Written by Bruce Adams
Main Line Times
May 4, 2005
Lower Merion senior Landon Sears – the “Voice of the Aces” during LM’s run to the PIAA boys’ basketball championship finals last winter – is announcing for the Camden Riversharks baseball team this spring.
Admore – Lower Merion senior Landon Sears – the “Voice of the Aces” during LM’s run to the PIAA boys’ basketball championship finals last winter – is announcing for the Camden Riversharks baseball team this spring.
Sears, who will be a broadcast journalism major at Syracuse University next fall, landed a summer job several months ago as a middle innings announcer for the Binghamton (N.Y.) Mets (Class AA) baseball team on radio station WNBF.
But the Camden job was a lot closer to home, and he gets to announce the entire game for the Riversharks.
The Camden games are run through sportsjuice.com, which is the No. 1 source for minor league baseball games and the AHL. Listeners also can click on a radio link at riversharks.com to hear the games.
Sears said, “I’m not sure exactly when I found my passion for sports broadcasting – it was probably around the time I realized I would not be able to be the Eagles’ middle linebacker, or as good as Allen Iverson in basketball when I didn’t make the Welsh Valley Middle School’s seventh grade basketball team.”
“Sitting courtside at the Giant Center calling the state title game was a huge thrill – but I’m just as happy to do a Tuesday afternoon kindergarten tee ball game. Being versatile and willing to do any sport and of any gender is something I take pride in.”
Sears has done more than 90 games for LMSDtv, Comcast Cable Channel 6 in Lower Merion – the District Access Channel. He provides play-by-play, pre-game and post-game reporting and interviewing and digital editing and production for the channel.
The Lower Merion senior, who is the sports editor for the Merionite (the school’s newspaper) found it surprisingly easy to land the Binghamton job.
“I’ve heard the horror stories of talented guys not getting anything until they were at least 30 years old, so that was somewhat intimidating, but it didn’t stop me from at least trying to get something,” said Sears.
“In January, I called and wrote letters with my resume and a demo reel to the general managers of over 50 minor league baseball teams – Independent League teams as close as Atlantic City and AAA teams as far as Albuquerque.
“Within a week or so I got positive calls back from three squads: First, Fort Myers (Class A farm team of the Minnesota Twins), then Buffalo (Class AAA farm team of the Cleveland Indians), and then Binghamton.”
“Scott Brown, the Binghamton general manager, interviewed me over the phone. He seemed impressed with some of my previous journalism experiences and after talking it over with the lead announcer, said he would be delighted to have me on board for the season. I’m not sure how many others applied, but it’s a very competitive industry.”
After Sears got the Binghamton job, he became aware that the Riversharks needed an announcer for their games on sportsjuice.com.
Jeremy Treatman of the Scholastic Play-by-Play Network, who has given Sears many opportunities to broadcast prep school basketball tournaments, referred the Lower Merion senior to Camden GM John Brandt, and the job soon became Landon’s.
Treatman, whose broadcasting camps Sears had attended in 2002 and 2003, said, “Landon is very bright and very talented. We are proud to have him represent us as our first announcer of the Riversharks.
“I always tell my campers, as well, as my adult class, if someone is good enough, I will put them on the air. This is testament to a high school kid who worked on his craft so much that he has readied himself for a professional job while still in high school.”
Before each Riversharks game, Sears drinks two or three big cups of tea and honey before game time to clear his throat. He also listens and sings along to many country tunes, mostly by Toby Keith, to warm up his throat.
Typically for a 6:35 p.m. game in Camden, Sears will take the R5 train and the Patco line into Camden at about 2:30 p.m. and arrive in Camden around 3:30 p.m.
He arrives with many sheets of notes – regular statistics such as batting averages, home runs, etc.; and deeper ones, such as how a player is hitting against lefties, or as the leadoff batter, or how a team is doing when trailing going into the seventh or eighth innings.
Sears gets the deeper stats mostly from Sports Ticker, a private site which members of the press from all of the major and minor league sports teams have access to (with a password) at howesportsdata.com.
At about 4:30 p.m., Sears goes down into the Camden clubhouse to record an interview with Wayne Krenchicki, the Riversharks manager, to be used as part of the pregame show.
Sears comes on at about 6:25 p.m. with a live welcoming, and then goes straight into the interview he recorded earlier with Krenchicki.
Sears has an impressive broadcasting resume. Some of his mentors include ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, Marc Zumoff (76ers), Jim Jackson (Flyers), Michael Barkann (Comcast Sportsnet) and Bill Vargus (Fox 29).
Jackson, the Philadelphia Flyers’ television play-by-play voice, said, “Landon is one very, very ambitious and dedicated kid. He takes advantage of every opportunity that is available to him and that’s a great way to start a career.”
Sears audited Paolantonio’s class at St. Joseph’s University last fall, “The Media and the Mayoral Election,” which dealt with covering the 2003 Philadelphia mayoral race between Sam Katz and John Street.
Paolantonio said, “It was the first time a high school student audited any of my classes at St. Joseph’s. He was, as I knew he would be, a very valuable addition to the class. He asked interesting questions and made interesting points in our discussions. He has a real zeal for learning. And a real passion for sports. So, we’ve hit it off.
“Often in my job as a national correspondent for ESPN, I encounter young people who want to get into the business. But few follow through as thoroughly or sincerely as Landon has – and at such a young age.”
At Zumoff’s workshop, Sears learned about anchoring and developed by working at the Video Link Studios – the same place that gives satellite feeds to cable networks such as ESPN, CNN and Fox News. At the workshop, Sears made a professionally produced anchoring demo reel – which is what he sent to the Binghamton Mets.
Sears recently won the $2,000 Richard Monetti Scholarship Award as part of the KYW 1060 News Studies program. He has placed in the top three of several debate events in the Catholic Forensic League; and at Syracuse, was awarded the Best Advocate as part of their summer mock trial program, as part of a pre-law couse he took there two summers ago.
Sears said, “I owe a lot of credit to the LMSDtv crew, Sean Hughes and Doug Young. Without Doug’s airing our games on television and purchasing our equipment, my life would be completely different right now.
“Sean Hughes was a helping hand who was there for me whenever I needed an adult to drive me to a game or coordinate our setup at away games. He’s been like a father to me with all he’s done for giving me ample opportunities at pep rallies, to do the morning and afternoon announcements, and providing access to players and coaches during games.
“The LMSDtv crew, led by [camera crew chief] Chris Vanni and [color man] Mitch Landsburg, is the backbone of my success. Having them on board was critical to my ability to eventually land these [professional] jobs. They are just as hard-working and committed as I am.
“They, like me, hold themselves to the same professional standards as ESPN and strive for high quality productions. I can’t thank them enough, and I will never forget all that they have done with me, along with Doug and Sean Hughes.”