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Blueprint to Broadcasting Success

posted by Logan Anderson November 23, 2015 21 Comments

I want to be a great sportscaster.  I’m not.  As I’ve been reflecting on my career’s successes and failures, one of the things I’ve come to believe can be found right in front of our noses by watching the improvement of the athletes we cover.

Some athletes have an abundance of God-given ability that makes them great and the same can be said for announcers.   Some athletes try to reach their goals by working hard and doing their best in practice and games, but almost all of these athletes come up short.  The true stars are the ones shooting 100 shots before practice and lifting weights after everyone has already left the gym.

GET TO THE POINT LOGAN!

The point: Outside of the 1% of athletes with freakish natural ability, the people who excel as athletes are the ones who put in extra reps above and beyond what is expected.  It is with this in mind that I’ve put together what I hope will be a blueprint to broadcasting success.  This is designed to help get myself, and possibly a reader or three, into a daily routine of becoming a better broadcaster.  I’ve focused on the three aspects of improvement that I believe are the most critical in my situation:  Practice play-by-play, relationship building, and play-by-play peer studies.  

I want to start by doing 7 minutes of practice play by play each day.  If you stick with this, that’s 49 minutes of play-by-play or roughly one full NBA length game per week and 52 games per year.  We are fortunate enough in the internet age to have access to endless game clips on YouTube that we can turn on, turn the volume down, and immediately start calling games for any team with footage on the net.

Next is relationship building.  We all know that the old cliché “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is completely accurate.  Using email, Facebook, or Twitter we have endless tools to keep our names in front of people in ways that builds meaningful relationships.  We often don’t prioritize the continued building of relationships. If you want to succeed in the sports broadcasting business, then relationship building, just like preparation, delivery, and vocabulary; is a skill we must master.

Great authors are constantly reading, great painters are always looking at other art, and if we want to be great play-by-play announcers we should be listening to as much play by play as possible.  Not only should we be listening, but we need to take notes on things we like and don’t like that we can apply to our own broadcasts.  Obviously, this does not mean ripping off the style of your favorite broadcaster, but just about everyone who has managed to find a job in this business does something well.  Find out what it is and find out how you can alter it to fit your style.

Finally, I think it is important to read fiction as a broadcaster.  We are trying to learn how to turn a sports contest into a narrative.  We are trying to turn quarterbacks into heroes and opposing coaches into villains.  There is no better way to do this than by reading the fiction of great authors.  It is also a way to expand vocabulary and generally keep your mind sharp.  Even if it’s just a few pages a day: Read!

Broadcast Blueprint Schedule

Monday:

Use this day to self- critique  using audio from the previous week’s games.  What did you do well, what did you do poorly, how can you fix it? If you are out of season or don’t have new audio available, find audio of somebody you admire and find things you like and don’t like.

Find a game on TV, a game on YouTube, or stop by a local youth game live and spend seven minutes calling the game.  Use Smith and Jones for everybody’s names and focus on pre-play setup, in play description, and telling your imaginary audience why each play is important.

Read.

Tuesday:

Find a clip of a single play on YouTube and call the same play five times using different vocab each time.  Keep notes of the descriptions used and on the last rep use descriptors that are completely ridiculous, you never know what might end up being the perfect word.

Find a game on TV, a game on YouTube, or stop by a local youth game live and spend seven minutes calling the game.  Use Smith and Jones for everybody’s names and focus on pre-play setup, in play description, and telling your imaginary audience why each play is important.

Call or email a person in your network whom you respect about something going on in their career.

Read.

Wednesday:

Find a game on TV, a game on YouTube, or stop by a local youth game live and spend seven minutes calling the game.  Use Smith and Jones for everybody’s names and focus on pre-play setup, in play description, and telling your imaginary audience why each play is important.

Listen to another broadcaster doing play-by-play for a minimum of ten minutes.  This could be a professional broadcaster calling the pros or a local competitor calling high school.  Write down five things you like and five things you don’t about the broadcast.  If nobody is available to listen to, then look up a random talent page on STAA and listen to an air check of one of your peers.

Read.

Thursday:

Find a clip of a single play on YouTube and call the same play five times using different vocab each time.  Keep notes of the descriptions used and on the last rep use descriptors that are completely ridiculous, you never know what might end up being the perfect word.

Find a game on TV, a game on YouTube, or stop by a local youth game live and spend seven minutes calling the game.  Use Smith and Jones for everybody’s names and focus on pre-play setup, in play description, and telling your imaginary audience why each play is important.

Write an email asking for a critique from someone you admire or someday want to work for but who you don’t already know.  This could be a broadcaster or a program director.  If you make it more than one week without hearing from the person you chose, follow up once, if you still don’t hear back?  On to the next one.

Friday

Find a game on TV, a game on YouTube, or stop by a local youth game live and spend seven minutes calling the game.  Use Smith and Jones for everybody’s names and focus on pre-play setup, in play description, and telling your imaginary audience why each play is important.

 

Listen to a local high school, college, or professional broadcast.  Be critical, but it’s Friday night, relax and enjoy the game.

Saturday

Find a game on TV, a game on YouTube, or stop by a local youth game live and spend seven minutes calling the game.  Use Smith and Jones for everybody’s names and focus on pre-play setup, in play description, and telling your imaginary audience why each play is important.

Listen to a college or pro sports broadcast.  Be critical, but relax: It’s Saturday.

Sunday

Find a game on TV, a game on YouTube, or stop by a local youth game live and spend seven minutes calling the game.  Use Smith and Jones for everybody’s names and focus on pre-play setup, in play description, and telling your imaginary audience why each play is important.

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21 Comments

Kernal December 18, 2015 at 3:12 am

Looks good! Keep up the hard work, buddy.

Reply
Burch Antley December 18, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Excellent post and I commend you for always trying to improve as that’s what professionals do. A wise man once told me that you’re only as good as your last broadcast so make the next one better. I look forward to reading more.

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Nelly December 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Looks pretty good Logan. I know you have put a lot of work into sports broadcasting whether it be a game, talk show, or interviews. Keep up the good work!

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Melodie January 5, 2016 at 6:56 pm

“I think it is important to read fiction as a broadcaster. We are trying to learn how to turn a sports contest into a narrative.”

YES. This is an awesome and never talked about point. In addition to fiction, you might also pick up a book on story structure like The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.

Reply
Logan Anderson
Logan Anderson January 5, 2016 at 7:09 pm

Thanks Melodie for the kind words, and another excellent suggestion.

Reply
Joe Van Amburg January 15, 2016 at 8:13 pm

This is a great website. I am from Missouri and got back into broadcasting 2015 after six years (it’s a nice hobby away from my normal job). I keep looking for sites with good tips and advice, and this is a great one! Thank you for sharing your ideas, experiences, and interviews with all of us. Where would we find a schedule of any upcoming broadcasts you have?

Reply
Logan Anderson
Logan Anderson January 15, 2016 at 9:17 pm

Joe. I really appreciate the compliment! My broadcast schedule is right here http://www.dakotabroadcasting.com/sports-schedules/ and can be heard by clicking on the 107.7 KABD FM live stream on the same site. I made this site both myself and for readers/ listeners to learn and grow as broadcasters together. What else would you like to see?

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Joe Van Amburg January 18, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Nothing that I can think of right now. I think you have a great thing going here! I am looking forward to checking out this website often!

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Ben Simon October 21, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Wow! This is a great read. Tough to juggle a full time job and this hobby/passion at the same time, but doing my best! Keep it up man.

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