Archive for April, 2013

Today’s interview brings us the words and wisdom of Chuck Cooperstein, the radio PBP voice of the Dallas Mavericks. Mr. Cooperstein is in his eighth season as the radio play-by-play voice of the Mavericks on ESPN 103.3 FM. Cooperstein has been a regular on the Dallas/Fort Worth sports scene since 1984 and has been an anchor on ESPN 103.3 FM since the station’s inception in 2001. He also co-hosts the “Coop and Nate” show with former Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl guard Nate Newton on weekday afternoons.

How long have you been in broadcasting?


If you take it back to college at the University of Florida (where we had, and still have, a fully commercial radio operation) 34 years.


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

Pretty much from the time I was 15 and I knew I wasn’t going to grow to be 7 feet tall, and knew my golf skills were not going to make me the next Jack Nicklaus. But I loved sports and knew how to talk.


What is your favorite sport to call and why?


I love basketball because of its intimacy, even if now, in many NBA arenas, we’re no longer broadcasting from the floor. I’ve been exposed more to basketball than any other sport and thus feel more comfortable with it. But I love the challenge of football because you are so much farther away, there are so many more moving parts, and the game is longer so you need to keep your focus that much longer. I find I can do four basketball games in a day and not feel as wiped out as I do at the end of a football game.



How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?


It’s really hard to say because I feel like the prep never stops. Even after producing my game notes/spotting charts, You’re always reading, always looking for something that you can add into the broadcast.



What sports do you currently broadcast?

I broadcast the NBA as the voice of the Mavericks, and also work some NFL and College Football for Dial Global.



Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting? Growing up in New York, I was a Marv Albert guy. Any one of us who is now in the business, of my age, who grew up listening to Marv will tell you that. His passion and emotion was what it was (and still is) all about. But I was a Jets fan and I loved Merle Harmon, and I was a Mets fan and loved Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy too. As far as today, I’m a huge Dick Enberg and Mike Emrick fan for their passion and the way they use the language. Dan Shulman is just so smooth, Brad Sham, the voice of the Cowboys (And the man who brought me to Dallas in 1984) taught me the art of preparation, and Kevin Calabro, and my TV counterpart with the Mavericks, Mark Followill have baritones that I would just KILL for.



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


I would like to think that I take enough from everyone and make it my own style. But the bottom line for me is to bring passion, emotion, and enthusiasm to every game. If I’m not going to sound excited about the game then why would anyone take the time to listen to me? The biggest criticism I get is that I can get as excited about a play in the first two minutes of the game as I can about a game winning shot. But what if that play is simply otherworldly, and is the best play of the entire game? You don’t know what is going to follow, so you have to be in the moment.

You’ve gotten to call an NBA finals, what was that experience like?


It was the highlight of my career. I highly recommend it . Seriously, to watch someone like Dirk Nowitzki, who had been so unfairly criticized, rise to an even higher level than he had already achieved to win a championship was amazing. And really, for a bunch of guys, who had achieved a lot in their careers, to be able to cap all of it with a championship was wonderful. And then to be able to ride in the parade with 250,000 people lining the streets, and co-emcee the rally at the American Airlines Center with 20,000 people just delirious weigh joy. No, it does NOT get better than that.

What advice do you have for young broadcasters trying to make it in the industry?


1. Get out and meet as many people as you can. This is a “Who you know” business. You never know where your next opportunity will come from.

2. Be willing to be critical of yourself. People may tell you were great. Only you will really know if it’s true. Listen to yourself. Frankly, its something I hate to do because we never sound the way we think we sound but it’s something I HAVE to do. There are folks like Vin Scully, who may have had the perfect broadcast, that is something I have yet to achieve.


3. Be prepared to be disappointed. You can do the best job in the world, but it might not matter because your future is always in the hands of someone else. But that leads back to the first point. When one door closes, inevitably, if you’ve handled your business right, another door opens.




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


Too many to count, but recently, my favorite was when we had Delonte West on our post game show in Orlando. The broadcast location in their new building is the highest in the NBA, and the broadcast drop was on the floor. He put the headset on, but couldn’t find us. We were waving down to him and finally after about 45 seconds, after answering our first question, he spotted us, and as only he could do say “What the &$%$ are you doing up there?” Fortunately, there was a delay on the broadcast, so it never made it on the air, but suffice to say the rest of the interview was a total scream.

