Group Critique 21: October 2018

It sounds like fall! This month’s radio group features plenty of football play-by-play critiques with a sprinkle of baseball. Meanwhile the TV play-by-play side digs into baseball and basketball.

What you’ll learn in the radio portion:

  • How your favorite words can quickly become cliche
  • Advice for using your voice to underscore drama
  • A habit you should develop for all scoring plays
  • The common three letter word to eliminate from your play-by-play vocabulary.

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Keys to Elite Baseball Play-by-Play

You’ll be reminded about the key fundamentals to great baseball broadcasting, and learn advanced techniques for setting yourself apart in one of the most competitive genres of sports broadcasting. You’ll also hear samples demonstrating how to best execute these techniques.

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Interviewing

Have you ever sat in your car to hear the end of an exceptionally entertaining interview? In this guide you will learn the common mistakes to avoid so you deliver similarly captivating interviews to your audience!

When I was a talk show host on ESPN Radio Network in the early 2000’s, ABC/ESPN hired a man who extensively studied interviewing techniques. He noticed several common habits that potentially sabotaged the quality of the interview. He named these bad habits the Seven Deadly Sins and ABC/ESPN began teaching them to all of their radio and TV air talent.

This guide is based upon the Seven Deadly Sins, with some personal tweaks to make them even more relevant. Also please be clear, the Seven Deadly Sins are far from the only “rules” for doing great interviews.

Deadly Sin #1: Not Asking a Question

You’ve probably heard interviewers say “talk about” roughly one million times. Don’t do it. Not asking a question allows your guest to go whatever direction he wants, and it’s likely not the direction you want.

Not getting an answer is awkward for everyone. Avoid the uncomfortableness by always asking a question.

A common mistake many broadcasters make is taking the “I don’t have interviews, I have conversations” approach to interviewing. You must ask questions.

Deadly Sin #2: The Double-Barreled Question

Also known as the two-part question. If you ask two questions at once, the chances are great that only one will be answered. If both questions are worth asking, ask them separately.

Again, if both questions are worth asking, ask them separately.

Deadly Sin #3: Overloading

I have changed this from the ABC/ESPN definition. For me, overloading means talking too much. Overloading can cause the question to get lost. Ask your question in 10-seconds or less.

Deadly Sin #4: Remarks

Don’t load up your questions with remarks. You may never get the answer to your question. Pin your guest down my simply asking the question to which you want an answer.

Deadly Sin #5: Yes-No Questions

Avoid asking questions that can be answered yes or no. Yes/no questions can severely limit response. It’s especially an issue with people who aren’t used to being interviewed (like high school athletes or kids), or people who prefer not to be doing the interview. Open-ended questions demand an explanation.

I remember pre-recording an interview Chike Ofeakor of the 49ers many years ago. He had no interest in being there and his answers reflected it.

An exception to the Yes/No rule would be if you are trying to create a dramatic moment. Ex: “Barry Bonds. Did you use PEDs?”

Deadly Sin #6: Answering Your Own Questions

You’ll have plenty of time before or after the interview to share your opinions or prove how much you know. Remember, the guest is the star. Less of you and more of the guest is a good thing.

An especially notable thing about the last example is that the guest is a black man, so the interviewer assumed the guest’s role models were also black. While you didn’t hear the replies in the sample, the guest told the interviewer his role models were Coach K. and Bobby Knight. Not only had the interviewer guessed at his guest’s answer, he guessed wrong.

Deadly Sin #7: Hyperbole

Comics use hyperbole effectively and it is effective in advertising. However, it is a bad thing to do in an interview. Most folks are embarrassed to be put on a pedestal. The more you overstate the greatness of your guest and/or their accomplishments, the more they are going to downplay their reply.

That answer was not edited. That is all there was. The guest may have been somewhat embarrassed about being put on the pedestal and he wanted to get down as quickly as possible.

Deadly Sin #7.5: Name the One

I added this to the list after hearing it too many times. Avoid asking your guest to name the most memorable moment of his career or his favorite teammate of all-time. Most folks want to contemplate their answer for more than the three seconds you are giving them. As a bailout, they frequently say, “I can’t think of just one.” Instead of, “name the one,” ask, “What is one of?”

Q&A

How acceptable are “one thing” questions when they’re more along the lines of “one bit of advice for Audience X”?

Asking someone for a piece of advice is acceptable. Still, it would be better to ask for a specific piece of advice.

I know I find it frustrating when someone asks me, “Do you have any advice for my career?” Well yes. I can spend the next year sharing advice with you. What specifically do you want advice about? Demos? Resumes? Football play-by-play fundamentals?

Being specific is always better.

On the “tell us about” questions- how would you propose asking Sidney Crosby about how he did score the game winning goal in overtime?

What specifically do you want to know about the goal? His mindset? What was the play designed to do? His thought process as sprinted towards the net? Be specific.

Just ask yourself, what specifically is it that you want to know. Instead of, “tell me about your birthday party,” how about…

  • Who attended
  • Where was it?
  • Why did you choose that location?
  • What kind of cake did you have?
  • What presents did you receive?
  • etc.

Instantly Increase Your Sports Talk Ratings

When it comes to ratings, many hosts mistakenly consider only how many people are listening. You also need to be thinking about how long those folks are listening and how many times you are enticing them do tune in each day and each week. It’s called TSL – Time Spent Listening – and it is a critical yet largely neglected ratings component.

Some great news for you: TSL is easy to increase. The key to building TSL is…

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Group Critique 20: September 2018

An all-radio edition featuring critiques of baseball play-by-play and sports talk show hosting.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • A great habit to develop to be sure you don’t go too long without time and score.
  • Something a solo host can use to bring outside opinions to their show.
  • The one thing you must do within the first 30 seconds of a sports talk segment.
  • An easy technique for giving your sports talk audience something they can’t get anywhere else.

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Group Critique 19: August 2018

The final Group Critique for the summer of 2018 features radio and TV baseball play-by-play, with a solitary football radio clip to get you ready for the upcoming season.

What you’ll learn:

  • Ideas for baseball description beyond game mechanics
  • Why top level employers might think you didn’t prep enough for a football broadcast
  • An example of consistently weaving storylines into baseball PBP
  • Suggestions for coaching up your TV analyst
  • Are you falling into the single-camera webcast trap?

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Make the Most of Your Talent Page

Your STAA Talent Page is the online home of your demo and resume. Think of it as a one-stop shop that makes it simple and easy for employers to get the info they need about you.

These tips will help you utilize your Talent Page to its fullest potential.

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