Monday, August 25, 2014

Watch Out For The P.C. Police!

A sportscaster I know related the following story about the ridiculousness of Political Correctness.....

While calling a college hoops game for the campus radio station, the aspiring broadcast professional made an off-handed joke about the team's star player possibly setting off a metal detector at the airport following the game, due to his mouth full of gold teeth.

Within a week, the broadcaster was called into the station's business offices for a closed-door meeting, where station big wigs expressed their dismay about his "racially charged" comments.

"But I didn't say anything about anyone's race," the young sportscaster explained. "He does have a mouth full of gold teeth, and I made the joke about it.  But I certainly would never even think about a racial joke.  He's a basketball player.  His color is irrelevant."

The station's stuffy braintrust simply could not allow this kind of conduct on their air, and the broadcaster was subsequently passed over for a big station promotion.  In explaining why he had not been chosen to lead the sports department, he was told that his judgement must be questioned for making such "racist" comments.

Later that semester, the sportscaster went searching for advice to an experienced radio professional at the same institution - a black professor whom he, and all others, liked and respected.

In confidence, he told her exactly what he had said on the air, in complete context.

"I didn't hear you mention anything about race," she answered.  "Was there something else I missed?"

"Nope," the broadcaster lamented. "This was the one sentence that they said was racist and insensitive.  And furthermore, I know guys from all different races that wear gold teeth!"

"Again, you didn't say anything about race," she concluded. "I don't see how you can take a joke about gold teeth to mean anything racial.  You never mentioned race, color or ethnicity.  I certainly wouldn't have been offended whatsoever."

The moral of the story?  Sports broadcasters have many challenges to overcome.  Regardless of your intent, the P.C. Police are always lurking just beyond that radio dial, waiting to pounce.  Be ready.
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

10 Ways Baseball Broadcasting Has Changed In 20 Years

I started my professional baseball broadcasting career in 1994.  It is amazing to think back and recall how different baseball broadcasting is today - specifically in the minor leagues - compared to two decades ago.  I mean, honestly, I don't feel that old!

A baseball broadcaster's daily life has changed in many ways over the last twenty years.
Here are 10 important and surprising changes that jump to mind:

1.  Riding minor league buses has never been fun, and never will be.  Knees get sore and calves cramp just as they always did.  However, 20 years ago, most players would pass time on long bus rides by playing cards or, if lucky, listening to a portable CD player.  Occasionally you'd hit the jackpot and get to watch a good movie, if the bus had an overhead VCR and someone rented a VHS tape.  (For those under 30, this is a VCR.Now I do feel old.)

I recall many long hours on the bus, reading the Book of Questionswith former broadcast partner, Bill Rogan.We'd ask each other questions, such as "Would you rather stick your hand into a tub of snakes or a bee hive?"  These conversations often got heated, and we passed the hours arguing and contemplating life's deep complexities.

Today, most everyone on the bus carries a portable computer, capable of instantaneous movies, videos, music, maps, conversation and communication.  In other words, smart phones have phased out the Book of Questions.  They contain any question, or answer, you could ever have.

2.  In 1994 we did our pre and post-game interviews on cassette tapes, and carefully rewind and re-cue those tapes for play during the broadcast.  If you were slick, you could make those interviews sound as if they were live.

Today, most interviews are conducted with digital equipment, making recording and playback simple and efficient.

3.  During the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, we had fans constantly coming up to our radio booth, telling us when either of the two hit another home run.  Fans would hear it on another radio broadcast and relay the information to us.

Today, you can watch, hear and read every moment of any sporting event in real time.  The broadcaster truly has all the information at his fingertips in real time.

4.  I had a few ways to supplement my income during the baseball season.  After games, I would find a phone in the press box or in a vacant luxury suite, where I would call in the night's box score to a local newspaper.  The paper would pay me $15 per game to call in and spend 15 minutes giving them all the details of the game, so they could print the recap the next morning.

Today, media can get much of this information digitally or online in real time.  Struggling broadcasters have to find other ways to make a little extra dough.

