As I've done before, I thought I would put together a post with some advice for sportscasters entering the 'real world.' Five years ago (May 2010) I was getting ready to head off to Fayetteville, North Carolina (14 hours away) and start my first post-college gig. Hope this advice can play a small part in helping out others in the same position.
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- Work your tail off >> A strong ethic will take you a long way in this business. If you combine some talent and a solid work ethic, good things will happen. Don't be the No. 2 broadcaster in pro ball that refuses to help out in the ticket office, put on the mascot costume at an appearance, help clean the concession stand postgame, pull tarp during a rain delay, stuff ticket envelopes, etc. Be the broadcaster who is a 'team player' and cares about the organization. If you work hard, good things will happen.
- Be willing to go anywhere >> I've had to move twice already in my career. I moved to North Carolina right after college and to New Mexico after spending 4 years 15 minutes from my hometown. Tough decision for sure, but I always told myself I would go anywhere if it would benefit my career. You have to have that mindset or your career won't progress the way you want it to. Quality jobs that are offered to you don't come around all that often so take advantage. Ask yourself, "will this move get me closer to my ultimate goal?" If the answer is yes, pack your bags, fill the gas tank and find a place to live.
- Network/Stay Connected >> Most folks get to a point in their career where the people they've met along the way play a BIG part in jobs they do/don't get. My references played a huge role in helping me get the recent job I took. Constantly send your work to people you respect in the business. There are some vets in MLB, NBA, Colleges, etc. that are MORE than willing to help out young broadcasters. If you aren't sending out your tapes to get critiqued by those folks, you're behind. Not only will they give you great advice on how to go about your career, they will give you the honest feedback you won't receive from friends/family.
- Get Reps >> Unless you're Bob Costas who was REALLY good calling St. Louis Spirits bball on KMOX in St. Louis right out of college, you are going to be rough on the edges early. The best way to get better is reps. If you're going to do pro ball for the first time you'll find out this summer how much you can improve from day 1 to day 61. Your tapes will improve greatly as you get more innings. I refuse to listen to my 2011/2012 tapes. Just like everyone else, I got better with time. Listen to your own tapes during the season, get feedback, find ways to improve.
- Don't Fall Behind >> If you have a seasonal summer gig with a pro baseball team, think ahead. Don't wait until August to map out your next step. September will sneak up on you quickly so get ready for after the season, during the season. Send out demos & resumes constantly in June/July.
- Be realistic >> Every 22-year-old broadcaster would love to start at ESPN and some think that's a possibility. Realize this is a process and ESPN doesn't come calling overnight. The reality is you're probably going to be calling games for a team/radio station in a state you've never been to and in a town you've never heard of. With that said, treat every broadcast like it's your World Series/Super Bowl. Someone is giving you the opportunity to call games as a 'JOB' -- take full advantage of it.
- Don't get discouraged >> You're probably going to apply for hundreds of jobs as you near your college graduation. There's a chance you may only get a couple of return emails or return calls. That's okay. All it takes is one. When I was graduating college I told myself, all I need is someone to take a chance on me. For the most part, after you get that first break and get your foot in the door, you can then make some of your own breaks. Rejection is a part of the game. Stay patient and don't give up just because you aren't getting the response you are hoping for early on.
- Respect the business >> You're getting the chance to call games for a living. Never take it for granted. In a lot of cases the job you have is a job that many would love to have. Realize how lucky and fortunate you are. Don't be thinking about the job you didn't get -- be thinking about the job you DO have. Someone is PAYING you to broadcast a sporting event. That's pretty neat stuff.
- Set goals and have dreams >> My goal coming out of college was to broadcast Division I College Basketball on TV and call MLB games on TV by the age of 26. The front end of the two I was able to achieve, but the second one I wasn't. That's okay. Setting goals is all about having something to reach towards. Getting to call D1 basketball on TV at the age of 26 was a proud moment for me this year because it's something I've worked towards my entire career. Should I be upset because I didn't get to my second goal? Not at all. If you work hard and put yourself in the best position to succeed, that's all you can do. Good things will happen if you work hard, stay determined and dedicate yourself to this craft.