio thought about it, gave her the interview, and told her later, 'You know what? You did know what you were talking about.'

Jane's AutographAs the first female sportscaster, Jane took flack not only from men, but from women as well. At one point, a group reportedly even burned her in effigy for using a shopping cart to illustrate a sports point. Jane said, The feminists didn't like me because I didn't play their game. I didn't demand to be in the press box or locker room. In another statement, she reportedly said about the locker room issue: I was never in favor of women going into men's locker rooms...You still will not find any men demanding access... to the females' dressing rooms. They have not allowed male reporters in there. And yet on the other side, in the male locker room, everyone is afraid to say no... I think it shows that men have more respect for women than sometimes women do for men... It makes me embarrassed for my sex, quite frankly. Instead, Jane would send word to a player or coach that she was outside and wanted to interview him, and they usually came straight out to see her.

Fifteen Year Career

Jane's sportscasting career lasted 15 years, from 1963 to 1978. She appeared on What's My Line on October 25, 1964 as Jane Thomas, and as a sports announcer in the 1978 movie, The Big Fix. As Jane Steppe, she also appeared in 1968 as Coach Friday in the movie, The Speed Lovers. While at KABC she received the prestigious Eclipse Award (1977) for her coverage of thoroughbred race horses.

As far as Chastain Central can determine, these are the stations where Jane was sportscaster:

WAGA-TV Atlanta 1963
WRAL-TV Raleigh 1967
WTVJ-TV Miami 1969
CBS National 1974 (one year)
(WTVJ-TV?) Miami (one year)
KABC-TV Los Angeles 1976 (two years)

Jane appears on What's My Line from 1964. Video (5:52)
Jane explains a held ball from 1971. The visual quality is not the best. Video (1:33)
CLICK HERE for a Village Voice sports article
CLICK HERE for Film Credits

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Political Columnist

Early Political Influence and Activity
Jane Chastain

Jane was not always politically active. Her energies were committed to sports reporting and other endeavors until she was asked by Beverly LaHaye in 1982 to do some television commercials for her conservative political organization, Concerned Women of America. However, Jane did have an earlier introduction into political activism. In 1967, she met Jesse Helms who would become a senator in 1973. At the time he was executive vice president in charge of programming at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina where Jane worked as a sportscaster. She was greatly influenced by Helms and admired him from that point on. She has written about Helms' influence on her in several places. CLICK HERE for one of those articles.

For ten years, starting in 1991, Jane Chastain hosted her own nationally syndicated program, What Washington Doesn't Want You To Know. She also hosted The Judicial Watch Radio Show for Radio America, and was a regular panelist on CNN & Company.

World Net Daily

Since 1998, Jane has contributed a weekly political column to WorldNetDaily. Each Thursday, she comments on a wide range of issues from a conservative perspective on her politically direct blog, and one can comment on the articles. You can see her articles all the way back to August 24, 1998 in her World Net Daily archive. Jane's religious faith is an important part of her values, and she does not hesitate to take up religious themes from time to time as they bear on news of the day. Sometimes she posts a religious article that has no particular political connection, such as Good Thursday or Good Friday?

Her commitment to Republican causes is consistent with her conservative principles, but she is no blind supporter of all things Republican. Frequently, she takes to task those Republicans who stray from conservative principles. Even President Bush suffered her disapproval on occasion; CLICK HERE for an example. The list below shows sample articles from Jane on a variety of subjects.

AARP
Abortion
Defense
Economy
Environment

Federal Budget
Feminism
Foreign Policy
Girl Scouts
Health Care

Homosexuality
Immigration
Iraq
Religion in America
Welfare

CLICK HERE to see Jane's most recent World Net Daily articles (new on Thursdays). She has older articles on issues not included above, such as embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, over-population, the United Nations, the wearing of fur, and women in combat. For additional articles on homosexuality, see Chastain Gay Issues.

Other Activities

Your Crisis PregnancyJane was host of a twenty-six minute pro-life video released in 1988 called Your Crisis Pregnancy. The introduction was by James Dobson. The video presented the story of prenatal life, summarized abortion, and exposed the emotional back-lash of post-abortion syndrome. Actual testimonies of women who had faced the crisis of unwanted pregnancy demonstrated the many avenues of practical help then available. Other documentary videos she has hosted include Freedom Held Hostage, The Feminine Mistake, Conceived in Liberty, and The Incredible Power of Prayer.

