Does Your Mother Do This?

While watching Al Michaels call a football game this week, I recalled some wisdom I learned almost 20 years ago from broadcasting legend Marty Glickman. At Fordham, Marty would talk sportscasting for hours. Listening to our tapes and letting us have it – no sugar-coating, just the good and bad. I consider his sage sportscasting advice often, and this week, while listening to Michaels, I reflected on one of his most unambiguous points.

Al Michaels is a terrific play by play announcer in my opinion. Smooth, abundantly prepared and quick on his feet. Michaels has been a mainstay on the national football scene for decades, calling some of the biggest games in NFL history. I am always pleased when I tune in to a game and find Michaels behind the microphone, and I think aspiring sportscasters should take note.

One main thought Marty Glickman constantly drove home - to which Michaels clearly adheres - is that nobody tunes in to hear a broadcaster. We all tune in for the game, not the broadcaster, regardless of how wonderful we think they are. Solid broadcasters certainly add to the action, while lousy ones can detract from it. However, we tune in for the game itself. In fact the way Marty put it, “The only person who tunes in to hear the broadcaster is his mother!”

As play by play broadcasters, this should constantly put our ultimate duties – to inform, enlighten and entertain - in perspective. We should be facilitating the fans’ enjoyment of the game, not trying to become a major part of it. I understand I may have some disagreement around Bristol, Connecticut or some other media outlets that push “attitude” above all else. Sorry, but I agree with Marty Glickman.

And so I leave you with this question. Is there any time you tune in to a game to hear the broadcaster?
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Saying Less Is More In Baseball Play By Play

Remember this post from two seasons ago? How many TV baseball play by play guys would handle this culminating moment the same way, with such control and professionalism?  Give it some thought.....
Last night during Johan Santana’s remarkable Mets no-hitter, I saw a terrific broadcaster do a terrific job by saying nothing. Hugh? But isn’t a broadcaster supposed to talk? And most DO! They talk, and talk and talk.  And more than a few yell and yell and yell. So how can a broadcaster succeed by saying nothing?

The goal of the play by play broadcaster is to bring the listener into the game, so to speak. The great Marty Glickman used to say he wanted the viewer/listener to “feel” as if they were sitting next to him at the game. Let them experience every emotion along with each fan in the stands.

On last night’s final pitch, Mets TV play by play man Gary Cohen exuberantly declared that Santana had completed the first no-hitter in Mets history…..and then he shut up! For 64 seconds he said nothing. (I timed it with my DVR and iPhone) Also silent were Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, his broadcast partners. Whether it was planned or not, it was masterful broadcasting.

As I watched Santana being mobbed by his teammates, I felt as though I was in the stadium. I didn’t have some obnoxious loudmouth yelling in my ear. It wasn’t about the broadcaster, it was about the moment. Because of the words they didn’t say, it was a wonderful moment for me, the viewer.

When I called the final out of the Hudson Valley Renegades New York Penn League title in 1999, I tried to employ much the same tactic. After an excited description of the game’s final pitch (a strikeout), I let the crowd fill the broadcast air. On radio I didn’t let it go 64 seconds, but surely for 10 or 20 my listeners heard a jubilant crowd and fireworks filling the air. Gary Cohen I’m not, but I’m proud to say I learned a thing or two from Marty Glickman.

How many broadcasters would have let us enjoy that moment by saying nothing?
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10 Tips For Getting Hired In Radio

Jason's 10 Tips
We've had a lot of great interaction over the past few years with aspiring sportscasters who come to our site looking for answers.  Our readers often ask for the real-world steps they need to succeed.  And by succeed, I mean get a real job.  Not learn about a job, or find plenty of jobs.  I mean actually GET that sportscasting job.

Some of our most popular posts are How To Get Started In Sports Broadcasting, and our recent article How To Become A Sports Broadcaster In Five Simple Steps.  I hope you've found these to be awesome resources.

Let me tell you about a fantastic new site that every sports broadcaster and sports fan should follow - Jason Barrett's Media Blog.  Jason is the Program Director for 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and a guy who has worked in every area of this business over the past two decades.   He has actually done the job searching and now does the job hiring. In other words, he's been where you are and can tell you how to get where you want to go. (And yes, he hired me once, almost 15 years ago. Okay, so he's not perfect)

Seriously though, his recent post 10 Tips For Getting Hired In Radio is truly excellent.  As is the entire blog. He shares the real nuts and bolts type stuff we all crave, and you'll see in his bio that he has worked with some of the biggest names in sports radio.  Follow him on Facebook and Twitter too...but only if you want to be truly connected into the sports radio industry.

I hope Sportscasters Club has been a constant source of sports broadcasting information, inspiration and fun. That's why we're here, and we love to find other professionals who share the passion for guiding aspiring sports media professionals.

Now go take Jason's 10 Tips and get hired!
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