Make sure to follow Chuck on twitter @coopmavs
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Dave APUS Aug 2012
Today I am honored again to bring you a great interview. I had a chance to speak to NSAA Executive Director and Wake Forest football analyst Dave Goren. Dave and the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association  and STAA are co-hosting a huge Awards Weekend that will take place from June 8-10th in Salisbury, North Carolina and will feature ESPN personality Dick Vitale as well as New York Times bestselling author Mitch Albolm. For more information on the weekend please check out their link at http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e71ltn6h848ebde1&llr=bcbdrvdab
You can follow Dave on twitter @NSSA_DaveGoren
How long have you been in broadcasting?  Started in college in 1977… so 36 years (YIKES!).


When did you know that it was what you wanted to do? 
From the time I was in high school.


How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast? 
Now, my only broadcasting is as analyst for Wake Forest football during the fall, and a weekly radio sports commentary.  For football, I start by attending spring and then pre-season practices, and probably do between an hour and two preparing for the game each week.  For the commentaries, it’s a matter of coming up with an idea, and then getting the writing to flow.  It is also usually an hour to two-hour process.
 
In my tv days, preparation for anchoring usually began with reading the morning newspaper cover-to-cover (not just sports).  I would typically be in sometime between 2 and 3pm for the 6pm sportscast.  I would try to get the 11pm sportscast laid out before I left for dinner or for covering a game.  Depending on whether there was a game to cover, I would be back by 8:45 to start preps for the 11.


What sports do you currently broadcast? 
Radio analyst for Wake Forest University football on the Wake Forest/IMG Sports Network.  Occasionally freelance ofr others, including ACC Digital Network.


Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting? 
I grew up about 40 miles outside of Boston, so I listened to all of the Boston guys – Ken Coleman, Ned Martin doing the Red Sox; Johnny Most with the Celtics; Don Earle and then Bob Wilson with the Bruins; Gil Santos with the Patriots.  Then, there were the local tv guys, such as Don Gillis.  All of them were institutions in New England and helped us as fans form that lifelong connection to the teams they covered.
 
Nationally, I was a big fan of Curt Gowdy – such a distinctive voice.  Same with Charlie Jones and Jim Simpson on the AFL games on NBC.  Dick Enberg and Marv Albert doing college basketball in the late 60s and early 70s.  Ray Scott, the incomparable Vin Scully.  Then, there were some of the more underrated guys, such as Frank Glieber on CBS.  Lindsey Nelson, Chris Schenkel, Jim McKay, Jack Whitaker.  All great with their use of language.
 
Later on, Al Michaels became, in my opinion, the gold standard for play-by-play.


Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way? 
I’m sure I’ve taken a little bit from each of the people I mentioned, but I have always just tried to be me. 

What advice do you have for young broadcasters trying to make it in the industry?    
As I stated above, be yourself.  Prepare diligently, write often (the more you do it, the better you’ll become), practice frequently (even if you’re using a hairbrush as a microphone).  Stay away from shtick — gimmicks can work for a time, but eventually people get tired of them.  Develop relationships with people in the industry, whether they can be directly beneficial to you or not.  Always be willing to help others – even if it is not beneficial to you.


What is your favorite on air story you can share with us? 
There are a handful of stories that I seem to focus on:
·       I covered Wake Forest football as a tv reporter for 18 seasons, most of them losing season, until they broke through and won the ACC Championship in 2006.  I remember walking out of Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, after they had beaten Georgia Tech, saying to myself, “Wake Forest just won the ACC Championship.”  In a business where we overuse the word unbelievable, for me, it truly was.
·       A high school football player had been paralyzed from the chest down after a car accident.  The story we did with him, on his willful determination to walk again was very powerful, both in words and pictures.  A good photographer can help make a story great.  If you have a good relationship with your photographer, you can almost know what the other is thinking, and what that person wants.  Great teamwork, makes great tv.
·       Did a story on a young hockey player who had a neuroblastoma, an often fatal cancer.  We did a follow-up with him a year or so later, on Thanksgiving night, after he had been cured.  And the emotion, especially from his dad, was gripping.
·       In my last year in tv, it was opening night for high school football.  We were live at 5 and 6pm from tailgating in the parking lot.  As I was walking into the game, a mother and father of a player stopped me and introduced themselves as the presidents of that school’s booster club.  We had a nice informal chat and then I went into the game.  At halftime, I took the first half video and went back to start editing the highlights.  During the second half, my photographer called and said the game was delayed by a serious injury.  It was the son of the people I had met walking into the game.  He died two days later.  We showed only still frames of the player from the game (the actual hit that caused his death could not be seen on video) in our stories over the weekend. 
 
