The first time I went to Salisbury, N.C., for “One Day Ticket To Sportscasting Success” was June 2014. It was my first industry conference. I was curious, but had always found reasons not to go. It was too far away, too expensive, or just too inconvenient.
The way I was eventually convinced goes to show that inspiration truly comes from unusual places. I was dating a newspaper reporter who seemed to have unlimited connections with other news professionals all over the country. I’d heard the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” and I only knew a few industry people from South Dakota and Iowa. I asked how she had met so many people and she said it was through internships and conferences. I’m past the point of realistically being able to pursue an internship, so I decided to go to my first Sportscasters Talent Agency of America event, the One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success 2014.
It was the best decision I’ve made in my career and I would suggest any sportscaster who is seriously devoted to improving their craft attend at some point. Here are a few specific examples of how it was useful.
Tough Critiques: To be a great sportscaster you have to get critiqued. One of the key features of ODT is an opportunity to be critiqued by the best. Last year, the pros critiquing that I can remember off the top of my head included Mark Boyle of the Indiana Pacers, Eli Gold of the University of Alabama, Joe D’Ambrosio of the University of Connecticut, and Pete Weber of the Nashville Predators. These people ripped almost everyone to shreds but gave incredible insight into becoming a better sportscaster.
Building Relationships: If there is another conference in the country that brings as many sportscasters together from all across the country, I haven’t found it yet. Not only are you able to pick the brains of current big timers, but you also are able to build relationships with up and comers who will be the industry stars and decision makers of the future.
Measure Yourself: Maybe more valuable than getting your own work critiqued in the group session is hearing the work of your peers. Listening to others and using them as a measuring stick can really show you how good you are or how far you have to go to meet your goals.
The Speakers: Aside from those critiquing, there is also an excellent lineup of speakers. The quality of these can be hit-or-miss, but 90% of them are excellent. I constantly look back at the notes I took from Bob Carpenter, Marv Albert, Peter King, and Bob Costas. Unless you go to a fancy broadcast school, it’s unlikely you’ll get this type of insight anywhere else.
Making Friends: This is related to building relationships but this goes beyond people who will help your career. You will develop friendships over cocktails and a shared passion for sportscasting that are sure to last a lifetime.
I want to mention that this is in no way a paid testimonial for STAA. In fact, they know nothing about my intention to write this article. This is an event that has directly led to me becoming a better broadcaster, meeting great people, and even had a huge part in the formation of this website. This will be the third year in a row that I’ve attended and it has become something that I truly look forward to each year. If you’re looking to make the jump from average to great I’d recommend that you do the same thing!