Posts Tagged ‘broadcasting’

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

 

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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.

Our interview this week is with the play by play voice of the Edmonton Oilers Jack Michaels. You can follow jack on twitter @edmontonjack and read his NHL mock draft at http://oilers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=675018

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Jack, How long have you been in broadcasting?

  • 20 years…fortunate enough to go to a great school, especially in terms of getting on the air right away, like Ithaca College.

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

  • 1989 Preakness stretch drive between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. Dave Johnson had an unbelievable call….and even though I was just a kid, I already was aware of my athletic limitations.

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

  • Hockey is a pretty compressed schedule, so a lot of work comes before the season ever starts….once you’re in the midst of it, though, from game-to-game it goes something like this…..I usually read a at least a week’s worth of articles about the opponent, so I know what’s going on and has been with them. I’ll also watch their previous game with their commentators so I can take appropriate notes….I’ll already have done flow charts with their lines and D-men before the year, but I’ll update that as well due to injuries/call-ups. I’ll then go to their pre-game skate and work the room afterward, recording a couple of interviews and just getting the general tenor…then I’ll move onto the game notes for both clubs, fill out my scorebook and I should be good. For the Oilers, I attend every practice and media session leading up to and for all games, so I usually don’t have a ton of prep on that side—just make sure I catch any pertinent milestones or trends against a given opponent. My prep is done at least four hours before the start of a game…that way I’m relaxed and ready to roll—NO EXCUSE FOR NOT BEING PREPARED!

Have you always done just hockey?

  • Not at all…If you’d asked me when I was 20 I would’ve said that would have been least likely…..I’ve done baseball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, and even a few greyhound races.

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

  • As I mentioned, Dave Johnson in horse racing. Doc Emrick and Mike Lange in hockey. Pat Summerall in football, Vin Scully in baseball, and Dick Stockton in basketball. I’d argue long and hard that Doc, Pat, Vin, and Dick are unquestionably the best in the four major sports…..as far as scripted, John Fascenda, and it’s not even close….I cannot begin to tell you how many hours of NFL Films I watched as a kid.

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

  • Doc—My Dad was in higher education for 40 years, and even he is impressed with Doc’s ability to weave in a vastly superior vocabulary into a telecast that’s highly intelligent without being pompous.

Which sport that you’ve called would you say is your favorite?

  • I like calling hockey the best….but as far as a fan, I’m an NFL guy….not by much, but you can’t take the Western PA out of the boy even if you take him out of that region.

Are there any memorable stories from the booth you can share with us?

  • I did a period with Steven Tyler at an Alaska Aces game….But my first game in the NHL, Battle of Alberta, the goal of the year, as it turned out (Jordan Eberle, look it up if you haven’t seen it), and a one-punch knockout….after nearly 1000 games in the minors, pretty hard to top that, ever.

Jordan Eberle Goal

What was it like to step into the shoes of such a great broadcaster in Rod Phillips who was known as the best Play by play guy in both the WHA and NHL (and who called over 3,000 games)?

  • Never looked at it that way….He’s an absolute legend, and I’m proud to call him a friend now…even worked with him for 10 games in my first season. But I will never “step into the shoes” or “replace” Rod Phillips. I can only be myself, and over time, with consistent dedication and effort, I hope create my own niche in the Edmonton market.

Speaking of games, you yourself had called over 900 hockey games before even getting to Edmonton (including the ECHL All Star game 5 times), but what was it like getting the call from the Oilers and them asking you to be only the SECOND voice of the club in team history?

  • It probably was the greatest day of my life. I was in Hawaii with my wife and two children, and we had a chance to celebrate it together in a beautiful setting. The call from the Oilers, however, was surpassed by the subsequent call—the call I made to my Dad immediately thereafter.

As an American calling hockey in a Canadian city how have you handled the criticism you’ve received?

  • Fortunately, I haven’t run into that criticism. I’ve found Canadians are just like Americans when it comes to evaluating broadcasters. If you’re passionate about what you do and you’ve put in the work, it comes out in the broadcast and it doesn’t matter where you’re from.

Did living in Alaska prepare you for the cold winter nights in Edmonton?

  • Absolutely—it’s actually a little colder, on average, in Edmonton. But Edmonton has plenty of sunshine so you don’t feel it as much. Dress warm, it’s not an issue. I love living in Edmonton and quite frankly, I enjoyed Anchorage as well.

