Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Broadcaster's Christmas

A few weeks ago, a broadcaster dropped me a tweet from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville.  His question was simple.  "How do I get started?"

I recently posted some effective steps for new broadcasters to break into the industry.  Click here to view the full post.

As a follow up, here is just a quick point about sacrifice.  The sacrifice you'll need to make to break into the broadcasting business.  For many, it includes working for free.  And working holidays, and birthdays, and inconvenient times when your friends are out partying like normal 20-somethings.  If you want to work on air, or in media, you must choose to build your career rather than enhancing your social life.  Not all the time, but often enough.

In 1994 I received a phone call on Christmas morning.  A friend at NBC TV in Manhattan needed a warm body to help log tape in the NBC Sports studios that night from 5pm to midnight.  I quickly cancelled my Christmas plans and hopped a train down to NYC to work my first of what turned out to be years of shifts at NBC - followed later by ABC Sports as well.

That was the Christmas sacrifice I made that day.  To be in the broadcasting business, you may have to make your own similar choices as well.

For those in the industry, how did you sacrifice as a youngster to further your career?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Release of new book - Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues

It's a thrill to be joining Bill Rogan and the Artificial Turf radio program this Sunday, December 23, at 10:51 Eastern, on KNUS Radio, Denver.  You'll be able to listen live HERE.

The new book Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues should be available just in time for Christmas orders from Amazon.  Click here for info!  It is a great last minute gift.

Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues is a unique minor league baseball book that documents dozens of unbelievable baseball moments from around the country.

Baseball fans have always wanted to know what really goes on behind the scenes. They've always wished to travel with the team and witness the circus-like atmosphere that often describes minor league baseball. Fans have needed a place to turn to read about so many of these untold tales.

Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues shares the most gut-splitting and jaw-dropping stories from minor league baseball, as told by over 20 professional broadcasters from around the nation! Hear about superstar names - such as Michael Jordan, Tommy Lasorda, Josh Hamilton and David Ortiz - as well as countless others who have been part of some of the most amazing baseball moments, both on and off the field!

Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues gives readers a firsthand account of some of the most eye-popping minor league baseball moments, from the broadcasters who were there firsthand. Truly a collector's item for baseball fans of all ages!

More more info on how to download the book to your iPhone or computer, please click here!

I'm looking forward to appearing on the Turf Sunday night!  I hope you'll join us.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Breen The Best Ever?

Is Mike Breen the best basketball play by play guy ever?

He excelled on radio and now does the same on TV.

From his start with Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY to Imus in the Morning, to the Knicks, and the last decade on the national scene - he has been a media mainstay.

Breen's knowledge is second-to-none.  Great sense of humor.  Knows his role and doesn't overshadow the game.  Calm and collected, until the situation dictates a jump in enthusiasm.

Who is better?  Or who was?  Glickman?  Albert?  Most?  Nance?

Could we be watching the best NBA broadcaster ever?

Check out the brand new behind the scenes minor league baseball book,
Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues.  Click here for info!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Boom Goes The Dynamite Revisited

After some fame, here is a recap on Boom Goes The Dynamite....

Boom Goes The Dynamite!

When I was teaching Sports Broadcasting at Marist College, I always played this hilarious clip.  We discussed that this is not the way to do it........enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Taking Care Of Business

"We were playing in front of 10,000 people.  It was the 8th inning; I remember it like it was today.  Everybody was on the field except the second baseman.  Everybody was just waiting for the second baseman to come out to the field. 

So about five minutes later the second baseman came out, and he was ready.  He was sprinting to second base, and he’s got toilet paper hanging from his back!  In front of 10,000 people!"

For many more unbelievable minor league baseball stories, check out Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues.  Click here!

Loooooooong Minor League Bus Rides

On a hot, summer night, in the middle of nowhere.....

