Sportsbroadcasting: When & How Do I Begin?

The author behind the microphone
The author behind the microphone

My passion and focus as a sports broadcaster and educator is to identify and/or assist those who desire to become a professional-amateur and professional sportscaster. The difference between the two is basically one of commitment. The pro-am sports announcer may typically do a game a week in one or two sports more, or less, as a hobby. The professional sportscaster typically may cover several games a week, year round and supplement or compliment their income in whole or in part providing these services.

It immediately becomes evident that either the part, or full, time sportscaster has a passion for what they do. In fact, all the sportscasters that I know began their careers with a love of sports and a passion to announce sporting contests.

When is the best time to begin following your passion? Let me answer that question with another question. “What’s stopping you from beginning right now?” 

A major problem of “HOW DO I BEGIN?” soon becomes very apparent after the decision to pursue a part-time or full-time career in sportscasting is made. “How do I begin?” The answer has changed with the times for reasons including the following:

 Yesterday: From sportscasting’s beginning up to the late 1990’s;

  • Item: The typical “wantabee” sports broadcaster had only a limited number of broadcast distribution channels available to them including radio, television, cable or closed hardwired telephone networks.
  • Item: The working model of sports broadcasting at this and prior times was usually subordinate (remote) to a control facility (studio) that directly selected and caused the sports broadcast to go out “over the air”. The sportscaster and the “board” operator located at the studio facility may have been miles apart, but by necessity, had to work closely together to coordinate the overall game presentation to the targeted audience. If everything worked and the sportscaster’s play by play was integrated with the stations commercial inventory and protocols at the “studio”, the listener could be at the game through his or her mind’s eye. However, the resulting sportscast was often, annoyingly and frustratingly interrupted by no or mis-communications between the remote and studio sites. It wasn’t uncommon for the audience to miss significant sports play action during a commercial break. (Reference history of sportscasting located elsewhere in this blog)
  • Item: Only large media organizations could participate in producing sporting events due to high broadcasting cost. These organizations controlled and commanded the entry portals to who entered the field of sports broadcasting. 

 Today: From the early to mid-2000’s to today;

  • Item: The typical broadcaster has multiple media distribution channels available to them costing anywhere from little or nothing to very substantial amounts.
  • Item: Surprisingly and unfortunately, many broadcasting schools and many large media organizations continue to utilize the traditional sportscasting model described above with fewer interruptions due to advancements in communications technology.
  • Item: An important paradigm shift has occurred in the past decade in that the individual can access major distribution channels on their own, often with minimal capital investment.

 Tomorrow; A bold look forward

  • Item: The old adage “Who knows what tomorrow may bring.” definitely holds true in the area of sports broadcasting. Who could have guessed, only a few years ago, the explosive use of personal mobile devices such as tablets, pads and smart phones and the effects it has and will have on sports broadcasting. This era of personal information alone will likely create yet another critical paradigm shift in the field of sports broadcasting.

 Change is the only constant. All aspects of change MUST be considered in planning for and accessing your sports broadcasting career including: Your commitment – Technology – The Audience – Opportunities – Social Media – Available Distribution Channels – Sports Broadcasting Specialization

  “Where Preparation + Opportunity = Success”

Sportscasting: You can teach an Old Dog new tricks!

Dog-Jumping-Thru-Hoop
Learning a new trick’s easy – just do it.


The fundamentals of sportscasting has changed very little over the years. BUT, the method, distribution and technology has changed, and continue to change rapidly demanding that sportscasters, new and seasoned alike, need to be willing to adapt to new ways of doing things.

Take it from an old dog (in age only), new ways of doing things, new tricks, is a state of mind, not age! This is an important distinction to be recognized by the individual and those around them. When I was just starting out in my own business one of my first big clients was a Fortune 500 company. My primary contact was an older man in his sixties. I was about 32 or 33 years old at this time and had just started a state-of-the-art (at the time) multimedia production company. As a young newly anointed technocrat, with teaching credentials, I was concerned that my dealings with Jack would be an uphill battle in the utilization of the then ‘high tech’ multi-media communications tools and learning methodologies. Boy! Was I wrong. I had to run just to keep up with his knowledge of media communications and thirst to try new ways of doing things, and if a new method proved more effective, use it. What I had brought to the table was a collection of new tools, as well as, current training and educational theories. Jack, always ready to put aside old method of doing things if better methodologies could be utilized more effectively, was constantly thinking outside of the box.

