Non-traditional ways to start your sportscasting career

radio studioThe traditional path to a sports broadcasting career might not be for you.

The common route is to earn a degree from a four-year school, start in a small market, and work your way up. That is certainly the most reliable path.

But it isn’t the only path.

If you don’t have the time or money for four years of school, take a sports broadcasting curriculum at a local community college. Just be sure to choose a school that has a campus radio station. You’ll want the on-air reps for your demo and resume.

Here are three additional game plans you can try:
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The simple solution to job market frustration

Each time an STAA client gets a job, we post their success story on our homepage. The stories serve as motivation to others, and often provide keys for how you can win in the sportscasting job market. Last month, we published one of my all-time favorite success stories – the story of Delaney Brey.

Delany recently went to work for The Media Gateway in Little Rock. What makes her story worth mentioning is that it is a typical story of job market frustration. What sets Delaney apart is that, instead of stubbornly doing the same thing, she made changes.

Here is her story in her words:

“The first month after graduating, I was super discouraged when I would send in an application and hear absolutely nothing. That’s when I decided to sign up for STAA. I really paid attention to the resources given for applications and follow-ups. It’s amazing how simple changes make all the difference. Even if it was a no, I was at least getting a response, which to me is so much better then silence.”

While I certainly appreciate Delaney touting the benefits of STAA, that isn’t my purpose for sharing this. Instead, it is her observation that, “It’s amazing how simple changes make all the difference.”

It is so true.

The reality is that the small, overlooked details are application killers.

There are five variables in the sportscasting job market, besides talent – demo, resume, cover letter, presentation and follow up. If you are good enough for the jobs for which you are applying but aren’t hearing back from employers, look for places where you can make changes in your approach.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

If using the same material and strategy isn’t working, it is time for you to start making some simple changes.

Photo credit: jennypdx via photopin cc

SCP 08: Overcoming the emotional challenges of your sportscasting career

Recently, I asked STAA clients what they wanted me to blog about. The No.1 reply was regarding the emotional challenges of the sportscasting job market — wondering if you’re good enough to achieve your goals.

We’ve all been there at one time or another.

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Instead of writing my own thoughts on the topic, I wanted to bring other voices into the conversation. I interviewed a program director and a play-by-play broadcaster — Aaron Matthews from Ohio and Don Wadewitz from Wisconsin. In the interview, they candidly discuss their own frustrations — both with the job market and the career.

Listen to the Audio


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All sportscasting job seekers can learn from this story

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There is a lot to be learned in the following story.

An employer contacted me last fall looking for someone to do play-by-play for high school and small college sports in his community. I gave him contact info for three people — let’s call them Andrew Roth, Mitchell North and Kevin Black.

Here is the follow-up information the employer shared with me via email:

Once again thank you for giving me the announcer leads. Andrew Roth is now the play-by-play announcer for [high School name] Football on XXXX. His third broadcast is this Friday.

Some stuff that may be of interest to you:

  • All three were sent e-mails Monday morning, September 16 within a 10 minute span.
  • Andrew was the first to get back to me later that afternoon.
  • Mitchell North got back to me on Wednesday, September 18.
  • No reply from Kevin Black (small chance reply was deleted by filter)
  • Andrew supplied me with his STAA link where I could look at his resume and listen to a football demo.

Andrew got the job because he responded quickly, and presented me with access to demo materials to make a decision (STAA link). He is in line to sub for XXXXX on an upcoming broadcast of [local small college] football. I plan on calling on Andrew beyond the football season, getting some games for other high school teams in his area of [town].

I’d consider contacting Mitchell North in the future if we need another [local] announcer. At this juncture, I’d have to cross Kevin Black off my list.

Here are the two things I hope folks takeaway from this story:

1. It is courteous, smart and professional to reply to employers who contact you, even if you aren’t interested in the immediate opening.

2. The timeliness of your reply is a reflection of your interest in a position, whether you intend it to be that way or not.

The best time to tell your boss you’re looking elsewhere

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How do you think it would go over if you told your spouse or your significant other that you were starting to look for someone new? At the very least, it would likely put a strain on the relationship. Worst case, your significant other tells you to get lost.

It works the same in the job market.

The best time to tell your boss that you are looking elsewhere is when you have accepted a job offer.

There is one rare exception that I will get to in a moment. However, if you tell your current employer that you are looking at other opportunities, you run the risk of four things happening – none of them good.
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Are you making this job market mistake?

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Uh oh…I’ve heard from another employer who is frustrated by the lack of attention to detail from job seekers.

I’ve written posts based on employer feedback before. It’s time to focus on another critical job market mistake highlighted by input from another employer.

While I was disappointed to learn that many of the job seekers in question were STAA clients, I am glad to have received the comments. The best way to learn about how to apply for broadcasting jobs is to listen to the employers who are evaluating your application.
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Choose Your Pregame Segments With Money in Mind

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When play-by-play broadcasters ask me what segments their pregame show should include, I tell them to think less about content and more about sponsorable segments. The more money your show can bring in, the more your sales staff will love you and the more job security you will have.

I hosted pre game shows in two markets — McPherson, KS and San Diego, CA. The formula worked equally well in both places.
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This is the hidden killer in the sportscasting job market

A hidden killer in the job market is attitude. A bad one regularly keeps talented sportscasters from getting great jobs.

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I call attitude a hidden killer because most people aren’t aware that their frustrations are evident to employers.

Here are three quick examples that I have seen over the years:
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This is the truest test of your play-by-play ability

storytelling

A frustrated young play-by-play broadcaster told me recently that his ability would shine through if only he were provided sufficient resources – statistics, biographical information on players, etc.

I told him that I couldn’t disagree with him more.

You’ve covered standout athletes. The great ones excel even under adverse circumstances. Talented play-by-play broadcasters do the same thing.

Working high school and other games where background information is unavailable will reveal your ability as a play-by-play broadcaster. If you are going to execute an engaging broadcast, you are going to have to rely upon the two most basic fundamentals: storytelling and description.

Description is self-explanatory. When I refer to storytelling, I don’t mean stories about the players. I mean broadcasting your game as though you are telling a story. Why does this game matter? What does it mean to your team if they win or if they lose? Is there a winning or losing streak on the line? Are they trying to crawl closer to first or to get out of the cellar? Are they trying to clinch the series? Why is this possession important? This at-bat? Are they trying to pad a lead or slice a deficit? Is a key player missing from the game? Is fatigue becoming a factor?

These are all examples of the plots and subplots that you should be following in your play-by-play story. And you can do it without anyone providing you with any background or statistical information. It works for Little League games as well as it works for Major League Baseball broadcasts.

You don’t have stats? Big deal. They’re easy to overuse, anyway. Not having them will keep you from potentially hurting yourself and will force you to be a better broadcaster.

Photo credit: KarstenH68 via photopin cc