The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

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Jon Chelesnik
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The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#1 Postby Jon Chelesnik » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:31 pm

The great Bill Mercer (he would shudder to ever say that about himself but I will say it for him) has been honored. A meeting room in the new Apogee Stadium press box at the University of North Texas was christened the Bill Mercer Press Club.

http://staatalent.com/2012/headlines/bi ... r-honored/

Bill was a terrific sportscaster during his career. However, he's was an equally outstanding teacher of sports broadcasting at UNT until his retirement several years ago. Among current and former STAA clients Bill mentored are David Smullen, Jason Metko, John Liddle and Michael Westbrook. I have also heard the work of many other of Bill's former students over the years. The uncanny thing they have uncommon is how well prepared they are for the job market. Their skills are far advanced from most college seniors.

I, too, teach a college sports broadcasting class at Palomar College in San Diego. I was so impressed with how well Bill prepared his students that I called him for advice and have incorporated many of his techniques into my own curriculum. I have always considered him one of the nation's best teachers of sports broadcasting. Here are my top three, in alphabetical order by last name:

* Tom Hedrick, Baker (KS) University, formerly at Kansas University
* Bill Mercer, University of North Texas
* Lou Riggs, unaffiliated (Lou used to host a private course here in SoCal)

Please help me add to the list. I know there are other instructors deserving of recognition. When adding to the list, the top criteria should be how many students they have turned out into the sports broadcasting job market. This will, by its very nature, also be a reflection on and evaluation of the quality of the teaching the students are receiving.

John Wooden used to say, "You haven't taught until they have learned." There are many sports broadcasting instructors across the country, but far fewer teachers.

If you know someone worthy of inclusion on our list, please post it here.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#2 Postby Bisko » Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:33 pm

well I don't know of any teachers in particular but you would have to put the Newhouse School on the list as they have sent numerous sportscasters into the ranks of professionals

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#3 Postby ktomasch » Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:19 pm

Even though the locals refer to it as "KU," it is, in fact, the University of Kansas, not Kansas University.

And he's not even officially on the faculty at Florida, but Larry Vettel at WRUF-AM in Gainesville has given a lot of working pros the foundations of their careers (I'm one). There is no real "sports broadcasting" program per se at UF or even at ASU where I teach in the j-school. But Larry's influence has inspired me to be a mentor to the up-and-coming aspiring sportscasters here. If I had a master's, maybe I'd be on this list. :)
Retired as of 11/1/2012. Mostly.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#4 Postby Jon Chelesnik » Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:10 pm

Another name I would include is John Rooke at Emerson College in Boston. John turns out some very well-prepared TV sportscasters.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#5 Postby Tyking » Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:03 pm

Dennis Deninger at Syracuse (fmr. Director of Production at ESPN) is one of the most brilliant, helpful, and downright knowledgeable sports broadcasting minds I ever had the privilege of talking to or learning from.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#6 Postby benjgc » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:38 pm

Tyking wrote:Dennis Deninger at Syracuse (fmr. Director of Production at ESPN) is one of the most brilliant, helpful, and downright knowledgeable sports broadcasting minds I ever had the privilege of talking to or learning from.


This, this, a billion times this. Professor Deninger is fantastically knowledgeable not just about the talent side of the equation, but is a genius on the production side. His Twitter feed is a great place to learn the craft of sports broadcast production, and he's always willing to spend extra time talking with his students.
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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#7 Postby jrliddle » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:46 am

It's been great to hear about some of the other great instructors around the country! Keep them coming guys.

A few thoughts about Bill:

He knows so many people in the industry. It was so thrilling as a college student to have Verne Lundquist speak to our class. Verne brought one of his spotting boards and signed it for one of my friends and gave it to him...a great thrill for a young broadcaster.

I loved that Bill would grade our tapes instead of just giving us participation grades. It was rewarding to see my grade go up as the year went on. His class easily took up more time than any other class I had that semester with actual class time, prep and calling a game...but his class is the reason I fell in love with play-by-play. Before that I thought I just wanted to do sports talk.

I still think about Bill every time I use any version of "get" in my play-by-play or writing. Ask any Mercer student...they have nightmares about Bill's hatred for the least descriptive of all verbs.

I didn't get to go down to Denton for the dedication...but it was very well deserved!

John Liddle

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#8 Postby Mike McBride » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:56 pm

jrliddle wrote:It's been great to hear about some of the other great instructors around the country! Keep them coming guys.

A few thoughts about Bill:

He knows so many people in the industry. It was so thrilling as a college student to have Verne Lundquist speak to our class. Verne brought one of his spotting boards and signed it for one of my friends and gave it to him...a great thrill for a young broadcaster.

I loved that Bill would grade our tapes instead of just giving us participation grades. It was rewarding to see my grade go up as the year went on. His class easily took up more time than any other class I had that semester with actual class time, prep and calling a game...but his class is the reason I fell in love with play-by-play. Before that I thought I just wanted to do sports talk.

I still think about Bill every time I use any version of "get" in my play-by-play or writing. Ask any Mercer student...they have nightmares about Bill's hatred for the least descriptive of all verbs.

