Archive for January, 2013

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.

Brady hard at work

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 michaelhirn3@hotmail.com or tweet me @michaelhirnpbp. Thank you for reading as always.

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Thanks for stopping by here for another great interview. Robert Adams, a longtime play by play voice was gracious enough to stop by and do an interview with us this time:

Robert Adams

How long have you been in broadcasting?

I got my first job in 1990, at WMJV (Majic 105) in Patterson, NY as a weekend overnight DJ.  I added in a sports report at 6:00 AM.

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

I knew I wanted to be a broadcaster as a kid.  The decision became easier as a teenager once I figured out I wasn’t much of an athlete

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

I normally put a couple of hours into prepping for a broadcast, in that I make my charts and grab whatever research I can get my hands on.  My sports and radio work aren’t my full-time jobs, so prep time is often at a premium.  However, I have been broadcasting in this area for so long that I have a pretty good grasp of story lines.  Plus I get a lot of nuggets at the game site as I’m setting up equipment.  Getting time with coaches and players in the Fairfield County, CT area isn’t as easy as it seems, and rosters can occasionally be hard to come by, but I normally find a way to make it all work.

What sports do you currently broadcast?

I currently handle football, basketball, hockey, and baseball.  At times, I’ve also done lacrosse, softball, golf, and more.

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

I grew up to the north of New York City, and was a Yankees fan as a kid.  In the 70’s, we were blessed to have Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, and Frank Messer doing the Bombers games.  Messer struck me as a professional.  He was the first guy I paid attention to for the description of the action.  Dick Enberg is also a personal favorite because his ability to call almost any sport always impressed me.  I love the energy and descriptions of Doc Emrick.  His word usage is so strong that it often makes me laugh.  There have been so many broadcasters that I’ve looked up to both in and out of sports, but Vin Scully was the guy who absolutely blew me away.  I teach play-by-play and sports reporting, and am always telling students to listen to Scully to learn the right way to call a game.  His ability to describe and tell stories, but never step on the story, amazes me.  He doesn’t do hyperbole.  He is more than willing to let crowd noise tell everything that needs to be said.

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

I certainly follow a lot of what Vin Scully has done, but also believe what Red Barber told him when he said (I’m paraphrasing): “The most important thing you bring into the broadcast is yourself.”  So I bring some Scully into the booth, but I also recognize that we have to entertain as well as report, so I bring a dose of humor and reality into the booth, which I think is a Joe Buck trait.

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

Wow – it is so hard to pick just one.  While I was first on the air when I was 21, I didn’t get into calling games and working more consistently in radio until I was almost 30.  Because of that I feel a sense of wonder still.  To say I stood in a room with Joe Torre, Dan Marino, Roger Clemens (regardless of what anyone thinks of him) and more is pretty cool.  Having the opportunity to work at the old Yankee Stadium was a “checklist moment.”  Interviewing Terry Bradshaw surpassed anything I could hope for, because we worry that the people we grew up watching might not be so great when we meet them.  I’ve called so many great games and have interviewed people both known and unknown that have amazed me.  I’ve called a game at Fenway Park.  I did eight hours straight in the middle of Superstorm Sandy.  I’ve called state championship-winning field goals (in the Carrier Dome) and have had virtually every technical difficulty that one can experience.  Like many, I’ve dealt with the highs and the lows.  But I’ll give you a story that involved something I did on the air that started out very mundane.  I called the championships of the Greenwich (CT) Youth Football League.  It’s a long day of games, and I finished up without thinking much of it.  Somebody asked for a copy (not uncommon) and I gave it to him.  A few months later, I get a call from a friend who tells me they heard my voice on the Howard Stern show that morning.  It was true – Stern’s Executive Producer, Gary Dell’Abate, lives in Greenwich, and got a copy of the games because his son played in one of the games.  While not mentioning me by name, Stern introduced the clip, and he and Robin Quivers repeated what I said.  If nothing else, that story is always a good ice breaker for me at a party.

