Want your sportscasting to be noticed? Be Dan Cohen

dan cohenOne of my pet peeves in sports broadcasting is TV anchors doing a themed sportscast in an attempt to boost their careers by going viral on the Internet.

Yes, a sportscast featuring 30 famous movie references is clever and entertaining, but it’s also a cheap publicity grab.

Truly great sportscasters are clever and entertaining every time they turn on the mike.

This now brings me to Dan Cohen.

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Have you been lucky to experience this in sportscasting?

Do you remember the iconic video of Michael Jordan versus Portland in the NBA Finals? He couldn’t miss a shot. After drilling yet another bucket, he retreated to the defensive end of the floor with his palms up to the ceiling and a look of bemusement on his face as if to say, “This is amazing even by my standards. I can’t believe it either!”

MJ was in the zone.
in-the-zone

As a sportscaster, have you ever been in the zone? What did it feel like?

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Want To Be A Great Sportscaster? Watch The Clock

“A big issue I’ve had is finding time to prep and critique my broadcasting. What tips do you have for streamlining prep work?” – An STAA Member

desk-watch-the-clock

If you want to be good in radio, you have to prep one hour for each hour you are on the air. If you want to be great, the ratio should be two-to-one. This applies equally to play-by-play guys and talk show hosts.

But where do you find the time to be great?
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10 Actionable Tips To Help You Reach Your Career Goals

If change is worth making, it is worth making right away. There’s no reason to save it for a New Year’s resolution.

2015-goals

Here are 10 actionable tips to help you reach your career goals.

1. Build your team

We all have people we lean on at important times in our lives. Think about who those people are in your life, then use them to help you with important career decisions. It’s likely that not all of your team members will be in the sports broadcasting industry. My team includes my wife, dad and sister, Melodie who is part of our team at STAA, and a couple of friends in broadcasting with whom I have grown close over the years. The people who know you best will keep you moving in the right direction.
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A critical key to a great sportscasting career

There are a million clichés about patience – patience is a virtue, good things come to those who wait, etc. The reason there are so many clichés about patience is because so few of us have it, especially when it comes to our sports broadcasting careers.

Believe me – I’ve lived it.

patience and timing

I was ten years out of college when I finally achieved my big break – hosting Weekend AllNight on ESPN Radio. I was 12 years out of school when I finally joined the college football play-by-play roster of a TV network — The Football Network (which went belly-up after one season).
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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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