Too old? Internships lead to broadcasting jobs

Attention college grads.  Those contemplating career changes in your 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s.  All of you who are dying for a career in television broadcasting, here’s an important note:

Become an intern.
We’ve talked many times before about the benefits of an internship for college undergrads.  But becoming an intern is also an option for those of you who think you’re too old to be one; those of you who would have expected to already be employed as a news or sports broadcaster.

The benefits of internships are myriad.  You learn on the job and you make wonderful connections.  The vast majority of News anchors and Sportscasters started their broadcasting careers as interns.  Some internships even lead directly to on-air positions. 

So, just because you’re older, you can still be an intern!  If you’re unemployed, become an intern and get another job to make money (you must have some other skills, right?).  And if you are employed, well, you have off time, including nights and weekends, correct?  Remember for you older folks, the time to hustle is even more imminent.  

One issue you might face as a college graduate is the fact that many media outlets require you to receive college credit for your internship.  If that’s the case, talk to a counselor at a local college or university and see if there isn’t something that can be worked out, be it taking a course or simply enrolling as a non-matriculating student.

Hey, just because you’re a grown-up, doesn’t mean you’ve outgrown becoming an intern.  Even if you’re older, you can still get the same on-the-job training and networking benefits, benefits which could soon land you on-the-air.

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Too old for Radio or TV broadcasting jobs.

Gatorade has been feeling wistful lately.  Or at least, they have a heart for former high school football players in their 30’s.  More specifically, giving former high school players in their 30’s a second chance.

You see this past weekend, two archrival high schools played a football game.  A springtime game played by guys who are hardly spring chickens.  These are grown men who once met on the football field in 1993.  And 15 years later, Gatorade brought members of the Easton Pennsylvania and Phillipsburg New Jersey high school football teams back to play, or perhaps more specifically, play it again.

It’s something men approaching middle age might only dream about.  Point is, Gatorade made a dream become reality.  And as someone in your 30’s, 40’s or even beyond, you can too. 

Maybe it’s the economy.  Maybe it’s a crisis of midlife.  Whatever the reason, it really doesn’t matter.  Fact is, I do get my share of inquiries from perspective clients in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s.  Often times, these are men and women who’ve always wanted to have careers in television broadcasting but, for one reason or another, never made it a career.  These people may have great jobs as doctors, attorneys, accountants or what have you, only to lament they never answered their earlier yearnings. Instead, they now look back, wishing they had taken the road “less travelled by” as Robert Frost wrote in his poem about important choices in life, “The Road Not Taken.” 

If you want a TV journalist career or radio career or you want to be a sports anchor, don’t be afraid to deal with those yearnings. Put them in perspective, assess your situation and your talent level then decide. Also appreciate that, as Steely Dan once said, you can “go back, Jack (and) do it again.” You’d be surprised at what can happen at your age.

As the late comedian Jack Benny once said, “Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”  And often times, it really doesn’t. 

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Harry Kalas: Indoor Soccer Announcer

“You get a one game audition,” said the program director of WPHL-TV to the 22-year old kid.  “You pass it, you got the job.  If you don’t, well…”
A gentleman named Zvi Shoubin spoke those words to me at a dinner for two in September, 1978.  The plan was to have me audition on Channel 17 for the position of play-by-play announcer for an indoor soccer team, the Philadelphia Fever.  And with my dream of becoming the voice of a pro sports team actually within reach, I was starting to get wigged out.

Maybe that’s why on that Saturday afternoon in Hartford, Connecticut when I left my hotel room to travel to the arena and meet my destiny, I did not meet the guy who was supposed to be my color analyst for that fateful telecast.  Instead, as I rendezvoused with the producer for game in the hotel lobby, he introduced me to a guy I grew up aspiring to be just like: Phillies voice Harry Kalas. 

