The past couple of months I’ve had a chance to speak to some of the great voices in sports and this week is no exception as I was lucky eough to interview current on air host and sports director of WKTM Radio Brady Stiff.
How long have you been in broadcasting?
I didn’t get in to radio until my senior year in college. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have gotten involved well before that. My high school didn’t have a radio station, but they did put on the morning announcements and they had a sports guy. That should have been me, but it wasn’t. My biggest regret in life is not getting involved sooner. I made my radio debut in the fall of 2008, on the pregame show for an Indiana University football game. I did the pregame show and ran the board. I wish I had the tape. We would all have a good laugh.
When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?
I’ve always, even going back to my childhood, known that I wanted to be a broadcaster. When I was a kid, I knew every Cubs’ player’s current batting average. While I always knew I wanted to get into broadcasting, it wasn’t until college until I knew what format. I did play by play and sports talk while at school, and enjoy both.
How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?
Well, it kind of depends on how much information is out there. I currently do a lot of high school games, and as anyone who does high school games knows, it’s hit or miss with how much information you can find. In a sense, I’m always preparing for my next game, whether it’s making up my boards or coming up with game notes, interviewing the coach, or just thinking about what I might encounter during the game based on what I know about the teams involved.
What sports do you currently broadcast?
In the past year, I’ve done football, basketball, baseball, softball, and volleyball. At the moment, just basketball.
Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?
So many people have been influential. Our own Jon Chelesnik has been a huge help. David Kaplan and Judd Sirott work their tails off in Chicago, and are great at their jobs. Mark Carman hired me as an intern at WGN Radio in Chicago and helped shape the early part of my career. My peers Ben Heisler, Jordan Bernfield, and Justin Weiner have been a positive influence on my career. I can’t leave out Tom Langmyer, who helped me get my first full time job in the industry. JR Straus, Robb Rose, Ernie and TaQuoya Kennedy all were a big help in getting me on the road to being a better broadcaster as well.
Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?
Not so much with play by play. I’m fairly new at it, so I’m still developing my “game”, so to speak. With sports talk, especially when it comes to interviewing, I really admire the way Dan Patrick treats a guest on the show. I try to be as fair as possible while still getting the answers I want.
What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?
This story is more a behind the scenes story, but it nearly prevented me from being on the air at all. This past fall, I did high school football for a certain internet streaming company. The crew for a game consisted of the on-air talent, the camera guy, and a producer who ran the computer software. So I usually got there two hours before gametime, and for this particular game, the producer was someone I had never worked with before. I emailed him during the week to make sure he’d be there, and he said yeah no problem. So I’m at the game, all set up, and we get to the end of the sophomore game. No producer. The varsity warmups start, no producer. We’re now about 15 minutes from air. I call the guy in charge, who’s in California (I’m in suburban Chicago), to see what he might be able to do. He’s gonna make some calls. Meanwhile I call the producer, he answers, and I say hey man where the hell are you? He said…Oh man I’m not gonna be able to make it tonight. Sorry. I hung up on him. Called the guy in charge back, and he told me that there was a guy coming to our game to shadow. Thank God. By the time I made my way back to the press box, shadow boy was there. I said hi, I’m Brady. Guess what? You’re producing, sit down! Luckily, the software wasn’t rocket science, and he had used something similar before. The broadcast went off without a hitch.
If there is anything else or any stories you really want to share please feel free to do so.
The most ironic thing I’ve learned in my short time in broadcasting is that in a communications business, communication is the biggest problem! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been involved in miscommunications! It’s not long before you learn your lesson. Double and triple check everything. Whether it’s your out time or the game time…doesn’t matter. For the young aspiring broadcasters: Realize that this job is not all glory. You must put in the work to be great. I know I have a long way to go. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they’re not the end of the world. It’s even OK if you make the same mistake twice. But learn from your mistakes.
Follow Brady on twitter at @BradyStiff or see more of his work on his STAA profile: http://staatalent.com/client/brady-stiff/
Next time we sit down with Victor Anderson. Would you like to be a featured interview or story on PBP Stories? Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @michaelhirnpbp. Thank you for reading as always.