Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

PBP Stories episode 8 features a guest of the text version of the interviews we’ve previously published here in John Kelly who talks about his love for the business and his time as the voice of the Merchant Marine Academy in this 90 minute sit-down.

John Kelly Interview

 


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John Kelly Jr. is currently the TV voice of Men’s and Women’s Basketball for the US Merchant Marine Academy.

He is currently entering his third year on the call for US Merchant Marine Basketball Academy at Kings Point, New York.

John Kelly Jr. also is a freelance broadcaster for the NJ Spartans of the Major League Football and does voiceovers for Star Cast Productions for their HS Hockey Team’s Highlight tapes.

John Kelly Jr used to do Television Play By Play for MSG Varsity Network in New York for High School Hockey, Football, Basketball, Lacrosse, and Volleyball. Before that he did Play by Play for Marauder Radio Network for St. Peter’s Prep Football, Basketball, and Hockey from 2009 until 2013.

How long have you been in broadcasting and how did you get your start?

I have been in Broadcasting for 6 years since I graduated Fordham University WFUV in 2009,

My start was at Fordham University and I am grateful for that. With very little broadcast experience prior to Fordham and also being a Transfer student I was at a disadvantage at getting on the air early on. My Mentor, Bob Ahrens is very well respected in NY sports market. He preferred to give freshman on-air experience first because he had more time to work with them.

That did not discourage me at all. I began my career at WFUV as an engineer on the One on One sports show Saturdays at 1pm. I also covered the NY Dragons of the Arena Football League. I got to follow them all the way to Philadelphia and used each and every beat report to improve my pacing, sound, and storytelling.

Finally, I saw a WFUV email for Updates needed on a Fordham Football Game. Of Course I responded and said ill fill in. I performed well on those Updates and gave my mentor enough confidence to do them again for their afternoon sports show every Saturday at 1.

After delivering on updates in the fall I was offered color for Fordham Football vs. Bucknell. That was my first live broadcast over FM radio. I will admit I was nervous and excited. I was Excited because I knew how to stop the Triple Option which Bucknell Ran and Nervous because I wanted Bob to trust me down the road for future broadcasts. He did and that led to future opportunities as a co-host on one on one and for the 2009 NFL Draft.

My first broadcast went fine and the game was entertaining despite Fordham fell in OT. After that the doors opened for me to fill in. During my time Ryan Ruocco of ESPN had left and a lot of other major talents focused on Play by Play and left their other duties open.

This allowed me to fill in as a beat reporter for the Devils, Knicks, Giants, The Barclays, and for the NY Liberty’s outdoor game at Arthur Ashe Stadium.  I also was the beat reporter my Senior Year for the New York Islanders and got to cover Spring Training with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

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

When I was in High School I knew I wanted to be a sportscaster. Indirectly I have called games just for the sake of it. Whether it was calling my Saturday Soccer games instead of playing defense to calling my NCAA Video games I knew I wanted to do this for a living.

I grew up with many famous calls on College Football Saturdays from listening to Tony Roberts do Notre Dame Football to Keith Jackson’s “Hello Heisman” to Brent Musberger’s “Holy Buckeye”. The ability to dramatize the situation at hand in my opinion is what makes a great broadcaster and I wanted to master that moment and be a part of it.

What sports do you currently broadcast?

I currently broadcast Basketball for the US Merchant Marine Academy on Web stream. I have do football internet radio games for the NJ Spartans. I also call Hockey games for HS teams highlight reels.

I have also broadcasted internet radio Football and Basketball for St. Peter’s Prep and rivals. I have also done TV play by play for HS Volleyball and Lacrosse during my time at MSG Varsity.

Who do you look up to in broadcasting?

My broadcasting Idol is the famous Doc Emrick of NBC. I grew up with him as a diehard Devil fan in New Jersey. I love him the most because of his energy. He brings the heat which I want on hockey broadcasts.

Hearing him say phrases like “SCORE!!!” and “HIT THE POST WITH THE SHOT!!” with his high pitched voice always fired me up. His preparation beyond the game for players and his recall of other levels of hockey is outstanding. Sometimes I cannot believe he knows the two AHL teams for the current teams he is broadcasting. He is the major reason why hockey is one of favorite sports to broadcast.

Is there anyone you emulate or have borrowed from to shape your own style?

