The most memorable day in my sportscasting career

Photo by LobShots
Photo by LobShots

When Jeanne Zelasko called me one morning in October 1993, I felt like my big break had finally arrived.

Three months earlier, I had moved back to my hometown of San Diego after three years of entry-level radio in McPherson, KS. For the final two of those three years, I had been trying unsuccessfully to get on board at San Diego’s XTRA Sports 690 – just the second all-sports station in the country at that time.

Finally, I decided if I was going to get a job in San Diego, I had to live in San Diego. So I moved west, introduced myself to station PD Howard Freedman, and told him I was interested in future opportunities.
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Do you feel stuck in your sportscasting career?

When I worked at XTRA Sports 690 in San Diego in the mid-90s, I felt like my career was in neutral. I felt stuck. Years later, I realized I wasn’t stuck. I just didn’t want to leave my hometown.

Is your sportscasting career really stuck?


Many sportscasters think they have been in the same place for longer than they want because they are the victims of circumstance.
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4 wrong reasons to become a sportscaster

Do you want to become a sportscaster? It’s a wonderful profession. I spent 15 years on the air myself. If you are going to become a sports broadcaster, though, make sure you’re getting into the business for the right reasons.


Here are four of the wrong reasons to become a sportscaster:

1. You want to be rich

Folks who are already working in the industry know the idea of getting rich in sports broadcasting is laughable. In sports broadcasting, if you earn your age, you are doing alright. If you want to have a family, your spouse is probably going to have to work.
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The best way to tell your boss that you are leaving

The next time you resign from a sports broadcasting job, how are you going to do it?

You can burn a bridge or build a relationship.


Understand this fact about submitting a resignation that is unique to broadcasters: When you give your notice, expect that your boss might tell you that you are immediately off the air.

Some bosses are paranoid about a departing talent saying bad things about the station on the air. Sounds unreasonable, I know, but it happens.
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The first five into the Sports Broadcasting Instructors Hall of Fame

Sports Broadcasting Instructor Hall of FameIf there were a Hall of Fame for college teachers of sports broadcasting, the following five standouts would make up the inaugural class:

They are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

  • Tom Hedrick (Kansas; retired)
  • Ed Ingles (Pictured; Hofstra; deceased)
  • Bill Mercer (North Texas; retired)
  • John Nicholson (Syracuse; retired)
  • Bill Roth (Virginia Tech)

Big honorable mention goes to Dave Hunziker at Oklahoma State.

If you were mentored by one of these all-time greats, please let us know in the comments section below.

Who do you nominate for the mythical next class of inductees? Again, please comment below.

Beware of sportscasting fools gold

Many years ago, I was the first talent hire for a group that was going to start a national cable TV network devoted totally to football. It was before even the NFL Network, ESPNU or any of the conference networks.

This startup network had huge plans. I hosted a weekly radio segment for them for three years because they convinced me that my big payday was coming. They sold their vision so convincingly that my wife and I bought stock in the company and encouraged our family and friends to do the same.


Three years later, in August 2003, the channel finally went on the air. Four months after that, they ran out of money and were off the air forever. Many of the producers, directors and talent were never paid in full for their services.
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Is your sportscasting resume carrying fluff?

Years ago I played a night of pickup basketball with Danny Ainge. He was the best player on the floor even though he had been retired for decades.

Unfortunately, just because I once played ball with Danny Ainge doesn’t make me an NBA-caliber player.

Many sportscasters regularly make that same kind of inference on their resume. Here’s the problem:
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Three traits universities value when hiring a play-by-play voice

A major college play-by-play job will open in most years.

Elite broadcasting ability is certainly a prerequisite for the positions. However, there are other personal and professional characteristics that universities look for when hiring the voice of their athletic program.

Three traits that universities value when hiring a play-by-play voice

Here are some of the intangibles that universities value when hiring a broadcaster:
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3 essential college classes for sportscasters

My sophomore year at Kansas State University (the Princeton of the Plains – Go Cats!), I enrolled in a fundamentals of acting class. A girl I liked had enrolled and I thought it would be an easy elective. The girl dumped me after one date and the class was much harder than I expected. Looking back, though, it was one of the most important classes I took at KSU.

3-college-classes for sportscasters

In college, it is easy to dismiss your electives and focus on the obvious classes that you are sure will help your future career as a sports broadcaster. However, there are a few classes you should not overlook. These classes may push you outside of your comfort zone, but the benefits will have a lasting impact on your sportscasting career.

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When having your play-by-play on SportsCenter is bad

I once received a call from a college senior who was interested in pursuing a play-by-play career. He told me his name and where he attended college. Then he was quick to add, “I am the guy who was on SportsCenter recently with my call of that dramatic game-winning play.”


Uhhh…dude. Don’t brag about it. You made SportsCenter’s Top 10 not because your call was good, but because you screamed so loud and so long that you sounded like a caricature of a sports broadcaster.

Screaming is not good play-by-play.
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