Group Critique 25: February 2019

Love basketball? Then this is the group critique month for you: Jon is reviewing four clips, three basketball and one football.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • A good example of how you can make your listeners care about your broadcast.
  • A “small investment, big reward” technique for conveying emotions of players and coaches to your audience.
  • Advice for controlling tempo in your basketball broadcasts.
  • The play-by-play fundamental that is similar to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
  • Great examples of how you can hear a smile on radio and why it matters in your broadcasts.


Work in Esports

Esports is a rapidly growing section of the broadcasting industry. The following advice comes from an industry insider who prefers to remain anonymous.

Do you love broadcasting sports and playing video games? Esports may be a perfect gig for you to explore.

Esports broadcasts have been embraced by not only major networks like Turner Sports, Disney, and others, but virtually every tech company as well. Even pro sports leagues are offering Esports divisions to connect more with millennials.

Gain Experience

Find matches to broadcast online and stay with what you know! Much like calling traditional sports, Esports requires a certain skill set. Knowledge of the video game being played is a must.

Promote Yourself

Let the world see what you are doing. Two ideas:

  1. Ask the league you are covering to make a post on their website
  2. Link to your work on popular community sites

Hit the Job Market

Look around your area to see who is hosting large competitions. Research to find the platforms upon which the competitions are being broadcast.

As of 2019, casters for these sports are in especially high demand:

  • League of Legends
  • Overwatch
  • Counter-Strike
  • Fortnite
  • StarCraft II
  • Heroes
  • Starfighter 5
  • Apex Legends

Not all Esports air on Twitch

Other platforms include:

  • YouTube Live Gaming
  • Mixer
  • Facebook Gaming
  • Steam TV
  • Caffeine

Another Twitch note is that they are moving into live sports programming with the addition of NBA G-League broadcasts, among others.

Group Critique 24: January 2019

Ringing in the new year with a new round of radio critiques in the basketball and hockey departments.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • A common mistake in description that hurts more than it helps.
  • How to increase your energy without sounding over the top.
  • Examples of what basketball broadcasters should do instead of narrating every pass.
  • A unique, effective description to add to your basketball vocabulary


Group Critique 23: December 2018

Ho ho hope you pick up some useful tips from this month’s group critique session. Radio critiques of basketball and football play-by-play plus a double helping of football TV play-by-play.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • When using the shot clock becomes a PBP crutch
  • How to tell if you’ve prepared well for your football broadcast
  • When to watch the field and when to watch the monitor


Group Critique 22: November 2018

Your November critique session includes football, baseball, volleyball and sports talk.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Two techniques for instantly improving your voice quality, regardless of how good it might already be
  • Examples of great description for football broadcasters
  • How thinking of a football field as being sloped will help your broadcast
  • The five letter word to avoid to make your broadcasts more personal
  • The one thing you should do in every sports talk monologue segment


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.


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.


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?”


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.