Over the course of my journey in broadcasting I’ve gotten the chance to meet and work with some true professionals and great people. Today’s interview here on PBP Stories fits both of those categories as well as anyone can, Justin Barrientos. I got the opportunity to work with Justin back in March for a week during the NCCAA National Championships in Winona Lake, Indiana as well as to learn from someone I have come to greatly admire in this crazy field. You can follow and interact with Justin on twitter here: https://twitter.com/HBCsportsPBP.

Justin Barrientos

Justin Barrientos

How long have you been in broadcasting?
I will actually be celebrating 20 years in broadcasting in July!
The summer that I graduated from High School, I knew that I wanted to get into radio, so I went around to all the stations in Winona (there were 3 at that time), and just looked to see if there were any part time slots open at any of them.  Looking back, it was a kind of gutsy move on my part.  I didn’t have a demo, or any real experience.  One of the stations blew me off, one took my contact information, and said to check back, but one station (KHME-FM) actually had me fill out an application, and said that they didn’t have anything open at that time, but if something opened up, they would be in contact with me.

I checked back almost every week with KHME to see if there was anything there, and “no” was always the answer.  Then, about 2 weeks or so later, they called me in, had me record a little demo, and hired me as a fill-in/weekend announcer, and I was on my way.  I worked at that Lite FM station for 4 years.  When I was a Senior in College, the station was sold to a larger media group from Chicago.  Cuts were made, people left, and my role was reduced, and when I graduated from College, I left and moved to one of the other stations in Winona that had blown me off when I was just out of High School, and joined them (KAGE-AM/FM).
I was hired by KAGE-AM, a Country station, to do the mid-day shift, and the first day I was on the air was a little bit of a disater.  I had to run the board for the show “Party Line” where people called in and tried to sell things they didn’t want anymore, on the air.  I dropped some calls, left mics on, and it just didn’t go well.  The rest of my shift that day went well, but the person who was the Morning DJ on the FM station, a Hot AC station, quit, and they asked me to take that over instead.  I did that for about 8 months, and seemed to battle the owners almost every day.  Some of it was them, but some was me thinking I knew more than I did ( I was only 22 at the time), but it just wasn’t the right place for me at that time.
I will say, I am very glad I worked there, because I learned a lot about myself, and what I needed to do to stay in broadcasting.  It was also there that I got my first taste of sports broadcasting, as I called High School baseball and softball, College softball and Amateur baseball for their sister station, KWNO-AM in 1999.
It was also there, that one of the owners paid me a huge compliment.  I was out covering a High School Baseball game, and the owner was in the control room, overheard the game, and mentioned to the board op, “I didn’t know the (Minnesota) Twins were on today.”  The op said, “They’re not, that’s Justin doing a game.”  The owner then said, “Wow, that really sounds like a Pro broadcast!”
I left there, and in 2000, I joined Hiawatha Broadband Communications to work on a local TV newscast, anchored by the news anchor I worked with at KHME, and that job eventually morphed into sports broadcasting.  I called my first game for them in 2001, and have been there since.

 

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Justin (middle) on color for the NCCAA basketball championships with Matt Digby (left) and Michael Hirn (camera right)

When did you know it was what you wanted to do?
Very early on.  I listened to as much radio as I could when I was younger, because I thought that was what I was always going to do.  TV was never something that I thought about doing.  I listened to radio countdown shows, and sports broadcasts, and always thought I was going to be the next Dick Clark or Casey Kasem!

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?
It varies on the sport I’m doing, and how many games I have each week.  I will e-mail coaches for stats and information after their last game before ours, I’ll go over that information or Game Notes, if it’s a College broadcast and do my boards.  On game day, I get there as early as I can, get set up, go over all of my notes again, then run down during warm-ups to chat with the coaches again, make sure I have name pronunciations right, check if there are any number changes, or changes in the roster, and make sure I have the correct starting lineups.

What sports do you currently broadcast?
Currently, I do football, soccer, basketball, hockey, and I’ll get into baseball again this summer!  I also announce parades during the summer, I’ve started to do some PA for soccer, basketball and softball.  While at HBC, I’ve also called some volleyball, danceline competitions, and I did an MMA event!
The MMA was really out of nowhere.  The promoter contacted us to see if that was something twe wanted to try, and he asked for me to do the play-by-play as a condition of us doing the event.  That was a little strange, because I had never done a fight before, and didn’t really follow the sport,  But, he knew me from other sports I had done, and just thought I would be a fit.  It worked because I had a good color announcer.  He was a former fighter, and really did a good job of explaining things.
Same thing with our danceline broadcasts.  We had 2 former dancers as color announcers, and I just played the role of someone who was new to the sport, because I was, and just asked them questions during the breaks in dances, trying to get as much information about the sport as I could in the broadcast.

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?
We had some great local announcers that I looked up to.  Wayne Valentine was one.  He was the newsman I worked with at KHME, and followed over to HBC.  He taught me a lot, and is a legend in Winona.  Nationally, it ranges from people who did music shows, like Dick Clark, Casey Kasem, Scott Shannon, Bob Worthington and Shadoe Stevens, to those that I listened to doing sports – Herb Carneal, the late Twins announcer, John Gordon (former Twins Announcer), Vin Scully, Gary Thorne, Doc Emerick, Kevin Harlan (he did Timberwolves radio the first few years, and I listened to as many of those games as I could!), Bob Kurtz, John Miller, Bob Costas, and many many more that I know I’m forgetting.
Brad Nessler is another, not only
because he is a great announcer, but he is from St. Charles, MN, which is about 20 miles away from my hometown of Winona, MN.

Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?
I really don’t try to emulate anyone, because I don’t want to be an imitation of anyone else.  I want to be me on the air, and I try to have a conversational style that sounds like the way I would talk to my best friend off air.

What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?
I’ve had the great opportunity to call games for the High School I graduated from (Cotter), and the College I graduated from (Winona State University).
In 2006, I did a girls basketball game for Cotter against long-time arch rivals, Rochester Lourdes.  In my basketball and baseball playing days, that was always the game you looked for on the schedule and circled.  You could lose every other game, but if you beat Lourdes, you would be happy.  Cotter Girls Basketball hadn’t had that feeling in a long time.  Going into that game, the Ramblers had lost 47 consecutive games to Lourdes, dating back to the 80’s.  That night, though, everything came together, and Cotter won.  It was a little hard to keep from being a “homer” because that game meant so much to Cotter, and me personally, because it was my school!  The crowd stormed the court after the win, and it was unlike any high school game I had ever done.  I was told later that someone had recorded the game, and they played the end at an all-school assembly the next day, with my call at the end turned up loud!
For Winona State, they are a National Powerhouse in NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball.  I’ve covered them since 2001, and they really took off in 2006.  They won the National Championship that year, but as a TV station, we could only broadcast up to the Sweet Sixteen round, then the National media took over.  We did a Sweet Sixteen broadcast the next year, and they lost the National title game to Barton in the last seconds.  In 2008, again, they tore things up, and we did another Sweet Sixteen broadcast.  This one was simulcast on HBC and FOX Sports North, so our broadcast was seen in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas!  WSU would go on to win the National title again, making it 2 National titles in 3 years.
As cool as that was to be a part of, we had a moment in 2009 with the WSU Women’s team that was more personal.  WSU had not been very strong in Women’s basketball, but they put together a great 2008-2009 season, and hosted a conference playoff game for the first time in school history.  They were the Number 2 seed that year, and needed Number 1 Minnesota State to lose, in order to host the rest of the tournament.  After their game was done, we stayed on the air as long as we could, to see if we could get a final on the Minnesota State game.  Some Winona State players started to huddle around our broadcast area, looking at our live stats to see if they would host, and when it was a final, they started celebrating right around us on the air, making us feel like part of the team!
Justin broadcasting Winona State Warriors football.

Justin broadcasting Winona State Warriors football.

What advice do you have for young broadcasters just starting out?
Do whatever you can do to get your foot in the door.  Do PA announcing, if you can.  Hang around radio and TV stations (within reason!) to try to talk to some of the people doing the job you want to do some day.  Do internships – you never know where that will lead you!
If there is anything else or any stories you really want to share please feel free to do so.
HBC was hired in 2007 to be the first TV home of the La Crosse Loggers baseball team, in the Northwoods League.  They arranged for us to have guests during the games, and we had great conversations with Dick Raddatz, Jr, the President of the League.  We also got to talk with Dominic Latkovski, who is in the suit for the BirdZerk, when they came to La Crosse to be entertainment during a Loggers game.  But, the interview that I’ll remember forever during that season was when Bob Brenly did a couple of innings with us.  His son, Michael was on the team, and it was neat to not only talk to a former Major League player, manager and broadcaster, but it was cool to see the game through his eyes as he was watching his son play.  We actually talked to him twice during that season.
Also, just a bit of self-promotion – I have been nominated for 2 Regional Emmy Awards with the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  I was nominated for Sports Play-By-Play in 2009, and a game I did in 2011 was nominated for Best Sporting Event/Game, Live/Unedited.
For the 2009 nomination, I was up against Anthony LaPanta from FOX Sports North, and Tom Hanneman, who did the Minnesota Timberwolves broadcasts for FOX Sports North.  He actually called me after the nominations came out, to congratulate me for my nomination, as I was a first-timer.  He ended up winning that year, but I just thought it was neat that he would call me!
Thanks again for reading another edition of Play by Play Stories. If you know someone you’d love to see interviewed please let them now they can contact me on twitter @michaelhirnpbp

 

Andy Masur Interview

Posted: December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

After a hiatus I am proud to say we are back with another great interview, this time with Andy Masur of the San Diego Padres. You can follow him on twitter: @PadsCast or on his own blog Masur’s Musings here: http://www.andy-masur.blogspot.com/.

 

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How long have you been in broadcasting?

 

I have been in professional broadcasting since 1990, doing various things in the industry.  Started out as a top 40 DJ, in Peoria, IL.  I worked the overnight shift from 12midnight-5:30am.  Moved up to night jock, then got out of top 40.  Went home to Chicago and did traffic reports for several different stations in the market.  From there I went on to work for the then One On One sports network, doing updates and hosting a weekend show.  I then became aware of a job opening at WGN radio and I was fortunate to get the gig.  I did Cubs pre/post and some play by play there as well.  Then the opportunity to move to San Diego came up and I’ve been with the Padres since the 2007 season.

 

 

 

When did you know it was what you wanted to do?

 

I knew at a very young age.  My parents tell me stories of me coming at them with an old cassette recorder microphone wanting to interview them at age 3.  They would see me coming and run!  I guess that was the first sign that I would get into this industry.  I listened to a lot of radio growing up.  I would see which out of market stations I could pick up on my radio at night and I would call the stations.  KDKA out of Pittsburgh was one of those stations.  I was just a radio geek.

 

 

 

Being from the Chicago area, were you at all influenced to go to Bradley because of Jack Brickhouse who called games for many years with the Cubs?

