The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.
I believe most sports fans believe they could just jump behind a microphone and do an announcer’s job. Most do not realize the preparation and skill it takes to present the product for the enjoyment of the viewer. It only looks easy because of the work that goes into knowing the players, their teams, and the game itself before you even go on the air. It also helps to surround oneself with a great crew and outstanding fellow announcers. In the many years I have been behind the microphone (50+), I have been blessed with outstanding color analysts – the ones who create additional information as the action unfolds.
It all started with Dick Tracy, who probably was the quirkiest of all, but so highly respected that he could say almost anything, never look at the camera, and be received as the true authority of the high school football, basketball, and baseball scenes. He was not television “savvy” but that was part of his charm and mystique and it worked!
When Dick retired, it left a huge void that needed to be filled and it was my job to find the replacements. I decided that, prior to any interview, I would create a blueprint for the job. Here are the suggestions (in bold type) I tried to instill in my potential recruits:
MY TOP 10 ANALYST TIPS
Follow all the games each week so you get a feel for the top players, the teams, and the conference.
Try to stay conversational and relaxed. With TV, the pictures can speak for themselves – just try to add interest to the game. Relax and respond to the situation and the play-by-play guy.
KNOW THE NAMES:
Learn the proper pronunciation prior to the game. Take time to find the names before talking about a play. It is not a panic situation. There is time to find the number and the name in the program. This will become second nature to you with experience.
DON’T HESITATE TO BE HUMOROUS:
The only caution is try not to demean a player; you certainly can point out a mistake (but it is still better to give the player who did the right thing more air time). Instead of saying someone badly missed a tackle, give credit to the runner.
IF YOU THINK YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN’T SAY SOMETHING – DON’T!
POINT OUT AND CLARIFY:
You can truly add to the game by pointing out things – emphasizing a player’s skills, clarifying why a play worked, etc.
DON’T RESPOND TO THE DIRECTOR IN THE HEADSET – THE PEOPLE AT HOME CAN’T HEAR HIM:
If a question is asked by the director, work the answer into the conversation.
P.S. – the crew will always try to test a rookie and make him answer a question on the air. You’ve been warned.
DON’T TALK OVER THE PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN:
There is ample time to get your analysis in after the play has been called. Relax and jump in at the appropriate time. Remember – “Dead ball is you”; “Live ball is not you”.
To coaches, sportswriters, players, and play-by-play announcers. Their insights become YOUR insights.
BE READY FOR THE NOTORIETY:
People will eventually get to know you and talk to you at the mall, on the street, at the corner store like you are their friend. I have found that a simple “Thank you” for a compliment and an “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I hope not to do that again” for a valid criticism works pretty well. Remember – you are a representative of RCN.
I fortunately found Mike Joseph (football), John Leone (college basketball), Tom Stoudt (basketball) and Scott Barr (wrestling and baseball) as the four who fit the bill. I could not have surrounded myself with better people over the years, and for that, I am grateful.
ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
- I did watch the All-Star game because of Shohei Ohtani. I do not know which is better for the game – his exploits or his personality. He may hit 60 or more home runs this year and win 15 games as a pitcher, but the story I found to be the best was that he donated the $150,000 he won for the Home Run Derby to a couple of dozen members of the LA Angels’ support staff.
- The NBA Finals have demonstrated the immense shooting ability, especially from beyond the arc, that exists in the pro game today. These players are amazing in both their accuracy and their ability to shoot despite being guarded so closely. There is certainly defense in the NBA, but, man, there is plenty of offense!
- The San Francisco Giants have the best record in baseball and they are managed by Gabe Kapler – yes, that Gabe Kapler who managed the Phillies in 2018 and 2019. The fans couldn’t wait for him to leave town. He loved analytics – the Phillie fans did not. It appears right now that Kapler knows what he is doing – analytics says so!
- It was nice this weekend to root for any of the top three as the British Open unfolded – Oosthuizen, Morikawa, and Spieth are all difficult to root against. It became one of those – “May the best man win” kind of competitions. That turned out to be Collin Morikawa.
- Blue Mountain League baseball is back on Tuesday this week LIVE at 6:00pm. The game features the the Limeport Dodgers vs. the Northampton Giants. The Limeport Bulls and the Egypt Orioles are on tap next week. Join Chris Michael and me.