The Life of a Play By Play announcer

I had always thought about writing this, one of my friends Don Wadewitz did it first and gave me the idea to do the same. If you love Sportscasting or really good, up and coming Sports Broadcasters, I urge you to follow Don on Twitter @Donwadewitz

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Flattering? Right?

 

Good Afternoon Friends and Foes,

I hope this blog finds you enjoying your New Year. We are only 2 days into the New Year and already I am sure all of you are back in the gym, have quit smoking and already have changed your lives completely per your New Years resolutions. I have never made New Years resolutions, if you want to change something, do it now! 

I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten the compliments of how good the broadcast sounds or how much excitement I bring to a broadcast. And while those compliments are always appreciated, The actual broadcast, is the easiest part of the broadcast. There are hours of work that goes into every game or match that I do. Now, I am not saying my job is harder than yours, not even close. It is 4 degrees outside here in Iowa today, I am working inside, there are some guys who are outside. My job is easy on my body! Just like all of our jobs, its different. Here is a little run down of how a day in the life of Jeff Moss is.

1) Wake Up!

As we go on throughout this day, you will understand how hard this task is. I know its tough for everyone. When that alarm goes off, you would pay actual money to hit the snooze for 15 more minutes. Whats nice for me is my hours at work have changed a little this year. I come in a little later in the morning, so I do not need to get out of bed til 8:30 or 9:00 AM. I am not gonna lie, its nice getting that extra sleep. 

2) Head to work

I have the luxury of living in the same town I work in, so while many sportscasters may have to travel an hour or more to even get to work, it takes me around…..5 minutes to get from doorstep to office. It is something I totally take for granted and I really shouldn’t. There are mornings I have woke up literally 10 minutes before I have to be at work and have made it on time. Before I came to Hampton, IA I worked in Atlantic, IA….and my apartment was a block from the radio station. These are two luxuries that I assume I will NEVER have in my broadcasting life ever again. So…we have no arrived at work, I usually try to arrive around 9:30 to 9:45 AM……try is the key word there….My work as a play by play man is a little different than some…or most. I work an on air shift at my radio station. So when I come in there are some pieces of ad copy that need to be done for that day and some other things that I have to record for that morning. Once I get those things out of the way I can begin sports preparation.

3) Stories

Hey all you young sports broadcasters, do you want to be a great writer as well? Work at a local station with a dedication to local sports and local news. While many stations have become rip and read, that is not the same at the local level. While there are some stories we rip, 85% to 90% of our stories are written in house. By the time I am sitting down to write, I am writing stories for three days from now. Usually they will be game previews as well as pieces on former athletes or things going on in the community (ie…Silent Auction Cake Walk and Alumni Basketball game). Wait, that is not the type of writing your college professor said you would be doing? Well those are the type of things that matter for people in your community. Its not hard hitting stuff, but it is what is happening. The news is no more real in Hampton, IA than it is in New York City.

4) Prep Work and Phone Calls

After working ahead I finally get to work on things for today. But not until we have to do some more working ahead, and that means calling high school athletic directors to let them know you will be coming to their site to call a ball game. I will usually call a week ahead of the game to let them know we will be there. Its just a courtesy. If you were going to go see a friend, would you just drop by unannounced? Well that depends on the friend I guess…but I wouldn’t. Id let them know I was planning on stopping by. And I will tell you this from experience, the more you call and let them know you are coming, the more and more AD’s will just leave your space open regardless if you are there or not. There are some people who do not call at all, Ill let you guess where those people have to broadcast the game from or how the AD feels about them when they show up. So once we have made our calls for next weeks games, we can work on the game we will be covering tonight. Quikstatsiowa is the greatest website for broadcasters in Iowa. It has all the stats that are entered by the coaches as well as updated rosters. I may also send a text to the coaches to let them know we are coming and that Id like to talk to them after the game and also to find out if all the kids will be in uniform. When they know you care, they will care about getting you the information you need. Now, do I use all of the nuggets I compile for a ball game? Not even close! I may do an hour of pregame research and use none of it! But when I need it, I have it, and that feels really good!

5) Air shift time!