 

Jack Brickhouse was really my inspiration for going for it.  I would watch him not just do play-by-play, but do those dugout interviews, with Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and my late friend Ron Santo.  That’s what drew me to the business first, the interviewing style and skill that Brickhouse showed.  Then of course there was his infectious calling of the games and I was hooked.  Jack didn’t influence my decision to go to Bradley, but it was a happy coincidence.  Didn’t hurt that Chick Hearn went there, Vince Lloyd (another former Cubs broadcaster) worked in Peoria and of course now Charlie Steiner is working in MLB along side.  Pretty cool.

 

 

 

What was it like to work alongside the legendary broadcaster and icon Dick Enberg?

 

I don’t work with Dick Enberg much, as a matter of fact, two years ago, I would fill in for him on about 40 broadcasts on TV.  When I did have the chance to work with him, while filling in on Pre/Post telecasts, it was pretty cool.  Thinking all the time, that “this guy called the Bears SuperBowl win over the Patriots in 1986”.  That was pretty cool.

 

 

 

 

 

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

 

As the years have rolled on, I’ve had to spend less and less time preparing. I don’t mean that I slack off, but now I’m pretty comfortable in my routine.  Of course getting the lineups and necessary stats are time consuming but you need them.  More of my time “prepping” these days comes by way of talking to players and coaches, getting to know them as people and relating stories about them on the air.  I also want to learn more about the game everyday, so the time I spend with our coaches and manager is very valuable to me.  I always stay on top of what’s going on in the league, so I have some things to bring up during the game.  I like to talk baseball, so to have a bunch of fluff just for sake of having it, is not something I do.  So not to dodge the question but my time varies.  Now with interleague it may take a little more time to prepare for a team we don’t see all that often and with more games in the division I don’t have to spend as much time in prep mode.  I also like to talk to the opposing broadcasters, they have the best insight usually into what’s really going on with their team.

 

 

 

In addition to calling games for the Padres you’ve also been the voice of San Diego hoops for the past 4 years, which is your favorite, hoops or baseball to call?

 

I have been their “voice” for the past 7 seasons.  Prior to coming to San Diego I called Loyola University men’s hoops for 6 years.  I love the difference in the pace of the game and believe it or not, the baseball work prepares me for limited down time in hoops and the hoops prepares me for the limited “action” of a baseball broadcast.  It’s a nice change of pace also to deal with college athletes.  I really enjoy doing both, but I’m a much better student of baseball, so maybe I’ll give the slight edge to baseball.

 

 

 

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?

 

We mentioned one already, Jack Brickhouse for sure.  Growing up around a big city with all of the major sports covered, I listened a lot to the late Jim Durham doing Bulls basketball.  I still use a couple of his descriptors that just came out “foul line extended left” and “rimming…good”.  He was really talented.  I’d have to say though that my mentor in play-by-play was Pat Hughes.  I learned a lot from him without really even knowing it.  How to work with a partner that’s a legend, how to keep an audience entertained during a tough year on the field.  How to have a good time without getting in the way of the game.  Lessons that a lot of young broadcasters can certainly use.  Pat is a professional, but has a way of not taking himself too seriously and if he makes a mistake (rare as they are) he pokes a little fun at himself.  I really admired that, after all we are not saving lives or splitting the atom in the booth, we are calling a game and he keeps that in great perspective.  Jeff Joniak is another guy I really admire.  He calls Bears football these days and has been doing it for more than a decade.  Jeff gave me my first opportunity to do sports in Chicago.  After pestering him and peppering him with audition tapes, he admired my work ethic, and I guess I passed his test.  He put me on the air and I wound up doing weekends on the old WMAQ 670 for nearly 3 years before moving on in the industry.  I’ve met so many great people in this industry, I know I’m leaving a ton of people out, but there are just too many to mention.

 

 

 

Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?

 

I’ve always said it’s hard enough to be the first Andy Masur, let alone the next, fill in the blanks.  As I mentioned I picked up some phrases from Jim Durham, some nuances from Pat Hughes, but I’ve tried to make them my own.  Tried to make them fit my style and flow.  I don’t consider it stealing from these guys, I feel like they’ve showed me the way, now I’m taking some of those ingredients and mixing them with mine to come up with what I do.  Be yourself, it’s so important. 

 

 

 

Other than San Diego what is your favorite baseball stadium to call a game from?

 

Being a little biased, I love calling games at Wrigley Field.  Having grown up there, it’s always a special occasion for me to be able to call a game there.  I love AT&T Park in San Francisco too.  There’s always a great energy in the building and the setting is just beautiful right on the bay.  PNC Park in Pittsburgh is really nice, except that our booth is above the upper deck, which always makes it interesting, but it’s a great ballpark.  Got to call a game at the old Yankee Stadium and a couple of years ago at Fenway Park, so it’s hard to argue against them as well.

 

 

 

What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?

 

There are far too many to limit to just one.  Remember I worked with Ron Santo who during the national anthem at the old Shea Stadium had his hairpiece catch on fire.  Now I work with Jerry Coleman who always makes things interesting for me in the booth.  Every day in the broadcast booth is a great day, and the best part is, no two days are ever the same.  You’re bound to come to a game and see something you’ve never seen before.  I say it all the time on the air, but it’s one of the best things about my job.  Sorry to dodge that one, but again to be fair there are just too many things to mention.

 

 

 

 If there is anything else or any stories you really want to share please feel free to do so.

I just feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had so far.  There are many big events that I’ve been around and have called for a living.  So I’d say to those aspiring to join me, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it.  It’s going to take some work, some luck and some determination if you want to make it.  Remember, the pay is not what you get into it for it’s the love, the passion for the craft and for sports.  No shortcuts, no half way, jump in with both feet, it’s the only way to succeed. 