As many of the players slept, the bus came to a stop on the side of desolate I-20.  They were without food, beverages or air conditioning, and quite a ways from the next rest stop.  As night turned into day, the sun beat down.   As the hours began to pass, some players climbed through the crawl hole onto the top of the bus, which – even in the blazing sun – was cooler than the stuffiness inside.  Some tried to catch some sleep on top of the bus.

What happened next??

Find out in Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues.  Click here for more information! 

How To Get Started In Sports Broadcasting

“Where do I start?”

That is the question I get most often from aspiring sportscasters, especially those in high school or college. I spent hours answering that question each week while teaching at Marist College and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. These days I get emails and tweets asking me how to begin a sportscasting career.

Truth is, there are many ways to get a start in broadcasting. First, understand that this is a tough industry, filled with excitement and pitfalls. I’ve always given students the unvarnished truth.

This is not a complete list of how-to’s for beginning a career, but merely a quick group of bullet points. We could devote hours to each one. Hopefully these act as a quick jumping-off point to get you headed in the right way.

1. Practice – Commit to daily improvement. Broadcast games. Increase your knowledge. Become a better broadcaster every day.

2. Do It For Free – Often you must work for free to gain experience and prove your value in the media marketplace. Use these opportunities to the fullest, as they will provide your launching pad to greater, paying opportunities!

3. Find a mentor, or ten – Most established sportscasting professionals are willing to help. Use them! Ask questions!

4. Leverage your contacts – Whether from your college, high school or community, make the most of your contact network. Let them know who you are and what your goals are.

5. Read – Perhaps the most important step of all. Read everything, to sharpen your philosophies, likes and dislikes. Read the history of what you want to be involved in. Know the games, traditions and rules.

6. Use technology as one tool in your bag – The internet is great, but not everything. I can post wonderful information on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., but eventually it comes down to being a real person.

7. Remain hungry – Sportscasting will challenge your will. Decide what your goals are and constantly strive to reach them. Your achievements will trend toward your goals over time.

I got started in this business in 1993 by selling programs at the ballpark and becoming friendly with team’s radiocaster. I also did bleary-eyed 5:00 am newscasts every day before college classes, for free.

Click here to see many more tips to get started in Sports Broadcasting!

For all aspiring sportscasters....CLICK HERE for a critique of your demo tape/air check, and get a FREE BOOK!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baseball Practical Joker

From Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues.......

Baseball is famous for its practical jokers and one of the best we’ve had in Salt Lake was one particular relief pitcher. Unfortunately for this pitcher, one his best pranks was an expensive one for him. The team was in Vancouver and he waited for a couple of his teammates to leave their room. After the coast was clear, he somehow was able to get into it and proceeded to.........

Hear the rest of the story in Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues

For more information, click here!

Josh Hamilton's Southern Delicacy

Josh Hamilton joined the Hudson Valley Renegades in 1999 as an 18-year-old after being drafted number one overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  He spent the next two weeks helping the Renegades collect their first New York Penn League title.

During that time, I found the young Hamilton, and his family, to be really good people.  I spent some time with them both on and off the air and, like everyone else, hoped to soon see Josh Hamilton roam a Big League outfield.
A lot has happened to the newest star of the Anaheim Angels since then.
While writing my latest minor league baseball book, I felt compelled to include at least one story of the Josh Hamilton I knew in 1999.  I hope you enjoy the story, and more than 80 like it in the book.

From Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues......

....Before Josh Hamilton’s first game that day, team clubhouse manager Matt Veronesi shared his “Tidbit of the Day”, a daily feature of the radio broadcast which filled fans in on obscure team facts they otherwise wouldn’t have known. He reported that Hamilton had a right, as per his contract, to take any uniform number he wanted. His favorite number was 22, but another player already had that number. Hamilton said no big deal and took number 30. Classy move by the 18-year-old.

The team was in a tight situation a couple weeks later, needing a win on the final day of the season to clinch a spot in the playoffs. That afternoon, Hamilton sat in a comfortable clubhouse recliner and chomped on his favorite........

