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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter @michaelhirnpbp