I didn't get to go down to Denton for the dedication...but it was very well deserved!

John Liddle


Not much to add to John's thoughts on Bill....He pretty much covered everything, and my experience learning from Bill was almost identical. Like John and every other Mercer protege, I cringe when I hear "gets to the 20 yard line", "gets the rebound", or "gets to first base". Laziest verb in our language.

Another thing we Mercer guys have in common: You'll find we're the slowest and most reluctant to make the switch to generating our spotting boards with a computer. Bill taught us that handwriting them helps you remember names and jersey numbers better, and I believe it to be true. I'll never do it another way as long as I'm in this industry. There's no such thing as a shortcut to being prepared...you might place the information on paper faster, but you won't be better prepared when it's time to go on the air.

I can also vouch for KU's program, because my coworker Sennett Rockers went through it, and he's as quality as they come. Ditto for my predecessor, Dave Koehn, who is currently the voice of the Virginia Cavaliers.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#9 Postby Bisko » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:39 pm

One teacher I've had who is good is Frank Garrity. He works at WINS as the sports anchor and also teaches at Seton Hall University. He has been very helpful in teaching the industry.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#10 Postby Tyler Bouldin » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:24 am

I didn't get a fortunate opportunity to learn from the great Bill Mercer. I put the word "get" in italics because I know he hates when broadcasters use that word. I worked with Steven Bartolotta on North Texas women's basketball broadcasts for each of the last four seasons, and I know that Bill was a great mentor to Steven.

I remember Steven telling me that Bill hates the word "get(s)" because it's an "easy out" word for broadcasters, and that "get(s)" could be substituted for a much more creative word.

I'll be looking forward to going to the Bill Mercer Press Club every time I go to Apogee Stadium now!

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#11 Postby Jon Chelesnik » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:10 am

Reviewing Jim Nantz Award applications today reminded me of a glaring omission from this list of great sports broadcasting instructors: Ed Ingles at Hofstra. Outstanding.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#12 Postby Jon Chelesnik » Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:40 pm

A friend sent me this via email:

I'd be heedless if I didn't bring Bob Ahrens of Fordham University to your attention. He is the executive producer at WFUV Radio and has mentored the following:

Spero Dedes (NY Knicks Radio Voice, CBS Sports)
Tony Reali (ESPN's Around The Horn)
Andrew Bogusch (Host, CBS Sports Radio Network)
Mike Yam (PAC 12 Network)
Ryan Ruocco (ESPN Radio New York and YES Network)
Justin Shackil (WCBS 880 AM and SiriusXM Sports)
Dan D'Uva (Radio voice, Syracuse Crunch - AHL)
Greg Giombarresse (Voice of the Lakewood Blue Claws)
Brian Clark (MLB.com and CineSport)

He has been in charge of WFUV Sports since taking over for Marty Glickman in 1998.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#13 Postby PhilGiubileo » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:10 pm

I have to agree--Bob is a great guy, and has done a lot for Fordham/WFUV students over the years... He's also been great at supplying me with interns as well! I've been lucky enough to have Spero Dedes and Greg Giombarrese as interns in the past, and both were outstanding... I've also been able to correspond with Justin Shackil and Dan D'Uva as well, and both are up and comers to keep an eye on!

Jon Chelesnik wrote:A friend sent me this via email:

I'd be heedless if I didn't bring Bob Ahrens of Fordham University to your attention. He is the executive producer at WFUV Radio and has mentored the following:

Spero Dedes (NY Knicks Radio Voice, CBS Sports)
Tony Reali (ESPN's Around The Horn)
Andrew Bogusch (Host, CBS Sports Radio Network)
Mike Yam (PAC 12 Network)
Ryan Ruocco (ESPN Radio New York and YES Network)
Justin Shackil (WCBS 880 AM and SiriusXM Sports)
Dan D'Uva (Radio voice, Syracuse Crunch - AHL)
Greg Giombarresse (Voice of the Lakewood Blue Claws)
Brian Clark (MLB.com and CineSport)

He has been in charge of WFUV Sports since taking over for Marty Glickman in 1998.
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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#14 Postby Stu Paul » Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:45 pm

I had the pleasure of knowing Bill Mercer while I broadcast in the Texas League a few years back. He is one of the nicest and most down to earth people I ever met.

He would join the Frisco Roughriders broadcasts and sometimes the Round Rock Express broadcasts and he was always friendly and helpful.

I'm happy for the accolades that he is receiving. Well deserved.

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Re: The top sports broadcasting teachers in the country

#15 Postby Stu Paul » Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:51 pm

Btw, when it comes to writing stuff on a spotting board for football, I'm old school myself like Bill Mercer is. It's quicker and easier for me and I can glance at a moment's notice on the ball carrier, blocker and tackler. On occasion, I had a spotter, but most of the time, I did it myself. Not always easy, but you don't have to rush who the tackler is because 1) I make sure the play is completely finished and 2) I always give my color commentator the chance to say what he has to say and I listen to him while I check through my binoculars to see who made the stop/tackle once the players are unpiled and I make the identity of the tackler and immediately resume the pxp and set up for the next down on the drive.


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