There are 5 guys that I have emulated and have borrowed from to enhance my Football, Basketball, and Hockey Play by Play.

For me I am extremely technical coming from Fordham where Marty Glickman and my mentor Bob Ahrens emphasized description and score and time on radio. I am a high energy guy but at Fordham so I wanted to find guys that could incorporate it with play by play radio description.

So for Football radio play by play I emulated Bob Papa the radio voice of the New York Giants. His directional play by play for passes and runs and the way he sets up of the play is a tactic I continue to use today.

For Basketball Play by Play on radio Ryan Ruocco of ESPN Radio is an outstanding talent and saved me on how to call basketball on radio. His description of the right wing, right glass, middle red paint, and right to left and the jersey descriptions were outstanding. When it comes to score and time Ryan is great at giving it right after a basket is made. I continue to listen to him and emulate him on every call.

For Hockey Play by Play energy Doc Emrick has always been someone I have emulated since I was little. When it comes to Hockey on TV I want my audience to be on the edge of their seat. He has taught me the tactic of pausing after a player shoots. It has helped my calls sound cleaner. I emulate how he controls his energy too which is something I try to work on. I also try to sprinkle little tidbits like him about players. It could be something about their home town, family, or off the ice accomplishments.

Still, Kenny Albert, radio of voice of the New York Rangers, saved my hockey play by play life by providing me the structure to call it right on the radio.

His use of the “left and right wing”, “Across the Ranger Line”, “Near and Far Corner”, “Left and Right Point” is all I listen to with hockey play by play. The directional changes he does are outstanding like “Staahl behind the Ranger net, Rangers going right to left”. Since hockey is such a fast game I continuously listen to Kenny to make sure I am doing it right.

Also Kenny’s anticipation on radio is outstanding for a fast paced game. His phrase like “Gaborik over the Capital Line on right wing to the circle” allows you to paint the picture for the listener without getting your tongue twisted focusing always saying right or left circle all the time.

Kenny is also excellent at inserting recaps into his call by saying “Devil and Flyers tied at 2 all four goals scored on special teams”.

When it comes to describing the crowd and setting the scene I have emulated Vin Scully over the years. His descriptions of the crowd on their feet and their emotions during a baseball game are outstanding. He also is great a letting the crowd noise fill in a major moment like he did on his call of Henry Aaron’s record breaking homerun.

You’ve done both radio and TV broadcasts in your career, is there one you prefer over the other?

I prefer Radio Broadcasts because I enjoy painting the picture for the listener and it was the play by play I learned exclusively while I was at Fordham. With Radio the Play by Play Guy controls the game and it’s his job to set the scene to the listener when the game is on the line.

I do enjoy television and am not knocking it at all. However, for a television broadcast to be successful there are so many crucial elements to make it look and sound good to captivate your audience. Also, it is a true team effort all around.

Unlike Radio, your audience can see the play on their televisions. So your director and the guys in the truck need to be on the same page in order to get the proper shots to create that excitement for your viewers. As a play by play guy you are weaving more storylines into your call since your analyst has more control and constantly looking at your monitor to either talk about a graphic or talk about a player or coach or person on screen.

At the Merchant Marine Academy I actually mute my Microphone so I have enough time to set up the graphic or allow my one camera guy to focus in on a player. In the big leagues the truck does that for you.

At the end of the day with Radio my focus is the call on the field, court, or ice. And every dead ball setting up the promo.

How many hours do you spend preparing for one game?

I am a stickler on Preparation from the colors of the jerseys and numbers to the up to date stats of every player. It is crucial for me to know these things so I can think of them day in and day out before the broadcast.

For Merchant Basketball depending on how many games are in a week I spend upwards 6 to 7 hours a night getting starters, stats, facts, information on the conference, and crucial storylines relevant to each and every broadcast.

The Merchant Marine’s sometimes have three games in a week with a Doubleheader on Saturdays. I’ll actually write out the starters out for the doubleheaders the previous weekend in sharpie colors and leave it blank. Then make a copy of those blank starters in case their stats change later. I do this every time I have three or more games in a week so I can allow that 6 to 7 hours prepping for the game.

For Football it starts on Monday and until the night before the game sometimes since I mostly did high school I would prepare close to ten to twelve hours between getting rosters, starters, stats, and finally putting them to paper.

I prep for NJ Spartan games almost for 4 days before the game.