Working with Jack was a rewarding experience and life lesson and has stayed with me throughout my professional and personal life. The longer you do something the more likely it is to develop a mindset, or accept the current paradigm that attempts to provide solutions to problems using the same techniques over and over. Mindsets are created that significantly affect personal and professional growth.

I’m now approaching the age that Jack was 30 plus years ago. and since that time I have witnessed some of the same bias’ that I initially had projected toward Jack purely because of his age. However, this time the bias a younger person had toward an older person was more personal, as I have become that older person.

I hope that I can be as good a role model and mentor to a new, and existing, cadre’ of sports broadcasters, as Jack was to me.

 

RLM Sports Learning Center “Where Preparation +Opportunity = Success”

Sportscasting: Why Radio is no longer the dominant means of entering the field of sports broadcasting.

No Radio Broadcasts
Radio – Not what it used to be.

Terrestrial radio and other terrestrial media in general is no longer the dominant means of entering the field of sports broadcasting. Once about a time if you wanted to become a sports broadcaster the first door you’d knock on was the Sports Director’s at the local radio station.

My father co-owned a local radio station from the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies. I can to this day recollect the childhood remembrances of high schoolers and other young (old to me then) 20 somethings waiting to be 

Local-Radio-Sports_Broadcaster
Just beginning his broadcasting career

interviewed, and auditioned, for a part-time job as a broadcaster. Any job would do, but many wanted to become sports announcers. This, the local small radio station, was the ideal place to jump start their career in broadcasting. My friend and co-founder of RLM Sports began his career here when my father offered him his first job in radio in the early 1970’s. See his post under Bob Michaels.

TIMES HAVE CHANGED! Some change has been good while other changes not so much. For those who have recognized and re-aligned themselves accordingly have done well and prospered. Others, with a ridge mindset, too stubborn, conscientiously resistant to change, or prone to allowing events around them control their destiny often could be found whining and complaining about their lot in life. If that sounds hard hearted, but what a waste of talent. During the course of my own career I’ve seen too many professional, dedicated, good, big kind hearted individuals fall further and further behind in their careers due to changes in technology, delivery systems and audience expectations and discovering too late that the traditional way of doing things was not working for them.

Prior to the mid 1970’s broadcast radio was a local venture, with their own local news and sports departments, personalities, often local, and programs targeting the people they served. It was common to tune into a radio station, or to drive by, a special event or business sale and to hear a local broadcaster on his remote broadcast selling to the listener the value of the merchandise being advertised and singing the praise of the local business where the remote broadcast was taking place.

Since the 1970’s the basic format and programming of radio began to change, slowly at first then accelerating primarily due to the continued deregulation and the resulting decline of locally oriented terrestrial broadcasting. 

By the 1990’s  one business entity could own and operate many media distribution channels including radio and television organizations.

DEREGULATION, COMMERCIALIZATION, AND TECHNOLOGY ALL CONTRIBUTED TO THE SEVERE DECLINE OF LOCALLY ORIENTED CONTENT AND PROGRAMMING.

Lack of regulations requiring media organizations to provide community minded content and programming. This de-regulation also allowed for multiple ownership of radio and TV stations within the same commercial market area. The result has been directly and significantly a greatly reduced local media presence. I.e. News and sports department greatly reduced or eliminated.

Advanced Technologies Samples
Analog to Digital – Miniaturization – Computers – Satellite Communications – Mobile Devices

Results
Voice tracking – Automation – National Syndication of music, news, sports programming

 

RLM Sports Learning Center “Where Preparation + Opportunity = Success”

Sportscasting: Changing Paradigms in Sports Broadcasting

Tim broadcasting a radio show
Tim during a broadcast

Hi. I’m Tim Shaddock, co-founder of RLM Sports & iMarketing LLC. Along with my friend and co-founder, Bob Michaels, we want to give you a little of our background from two separate, but integrated perspectives.

“Military brat” is a common term referring to individuals who spent their childhood immersed in a military environment. A term of endearment and respect, it also implies certain adaptabilities in new environments.

I am a self-described “broadcasting brat”. To grow up in a broadcasting environment during an age of rapidly developing, innovative and expanding “analog” technologies in both radio and video broadcasting was amazing, an experience a few readers of this post may only know about second and third hand, if at all. This intimate experience with the technologies, practices, and art that make up the industry of broadcasting has given me a unique perspective.

