Giant broadcasting mistakes: You and they will get over it

In June, a young broadcaster achieved instant infamy by dropping a four-letter word among his first utterances as a newscaster in North Dakota.    Thanks to YouTube, hundreds of thousands know about it.

The obvious lesson to be learned is among the top commandments in the broadcast performers credo: never say anything around a microphone that you wouldn’t want to say over the air.  But beyond that, this young man–if he has the determination and fortitude–will be able to rise again.

People make mistakes.  All people make mistakes.  And while the downright mortification suffered by the young North Dakota broadcaster might seem overwhelming, he, along with the rest of the world, can get over it.

The first thing for him to remember is what we just said, all people, all broadcasters make mistakes.  Most broadcasters have moments of infamy they’d like to permanently erase, and we are talking about prominent broadcasters–MYSELF INCLUDED!  And they (and me) all continue, for the most part, to be broadcasters.

The best thing to do when making a serious on-air gaffe is to acknowledge what happened, learn from it and not only move on from it but embrace it.  In other words, freely acknowledge that yes, “I’m the one that did that.”  Own it.  Show people you’re not afraid of the fact that, well, you did something stupid.  And better yet, use that experience to teach yourself as well as other young, aspiring broadcasters not to do the same thing.

In time, the hope is, that you will indeed resume your broadcasting career.  And you won’t do it in spite of what happened.  You’ll do it because of what happened.




Sportscasters: take writing seriously

There are fundamental differences in writing for the ear as opposed to writing for the eye.  Adhering to these precepts is critical to writing good broadcast copy.  But style is nothing without substance and nothing is more substantive than the need to be accurate in your research.  This has to be your first rule in writing as well.  So, it tops our list of the many things to keep in mind when writing your sportscast, be it for television or radio:

  • Accuracy is paramount
  • The journalistic precepts of the Five W’s and the H (Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?)
  • Attribution/direct quotes
  • Correct pronunciations
  • Correct grammar
  • Short sentences
  • Active tense
  • Take an angle
  • When applicable, lead with the latest
  • Giving each story its own individual treatment through writing
  • Give the background
  • Write conversationally
  • Use contractions
  • Mostly simple word usage
  • Write personably
  • Have fun and be entertaining
  • Write with the visuals in mind
  • Compliment the video
  • Don’t write redundantly into a voice-cut
  • Avoid clichés
  • Judicial use of numbers
  • Titles come first
  • Use transitions between stories
  • When writing for someone else make it “reader-proof”
  • Keep it professional, not personal
  • K.I.S.S.– Keep It Simple Stupid
  • When in doubt, leave it out (crossing the line)
  • It’s sports: make it entertaining and fun!

Leaping Over Obstacles

Leaping Over Obstacles

It’s hard enough breaking into the business as a broadcast performer.  But take inspiration from Chris Fisher, a Los Angeles sportscaster who overcame infirmity as well…

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Start your own show?

Frustrated by your lack of progress while looking for a job as a news or sportscaster?  There is the option of starting your own show on the internet.  Of course, it helps to have the cache of an offensive lineman in the NFL…

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Poster Boy

Read the newspaper out loud. Listen to other broadcasters you like. Network within the industry. Go out and get your reps.

One of my clients, Geoff Arnold, did all these things and more. And so I affectionately refer to him as my poster boy. Thanks to his hard work and diligence, one of his first jobs out of college is a pretty good one. Arnold is the host for Wake Forest football and basketball broadcasts on the Demon Deacons radio network, working for a company called IMG College.

Geoff Arnold is a testament to solid, consistent, positive energy. It’s not easy in a tight competitive field like sportscasting. But when you “work it” as my Hollywood friends like to say, anything is possible.

Check out a feature that Geoff recently produced for a Wake Forest football broadcast…


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It’s never too late

He’s had to wait longer than many.  But tonight, Neal Polancarz will get to do what many never get to do: broadcast a baseball game.

While Neal Polancarz is a college graduate, he’s not a recent one.  Not by a long shot.  But through patience and perseverance, Neal will live a dream this evening, describing the action when the New Jersey Jackals host the Newark Bears in a Can-Am League game. 

