If you aren’t attending opposing coaches media sessions, here’s why you should

(Thank you to STAA member Jeff Munn for this blog post. Jeff is the longtime voice of Arizona State University women’s basketball and a former Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster).

I have no idea why more baseball announcers don’t attend the opposing team manager’s media session.

It usually occurs at a different time from your manager, and there are so many good reasons to go. You do get up to date info on players who may be hurt, you get the manager’s thoughts on who’s available in the bullpen that day, but if the manager is “quotable”, you get nuggets you can use with your analyst during the game.

When I was with the DBacks, I went into broadcasts with the thought my audience already knew most of the pertinent story lines with my team. Hard core fans of a sport are more apt to listen to radio, while the more casual fan goes to television. Yes, if one of my players had a five game hitting streak, or they were 3rd in the league in triples, I mentioned that. But a game broadcast is not only about the team, it’s about the game. I had a listener tell me years ago he loved listening to Tom Candiotti and me do a game, because we talked baseball.

Inside information

One year we were playing the Brewers on a Sunday home game. Ron Roenicke mentioned in his media session that left handed hitter Travis Ishikawa was battling a rib injury, and wouldn’t be available. Late in the game, the Brewers faced a spot where they needed a left handed pinch hitter. A broadcaster, who hadn’t attended, asked on the air why they weren’t using Ishikawa.

Unexpected riches

My favorite quotes from managers all came from the opposing manager’s media session. Joe Maddon was once asked why he had different rules for star players. “Because I’m not running a socialist government, I’m running a baseball team”. Clint Hurdle talked about Petco Park. “I told my players to stop worrying about those far away fences, and concentrate instead on all that green grass”. Ozzie Guillen was asked about the Marlins fire sale after a horrible start in 2012. “All a lineup of stars gets you is a good looking lineup card you can sell on eBay”.

I used every one of those in game broadcasts. If I hadn’t attended the session….

By the way, I never asked questions. I just listened. The media session is the beat writers’ time to get the info they need. I never wanted to interfere with that.

No sportscasting job is beneath you. Here is why

(Thank you to STAA member John Fricke for this guest post. John co-hosts The Morning Show with John and Hugh on Atlanta’s 92.9 The Game. He’s also worked for CNN and Fox Sports Net.)

One of the most important truths of the sports broadcasting business is to fully grasp that no job is ‘beneath’ you.

I had 10 years as a national anchor at CNN when I wound up as the lead anchor at the news outlet for SportsChannel in New York. The division folded a year after I arrived.

At 31 I was on the street for the first time. Simultaneously, the 1991 Iraq war broke out and news directors coast-to-coast stopped paying attention to sports.

Stepping back

Nothing for 5 months. I had one call, from the 82nd market for a job earning less than a quarter of what I made at CNN and in NY. I took the job at WRCB in Chattanooga just to get working.

During the 5 years I was at that station I found I really liked it. Yes it was not what I had planned for as a career track, like going from the Majors to Single-A. Yet that job taught me that I could be very happy with a smaller slice and a fulfilling life.

It also would lead to future success and another crack at the big time at Fox Sports Net in Los Angeles.

Making the most of it

I can’t preach loudly enough that a job is only what you make of it and what you make of it is what you make yourself into. Professional growth goes hand-in-hand with personal growth and no one can grow faster and stronger without being challenged to produce better quality, even with lesser support.

The old line about New York is, “If you can make it there you’ll make it anywhere.”

The truth is if you make it anywhere, you can repeat that and make it everywhere.

Are you making this job market mistake?

job-market-mistake

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

I’ve written posts based on employer feedback before. This is the latest.

While I was disappointed to learn that many of the careless job seekers in this scenario were STAA members, 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

pregame-interview
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.

frustration

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

Here are three quick examples 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 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.

Standout athletes 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.

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Consider This Before Your Critics Get Under Your Skin

mobile phone

I couldn’t have worked in sports broadcasting today. My skin is too thin.

Even if 99% of the Internet comments about my talk show or my play-by-play were great, I would dwell on the 1% that wasn’t. I would dwell on it to the point that I would consider tweaking what I was doing to appease the 1%.

Big mistake. Don’t be me. Be realistic. Be mentally strong.
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Considering Family When Planning Your Next Career Move

When I was a senior in college, one of my sports broadcasting mentors told me to stay single as long as I could. He said the frequent moves and minimal pay weren’t conducive to a good marriage. He also said that marriage wasn’t conducive to a good sports broadcasting career. It can limit your freedom to go where the jobs are.

career and family

Planning your next career move is totally different when you are married, especially if you have kids. You are no longer making decisions unilaterally. You no longer have the freedom to go wherever you want. “What does this move do for my career” suddenly becomes a secondary consideration.

Married sports broadcasters have a totally new set of considerations:

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Off-the-Shelf Questions For Your Postgame Interviews

interview

When I was on ESPN Radio, I used to hate when my producer Jason McBride would pop into my headset and say, “We have so-and-so on from the baseball game. They just won 3-1.”

Great. What am I supposed to ask the guy? I didn’t see the game – I was on the air!

Tired of getting caught unprepared, I put together some standard, off-the-shelf questions. Most of them aren’t very insightful, but at least they can get the interview started. From there, you can spontaneously ask more thoughtful questions based upon the answers you receive.
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6 Common Cover Letter Mistakes

Each month, I probably read at least 30 cover letters from sportscasters looking for jobs.

cover-letter-mistakes

Here are a handful of common mistakes that people are making.

1. Copy and paste

Other than changing the name of the school, some people sent the exact same letter for MSU as they sent for Clemson.

2. Not stating your reason for interest

State in your opening paragraph what is it about that school that is attractive to you. Be sure to make it about them, not about you. Writing, “This would be a good opportunity for me because….” is hurting your letter, not helping.

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