Read the whole story in Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues
Click HERE for more info!

Jaw-Dropping Baseball Stories

Hoops with Air Jordan.  A broadcaster who picked up his wife while on the air.  Josh Hamilton's favorite pre-game meal.  Tommy Lasorda holding court.  Snakes, worms and much, much more!

22 professional baseball broadcasters have shared the most jaw-dropping and eye-popping stories from their minor league careers.  For fans who want to know what minor league baseball is really like, Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues will be the perfect gift. 

For more info on this new book, and to order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, click here!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Shocking Post-Game Trade

Most radio broadcasts in minor league baseball follow much the same format as any radio broadcast you’ll hear for your local major league team. A typical night on the air will consist of a pregame show, actual game broadcast, and postgame show. The postgame usually consists of a scoring recap, interview and perhaps a look ahead to tomorrow’s game. One really unique thing about minor league baseball is that teams often pipe the radio feed into the home clubhouse, where they can hear the entire broadcast, especially the post-game show.

Late one season while broadcasting for a pretty mediocre club, my broadcast partner and I masterminded a fun idea. The players on the club often commented that they listened to our postgame show on a boom box in the clubhouse while showering up after the game. Not that we could ever pull it off, but we envisioned how great it would be to somehow create a “fake” postgame show. As the season progressed and the team fell further out of the playoff hunt, we passed the time by honing our idea. We didn’t want to just do it…we wanted to do it right and make it a most memorable postgame extravaganza. Late in the season, we decided to try to put our plan into motion.

Read to the book to see how the fake postgame show took shape.....
For more info on the book - Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues - click HERE!

Oncoming Train in the Minor Leagues

WHACK! The team was startled awake as the bus came to an abrupt halt. It was almost 3 a.m., and the Hudson Valley Renegades baseball club was driving somewhere in New York State after a late-night contest in central New York. “What the heck was that?” I thought. “What is going on?”

Trying to open their eyes in a sleepy daze, players’ heads began to pop up. To the right I saw a bright, solitary light. As the light grew larger, I could place the loud, familiar rumble. Then we heard even louder honks from a deep horn. Our team bus was on a train crossing, and the WHACK had been the train crossing arm coming down right on the bus, approximately over the third aisle of seats.

“What the heck are you doing!” yelled a player from the back. “Back the bus up!” The driver, seeming oblivious to the panicked cries from the passengers, didn’t make a move. By now, we were all awake and most were probably wondering, “Is this it?” The train came hurtling toward us, and the screams from throughout the bus got louder.

What happened next?
The book will be available HERE on December 22nd!  Click for info.

Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues - Coming In 12 Days

I am often asked what minor league baseball life is like. Is it exciting to ride on the team bus? Do you get to go into the dugout? What are the players like? Most often, my answer is that minor league baseball is a traveling freak show circus. It is an absolute trip because you never know what you’ll see. It is also as far from the glitz and glamour of the big leagues as you can imagine, at least the majority of the time. Each day seems to bring a new story or memory that you never could have imagined, with each one more unusual than the last. Over my years in minor league baseball, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness many of these zany and comical things firsthand. I’ve traveled to many ballparks, met countless interesting people, and built up a wealth of wacky minor league memories. Still, I’m just one broadcaster. I’ve only experienced a small sliver of the tales that could be told.

As I began thinking about some of the most unusual things I’ve seen in minor league baseball, I also wondered what other broadcasters have seen. The minors are home to so many talented broadcasters, many of whom will never go on to call games in sold-out, major league ballparks. These are the guys with stories to tell. Some have been calling games for 10, 20 or 30 years. They’ve spent hours on the bus, hung out in dugouts, eaten lousy ballpark food and called inning after inning all across the country. They have some unbelievable stories to tell, and this book will share some of their tales.