OperatingVacumeTubeSmallIt was an era of glowing vacuum tubes and high voltage equipment, where it was easier to damage yourself than the equipment you were operating. Audio content was recorded on steel wire and broadcast turntables were bigger than I was (5 or 6 years old). I remember the advancement to magnetic tape

Reel-To-Reel Tape Recorder

recording where good editing, if done at all, was accomplished by carefully cutting and splicing the magnetic tape. It took a “good ear”, a steady hand, time and patience to properly “cut & splice” magnetic tape to create a quality finished program.

I pursued my education and became first a teacher and then a multi-media communications entrepreneur. I experienced, first-hand, the transition between analog and digital technology, which now greatly influences the way we communicate and interact with each other. During this time (mid-1980’s), I became directly involved in the art of sports broadcasting. My father, my colleague Bob Michaels and I created Tri-River Sports, that delayed broadcasted local sporting events over the areas cable system using video tape technology. My daughter, a teenager and third generation “broadcasting brat”, learned how to effectively operate a video camera, which greatly enhanced the viewing experience. Most importantly, I became familiar with what is now commonly referred to as paradigms and paradigm shifts, which will be covered in a separate post.

With over 90 years of direct and indirect sports and broadcast participation, RLM Sports will bring knowledge and skill, as well as a unique perspective that I am excited to share with you on this blog. I hope our readers will, in turn, share with us.

RLM Sports Learning Center “Where Preparation & Opportunity = Success”

Why this Blog!

The world of sports is an exciting one. Next to actually participating in a game, the opportunity to be involved in

A-Sports-cira-1947
1947 – A Basketball Sportscast – 2 announcers 1 engineer 1 board operator

bringing the exciting game action to viewers/listeners is a real high to a sports broadcaster. Knowing that even a local sports

broadcast can be seen/heard half way around the world fascinates, intrigues and excites me all at once. Sports

 

2013 – One man can do the work of 4.

Broadcasting technology and sportscasting opportunities have expanded tremendously in less than a lifetime.

Due to the rapid and constant expansion of the breadth and depth of Sports Broadcasting RLM Sports promotes and believes in the following words of wisdom that holds true for those of us with dreams, goals and the willingness to strive to achieve them.

“Preparation + Opportunity = Success”

Sportscasting: A look back!

Sports Broadcaster calling an Ice Hockey Game
Sports Broadcaster On The Job

Hi. My name is Bob Michaels and I am a co-founder of RLM Sports & iMarketing LLC.

My earliest memory or experience with radio began somewhere around the age of four. There was always a radio playing in the background at home, and while I may not have realized it then, that was the beginning of my fascination with the media. Whether it was my Mom listening to prerecorded music shows from far off places like Hawaii or College football games on Saturdays, I was intrigued as to the ability to bring the world to my home by just turning a knob on that small rectangular box.

It was a visit to a local radio station with my Cub Scout group that set the wheels in motion for my radio career. We toured the station, and among other items to take home with us, we were given samples of news copy. This news copy was sent by teletype on continuous perforated sheets of paper, also called wire copy,

At our monthly Pack meeting we staged a skit and I was chosen as the Newscaster using the “wire copy” I had received at the radio station visit. This was a role that I relished to the hilt. In fact, I was so into reading the newly acquired news stories that my Den mother had to actually come on stage and tell me to stop using my burgeoning, developing “broadcasting” voice.

From that first official introduction to radio broadcasting things really took off. As soon as the opportunity arose I joined my schools Radio club and soon found myself spending Saturdays helping to produce a one hour show at a local radio station. After extensive and accelerated college studies in broadcasting journalism, I landed my first job as a part time job as a weekend sign on man spinning vinyl records (remember those), and, unknowingly at the time, began my career in sports broadcasting doing radio play by play for Little League baseball games.

Over the next 25 years opportunities presented themselves and I was able to professionally develop and hone my skills in the arena of news and sports reporting. I was also producing and doing play by play of sporting  events with radio and TV stations up and down the eastern coast from New York to Florida.

Now, working with Tim Shaddock, we have created a unique niche in the sportscasting market with the development of RLM SPORTS, as we reach out to a global audience in our presentation of the games people play. We serve professional sportscasting to our clients with a creative spin that makes since in quality presentations and cost effectiveness.

RLM Sports Learning Center –  “Where Preparedness + Opportunity – Success”

 

RLM Sports Learning Center “Where Preparation and Opportunity = Success”