Is it true that when you were working in the minors you once sold your penalty kill sponsorship to a funeral home?

  • Not quite—boy, you’ve done your research….how on Earth did you know that? Never mind, I’m answering the questions….it was actually the Keys to the Game…..as in “Tonight’s keys to burying the Bakersfield Condors, brought to you by Witzleben Funeral Homes…..” Hey, anything to help the club and make a few bucks, right?

What advice would you give to someone trying to make a living in this business?

  • Find a way to stay solvent and keep yourself in the game….whether it’s selling for the club you’re working for, working a little on the side to make some extra money—whatever it takes to keep your life moving forward (spouse, kids, house) while keeping the dream alive. The less sacrifice you feel you’re making from a life perspective, the more likely you are to outlast the numbers game that’s a huge part of this business.

Thanks again for reading PBP Stories, if you’d like to be interviewed or have someone you think I should check into interviewing please tweet me @michaelhirnpbp or send check out my website www.michaelhirn.com

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.

Today we are happy to bring you another incredible interview as we are happy to be joined by another Sports Talent Agency of America (www.staatalent.com) client in broadcaster Stu Paul.

Stu Paul

Stu, How long have you been in broadcasting? 

  • I’ve been a sports announcer for 31 years.  In addition to sports, I have also served as a newscaster and disc jockey early in my career, but it was mostly sports. I started in small stations in upstate New York and worked in New England for a while. Then I got to do minor league baseball, minor league hockey, CBA hoops as well as college and high school football in places like Eugene, Oregon, Roanoke, VA, Hagerstown, MD, Tulsa, OK., Davenport, IA, Utica, NY, Jacksonville, FL, San Antonio, TX, Nashville, TN and now in the Baltimore area in Maryland.  Sometimes I would go back and forth between cities as in one part of the year, I would be doing baseball and another part of the year, I would be doing basketball and hockey.  I didn’t really mind it a bit since I was doing what I loved to do.  Only drawback was being away from NYC and my friends, relatives and family, but since I knew I could not start out in New York, I had to pay my dues elsewhere and man, has it been worth it!
When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?
  • As soon as I learned that I was not going to be the next Mickey Mantle.  I knew that I was not going to be a professional athlete once I became a teenager.  I always enjoyed talking about sports and even my mom suggested that I should give it a try.
How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

  • I usually try to spend at least 2 to 3 hours in preparing for a broadcast.  I try to surf the internet, checking out different team’s websites, newspaper websites as well as chatting with other broadcasters, coaches, managers and players to get as much input as I possibly can.

 

What sports do you currently broadcast?
  • Right now, I am currently broadcasting Delaware State Football and Basketball and have broadcast some high school and college baseball games locally in the State of Maryland.  I had also broadcast professional baseball for more than 20 years, ranging from the Short Season Class A level to the Triple A level.  I hope to get back into the pro game and hope to still get a shot at the major leagues.

 


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

  • That’s a great question.  Growing up in New York City, I had the pleasure of listening to many great announcers.  One of them happens to be Marv Albert, the longtime Knicks and Rangers radio voice, who also happened to attend the same high school as I did (Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York City).  In addition, I enjoyed listening to Frank Messer, Bill White, Jerry Coleman and Phil RIzzuto on the Yankees broadcasts and Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner on the Mets’ broadcasts.  Another great announcer (who eventually became a friend of mine) was Merle Harmon, who broadcast the New York Jets football games in the 1960s and early 1970s.  He broadcast on WABC Radio, albeit he was based in the Midwest.  He had broadcast major league baseball for years (Kansas City Athletics, Milwuakee Braves and Brewers, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers) as well as college football and basketball and worked for the ABC, NBC and TVS Networks.  Howard Cosell liked him on ABC-TV and hired Merle as the Jets’ voice without Harmon applying for the job himself.  In all of his years with the Jets, he never lived in New York City.  He would stay in a hotel and he would commute to and from NYC to cover the Jets.  I wished he did baseball in New York City because he would have become a household name there.  He did so in NYC with the Jets.  Going back to Albert, he, too, became a giant in the industry as he eventually worked for NBC-TV, CBS-TV and also with TNT doing NFL football and NBA basketball and he is still great.  His work ethic is second to none and I admired him and the others as well.

