Friday, March 2, 2012

So you'd like to be a broadcaster...

Ten principles for a baseball broadcaster:


1)  Learn the game. 
Learn the rules, learn the nuances, learn the language.

2)  Know your players.  Learn how their names are pronounced, research their background, get to know their strengths -- what they do to help their team win, and what they're working on improving.

3)  Be confident and comfortable.  Your listeners should trust you and like you, and not mind having you for company three hours each night.

4)  Be on top of the game.  If there's a crack, don't describe the pitcher throwing the ball -- clearly the ball's already been thrown.  The classic:  "1-1 pitch..." *ball strikes catcher's mitt* "Inside, ball two."  You should be proclaiming "Home run!" at the very second the crowd's cheering reaches a crescendo.

5)  Master the rhythm of the game.  The poetic way of putting this -- "Let the game breathe."  Let the sounds of the ballpark filter through.  But if there's a pitcher who's a quick worker, stay on top of him; don't let him take you by surprise.

6)  Take it easy and loosen up.  Nine innings allows you to crack a smile, if not a joke, every now and then.

7)  Make your content interesting for all audiences.  Statistics are only as illuminating as the context in which they're placed, while anecdotes are golden as long as they don't drag on too long.  An excellent broadcaster makes his/her listener feel smarter and more tuned in to what's going on.  Never talk down to your listeners.

8)  The listeners reflect what the broadcaster feels.  A bored broadcaster creates disinterest, an excited broadcaster brings excitement, and an angered broadcaster stirs ire.  (This is not always true.  A screaming broadcaster, for instance, causes the station to be changed.)

9)  Own up to your words.  Everything you say is heard.  There should be nothing said that you regret.

10)  Understand your place, and show respect.  Without a game and its players, there can be no broadcast.  Without listeners, there can be no broadcast.

(EDIT -- I should also mention the classic broadcaster philosophy of how to keep your job:  Get your sponsors' names right, and give the score regularly.)

*

I'm currently in the midst of deciding upon who will be the Lugnuts' broadcast assistant for this upcoming season.  Here are some brief words of advice for job-seekers:

  *  One-page resume, no more.

  *  In order to broadcast baseball, you have to have broadcasted baseball before.  Go to a game and record yourself.  Watch a game on TV, mute the volume, and record yourself.  Broadcast a high school game.  Broadcast a college game.  It doesn't matter -- just broadcast.  The only way a painter can improve is by painting, right?

  *  Your demo has to be of terrific audio quality.  If it isn't, you're in immediate trouble.  In fact, everything that you turn in to the employer should be of the utmost quality you can manage.

  *  On your demo, don't be boring and don't scream.  There's a happy medium, and that's where good broadcasters reside.

  *  Every candidate is "enthusiastic," "loves baseball," "works hard," and has a "high standard of excellence." Find a different way of describing yourself or setting yourself apart.

Any questions, most definitely feel free to contact me.

(A look at the field today.)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The man you seek is already at the park: Tim Zeko.

Rob Parish said...

So glad you added give the score regularly, something Ernie and Paul did very well and my only complaint with Tigers current team

Jesse Goldberg-Strassler said...

It's true, Rob. There really are people constantly tuning in and out, and what they want to know, more than anything else, is "Who's winning?"

As a broadcaster, it's easy to forget because you're thinking to yourself, "I just gave the score" -- but that was six minutes ago, and there have been people waiting for the last five minutes to hear who's on top.

Rob Parish said...

Absolutely, I used to commute 7-10 minutes to my previous job and as I would catch the Tig's from there to here I always noted when I would make the whole trip without hearing the score. Announcing baseball is different from any other sport I feel. A good announcer can give you every bit, and more I believe then you can even get watching it on tv. I'm looking forward to tuning in to your broadcasts is year, I get so giddy every year when March rolls around. I'm currently on inning 3 of my annual Ken Burns Baseball doc watch haha