Jane serves on the advisory boards of the Family Research Council and ChildCare International, chaired by Beverly LaHaye. She has written a book on political issues, I'd Speak Out on the Issues If I Only Knew What to Say (1987) see review. A second book, Abortion, the Bible and the Church, announced in October 2005, is still pending, but an excerpt from the book is available.

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Family

Jane Steppe (possibly Martha Jane Steppe) was born March 12, 1943. Jane's family lived in Tennessee, but moved to Georgia while Jane was still a baby. Her father was a mortician. Later, the family moved to Atlanta in order to get braces for young Jane.

Jane was a girl scout. She took modeling and dance classes, but her father also taught her team sports; he was a big sports fan and had no son. Jane's Godmother was Marie Colvin, who was Godmother to a number of Steppe children. Marie taught fifth and sixth grade for 42 years, mostly in Maryville, Tennessee, and one of her students was Lamar Alexander.

Jane and racing enthusiast John Roger Chastain were married in 1968, and Jane moved to his home town of Raleigh, North Carolina. She worked there for WRAL-TV before she and Roger moved near Ft. Lauderdale, about an hour from Miami. They had a pet squirrel in Ft. Lauderdale. She was working for CBS when she became pregnant with their son, Ashley Blayne Chastain; he was due in July 1975. After leaving CBS, they lived in the Miami area again before moving to California. Jane is a pilot; she and Roger live on a private runway in the Southern California mountains.

Roger Chastain is an industrial designer known for his innovative contributions to the automotive and model aviation industries. Some of his well-known products are the Shadow line of rear window louvers for various automobiles and his series of three conversion packages for the 1976-77 Capri II. For more on Roger CLICK HERE.

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I'd Speak Out on the Issues If I Only Knew What to Say
A book review by Tim Chastain

I'd Speak Out on the Issues If I Only Knew What to SayJane's book, I'd Speak Out on the Issues, is essentially a guidebook for becoming politically active. Jane recounts how she became involved. As a sports reporter, she was immersed in her career. Though she was extremely knowledgeable about sports, she was not very well informed in other areas--such as politics. Jane mentions that when the National Women's Convention met in a highly publicized convention in 1977, she was frustrated because she did not feel that the convention represented her as a woman. But it was five years later, when she was approached by activist Beverly LaHaye, that she began to be involved.

I'd Speak Out on the Issues seems to have three overlapping audiences. Christians, political conservatives, and women, so I suppose the target audience is politically conservative Christian women, although the book is not strictly limited to them. The names with whom she associates clearly indicate a conservative Christian audience: Beverly LaHaye, Phyllis Schlafly, James Dobson, James Kennedy; and her use of biblical passages for support reinforce it. In fact the book is published by Gospel Light, a conservative Christian publisher. When Jane discusses proper dress and body language in her section on interviewing, her specific tips are predominately for women.

This book is pre-eminently practical. No prior preparation for political action is assumed. It is written for the person who does not know even the basics of our political system, so everything is explained, but in a very readable fashion. Though the book is almost 300 pages long, it is an easy read, and Jane covers all the basics. Then she adds additional resources to the back of the book, making it a one-volume handbook for the conservative political activist. However, her general guidelines will be helpful to the beginning activist of any political persuasion.

After some general introduction, Jane proceeds to discuss five specific political issues. Since the book was published in 1987, not all the issues are as relevant today as they were at that time. She begins each chapter clarifying the issue and follows with a number of questions with appropriate answers. It is in fact a preparation for being interviewed on the issue. The five issues selected are:

In the following chapters, Jane provides practical guidance on putting one's political activism in motion effectively. She covers how to deal with the following initiatives:

All in all, it is a well written and easy to use guide. Of course, the political content will be better received by conservatives than those with other political perspectives.

However, there is one aspect of the book that I find disturbing, or at least inadequate. Jane uses biblical passages freely in support of her ideas, which is fine, but her use of the Bible is primarily through proof-texting. Although at one point she emphasizes the importance of context in the use of the Bible, she tends to ignore context completely in her own use. For example, on pages 30-31 she brings together a number of passages with no attempt to clarify their contexts or to explain how the passages relate to her topic. Passages are cited from Luke, Matthew, 2 Timothy, Habakkuk, 2 Chronicles, Psalms, and Romans. It is as though each short passage is a complete thought with an equal application to her argument. A similar example is found on pages 142-143.

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