How to meet people who can help your career

Rome wasn’t built in a day and one man didn’t build it. The same is true for sports broadcasting careers. Nobody does it alone. Building a successful career takes many people and it is more about whom you know than what you know.

handshake

Here are some ways to get to know people who might lead you to future opportunity.

Ask, “What can I do for you?”

I don’t like to use the word networking for the art of meeting and getting to know people. I like to call it relationship building. To many folks, networking implies that you want something from somebody – it sounds like “what can you do for me.” Relationship building comes from a place of, “what can I do for you.
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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.

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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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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My Unique Opportunity To Right A Wrong

Joe Fisher, voice of the Commodores
Joe Fisher

Sometimes life offers cool second chances. One of them came for me this week.

In 1989, during my senior year at K-State (The Princeton of the Plains, you know), I spent spring break in Nashville, TN. A mentor had offered to introduce me to several people in the local sports broadcasting industry. One of them was a TV sportscaster named Joe Fisher.

Joe was awesome. He welcomed me to the station, showed me around, and visited with me in his office. He shared advice and patiently answered my questions. He even offered to critique my play-by-play, so I sent him a tape after I returned to school and he gave me a thorough evaluation. I still have his notes. (I was stunned that he didn’t think I was ready to be the voice of the Lakers). In fact, one tip that he offered is something I’ve shared with hundreds of basketball broadcasters since: be clear about which team has the ball.

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18 Things I Wish I Had Known At 22

An aging pro athlete once said, “Now that I’m old enough to know everything, I’m too old to use it.” Here are some things I have learned over the years that younger readers might still be able to use:

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know.
  2. Networking is the fastest way to build a career.
  3. Be clear about which team has the ball on a play-by-play broadcast.
  4. Good play-by-play is a story, not a narrative.
  5. The same people you meet on the way up are the same ones you’ll see on the way down.
  6. Employers notice attention to detail.
  7. Team players generally go farther, faster.
  8. What’s good for my station is also good for me.
  9. Landing a full-time radio sportscasting job in a major market is HARD.
  10. Play-by-play is largely a part-time industry.
  11. Entry-level sportscasting jobs really DO pay as little as my mentors had warned me.
  12. I thought I knew everything, but I really knew nothing.
  13. Programming small market stations is vastly different than programming in large markets.
  14. Hot chicks weren’t attracted to my $18,000 a year salary.
  15. Being Howard Stern in McPherson, KS ticks off the local listeners.
  16. Winning in the job market requires following up your applications.
  17. Talent alone is not enough for making it to sports broadcasting’s big time.
  18. You’ll forget the frustrations of your first job and one day remember only the great stuff!

What do you wish you’d known at 22? Please leave your answer in the comments section below.

7 Great Basketball Play-by-Play Tips

Basketball play-by-play isn’t rocket science. Broadcasting the sport is often easier than playing it.

With these seven simple tips, providing all-star caliber basketball play-by-play will be even easier.

1. Time and Score

New listeners don’t want to wait. Give it at least every 90 seconds. Pick an end of the floor and give the time and score every time the ball goes to that end. Or do it every time your team takes possession.

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7 Personality Traits of Sportscasters Who Go Far

clipboard with an empty career personality test page

Watching my wife has shaped parts of my personality. For example, my wife is always patient and calm when talking to a customer service person, no matter how frustrated she might be.

My wife is inquisitive. When she wants to know the answer to something, she doesn’t just wonder about it. She looks it up in the moment.

Patience and inquisitiveness are traits I’ve learned from my wife.

There are also common personality traits of sports broadcasters who go far in the industry.

Here are seven of them.

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