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Coaching The Play By Play Team

Baseball is the one sport that is still better on radio.

A great broadcast team can bring a game to life in ways television can’t.

The best radio baseball broadcast team of all time? Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner, the original Mets crew.

Oh, no I’m not a homer. Not me.

Actually there have been many good teams.

Milo Hamilton and Larry Dierker were excellent on the Astros games in the 80s.

Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall were great together doing the Reds on radio.

Phil Rizzuto and anyone he worked with was entertaining on Yankees games, even when Phil wasn’t watching the game.

Today with XM you can hear all of the home teams and get a good idea of what their broadcast teams sound like.

During Mets road games, I’m forced to listen to the other team’s broadcast. Sometimes it’s painful.

They sure aren’t Howie and Wayne, the Met’s broadcasters. (That homer thing again)

Saturday night, the Pirate’s play by play and color broadcaster were clearly doing the same game. But they were holding separate conversations with neither acknowledging the other person.

They reminded me of the couple who lived next door for a while. The wife talked non-stop, the husband talked non-stop, yet neither one heard a word the other said.

After a while the broadcast became well, annoying. Just like my former neighbors.

The broadcasters should sound like they’re having one conversation and working together.

After all, this is a major league baseball broadcast.

To make things worse they had no crowd mic or stadium sounds.

The broadcast sounded sterile like it was done from sound proof studio miles from the stadium.

This started me thinking about problems I hear in the fall with local play by play.

High school and college football season is just around the corner. This is the time when many local stations hire outside help for play by play.

If you are responsible for the broadcast team, listen and keep a few key points in mind.

  • Is your audio quality clean so your broadcasters can be heard easily?
  • Is your team telling the full story of the game?
  • Are they bringing the excitement of the event through sound, like crowd noise?
  • Are they talking to each other, or are they having one-sided conversations?
  • Are they playing off what each other is saying?
  • Is your color person focused on doing color by adding depth and understanding to the play by play?
  • What kind of preparation are you requiring your team to do before the broadcast?
  • How much time are they spending discussing their coverage before going on the air?
  • Are they reviewing the broadcast afterwards and making notes for what can be improved the next week?
  • Do you have good examples of radio (not TV) play by play and color announcers that you can use to demonstrate the right way to present a broadcast on radio?
  • Remember TV and Radio are vastly different because of how pictures and replay are used on TV.
  • Does everyone on your broadcast team understand their role?
  • Have you worked out visual signs between the broadcast partners so they know when not to talk?
  • Many high school and college play by play and color broadcasters are former coaches with no radio experience, make sure you spend time directing them.
  • Do you have a plan for those nights when a game is a blow out?
 
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Posted by on August 17, 2008 in Mets and Baseball, Radio programming

 

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“Tell Me A Story Daddy”

We love stories.

“Tell me a story daddy” is one of the first sentences a child says to the parent.

We want stories from the beginning and we never loose that desire as adults.

Radio is stories.

Bob Prince the longtime Pittsburgh Pirate broadcaster was a great story teller.

Prince would be in the middle of a story, you’d hear the crack of the bat, crowd roar, and Bob would finish his story and casually mention “Stargell hit a three run homer to right”.

The stories were often more interesting than the game.

Story telling has helped baseball survive on radio when every game is available on television.

All of the great radio baseball broadcasters are story tellers. Phil Rizzuto was one, Ernie Harwell, and the forever young Vin Scully are others.

Baseball broadcast teams are much like great morning teams. Two characters playing off each other’s stories and weaving the game commentary into the broadcast.

Take a hard look at the ratings in your market. My bet is NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘All Things Considered’ do extremely well. They are all about story telling.

Think about your morning show. What kind of stories are they telling?

When you interview for morning talent are you listening to how they tell a story? Do they engage your attention with the simplest things?

KDKA’s Jack Bogut featured his ‘Home Movies’ segment. He told simple five minute lifestyle stories, and had a great way of painting the picture.

Bogut would keep you in the car until he finished.

Is your morning show doing ‘driveway stories’, the kind that hold you in the car until the end?

Sometimes listeners are better story tellers than your talent. Find people who can contribute to the show and engage an audience with their tales.

Great stories turn into great ratings stories.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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