Harry Kalas?  Well in retrospect, it all makes sense to me now.  Green as I was, the folks at Channel 17 weren’t about allow me to take my maiden voyage without an escort.  And so, as a favor, Harry agreed to fly to Hartford.  It didn’t matter what Harry may or may not have known about indoor soccer.  What mattered was that Harry was well-known to Philly.  He would not only give the telecast instant credibility, he’d be there to hold young Zumoff’s hand.  Channel 17 would have peace of mind knowing if the Zumoff kid screwed it up, Harry would be there to fix it. 

Little did they realize that working with Harry would make me even more nervous!  Why I remember 1971, being in 10th grade at George Washington High School in Northeast Philadelphia.  One March day, I ran home from school with a friend to switch on the radio and hear the first words of this brand new Phillies announcer doing a Grapefruit League game, this guy named Harry Kalas.  Even his first syllables were impressive.  My friend and I smiled at each other, knowing this guy was already good. 

The audition?  I passed it, though I can’t recall much about it.  What I do remember is the interaction with Harry after the game, the dinner he took me to, the bottle of wine we shared, his calming influence and his wonderful counsel. 

“Marc,” I recall him saying in that god-like Basso Profondo of his, “you did well, a great job.” 

>Harry, so did you my friend.  So did you. 

Thanks for being there.

#   #   #

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Broadcasting Schools

Perusing the internet has left more questions than answers as it relates to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.  Apparently, the school abruptly closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy in early March, only to reportedly re-open a couple of weeks later. 
I can’t say definitively whether the Connecticut School of Broadcasting is actually operating and when it does, if it’s actually for you.  What I can say is, if you’re thinking about enrolling, please be careful.  What I can also say is, if you’re a broadcast performer, we can help you to break into the business for less than a third of what it apparently costs to enroll in a broadcasting trade school.  And we specialize in highly-personalized, one-on-one coaching.

At, we hear your dreams and together with you, come up with a plan that helps you to achieve those dreams.  We’ll help you assess your education and experience, coach you in broadcast performance—be it news, sports or any other area of expertise—produce your demo DVD, craft your resume and then carefully coach you through the process of career development.  As we like to say, we’re personal, comprehensive and accessible.  We’re available by telephone, email or in-person consultation as often as necessary and for as long as it takes to help you break into the business.  And here’s the best part: we’re with you for the lifetime of your broadcasting career, helping you with coaching and career development long after your first gig. 

Trade schools?  For less than a third of the price, why not get private, personalized, thorough one-on-one coaching that will help you get where you want to be—that will help you achieve the dream you’ve always had?

Get in touch at  We’ll be happy to tell you all about it. 

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Producing a Demo

Just last week, one of our clients spent the day shooting stand-ups and interviews.  Soon, we’ll choose the stand-ups we like best, script the reporter packages and anchor segments, then hit the studio to put the finishing touches on what promises to be one terrific demo DVD. 

What’s it like preparing the material necessary to show your best?

Our first step is to coordinate with you exactly what your reporter stand-ups will look like, where they’ll be staged and just what you’ll be saying.  You then “script” the stand-ups–that is, you write out generally what you would like to say.  We then spend part of a single day shooting those stand-ups and any other “live shots” and interviews we want to put on your reel.

When that’s finished, we schedule you for a second half-day to record the voice-over segments for your reporter packages and we fire-up our studio for the anchoring portion of the reel which you have also scripted yourself. 

Soon, through the magic of editing, you have a bright and tight representation of your best work which you can show prospective employers.  You’ll receive a DVD as well as a special webpage.  You can e-mail the link for that webpage to news and sports directors and anybody else for quick downloading of your reel for viewing. 

But of course, that’s just part of it.  We then become your personal consultants every step of the way, plotting a course of action where you can meet the right people and network to the openings in one of the most competitive fields there is, broadcast performance.  We do this on your schedule, staying in constant contact with you via telephone, e-mail and personal consultations.  And we do it for as long as it takes.  Even after you land that first job, we’ll continue to look at examples of your work and give you feedback so you can improve and eventually move up in the business.  We do this for a lifetime, because that’s how long our agreement with you runs, literally for a lifetime!