On Tuesday of the following week, I received a call from a friend of mine who was also a friend of the family’s.  They had seen the still photos and wanted to know if they could possibly get one to display at their son’s funeral.  I called our art director and asked if he could make it happen.  He had seven photos of the boy ready for me when I got to the station.  My friend picked them up and delivered them to the family.  During the 5pm news that day, my phone rang.  It was father, sobbing, saying, “Thank you so much for doing this.”  I could barely respond.  Can you imagine the father of a 15-year-old boy who has just died, picking up the phone to say “thank you?”  As sad as that story was, that simple gesture probably meant more to me than anything I covered in 24 years in local tv sports.

If there is anything else you’d like to include or add please feel free to do so as I’m sure the readers would love read it. 
Being in sports media can be a wonderful way to earn a living, travelling all over to cover some of the biggest sporting events on earth.  Just be mindful of the tradeoffs you will make.  Because most events happen at nights and on weekends, that is when you will be working.  Have a best friend who’s getting married during a local tv “sweeps” month?  Sorry, you can’t be in the wedding.  You want to go hang out with your friends on a Friday or Saturday night?  Sorry, not til 11:45 or later.  Married and your wife wants to go out to dinner with another couple?  Good luck with that.  Married, with kids?  Good luck spending much time with them at night.
 
I’ve been fortunate the last four-plus years, no longer having to cover daily sports, to be able to spend quality time with my family, while my two boys are still young enough to be living at home.  I wouldn’t trade my career for anything, but it sure has been gratifying to watch them grow from kids to young men.

Thanks for joining us for another edition of PBP Stories. Today we are fortunate enough to talk to New Mexico State University radio/tv play by play voice Jay Sanderson. Check Jay out on twitter: twitter.com/sanderson_nmsu
Jay Sanderson

How long have you been in broadcasting?

I got my start in broadcasting when I was 17 years old.  During my junior year in high school at Douglass High School (a small rural high school in Kansas), a friend and I joked that we should get our own TV sports show.  We watched sports on TV together all the time, and that was when SportsCenter became what it is with Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann.  We thought it would be cool.  Over time, it evolved from a joke to something we decided to pursue.

The city of Douglass had its own local cable access channel that played rotating graphics with community announcements.  There was no video element.  Matt and I called city hall, got on the agenda for the next city council meeting and made a presentation asking for an hour each week on the city channel.  Much to our surprise, they said yes.

After the meeting, we said “ok, now what?”  We had no camera, no editing equipment and absolutely no clue how to make a TV show.  Fortunately, the principal of the high school, who had minored in journalism while he was in college, also had an interest in broadcasting.  When he got word of what we had accomplished, he called us to his office, told us the school would purchase all of the necessary equipment and create a TV broadcasting program.  The principal taught the class for the remainder of the school year, and we all just kind of learned as we went.  The next year, the school offered the class to all students, brought in an alumnus, who was the weekend anchor at one of the Wichita TV stations to teach the class.  He was there 2 hours a day, taught the class and then went back to work.

Looking back on it, it is an unbelievable stroke of good fortune for all of those things to happen for us, and I’m so glad it did.  I fell in love with the work and knew I had found what I wanted to do with my life.

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

I had some idea at a young age that I was into broadcasting.  My grandmother loves to tell the story of how during one of the games of the 1985 World Series – Kansas City vs. St. Louis – my family and I are ALL die hard Royals fans, which is very hard to be! – I sat in front of the TV and called play-by-play of the game.  She says that I had no idea anyone was hearing me, so much so my grandfather muted the TV and listened to my call.  While, I think some of the stroy has evolved over the years, especially now that I’m actually in the business, I don’t doubt that I did it.  I have always paid attention to what the announcers said during games and how they said it.  I think the broadcasters of my youth shaped me and what I wanted to become.

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

The preparation time, obviously, depends on the sport.  For football, I’ll spend an exorbitant amount of time getting ready.  25+ hours at a minimum and usually a lot more.  There’s just so much information available for football and there are so many different layers to the game as well as the calling of the game, that it’s so vital to be prepared.  Growing up, Kevin Harlan was the voice of the Kansas City Chiefs, the team I grew up loving.  He is so good and it was such a treat to listen to him.  He’s ultimately prepared for games.  Now Mitch Holthus is the voice of the Chiefs.  I’ve been lucky enough to learn from Mitch in a one-on-one setting and I’ve seen how he preps for football.  I follow their model and spend a lot of time doing little things, like watching video of the next opponent to get a feel for what they do and who the key players are.  Video study helps a lot.  So football is incredibly involved.