 

 

Thank you Mr. Masur for being a part of the series of interviews here again. Don’t forget if you’d like to see someone interviewed or would like to be interviewed yourself please don’t hesitate to tweet me @michaelhirnpbp

Another great broadcasting interview with Dave Collins has been blessed upon us here at PBP Stories for you to check out below. Be sure to follow Dave and his adventures in radio on twitter at @DMCbroadcasting.
davecollins
How long have you been in broadcasting?
I started my radio broadcasting career after graduating from The University of Colorado in 2004.  I’m about to begin my 10th year at KSID Radio in Sidney this October.
When did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I’ve always known that I wanted a career in sports and as I got older and watched more and more games on TV, I really began to consider play-by-play and sportscasting as a career.  

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?
It depends on the game, but preparation is absolutely vital to the success of a game broadcast.  My current job includes news, sports, afternoon DJ work, voice production and maintaining content on our station website along with game preparation and play-by-play so I simply fit in as much as possible, including nights and weekends.  Several hours go in to each football game, less for basketball, volleyball and baseball but it helps once you’ve seen a team before to focus on the details that help push a broadcast from good to great.  If I were in a situation where PxP was my only major assignment I’d treat it like a full-time job in terms of preparation leading up to the broadcast.

What sports do you currently broadcast?
High school football, basketball, volleyball and baseball (American Legion Baseball)

You’re closing in on 1,000 career broadcasts and have been honored with quite a few  awards, how do you put those in perspective when you look at your career?

Being honored and recognized is a nice validation of the hard work and time that goes in to making a quality broadcast happen.  Even more important to me though is having my PxP peers at the college level give me feedback – positive and negative – so that I can continue to become better at the craft.  The most endearing comments I’ve received come from Colorado Buffaloes broadcaster Larry Zimmer who was a professor of mine at CU and remains a friend to this day.  I grew up in Denver listening to his work with the Broncos and Buffs and he was always my hero in the business.  Having him be proud of my work and support my play-by-play is easily among the greatest achievements in my lifetime.  Also, I get so much more satisfaction out of a parent, fan or student-athlete coming up to me and saying they enjoyed the call, or telling me their “grandparents were listening tonight in Arizona on the Internet stream.”  Knowing that I’m in a position to bring some happiness and enjoyment to others’ lives through game broadcasts is extremely satisfying.
Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?
In addition to Zimmer, other voices that I admire in the business include Gene Deckerhoff of Florida State, Dave Koehn of Virginia, Greg Sharpe of Nebraska, Vin Scully of the Dodgers and Jerry Howarth of the Blue Jays.  Brad Nessler is an outstanding TV PxP guy.  I simply love listening to games across satellite radio when I travel and am always listening for new phrasing and descriptive words to add to my vocabulary for Nebraska high school broadcasts.

I saw on your website (www.davecollinsbroadcasting.com ) that you must have a 12 oz can of chilled red bull before a broadcast, why redbull?
There’s something about that chilled, crisp, sweet taste of a Red Bull delighting my taste buds and invigorating my mind as I go through final preparations!  I’m sure it’s partly a mental thing where I “feel” more alert and extra sharp having a Red Bull before a broadcast, and if so, that’s fine with me.  I just love the taste and refreshment, but it truly does make me feel more alert and sharp with the game call.

Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?
I don’t ever try to emulate a broadcaster.  I think it’s important for each PxP guy to be his own broadcaster and develop his own style.  It’s always good to listen to others and pick up on phrasing or descriptors, but I would never want to “copy” someone else’s sound directly.
What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?

With around 800 games you’d think there are a ton of great stories to share but it’s funny how hard it can be to think of one that is above the rest.  I guess I can say there have been some interesting game nights on the air, unforgettable finishes, some surprises and some hilarious moments around the rest of the traditional, normal broadcasts.  I think that’s what also makes this job so fun, is that you don’t really know exactly what you’re going to have happen on live radio or see in a game when you show up at the event.  It’s an adventure in problem solving very quickly at times!

What advice do you have for young broadcasters just starting out?
Make sure you are committed.  I’ve been doing radio for almost a decade and success in this business doesn’t come working from only 8-5.  It’s a unique industry that requires a lot of dedication, patience, organization, ambition and energy in addition to talent.  As long as you love it, you’ll be fine and will have success.  It’s kind of like sports in that so many people want to be on TV or radio, especially in sports, so you need to be ready to sacrifice certain things in life to pursue lofty dreams in this business.  You need to be prepared to have clear career and life goals, know what it will take to meet them and determine if broadcasting will get you there.
Thank you again to Dave for providing another wonderful interview and best of luck as you head towards your 1000th broadcast.

One of the greatest joys for me in doing these interviews is getting to interview young broadcasters like I had the opportunity to talk to today in Brendan Gulick. Brendan is the voice of NCAA DII Southeastern Oklahoma State University Savage Storm Athletics. and can be followed on twitter @brendangulick22

ImageHow long have you been in broadcasting? You played baseball in high school at St. Ignatius in the Cleveland area, what made you decide to give it up and pursue calling games? When did you know it was what you wanted to do?

This fall will conclude my sixth year behind the mic. I called my first game as a junior at Saint Ignatius when they opened the 2007 basketball season. I had always called the video games I played as a kid and I’ve been passionate about athletics (especially baseball) for as long as I can remember. I knew I wanted to work in sports some day, and as I got older and became increasingly good at communicating with people, I decided to try play-by-play. I started a broadcasting club as a junior in high school and it really took off; in fact, it has continued over the last five years to give other guys opportunities to pursue this in college too. From the moment I did my first game, I knew it was something I wanted to do.