This all started a couple of years ago when Neal came to me as a client.  Although gainfully employed, Neal still harbored the dream of becoming a sportscaster even after his 20’s and yes, 30’s passed him by.  He took his digital recorder to Jackals games and thanks to the kindness of the team and its regular broadcaster Corey Chrusciel, he was able to practice his craft from a seat in the press box.  Corey has had to leave the club to attend to other broadcast duties elsewhere, but he ceded his seat to Neal who has had nearly two seasons of practice to get ready.

Neal has also been practicing his basketball call and it is hoped that will earn him a shot broadcasting Montclair State (NJ) games this fall.  He’s also scheduled to host halftimes of Montclair’s football games. 

All of this made possible because Neal made up his mind that it’s never too late to chase your dream.    

Listen to Neal starting tonight at 6:55pm by clicking here:

Listen to Neal Polancarz broadcast Jackels baseball.Listen to the Jackals in action.


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Old Newspapers

Recently, when I wrote of my embracement of Twitter, I also claimed my lasting affection for the newspaper delivered daily in my driveway.  No doubt you teens and twentysomethings might have trouble identifying with that, especially since you were born into a world where the leading edge of the news is delivered via Twitter, RSS, mobile phone, etc.  But after you click on the link below, perhaps you’ll have an inkling as to the reason for my bias toward the broadsheet. 

The original reason for showing you this link was the almost absurd thinking on the part of an Arizona congressman back in the early 70’s (Morris Udall, a former pro basketball player who actually once ran for president).  You’ll see his fear of how television was “overexposing sports” and how legislation was needed to limit sports broadcasting (He died in 1998, when ESPN and its growing list of portals were very much a part of the scene). 

But when you’re done reading that article, feel free to peruse the rest of the Daytona Beach Morning Journal from March 30, 1971.  Check out the articles, the ads, the prices.  All there, albeit preserved in electronic form, but ostensibly the black-and-white ink and paper that served us well back in the day.,7303643&dq=sports+broadcasting&hl=en

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Blip TV

The goal of my company is to help you get a job as a broadcast performer.  That entails breaking in with a legitimate news and/or sports broadcaster; an entity that is either over-the-air or online, providing a position and a salary. 

But some refuse to be patient enough for this to happen.  Others simply harbor the abject desire to do their thing their way.  For that, there’s Blip TV:

According to the company’s website, “ is the place to discover the best in original web series, from professional and up-and-coming producers.  We give viewers free access to a wide variety of dramas, comedies, arts, sports and other shows and make it easy to find what you want when you want it.” 

Series submitted to are chosen by the editors and then matched up with the appropriate advertisers based on target market.  Ad revenue is split 50-50 with the producer.

If you think this might be for you, check out

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Hurricane coverage

I own a home at the Jersey shore, but I’m not there this weekend for obvious reasons.  Everyone is being evacuated.  Everyone? 

I’m curious as to what news organizations will do regarding coverage of Irene’s impending hit.  Will they be allowed by local officials to remain on largely vacated barrier islands?  If not, will they look to defy the ban in order to outdo the competition with up-close-and-personal coverage

In order to drive up ratings, news organizations will be tempted to exaggerate conditions as Irene visits.  Exclamations of “did you see that?” by the on-the-scene reporter will need to be put into perspective by the viewer.  And today’s downgrading of the hurricane to a Category One by the time the hurricane impacts the Jersey coast may diminish a news organization’s lust for doom and gloom.


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Minor league broadcaster is major help

I made a friend today in Jacob Wilkins, though I’m sure he’s more than happy that he made friends with me.  You see Jacob would like to one day be in my position, the voice of a team in one of the major sports.  So, knowing people like me could one day help him.  But actually, it was I who reached out to Jacob…

Jacob Wilkins is in his first year as the radio voice of the Hudson Valley Renegades, a minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays in the New York-Penn League.  Originally, I urged one of my clients to reach out to Jacob, hoping he would help that client record some play-by-play at a Renegades home game.  Now at the time, I didn’t know Jacob at all, but my client’s entreaty was nonetheless warmly received.  Jacob has done a terrific job accommodating him and allowing the young man to ply his craft.  So, I in turn have now reached out to Jacob, availing myself to him.  I’ve told him him if he ever needs help with his career, all he needs to do is reach out. 

And I’d like to think THAT’S the way it works.  That in the business of broadcasting, where employment is tough and the egos can be tougher, people can help people—even if that particular person is a first year broadcaster like Jacob Wilkins.

You can hear and see more of Jacob’s work at the Renegades official website:

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