 

 Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?
  • I feel I have emulated Bob Murphy, the late Mets’ broadasting great because of his enthusiasm, positive outlook on the game and his knowledge and professionalism.  I have sort of emulated Merle Harmon in football as well, but tried to be careful not to copy those guys at all.  Of course, Albert in Basketball and hockey as well. Plus, Curt Gowdy on baseball.


You went to school in New York, you’ve worked in Texas and Nashville but are now back on the east coast, which part of the country has been your favorite to work in?

  • Oh, definitely, the East Coast because I grew up there.  I still have friends and relatives in New York City and the surrounding area and being on the East Coast, gives me the opportunity to catch up on long lost friends and relatives.


Which sport that you’ve called would you say is your favorite?

 

  • No doubt, baseball.  I love the daily grind every day and plus the challenge between the batter and the pitcher.  The sport also gives me time to “fill” between pitches and gives me a chance to show my passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for the game. 


You are inspiring to myself and young broadcasters everywhere to never give up. After your fall in 2011 you were told you weren’t being brought back by the Nashville Sounds, how did you find the strength to heal physically and mentally and move on to bigger and better things?

  • Man, it wasn’t easy.  Believe me.  2011 was the worst year of my entire life.  The year before, my dad was diagnosed with dementia and when 2011 came along, it got worse.  His behavior was so bad that my sister had to move him from an assistant independent living place to a hospice and he stayed there until he passed away last February.  It took a toll on me financially as well as emotionally and mentally.  Then I was feeling the pressures trying to accumulate more sales with the Sounds, then my car had a serious problem that cost a lot of money (LOL, still have the car and it’s running well), then my horrible accident when I slipped and fell down a flight of steps when exiting Prinicpal Park in Des Moines, Iowa on July 19, 2011 and was laid up in the hospital for 3 months.  I spent 3 weeks in Des Moines’ Iowa Methodist Medical Center and then flown back to Nashville, where I went to Bethany Rehab and Health Center where I stayed for the duration of my recovery.  Glad that workman’s comp covered everything! I had to undergo surgery on both legs and my shoulder.  I ruptured the quad tendons in both legs and had a complete tear on my rotator cuff in my right shoulder.  Fortunately, the surgeries went well and I went through physical therapy and have since recovered.  I returned to work on October 31st, 2011–only to be fired 4 days later.  I knew that the sales numbers were a factor, but honestly, after undergoing a traumatic experience like I did in the summer, I thought I would be given a chance.  I was upset and disappointed, but that was the Sounds’ prerogative and I have moved on! They are now behind me and I now work for SFMSports.Net and getting the chance to do Delaware State Football and Hoops, which was a blast this past year.  I also got to do the Cal Ripken World Series and some local baseball.  I was NOT going to let “defeat” defeat me.  After all, I’m a New Yorker and New Yorkers are tough.  I said to myself that “you’re too good of a person and an announcer to let adversity stop you.  You have gotten this far and I must keep going!”  Going back to the accident that I had, I never went through anything as horriable as I did that fateful night in July, 2011.  The staffs, doctors and nurses at both places where I recovered were wonderful to me and they helped make an unpleasant situation into a pleasant enough one.  Gosh, looking back on that year it was “when it rains-it POURS!”.  Nothing went right for me and I’m slowly but surely still picking up the pieces from 2011 and what I had to go through in dealing with my late father’s illness.  I never ever want to go through that EVER AGAIN!


What advice would you give to someone trying to make a living in this business?

  • I tell them to have faith in your abilities, but above all, be very patient and positive and persistent.  It is not easy to land a job in this business, especially the first one.  I advise everyone to grab a tape recorder (hopefully this time you can get past security on this) and practice broadcasting events at actual places.  Critique your work and learn how to write.  It is important.  Practice reading aloud, too.  Send out stuff to radio stations, minor league teams, colleges and be sure to network.  The more you get to know people in this business, the better you are in landing a job.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get anything right away.  If you have to start out doing news and disc jockey work like I did, do it.  Learn all the aspects of the business if you can.

 

You can check out Stu’s STAA profile at http://staatalent.com/client/stu-paul/

Welcome to another entry to our ongoing blog of Play by play stories, we are lucky to have been joined today by the PBP voice of the Powell River Kings as well as the editor of The Broadcaster Hub (www.thebroadcasterhub.com) Alex Rawnsley:
alex

Alex, How long have you been in broadcasting?