Preparation is key to being your best on every single broadcast.

Where is your favorite place to call a game?

METLIFE STADIUM for a NJ High School Football Championships. You can really see the field well for Football and be able as a radio guy able to describe the play better. You have all that space for your notes, crowd mike, and mixer like you don’t get in NJ HS press boxes.

I have also called some amazing State title games there like Old Tappan and Wayne Hills in 2011 and PC and Bergen Catholic in 2012. Of Course when I worked for Marauder Radio Network I did St. Peter’s Prep’s 2013 State Title game and another one of theirs freelance in 2014.

The ability to view that gorgeous press area and the acoustics from 2,000 to 5,000 people cheering in a stadium built for 80,000 plus is exhilarating.

What is your favorite on air story you can share?

My first year with Marauder Radio Network 2010 with broadcast friend and collegespun.com writer Matt Hladik. St. Peter’s Prep Basketball played Oak Hill a major Basketball powerhouse that had 4 D-I players on their team including former Kentucky player Doron Lamb. No one gave St. Peter’s Prep a chance and they were able to upset Head Coach Steve Smith and Oak Hill.

The best part about this broadcast was because television timeouts from the first game took so long the scheduled 8pm broadcast was bumped to 10pm.

I was raw as a play by play guy back then and had a rough first half call. The second half call though was a lot better and got better as the game got competitive. Doron Lamb had 49 points and Prep’s Guard and former Xavier Player had 33 points watching them duke it out was unreal.

The final call was amazing and I set up score and time and description perfectly.

To be with Matt as the clock stuck 1 am and see St. Peter’s stop the final inbound is a memory I will never forget.

What advice could you offer to aspiring broadcasters or those just starting out?

Well my advice to aspiring broadcasters and ones starting is can be summed up in two parts. Those two parts are from a professional level and an emotional level.

From a professional level you need to constantly be working on your craft and improving yourself broadcast after broadcast. In two weeks I will be practicing basketball play by play and hockey play by play in my apartment to prepare myself for this season. I have my tape recorder out already and I will be listening for two months to make sure I am recapping, score and time, following the ball, sprinkling in stats and storylines when it matters.

For young people and aspiring broadcasters out there you need to be practicing all the time. Your reps are what matters and that is what I am telling you above. I am at over 100 broadcasts now and I am still trying to improve. I wasn’t settled in or even close to it at broadcast number 30. Focus on knowing the players, getting acclimated with the speed of the game, score and time, recap, and description if on the radio. Also, I did Marauder Radio Network unpaid to improve. Sometimes, that is the best way to get exposure, build a reseme, and obtain contacts. Marauder Radio Hockey tapes got me the job at MSG Varsity.

For each rep to count make sure your broadcasts are in a professional environment. If you are doing High School or College Games make sure the conference has a website and the coach is cool with giving you starters and stats. Rich Hansen at St. Peter’s Prep, SIDS Sean Ihauz and Joe Guster at USMMA, and the NJ Spartans are excellent at doing these very things. As a young or aspiring broadcaster every rep is key to improving so make sure your audience you broadcast is on the same page with you in that area

Every game matters and crappy pregame info will harm your call. Also, avoid broadcast environments that will waste that preparation time you’ve done or harm your chances to improve as a broadcaster.

When I was in the HS lots of people offered me games that I had to turn down because they had no idea how to get stats, shoot the camera, and get press space. One former professor I had in grad school at Fairleigh Dickinson who I won’t mention really ruined my calls by doing these same things. If people don’t want to express the same professionalism as you then you need to avoid them.

Reach out to other broadcasters to critique your tapes. Fordham gave me the luxury of having Seattle Mariners voice Dave Sims’s email. Make sure your emails aren’t all about you. Dave Sims helped me a lot with improving. Also Manhattan and USMMA Football Broadcaster Jaden Daly critiqued me and liked me enough to refer me for the USMMA Basketball job I have now. Professional input helps.

Even if one guy doesn’t talk to you keep reaching out on twitter or facebook to talk with them.

From an emotional standpoint stay positive and keep at it. There are ups and downs but if you stay positive, do a good job, and show people your true talent you will get opportunities. Also, have fun because broadcasting games is an awesome time and if you get paid to do it consider yourself extremely lucky.

Be sure to follow John and the Merchant Marines all year round on twitter: John Kelly Jr Twitter

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

 

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.

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.