The nice thing about doing a local air shift is that there is not much live work. In fact, I am writing this blog as I sit in the studio doing a live air shift. I use this time to multi-task. While filling listeners in on the weather, birthdays, things coming up on the air, I also get more time to prep for tonight’s game and also look ahead a little bit and do some prep for games down the line. The more you can work ahead, the better off you will be for that broadcast.

6) Pack your broadcast bag

Ever gone on vacation and forgot your toothbrush? We all have! You just pick one up when you get to your destination….. Now, ever traveled two hours to do a football game and forgot your headset? For a broadcaster, there is no worse feeling. You forgot something you have to have! You may as well be a diabetic and have forgot your insulin (ok….thats a bit of a stretch)…but it is a lonely feeling. That is why I have a check list of the things I need. I open the bag with nothing in it and piece by piece I fill the bag with what I need. Then….I dump it all out and do it all over again. Some say I am neurotic, I prefer to look at it as……ok….I am neurotic! But it only takes one time to not have something you need to drive you to that point for the rest of your life. I have gotten to the point where I try to pack one bag and never take anything out of it, but when you share equipment for remotes and things need fixed, its not so easy. 

7) Travel Time!

Another thing I totally take for granted is having a station vehicle to drive. Alot of guys have to take their own car and pay for their own mileage. Like I have said before, I am lucky. If you hate driving and traveling, this job is not for you. Most of the road trips I take vary between 1 hour to 2 hours one-way. How do I pass the time? I listen to the Adam Carolla podcast. Its hilarious and It makes the drive go so much faster. 

8) Arrive early

This is something I have not been very good at this year, I guess that would be my New Years resolution. Typically I want to be 60 minutes early. Why? Because I can take my time setting things up, hang our station banner, make sure all equipment is connected properly, check in with the station, go over rosters one more time with the scorekeeper and if I have enough time, get something to drink and maybe a quick bite before the game begins. This may come as a mind blowing fact to some of my sportscaster friends, but we still use phone line and cell phone here for our broadcasts. Ever gone to a gym where you are told the phone line works and it doesn’t? Being early means you can contact the AD, who you have already talked to because you called him/her a week early to let them know you were coming….and who now may be able to get someone there to get the line working prior to the game. See what happened there? You made connections and now they are paying off for you. Imagine the feelings of the AD for the guy who didn’t even call and now wants him to fix his phone line…….Vegas took those odds of that happening off the board long ago!

9) Do the game

Like I said, this is the easy part, all you have to do is tell people what is happening. 

10) Postgame

I have gotten used to the fact that I am the least important person in the gym. And that means that I am going to have to fill in the post game to wait for the coach to come up. Now, that could be 5 minutes…it could be 20 minutes. It all depends. They will come to you when they can come to you. This is where your ability to be a story teller is crucial. Someone may be just tuning in, you can make them feel as if they never missed anything with your ability to recap. After the coach comes up, its time to get off the air and tear down. Always make sure you have everything, also nothing worse than leaving something 2 hours away that you will need again the very next night. By this time you are the last person in the gym and the last car in the parking lot. Its nice that you don’t have to worry about traffic, but walking outta that gym when its -20 and you are the only person there…can be awfully lonely.

11) Travel Home

Could be an hour, could be two….could be more if there was some snow falling while you were doing that game. Its part of the gig. Again podcasts are great to fill the void as well as late night talk radio. Of course you get back and you have to stop at the station to drop the equipment off and there may be some more production to do that begins in the morning and there may be some small things that you need to take care of.

12) Now we are actually home

Its now about 11:00 pm, we are home! Its been a long day and a long night. But its been a longer night for my girlfriend who has waited up for me. While as play by play announcers we get awards and fans who enjoy the broadcasts, most of us have someone at home who is waiting for us to come home. The Wives and significant others deserve just as much credit as any of us. We do this whole sports broadcasting thing because we love it and mostly because our significant others allow us to do it. 

 

So that is a typical day, and Ill do something very similar tomorrow….and the next day. When you see play by play guys out this winter, make sure to just say thank you. We don’t expect you to, but it makes it all just a little bit better when someone thanks us for a job that we work very hard to make sure is a job well done. But if you really think your play by play guy is special….thank their wife…..because without her support, he probably isn’t there.

 

 

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