I was a very serious baseball player in high school and many of my teammates (as well as guys I played against) played DI college ball or are currently in minor league organizations. I had always aspired to play baseball  in college too, but when I visited JCU, things changed a little bit. Essentially, I chose to attend John Carroll because I could get on air right away. Originally, I was fairly set on going to Ohio University after I was admitted to the Scripps School of Journalism, but I knew that there had to be hundreds of other kids who wanted to do what I wanted to do. At JCU, Sports Information Director Chris Wenzler and WJCU GM Mark Krieger told me I could get on the air immediately. I moved on campus freshman year on a Wednesday and called our first football game the following Saturday afternoon.

How did it work out that you got the PBP gig at JCU as a freshman?

There were only a handful of other people who wanted to broadcast the games at JCU, which gave me a chance to get involved right away. I worked for both the radio station and the Sports Information Department and had chances to call games through both outlets, as well as call games on SportsTime Ohio (a cable network owned by the Cleveland Indians that reaches 45 million homes nationwide). The highlight of my freshman year came in the spring when our basketball team made the NCAA Tournament and I traveled with them to Guilford College in North Carolina to call both tournament games. It really didn’t take me long to know I made the right choice on where to go to school.

How did calling games at John Carroll in college help you get your first job with the Rockford Aviators straight out of college? What advice do you have for young broadcasters just starting out?

The most important thing about broadcasting at John Carroll was the number of reps I got on air. In my opinion, when you’re trying to start a career, it’s all about reps. No matter where you are, no matter what teams you’re covering, no matter if you’re paid or unpaid, you need to call games over and over and over again if you want to get better – and along with that, you absolutely have to listen to yourself. I also put a emphasis on networking during my time in school. I was guided toward Rockford through STAA and through Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ voice Tim Pozsgai, who had a good relationship with Jacob Wise in Rockford. Thanks to the nearly 200 games I called in college, I was ready for a chance to make the jump to pro ball. I continued to work hard and look for the right opportunity to land my first full-time job and when this opening at Texoma Broadcasting in Durant, Oklahoma became available, I immediately recognized it as what I wanted. I have been laser-focused on what I wanted in a first full-time job since the beginning of my senior year at John Carroll and I was patient enough for it to come to fruition. I’m really excited to begin calling D II football at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in three weeks.

You got to accompany the Blue Streaks to Ireland and call a blowout win, how great of an experience was that for you?

That trip was the trip of a lifetime. John Carroll traveled to Dublin last year during Labor Day weekend to play in the Global Ireland Football Tournament (GIFT), a tournament that featured 12 teams (10 high schools and our game). Double-header games were played at three different sites throughout Dublin thanks to a Texas-based organization called Global Football. John Carroll opened the season against St. Norbert’s College from DePere, WI (Midwest Conference) and won the game, 40-3, at Donnybrook Stadium (a historic rugby venue in the city). As someone of Irish decent, being able to travel for five days to Ireland was that much more meaningful. And to top it all off, I was able to share the trip with my parents, aunt and uncle too! We saw the cliffs of Moher on the west coast, drove across country to Dublin and stayed in the city of Dublin from Wednesday morning until Sunday night. We saw the Notre Dame vs. US Naval Academy game on Saturday (we played on Friday). I spent almost two full days touring the city with my family and with the team. Dublin is full of history! I can’t believe it’s been a year since we were there. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think about that trip almost every day.

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

It really depends on the sport. If you consider all of the hours I spent getting ready for a John Carroll game last fall, I was pretty close to 22 hours per week. Between going to practice, watching film, working in Sports Information to write media game notes, making my boards, conducting interviews and getting all of the production ready in the radio station (I was the Sports Director last year at WJCU), it was an awful lot of work. But honestly, it never felt like work because there is nothing else I would rather be doing. I really didn’t take a day off; on Sunday’s, I would cut some highlights and listen to the broadcast in our studio to critique myself. Since basketball and baseball games occurred more frequently, I couldn’t spend quite as much time preparing. I ended up spending close to 12 hours of prep-time on those games. I realize that’s a lot of time to spend getting ready for a broadcast, but I really wanted to make sure that I went into the broadcast knowing everything there was to know about the game…and if I didn’t know something that suddenly came up, I needed to be organized enough to know how and where to find it.

 What sports do you currently broadcast and which is your favorite?

I called football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, baseball and softball while I was in school. I think football, basketball and baseball are my favorites. Honestly, they are all so different from each other and they have their own unique challenges; I really enjoy doing all three the of them. By the time one season is over, the next one begins almost immediately. That’s part of the reason why I am so excited to begin my professional career (post-Aviators) in collegiate athletics. I have a natural schedule built in and I don’t have to worry about where I am going to call each sport, each season.

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?

On a national platform, Jim Nantz and Bob Costas have always been my two favorites sportscasters. I was fortunate to have grown up in Cleveland as well – listening to Tom Hamilton call Indians games, Joe Tait call Cavaliers games and Jim Donovan call Browns games … I felt spoiled! Those guys are all very good and I really miss listening to Joe since his retirement. If I could call one game with any color commentator, I think it would be really fun to call the Rose Bowl with Kirk Herbstreit – he is my favorite color commentator on a national level.

Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?