On your resume you have “Sports Broadcasting Sampler” listed, what exactly is that?

My “Sports Broadcasting Sampler” is a demo that I linked to my LinkedIn site.  Instead of making it specific to just one sport, I made it broad, featuring a sports story, a news report (always have to show versatility!) and some play-by-play.  Just a little something to whet the appetite.

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

Wow – there are so many stories I could tell that I could write forever.  The “business” has sent me through every possible emotion.  I’m most concerned about the lack of quality broadcasting that I hear currently, which employers are using in exchange for cheap labor.  The broadcaster is so the “voice” of the team.  They are the fist impression that some fans get.  If I’m hiring, I want someone who is going to represent the team in the best way possible, while still being a good reporter.  I’m not looking for a fan in the booth.  I want a pro, who can read the copy, keep the listeners entertained, and get people to the ballpark.  I’ve learned over the years that not just any person can do this.

I have a son, and he often accompanies me to games.  I’ve given him what I hope are some good experiences.  He was an infant when I threw out the first pitch in Bridgeport, CT.  One of my favorite stories was when I was working with Hudson Valley.  He was six when I took him and his grandmother to a game in Aberdeen, MD.  We were in Ripken Stadium, with our credentials on, when I paused and had him look at the gates, which had fans waiting patiently to get in.  I said to him, “Do you see those people?  You’re in the stadium before they are.  Pretty cool, huh?”  It was a small moment, but something that I will never forget.  All part of why I love broadcasting games!

Huge thank you to Robert for a fantastic interview. If you’ve got a story you’d like to share please email me: michaelhirn3@hotmail.com or find me on twitter @michaelhirnpbp

Happy 2013 and thank you for visiting the blog here.

Thanks to a couple of broadcasters from the Sports Talent Agency of America(www.staatalent.com) we’ve got a couple of great stories to share.

Two stories from STAA founder and former ESPN personality Jon Chelesnik lead off this entry: My PBP story that comes immediately to mind is from roughly 1990. Bethany College football at Kansas Wesleyan in Salina, KS. The school told me earlier in the week that the press box phone line was live. I called the number to confirm and indeed it rang. However, when I arrived at the stadium Saturday afternoon nearly three hours prior to kickoff, the line was dead. Over the next three hours, I sent someone to the local Radio Shack to purchase several hundred feet of phone line. I plugged it into a line in an outbuilding of some kind and stretched it to the top line of the bleachers. We missed the opening kickoff but were on the air for the first play from scrimmage.

This is why you should always arrive to your games early.

Jon also offered up some advice on how NOT to get a job if you are a young broadcaster:

Another time, I was a teenager stalking the visiting play-by-play guy at a San Diego Clippers game at the SD Sports Arena. In the process of introducing myself, I spilled his Coke all over his game notes. Needless to stay, that relationship didn’t go anywhere.

An  interesting scenario presented itself in one of the games I was lucky enough to broadcast this season. Have any of you ever had this happen to you? During a girls basketball game in which Ottoville is beating Kalida by over 20 points with less than 50 seconds remaining, the referee stopped the game. A foul or out of bounds ball you ask? Nope, he stopped the game in the middle of a play to let the subs come into the game. I haven’t been doing games for as long as some folks have been fortunate enough to, but this one was a new one for me.Also, thank you to the folks at Sports Networker (www.sportsnetworker.com) for recognizing me as one of their Rising Stars to watch in Sports Broadcasting in 2013. I am truly honored to have been selected by an organization I have an immense respect for. If you have a free minute please go to their website at http://www.sportsnetworker.com/2013/01/01/rising-stars-in-sportsbiz-in-2013/ and take a look at who they say to keep an eye on.
Thank you for reading. Please check back often as in 2013 we here have a lot of great stories and interviews with a who’s who of Sports Broadcasting set to be unveiled for your reading pleasure.Have a great night and an even better tomorrow, and never let anyone stop you from accomplishing your dreams.Michael Hirn