5.  In years gone by, media members would dine on free meals in press boxes before games,  From a simple hot dog to more gourmet offerings, broadcasters always love a free meal.

Today, many professional ballclubs charge per person for the pregame meal.  The one bright spot is that the offerings are usually more appetizing than a simple dog and soda.

6.  In the past, players' families would often listen in to games on radio networks or, on occasion, on newly-formed internet broadcasting stations.  If a broadcaster was critical of a player, that player's family would hear it and let the player know the next time they talked by phone.  By the time what you said got back to the player, his version was usually much worse than what you actually had said.  Nothing like the good, old-fashioned telephone game to get a player, or many, annoyed with you.

Today, everything is done in real time.  Fans, family and even players can listen live and get the true version of what you say, as you say it.  Pitchers in the bullpen will often listen to game broadcasts, and used to wave their hats to me when I said something they liked.  If I chose to rip on them, they'd show their disgust by kicking up a storm of dirt.  As long as you are fair, you'd always rather have an athlete hear your comments first hand.

7.  Minor league baseball is a traveling freak show circus.  With a game every night, from town to town, the life can be quite crazy.  Players, and the media, have been known to partake in their share of late-night shenanigans.

Today.....ok so not everything has changed.

8.  Broadcasters in the 90's had to proactively market themselves to prospective employers through bulky, mailed packages, containing demo cassette tapes, physical resumes, press clippings and other materials. 

Today, much of the career networking and resume sharing can be done electronically.  You can never replace the human touch that helps you stand out, however today's technology offers immense time-saving advantages.

9.  Radio play by play guys were always headed on a long trip.  At least that was the way it looked, as they lugged huge, overloaded suitcases suitcases containing their radio broadcasting equipment.  It was a workout dragging that 100 pound tub from the press box to the team bus, along with personal bags and belongings.

Today, equipment is much more compact and lightweight.  I'd say that makes today's broadcasters soft compared to the tough guys around a couple decades ago.

10.  Years ago, some broadcasters would chronicle their games and travels into diaries, journals and books.

Today, they simple log on and bang out a post on a super cool, hugely-followed sports broadcasting blog, such as this one!  We hope you sign up to receive our posts, thanks!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sportscasters Club Podcast Episode Number 4

On Episode 4 we answer 2 burning questions....

1. What college should I attend for sports broadcasting?

2.  How can I get started in sports broadcasting?

LISTEN HERE!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New Release: A Renegade Championship Summer!

Order the book!
Ever wonder Minor League Baseball is REALLY like? Most baseball fans, at some point in their life, dream of riding the buses with a professional baseball team. We all want to feel what it is like to sit in the dugout and experience professional baseball up close and personal.

Come for the ride with the 1999 New York Penn League Champion Hudson Valley Renegades. See how number one pick Josh Hamilton impacted the team. Come onto the team bus and into the clubhouse and dugout. See what the players talk about away from the bright lights. Now is your chance to see what it is like to travel with a minor league baseball team!

Read about many players you've heard of, and some who are in the big leagues right now. Featuring AL MVP Josh Hamilton, Matt Diaz, Jorge Cantu, and many, many more!

This book written in 1999. Revised in 2014!

Click here to order! (As a valued member of our community, use promo code "HALFOFF")









Monday, August 4, 2014

Broadcasting Irregardless

We heard a sportscaster the other day, rambling on about how a player did something "irregardless" of the situation.  Sharp listeners probably cringe when they hear that word.  And boy do we hear it often.

Most dictionaries, such as Merriam-Webster, are clear that the correct word would simply be "regardless."  While they agree there is, indeed, such a word...it is nonstandard.  If that weren't enough, try using the word in any basic Word document.  You'll get the squiggly, red line underneath - showing that it is a spelling error!

If Webster says it's nonstandard, broadcasters should do better.  Most who use it are just lazy.  Some don't know this word really isn't a proper word.

Sportscasters should be proper and precise.  Viewers and listeners deserve it, irregardless.
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