For basketball, I probably spend 8-12 hours in preparation.  Again, I look at film whenever I can and then I pour through the game notes, talk with SIDs, coaches, and other broadcasters.  I look for stories.  It’s so easy to just throw stat after stat after stat during a basketball game, but I’d much rather tell a story.  Shooting percentages mean nothing, unless there’s a story to be told.  For example, it means nothing that a player shoots 42 percent from the field.  However, if he is a senior shooting 42 percent, and during his junior year he shot 17 percent, now that tells a story.  So I look for a good story or two for each player in the game.  I also look for story lines to develop for each team.  You may not get any of them in, at least you may not remember you did, but if you take the time to develop some stories, and lock them in your brain, they’ll subconsciously come out during your call without even realizing it.  That’s why prep is so important.

Baseball is similar, especially from the storytelling perspective.  For me, preparing for baseball is similar for basketball, although, I don’t spend quite as much time in game prep, because the nature if the game is that it’s every day.  You’re going to remember things about your team more readily day by day over the course of the season.  The most of my prep comes before the first game of a series to get myself familiarized with the opponent.

What sports do you currently broadcast?

Right now, I call volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball all on TV.  I’m also our fill-in for football.

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

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some outstanding mentors in broadcasting.  My main influence is the man who taught our high school class, Jim Kobbe.  Jim was a TV anchor and reporter who did some play-by-play on the side, and is unquestionably the best writer I’ve ever worked with.  It will be very difficult to find someone who is ever a better writer than he.  Jim is no longer in the business, but I still visit with him and get his feedback about my work.

As I mentioned, I have also been blessed to live in markets that broadcast professional sports with some outstanding play-by-play men.  The Kansas City Royals have been called for 45 years by Denny Matthews, a Ford C. Frick Honoree in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  His insight, knowledge and style of calling baseball is underrated nationally.  He, in my opinion, is second only to Vin Scully in terms of ability to call a baseball game and make you feel like you’re there.

Kevin Harlan and Mitch Holthus have been the voices of the Kansas City Chiefs in my generation, and there aren’t many football people better than those two.  Of course, Harlan has gone on to national prominence, and Holthus is as knowledgeable about the game of football, from an Xs and Os standpoint as you’ll ever hear, but yet, that doesn’t get in the way of a call.  He is also great on TV basketball calls and is working for ESPN in the Big 12 during football’s off season.

How did the New Mexico gig come about?

It came out of nowhere.  I was on my way to a high school football game last September when I got an e-mail from Jon Chelesnik and the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA – staatalent.com) telling me of the opening.  Because I was getting ready for a game, I didnt think much about it at the time.  After the game was over, however, I got home, reread the e-mail and sent in my application.  In my head, I told myself, “well, I’ll just throw my hat in the ring and see what happens.”  I hit send, the e-mail went out and I really didn’t think too much about it.  I was stunned when I received a phone call the following Wednesday asking to schedule telephone interviews.  I interviewed with two different people, they went well, and I got a follow up phone call the next day to offer me the job.  So I went from not thinking about it much on a Friday to having a division-I job the following Thursday.  It all happened much faster than I ever imagined it would, but I guess it was just meant to be.

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

I don’t know if there’s any one person I try to emulate. I got to where I am by calling a game from my perspective.  I dont want to be Vin Scully, I don’t want to be Al Michaels.  I want to be me.  I listen to a lot of different announcers as I travel around and I try to identify what I like about their call and what I’m not so wild about.  If I think there’s something they do with their call, I may try to add it to a call of a game on occasion to see how I like it, but those times are rare.  I’ve learned traits and characteristics from those I consider great – like the description of Kevin Harlan.  I strive for that kind of description, but I don’t try to be him.

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

Asking what a favorite on-air moment is like asking ‘what is your favorite breath of air.’  I feel like God put me on this earth to be a broadcaster, and I enjoy every single second I get to do this for a living.  That doesn’t just include the time actually on the air.  That’s the cherry on top, so to speak.  I love the prep, I love learning about people, I love getting to tell their stories.  I love the wins, I love the losses. I love everything about my profession. Being an announcer is a visceral experience for me.  I love it deep down to my core, every bit of it.