Contact us at and we’ll be happy to talk with you about how to start your career as a broadcast performer.   

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Take the job you don’t want

The radio newscaster was happy, delivering news in the afternoons and occasionally going out to municipal meetings and the like in the evenings.  It was a good gig at a solid, well-respected station in the market.  His boss was fair.  His co-workers were nice.  The equipment was good and the overall working environment was satisfactory. 

But being a radio newsperson had its limitations.  That is, it wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do in the business.  It wasn’t the perfect fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Then one day, the newscaster got wind of the fact that the play-by-play voice for the college football and basketball team in the market had been relieved of his duties.   The station for which he was working was the voice of the school’s games and when he heard of these developments, he took swift action.  He literally walked down the hall to the station manager’s office, knocked on the door, entered the room and said, “I don’t mean to be presumptuous but I can do play-by-play and, well, I’m of the understanding you might need someone to do the games on our station.”

The station manager, in a pinch for somebody to broadcast the games, quickly acceded and the newscaster soon began fulfilling his lifelong passion of doing play-by-play sports. 

If you haven’t gathered by now, the announcer is me, and the lesson is simple.  Even though I had always wanted to be a play-by-play announcer, I’d spent the first five years of my broadcasting life as a newscaster.  Doing news gave me several advantages: experience in the areas of journalism, writing, reporting and being live on the air.  It also allowed me to be in the right place at the right time.  When the opening finally came, I was there ready to claim it.  Suffice it to say, I never went back to news again.

At, we’ll counsel you on all opportunities as part of a comprehensive method of developing your career as a broadcast performer. 

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Re-inventing TV

Recently, an article posted on a Chicago Tribune blog reported that news producers, writers and editors at an NBC-owned TV station in the Windy City had to reapply for new, multi-faceted positions. The article said that staffers at WMAQ-TV were told this because of increasing demands to provide content not just for TV but the Internet, mobile devices and other emerging platforms.

Media are converging quickly. Distribution channels are being developed at a rapid pace.  And with it are the demands for television news and sports people to be multi-dimensional in order to meet these demands.

That goes for broadcast talent as well.  At Comcast Sportsnet, the station that employs me as play-by-play voice of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, I also have to fulfill requirements to provide content for the station’s website, This includes filing a video report on the team following every game and writing a weekly column on the Sixers called Zoo’s Views. 

Interestingly, I’ve also seen reporters in the field for the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper filing video reports for their website as they experience their own media convergence.

The message for those of you trying to break into the business as broadcast performers is clear, come to the market equipped with a number of tools.  Be ready to write, learning through a combination of course work and experience at a school newspaper or other publication.  Also, be sure you know at least the rudiments of shooting and editing.  Of course, this latter point is true anyway given the fact that at many small market stations, one-man bands in the field are often commonplace.

At, we’ll help you to be prepared for the rapidly changing world of media, how it’s distributed and your role in it.

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Big Fish

It was a Friday night around midnight back in the day, and my best friend was taking my girlfriend out on a date.  I knew this because they’d come to visit me at a major market radio station where I was getting ready to work the overnight shift as a low-level assistant.  Funny thing was, I had already obtained a fulltime job as a radio newscaster at a nearby small market radio station.  But I was also working weekends—in effect, seven days a week.

This was the broadcasting equivalent of functioning as both a big fish in a small pond and as a small fish in a big pond.  In other words, I was working as a performer at a smaller market station while at the very same time, holding down a bottom-rung position at a major market station in the evenings and on weekends.

Because of this, I was unable to go out many weekends, hence my best friend accompanying my girlfriend on a date.  But at the time, I could see the bigger picture.  I had rationalized there eventually would be time to go out with friends.  I was young and this was the time to hustle. 