What follows in this book is a collection of some of the most bizarre, unusual and funny baseball stories as told by some of the great guys in the game. Each of these 21 broadcasters volunteered their time and talent to share, in their voice and style, some of the unbelievable things they’ve seen in minor league baseball. They eagerly joined this project in the hope that you, the reader, will have the most accurate picture of the unpredictable minor league world. These are some truly great professionals from around the country. If one of these guys is calling game in your town, consider yourself lucky. They each had a great deal to bring to this project and without them this book would not exist. I owe them all a great deal of thanks – for their time, generosity, effort and some of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard!

Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues -Available here on December 22

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Did Bob Costas Step In It?

With his anti-gun commentary during Sunday Night Football, did Bob Costas create an unnecessary firestorm for himself?

My opinion stems not from anything to do with the 2nd Amendment. These thoughts are purely grounded in broadcast philosophy - rooted in the teachings of Marty Glickman, who was a close friend and mentor to Bob Costas.

I believe, as did Marty, that viewers tune in to watch a game. They don’t tune in to hear a broadcaster, or for something other than that specific sporting event. While talk-show hosts deal with a completely different set of dynamics, a play by play broadcaster’s job is to describe and complement the game. The same holds true, although admittedly with a bit more flexibility, for a halftime studio host.

Mentioning a major NFL story is one thing. Devoting a larger portion of the broadcast to it is quite another. Even during a Sunday Night Football telecast, fans are tuned in for the game, rather than the roundup of weekly NFL news.

If a viewer/consumer is tuned to the game, that is what he deserves. Especially today, in an age where you can access any content on demand, the specific niche should cater to the specific viewer. Agree or disagree with Costas’ ideological point (and I do have an opinion), this is neither the time nor place to dwell on matters not related to this game. Viewers can find this discussion elsewhere, in hundreds of places. Fans watch sports for the sole purpose of escaping real life its weightier issues.

Valuable broadcast air time should be spent focusing on that event. Don’t spend time discussing associated sporting or worldly events. Not the game across town, and not the news. That is not why the viewer tuned in. In spending so much time on a league topic, Bob Costas inserted himself into the story and created an unnecessary distraction for football fans and viewers.

What would you do if you were in his shoes?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Mystery Of Baseball's Winter Meetings!

With this week’s Baseball Winter Meetings getting started in Nashville, it reminds me of the meetings I attended in New Orleans in the mid-90’s. For me, and thousands of others, the meetings were an opportunity to get in front of minor league clubs and lobby to become their radio voice.

An aspiring broadcaster asked me this morning, “How do I get my start?” Although not a guarantee, the Winter Meetings may be the ticket. It is one way to prove your desire, make a statement and build relationships.

Along with all the Big League wheeling and dealing, a lot of minor league moving and shaking happens at the meetings. A few of my memories of that exciting week:

- I flew into town sitting next to an owner of multiple minor league teams….including the Norwich Navigators, for whom I called games five years later.

- Sipping a Hurricane at a Bourbon Street bonfire, I chatted with an executive from the AAA Buffalo Bisons. His big pearl to me that night – never send a resume on white paper. “I get hundreds of resumes,” he said. “I need a way to weed out half of them right away. The white ones get chucked.” I always heeded his advice, and we kept in touch for years.

- One morning at the hotel, a flash conga line formed. One woman stood up from her table and started dancing around the restaurant dining room. Table by table, she garnered more followers, until a line of 20 or more was bopping around as if it were the Fourth of July… 7 a.m. (No, my briefcase and I did not join. I was there for business, not pleasure)

- I took part in quite a few interviews with clubs, ranging from the Modesto, CA Athletics and the Williamsport, PA Crosscutters. I recall crowded ballrooms, small interview spaces and little sleep. I eventually turned down the Crosscutters gig to remain with the Hudson Valley Renegades.

While the Big Leagues and big starts garner most of the Winter Meeting attention, it can be a great chance for an aspiring sportscaster to make some connections and jump-start a career! Or you can slug Hurricanes, start bonfires and dance around all day. It’s a win either way.