The upcoming season will be my 5th year broadcasting, and my 3rd season with the Powell River Kings in the BCHL. I began doing regular hockey games in 2010/2011 with the Cariboo Cougars in the British Columbia Major Midget League. The team made the league final that year, but got swept by North West.
Prior to that I worked for a season with the Prince George Fury, a now defunct indoor soccer franchise. I got to travel across Canada and into the North-West United States with the team.
When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?
Being born in Australia, it would be hard to say I’ve known all my life I wanted to be a hockey announcer. I’ve known most of my life that I wanted to do something in sports. Originally it was the player and team management side, the business aspect of this industry, but in 2003 I fell in love with broadcasting, worked and went to school for the technical and production side of the television industry, and then transitioned into play-by-play from there.

I think I knew this is what I wanted to do when I was with the Cougars during the 10/11 season. Every spare moment I had was put into prep, or web site stuff, or anything related to the team. I figured that if I was working this hard when I wasn’t getting paid, and I still liked it, then I could be onto something.
How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?
It’s constant. I don’t sit down and say ‘ok I’m going to prep for 2 hours.’ I consider my morning blog reading prep, any chats I have with other announcers is prep. In terms of sitting down, pouring over numbers and getting my paperwork ready, I’d say about 2-3 hours. The bulk of my time is spent reading reports and blogs, talking with players and coaches from both teams, and having nice anecdotes to work into the show, as opposed to just numbers.

What sports do you currently broadcast?
I currently only cover hockey, however I would love to branch out a little. I did an international baseball tournament in Prince George in 2011 and that was a lot of fun. I’m not really a baseball ‘fan’, but had a blast calling games, because the pace of the game really allowed you to tell stories. I’ve been asked to do roller derby too, and will do that this summer.

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?
Directly related to hockey, guys like Jim Hughson and Doc Emrick are the two guys I look to and say ‘ok, that’s what to do’. I try not to copy anyone, but have taken methods and phrases from a variety of different announcers, even ones I work with. I am also huge fans of both Richie Benaud and Bruce McAvaney, two Australian announcers. Richie is the Vin Scully of Australian cricket, and a true master of the artform. McAvaney is a talented network announcer who covers multiple sports, ranging from track and field to Australian Rules Football.

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

I don’t think so. I don’t look at a game and say “oh I have to copy that”. If I came out and starting poaching “Holy Mackinaw” and “Great Save (goaltender)”, then I think it would come off as corny. The thing I take most from other announcers are vocab…ways to describe different areas of the playing surface. Perhaps it’s an ordinary term I haven’t thought of, that really works. What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?

One of my favourite coaches interviews happened late into my 1st season in the BCHL. For his sake, I won’t mention who it was, but it was before the game and I was chatting to the other team’s head coach for my pre-game show. The Coach and I had a good repore, and often spoke more off air than we did on.
During the interview, he was trying to eat a mandarin orange. While I would ask a question, he would eat a piece, and while he was answering a question, he would peel the next one. The only catch was he kept dropping that next piece, and every time he did, he’d give me a look as if to say “I can’t believe I just did that.”
We were getting to the end of the interview, and by this time, there are 2-3 pieces of orange at his feet. He had tried to pick them up while I asked a question, but they were slippery. I didn’t see it happen at the time, but also during the interview, a piece of orange pulp had jumped up and was sitting on his eyebrow. I noticed it during my last question, but kept a straight face.
He answered the question, with the pulp on his eyebrow. In closing, I finished the interview with “Thanks (Name), and there’s a piece of orange on your eye brow”. We both just paused and he burst out laughing. He gave me a look, again as if to say “I can’t believe that happened” and we had a good chat about it after. I cut out the final line for air, but that remains one of my favourite interviews I’ve done.

You’ve recently started your own broadcasting resource website, could you tell us a little bit about that?
Shameless plug….The Broadcaster Hub (http://www.thebroadcasterhub.com/) is a resource web site for sports broadcasters. It features both original content, as well as links to other places on the web with information and resources specific to the play-by-play industry.

I was constantly trying to find this information, and then when I did find it, I’d often lose it and have to seek it out again. I design my own web sites on the side, including an online portfolio for myself, so I felt I had the skills to build this site. It’s started off well, the response has been very positive, and I’m excited to see it grow with both original and linked content.
Be sure to check out http://www.thebroadcastinghub.com as it is a very valuable resource for any play by play guy, and follow Alex on twitter @alexrawnsley