If you can possibly keep a foot in both a smaller market and larger market outlet at the same time—while getting adequate rest and maintaining your sanity of course—this could have a significant benefit on your career.  It’s simple really—while you’re getting your on-air experience at one place, you’re effectively “in the door” at a larger facility.  So, say after a year or so of being on the air at the smaller market station, you could begin to shuttle samples of your work to the people who matter at the larger station.  That process made so much easier by the fact that you’re in the door already, that you know the important people there and perhaps even more significantly, they know you. 

This is best accomplished by acquiring employment at a small station that’s within a reasonable driving distance of where you live and the larger place where you might work at other times.  If you can do that and put your social life on a temporary hold, it could have greater professional benefits for you in the future. 

At, we’ll help you with becoming a big fish in a small pond and a small fish in a big pond.  

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Obama: anything is possible

Trust me when I tell you, there are plenty of people who never thought they’d see an African American elected president of the United States.  “Not in their lifetime,” they thought. 
Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States should serve as inspiration to all of us.  Partisan politics aside, it’s not about policy here.  It’s about a black man being elected to lead the most powerful nation on the globe—and who among us thought that was possible?
It’s time for a little idealism, especially since we’re living in a time in which we could use a heavy dose.  And while you’re at it, apply it to your desire to develop a career as a broadcast performer, an industry that, when you’re on the outside looking in, appears as though it’s sealed off by some sort of code. 
Before you summon up some of that idealism and optimism, base it on a little reality.  Watch the news or sports coverage in your neck of the woods and ask yourself, “Who are these people?”  Are they ordained somehow?  Are the blessed in some way that I am not?  Are they necessarily better-connected or even more talented? 
Remind yourself that those you are watching are regular people just like you.  More times than not, the breaks that they attained were earned; that they achieved what they achieved as much on just plain hard work as they did on talent—and a little idealism. 
Idealism helps to fuel dreams.  Dreams help to propel you into achieving a goal.  If you don’t visualize it, chances are you may not make it. 
Barack Obama had a dream.  Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream.
What’s yours?
At, a heavy dose of idealism comes free of charge.  It will help you achieve your dream of breaking into the business as a broadcast performer. 

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Versatility is key

“I want to anchor the news.”
“I’d love to do play-by-play sports.”
“I see myself as the next Oprah”

Goals?  Dreams?  Love ‘em.  Keep ‘em.  We should all have ‘em.  As the television play-by-play voice of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, I’m living my dream and so I consider myself one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth. 

But what about the journey?  How did I get where I am today?  Well, in no particular order, I was in radio as a news anchor and reporter with only limited play-by-play experience.  When I made the jump to television in the early 80’s, I assumed a number of duties that not only included anchoring and reporting but writing, producing, editing and even camera work. 

The ability and the willingness to become a versatile broadcaster was the key for me.  It allowed me an entrée into the business and ensured my viability.  While I never lost sight of my dream to become the voice of a professional sports team, I learned and subsequently embraced other aspects of the business.  Ultimately, it helped me to become a better sports announcer because I’d grown to appreciate other parts of the business.  I grew to respect the roles of others, hopefully making me a better teammate in the broadcast.  In all, it gave me an intrinsic appreciation for what it takes to produce any sort of program for television. 

As it relates to you, well, the dream or vision of playing a particular role as a broadcast performer will ultimately provide the drive you need to break into the business.  But your willingness to do other things will accelerate that career development and enable you to work in the business as you continue to work toward your ultimate goal.  If you’re worried about becoming “pigeon-holed” in a particular role that’s not necessarily your goal, well, that’s something you can deal with when the time comes.  Fact is, it’s much better to be in the broadcasting business—albeit in a particular position you might not ultimately want for the rest of your life—than to be on the outside looking in.  You can always work to eventually “cross over” into a position that, if not exactly what you’re ultimately looking for, could certainly be a lot closer to that ultimate goal.

At, we’ll help you to prepare for the versatility and flexibility that’s necessary to develop and ultimately flourish in your broadcasting career.

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