Want to sound like Scully and Emrick?


Early in my play-by-play career I was reviewing one of my recent basketball broadcasts. What I heard made me cringe. Every time the ball was passed, I said “over to.” “Jones, over to Smith, back to Jones, over to Cameron.”

It drove…me…nuts.

vocabulary

I knew I had to find a way to make my play-by-play non-repetitive. I needed to find new ways to describe plays – to vary my vocabulary.

Growing up listening to Vin Scully, I quickly fell in love with his command of the English language. Mike Emrick, same thing. I realized that vocabulary is one of the things that makes a play-by-play broadcaster great.

For a 2014 USA versus Canada broadcast, one intrepid viewer counted 153 different words or terms that Doc Emrick used to describe the movement of the puck.

emrick-verbs

According to Harrison Mooney at the Vancouver Sun, this list from a 2013 Stanley Cup broadcast includes every single instance of Emrick turning the word “pass” into some other word that could be interpreted to mean “pass:”

emrick-vocab

As it turns out, Emrick keeps a list by his side during each broadcast that features a menu of vocabulary he might want to use during a broadcast. Kansas City Chiefs announcer Mitch Holthus does the same thing, as do many folks at the top of the play-by-play industry.

Compile your own list. Start by brainstorming words on your own, then add to your list by listening to other radio and TV broadcasters. Listen to everyone – veterans and beginners alike. Great vocabulary can come from anywhere, and it can distinguish you in an ultra-competitive market.