I have tried to develop my own style, but at the same time, I am also of the opinion that everything has already been “said.” It’s virutally impossible to say something and be the first to do it. I prefer to use a more conversational style than an “announcer’s style”. I aim to be “easy on the ears”, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get excited when it’s necessary. I strive to develop a personal connection with a listener. I don’t want someone to listen and feel like I’m talking to an audience … I want each person to feel that it’s just me and him/her.

One of the biggest things that a lot of broadcasters talk about it getting that “break”, what would you say yours was?

My first big break came a couple of weeks ago, actually. This job with Texoma Broadcasting was offered to someone else. I don’t know who it was and I probably never will. I don’t know why he chose to go a different direction, but I sure am thankful he did!

What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?

Earlier this summer, Jacob Wise and I were calling an Aviators game that wasn’t exactly going Rockford’s way. When I checked my twitter handle, <i>every single tweet</i> either mentioned or hash-tagged “Sharknado.” I had no idea what that was, and I was really thrown for a loop for another reason. Before the start of every game I broadcast, I always pick a couple of words to challenge my vocabulary – this is something I take fairly seriously, so when one of our producers told me before the game that I should incorporate “Sharknado”, I just laughed it off. I thought he was trying to stump me and making fun of my challenge. Imagine my confusion when I checked Twitter! After a routine ground out, and with Rockford trailing 15-4, I said on air, “Jacob, I know this has absolutely nothing to do with our game, but what in the world is Sharknado??” Over the course of the next ten minutes, while never missing a pitch, we discovered how the Sci-fi movie swept the nation that night! It was some of the most hilarious “radio” I had ever been a part of. So what’s the lesson? As a broadcaster, you have to be an informed person! Clearly, while I was relateable by talking about something on air that the whole country seemed to care about, I was clearly uninformed!

If there is anything else or any stories you really want to share please feel free to do so.

I was very proud to be recognized by STAA the last two years in its annual collegiate All-American Sportscasting Competition. As a junior, I finished 13th in the country and I placed 10th as a senior. Both times, I was the top-ranked collegiate sportscaster from Ohio and I ranked in the top three in both years among students from NCAA DIII schools. It was such a blessing to share that honor with everyone at John Carroll University. JCU will always hold a very special place in my heart and I look forward to representing the Blue Streaks wherever my career takes me!

Thanks again Brendan for being such a great interview. Congratulations on all of your success and best of luck in the future.

Our interview this week is with the play by play voice of the Edmonton Oilers Jack Michaels. You can follow jack on twitter @edmontonjack and read his NHL mock draft at http://oilers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=675018

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Jack, How long have you been in broadcasting?

  • 20 years…fortunate enough to go to a great school, especially in terms of getting on the air right away, like Ithaca College.

When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?

  • 1989 Preakness stretch drive between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. Dave Johnson had an unbelievable call….and even though I was just a kid, I already was aware of my athletic limitations.

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

  • Hockey is a pretty compressed schedule, so a lot of work comes before the season ever starts….once you’re in the midst of it, though, from game-to-game it goes something like this…..I usually read a at least a week’s worth of articles about the opponent, so I know what’s going on and has been with them. I’ll also watch their previous game with their commentators so I can take appropriate notes….I’ll already have done flow charts with their lines and D-men before the year, but I’ll update that as well due to injuries/call-ups. I’ll then go to their pre-game skate and work the room afterward, recording a couple of interviews and just getting the general tenor…then I’ll move onto the game notes for both clubs, fill out my scorebook and I should be good. For the Oilers, I attend every practice and media session leading up to and for all games, so I usually don’t have a ton of prep on that side—just make sure I catch any pertinent milestones or trends against a given opponent. My prep is done at least four hours before the start of a game…that way I’m relaxed and ready to roll—NO EXCUSE FOR NOT BEING PREPARED!

Have you always done just hockey?

  • Not at all…If you’d asked me when I was 20 I would’ve said that would have been least likely…..I’ve done baseball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, and even a few greyhound races.

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?

  • As I mentioned, Dave Johnson in horse racing. Doc Emrick and Mike Lange in hockey. Pat Summerall in football, Vin Scully in baseball, and Dick Stockton in basketball. I’d argue long and hard that Doc, Pat, Vin, and Dick are unquestionably the best in the four major sports…..as far as scripted, John Fascenda, and it’s not even close….I cannot begin to tell you how many hours of NFL Films I watched as a kid.

Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?

  • Doc—My Dad was in higher education for 40 years, and even he is impressed with Doc’s ability to weave in a vastly superior vocabulary into a telecast that’s highly intelligent without being pompous.

Which sport that you’ve called would you say is your favorite?

  • I like calling hockey the best….but as far as a fan, I’m an NFL guy….not by much, but you can’t take the Western PA out of the boy even if you take him out of that region.

Are there any memorable stories from the booth you can share with us?

  • I did a period with Steven Tyler at an Alaska Aces game….But my first game in the NHL, Battle of Alberta, the goal of the year, as it turned out (Jordan Eberle, look it up if you haven’t seen it), and a one-punch knockout….after nearly 1000 games in the minors, pretty hard to top that, ever.

Jordan Eberle Goal

What was it like to step into the shoes of such a great broadcaster in Rod Phillips who was known as the best Play by play guy in both the WHA and NHL (and who called over 3,000 games)?

  • Never looked at it that way….He’s an absolute legend, and I’m proud to call him a friend now…even worked with him for 10 games in my first season. But I will never “step into the shoes” or “replace” Rod Phillips. I can only be myself, and over time, with consistent dedication and effort, I hope create my own niche in the Edmonton market.

