Note: This is not a sponsored piece by the NSMA. This is purely my opinion on what a great event it is.
The National Sports Media Association Awards Weekend is June 25th and 26th in Winston-Salem, NC. It’s about a month away and unfortunately this year, for the first time in three years, I won’t be attending. I have a wedding to plan and pay for, and a new job without enough vacation built up to do all the things that I wish I could this year. I write this knowing that a large segment of my readership consists of young broadcasters, and I strongly suggest attending this awards weekend and seminar.
In sportscasting you often hear it’s not what you know, but who you know. In my limited experience this could not be more true. But how do you get to know people? It’s not like major players in the industry are making frequent stops in your town to talk shop over cocktails. However, at this particular event, that is exactly what you get. I personally have had the opportunity to sit down and listen to Mark Boyle, of the Indiana Pacers tell Larry Bird stories; listen to Gene Deckerhoff, the voice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida State Seminoles, talk about how he covers two teams when they play road games on opposite sides of the country. I’ve also been able to meet Tom Boman of Learfield, Howard Deneroff of Westwood One, and others who are prominent in the hiring process. Does this help you when jobs open? Maybe. But it can’t hurt to build a bit of a rapport.
In the past, the NSMA Awards Weekend has run in conjunction with STAA’s One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success seminar. This year the event has changed location from Salisbury, North Carolina to Winston-Salem. With that change STAA is taking a break from ODT, but there will still be a seminar and it appears it will have many great speakers including: Bob Costas, Linda Cohn, Mike Lupica, Stan Cotton, and more. Even more valuable, is the chance to make friends with up and coming sportscasters from around the country. They will be the people who will support and relate to you now and the people who can help you in the future.
So why would you not go? Depending on where you live, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, could be a long way away. It’s also not cheap. It’s $439 to attend all the events and the seminar. You also have to consider travel and lodging. When I’ve attended in the past it’s required an investment of about $1,000 by the time it’s all said and done. However, I’ve picked up a few different ways to save on the seminar over the last three years.
- First, go to your owner/general manager and simply ask if they will help pay to attend the seminar. Frame it as education that will help you to improve your craft. That helps your station to sound better and makes it easier to sell games when the time comes. They may say no, but it’s worth a try.
- Talk to your sales staff and see if anyone has a travel agency as a client. If so, there is a good chance they may be able to trade out airfare and lodging as part of an advertising package. This helps you out and helps build a sales relationship for the station.
- Find a roommate. Splitting the hotel with one or two other people can drastically reduce the price of lodging.
However you get, there just get there. It’s an investment in yourself and your future. You will learn things to make yourself a better broadcaster. You also will make friends and build valuable contacts within the industry. My only regret is that I can’t meet you all in North Carolina this year.