Speaking of games, you yourself had called over 900 hockey games before even getting to Edmonton (including the ECHL All Star game 5 times), but what was it like getting the call from the Oilers and them asking you to be only the SECOND voice of the club in team history?

  • It probably was the greatest day of my life. I was in Hawaii with my wife and two children, and we had a chance to celebrate it together in a beautiful setting. The call from the Oilers, however, was surpassed by the subsequent call—the call I made to my Dad immediately thereafter.

As an American calling hockey in a Canadian city how have you handled the criticism you’ve received?

  • Fortunately, I haven’t run into that criticism. I’ve found Canadians are just like Americans when it comes to evaluating broadcasters. If you’re passionate about what you do and you’ve put in the work, it comes out in the broadcast and it doesn’t matter where you’re from.

Did living in Alaska prepare you for the cold winter nights in Edmonton?

  • Absolutely—it’s actually a little colder, on average, in Edmonton. But Edmonton has plenty of sunshine so you don’t feel it as much. Dress warm, it’s not an issue. I love living in Edmonton and quite frankly, I enjoyed Anchorage as well.

Is it true that when you were working in the minors you once sold your penalty kill sponsorship to a funeral home?

  • Not quite—boy, you’ve done your research….how on Earth did you know that? Never mind, I’m answering the questions….it was actually the Keys to the Game…..as in “Tonight’s keys to burying the Bakersfield Condors, brought to you by Witzleben Funeral Homes…..” Hey, anything to help the club and make a few bucks, right?

What advice would you give to someone trying to make a living in this business?

  • Find a way to stay solvent and keep yourself in the game….whether it’s selling for the club you’re working for, working a little on the side to make some extra money—whatever it takes to keep your life moving forward (spouse, kids, house) while keeping the dream alive. The less sacrifice you feel you’re making from a life perspective, the more likely you are to outlast the numbers game that’s a huge part of this business.

Thanks again for reading PBP Stories, if you’d like to be interviewed or have someone you think I should check into interviewing please tweet me @michaelhirnpbp or send check out my website www.michaelhirn.com

Today I am honored to share with you an interview with a young broadcaster who is celebrating a birthday today in STAA client Lee W. Mowen. Check out Lee’s STAA profile as he is a rising star to keep an eye on in the world of broadcasting: http://staatalent.com/client/lee-mowen as well as his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thelwm

Lee W. Mowen

How long have you been in broadcasting?
I’ve been broadcasting since my freshman year at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, back in late 2006. One of the first things I did while in college was step into the college radio station to get information on how to join. In my honest opinion, that’s one of the smartest things I did while at Wright State. The Wright State Raiders would be the first team(s) I would cover. Since graduating, I’ve been the voice of a pair of hockey teams, two semi-pro basketball teams, and a summer collegiate baseball team, not to mention a small college in Southwest Ohio, an Australian Footy team in Cincinnati, and several high school games with an internet station. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities too, especially becoming a Public Address Announcer for the University of Dayton Flyers and a couple of All-Star games in Columbus.

When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?
I actually remember wanting to be a broadcaster when I was a little kid. I always thought being an anchor on the newscasts was where I’d be. It took me less than one year of college to figure out being a sportscaster is what I really wanted to become. I have always wanted to be a part of broadcasting in some capacity.

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?
For me, it varies with how much information I can find. I always spend at least a few hours to seek out information on each team. I’ll print out my information and skim important numbers and points a day or so before the game. On the day of the game, I will arrive a few hours before and highlight what I feel will be important talking points. The amount of time and stats I find varies on who or what I’m broadcasting, honestly.

What sports do you currently broadcast?
I’m now in my second season with the Richmond RiverRats, a summer collegiate league team that use wooden bats. It’s a great organization with terrific people and McBride Stadium is quite a treat to broadcast in. I’m also looking forward to returning to broadcast Dayton Demonz hockey this upcoming season. Some sports I’ve done in the past include volleyball, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, softball, hockey, and Australian-Rules Football. I’m always open into broadcasting more sports, including trying out tennis, golf, lacrosse, roller derby, Ultimate Frisbee, racing, swimming, or any other sport.

What’s your favorite sport to broadcast?

That’s a tough question, because I love broadcasting anything. As long as I broadcast for the rest of my life, I’m not too picky on what sport it is. I will say why I like the sports I’ve called, though. I love baseball because of the relaxed atmosphere, I like basketball and hockey because of the pace of both sports, and I like football and soccer because of the pace changes where anything can happen in a second.

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?
Let me answer this question first by saying who I always will look up to, and that would be my parents. They have always believed in me and they also have encouraged me to keep pursuing my dream. In the world of broadcasting, I always looked up to Jim Baldridge, who is a former news anchor at WHIO (which is Dayton, Ohio’s CBS affiliate.) Something that always stuck with me was Baldridge’s love of anchoring and bringing the news to the viewing area. That’s something that I hope always shows during one of my broadcasts. In the world of sports broadcasting, I look up to everyone that makes sportscasting their career. I always want to learn about my passion each and every day. I learn every time I tune into a broadcast.


Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?
I try to not emulate anyone else, as I call what I see in my view. When I call a game, I want to be as descriptive as possible. I want to bring people a front-row seat when I’m live, which is something I hope I’ve improved on since my first broadcast. I will say that I do take tips and advice from other broadcasters. I’m always looking to improve on my broadcasts, so I learn how other sportscasters tick and what makes a broadcast successful.


What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?
I tell you, I’ve been very blessed with all the opportunities broadcasting. From having a referee screaming profanities during a live interview to getting a chance to broadcast at a minor league ballpark, I’ve got a lot of great stories. One of my favorite stories is when the Sports Information Director, Greg, gave me my Bob Carpenter’s Scorebook. It was my first year as the Sports Director at Wright State’s radio station, and Greg saw how hard I was working to make it a success. I’ve almost filled out the entire book in four years, but it’s been a memento of someone believing in me. I can’t thank the SID enough for that book and for helping me out during college.

On-air, I think my favorite stories have to be at getting the opportunity to broadcast at the schools I went to for elementary, middle, and high school, as well as broadcasting at my alma mater for the visiting team all in the same year. I don’t know how many people listened in from those areas or if any of my friends tuned in that day I returned to Wright State as a visiting broadcaster, but it made me smile just realizing I have had an amazing chance to come back home if you will.

Thank you so much for doing this, it is much appreciated.

Thank you for the interview, Michael! I’m appreciative of the chance to be on your website, and I hope people found it interesting. As I wrap this interview up, I’d like to thank everyone who’s followed and befriended me throughout the years. I’d like to thank people who have given me constructive criticism and I’d like to thank people who have believed in me after all these years. For your friendship, I say thank you.

If anyone is interested in networking with me, just give me a follow on Twitter at @theleewmowen.

You’re a class act, Michael. Hopefully we can broadcast together again sometime.

I hope that you’ve been enjoying all of the great interviews we’ve been able to bring you here on PBP Stories so far, because we’ve got another one for you today in the voice of the Dallas Cowboys Brad Sham. Growing up I was (and still am) a HUGE Dallas fan, so being able to get to interview the voice of America’s Team and a man I have the utmost respect for in Mr. Sham is a true honor for me. Mr. Sham will be one of the guest speakers at the STAA Sportscasting Seminar that is taking place in Salisbury, North Carolina on Monday, June 10th.

Brad Sham

How long have you been in broadcasting?

The first broadcasting work I ever did was as a sophomore in high school on my school radio station, doing a football scoreboard show. So I guess I started in 1963. The first professional work I did for money would have been for a commercial radio station while I was in college, probably 1969.

When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?

Before I ever did it. I was in high school. I realized the announcers went to all the games. I knew I wanted to do that.
How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

Depends on what it is. For a Cowboys game, there’s some every day. Interviews and stats review of all games on Monday, watching tape of the next opponent starts Tuesday, internet research every day. There’s a few hours of work every day. Some days more than others.

What sports do you currently broadcast?

Varies year to year, but the last couple it’s been pro football, college football and college basketball. 

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?

I was a Chicago kid, so my first hero was Jack Brickhouse, who did the Cubs and White Sox TV and the Bears radio, among other things. And I always admired the smoothness and versatility of Jack Buck, and becoming friends with him before he died was a huge thrill. Frank Glieber and Verne Lundquist were role models and teachers while I worked with them starting in the mid 70s. And certainly Pat Summerall, whom I was lucky enough to call friend. And I look up to Vin Scully with no hope of ever being anything like him.

Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?


There’s no one I emulate, because I think we have to be ourselves. But I listen to everyone to try to get tips. The Rangers’ voice, Eric Nadel, is a good friend. If every radio play by play person in every sport could pay attention to detail and relate it as effortlessly and seamlessly as Eric makes it sound, the industry would be a lot better.

In 1977 you started with the Cowboys and spent 7 seasons alongside the legendary Verne Lundquist, how did that come about and what was that like for a young broadcaster?

I started with Cowboys’ broadcasts in the middle of the 1976 season. Wikipedia has it wrong. I worked with Verne 8 years. I was hired to work at KRLD in Dallas, and working on the Cowboys broadcasts with Verne and occasionally Frank Glieber and Bob Lilly was one of several duties I had. It was an enormous break and I tried to learn from Verne every time I sat next to him. We’re still great friends today.

Which sport that you’ve called would you say is your favorite?

I got into the business to become a baseball broadcaster. The first sport I did play by play was basketball. And at this point I’ve done more football than anything, and I’m more identified with it. But I don’t know if any of them is a favorite.

What do you enjoy most about broadcasting games for a living?

There’s no one thing. I’m just passionate about the whole process. I love the preparation and the challenge of the live broadcast. There’s nothing about the job I don’t love.

I read a piece on ESPN Dallas after the passing of Pat Summerall where you said  “
Professionally, he should have been the model for every television play-by-play person”, how big of an influence was he on your career?

When I do anything on television, I still see his face and hear his voice. What Pat did on tv doesn’t translate to what anyone does on radio, but on tv, a lot. And the way he carried himself and the person he was is something I try to emulate every day.

I’m sure that there have been many in your illustrious career, but are there any memorable stories from the booth you can share with us that stick out to you?

There have been a lot. One of the first that comes to mind is being part of the only game John Madden ever did on radio. Cowboys-Raiders preseason the year Aikman retired. Babe was doing tv and Rich Dalrymple, the Cowboys’ p-r man, got John to do it. John will tell you today it was one of the most fun days he’s had in broadcasting.

What do you make of catchphrases and gimmicks used by younger broadcasters to get noticed nowadays?

Hate ‘em. I’m a big believer in letting the game come to you. They don’t work for me.

What advice would you give to someone trying to make a living in this business?

You need to love it. You need to work harder than everyone and don’t be primarily concerned with the money. And know that YOU control your attitude. No one else does. Don’t obsess over what you can’t control and worry about what you can. Be honest.

Be sure to follow Mr. Sham on twitter @Boys_Vox and get registered for the STAA One Day Ticket to Sportscasting Success if you have yet to do so.
Until next time, have a great day and an even better tomorrow.