Saturday, November 25, 2006

This crazy job......

Time and time again I get asked about my job, how I do it, why I do it, etc. Well, here are some of those questions and the straight forward answers:

1) "Hey Fells, your Sportscenters are 90 seconds long, so that takes you about five minutes to do?"

Ummmmmmm, no. Let's take the morning Sportscenter update. First off, I have to go through the 20 or so e-mails that hit between 8pm and 5am to pick out the important scores, stories, etc; condense those, and throw them into the script. Then, for the scores that didn't get e-mailed to me, I have to go through the Free Press, Press Republican, Times Argus, and the Rutland Herald for what I missed. I pick apart which scores are important, then toss those in the script. I usually edit things down, read it over once, edit again for time, and then voice it into the computer system. After that it has to be edited for slips of the tongue, brain, and for time. (Try saying some Eastern European name before the first cup of coffee hits.) Throw in the music bed, double check for time, then send it over to station number one. THEN, scripts have to be modified for each station so they can be tailored for each listening audience. Repeat the editing process, and four 90 second Sportscenters take me about an hour and 45 minutes; including e-mailing/file transferring over. Weather spots(three of those) take about 15 minutes total since I copy and paste those from a service. Repeat the process for the afternoon with details on certain games.

2) "How long does it take you to prepare for say a college football game?"

About eight to ten hours or so. Each week, I would contact the opposing team's Sports Information Director for updated stats and a Word version of their roster, go over their previous games, look at play trends, etc. Then, read over the roster about 15 times in order to avoid totally relying on memory for numbers, names, hometowns, etc. Then, writing a 22 minute pre-game show takes me about four hours or so with editing; lineup halftime guests, have plenty of material for injury timeouts, get all of the sponsor tags, record the promos, make sure my color guy has all my notes, and prepare for the weekly coaches' show. So yeah, about eight to ten hours, sometimes longer.

3) "How about basketball?"

Less time since I only need to go over the roster about three times. It is less since there are only 12 players on each team and it is easier to take a quick look down when I blank on a name.

4) "If I want a career in sports, what is the most important skill to have?"

Two things: First of all, be able to think on the fly. During a game, you never know what in the world is going to happen. You never know if there will be a 29 lateral play, a record broken, or a 20 minute injury timeout. Having the ability to improvise and talk about anything is a very important skill. Also, BE ABLE TO WRITE!!!!! I had an intern last year who told me he wanted to get into radio because his writing skills stunk and in radio he wouldn't have to write. HAH!!!! Trust me, you can't do everything from memory, and what do you think I am doing now? My scripts are written, intros are written, I write TONS of notes that are in small paragraph form, I write commercial script, and tons of other stuff. If you can't write, what you say on air can sound moronic and that is the last thing you want.

5) "I hear that pay in radio isn't good; why do you do it?"

It sure as hell beats working for a living. Seriously, how many people can say they love their jobs? I can!! I watch sports, I talk about sports, I write about sports, and guess what? I actually get paid for it!!!!! Man, this is every sports junkie's dream!! Now granted, I could make more money doing something else; in fact I took a serious pay cut to take this job, but there is something to be said for being happy.

Off to the grocery store. After all, I do need to be domestic.......Before I watch football.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Alive and well......

Yes, I am alive and kicking after the college and high school football seasons. The season was a drain on the three braincelled mind of mine as I had many roadtrips, many miles logged, and the task of trying to commit to memory about 150 new players a week. Trust me, that never happened and I was forever relying on notes so I didn't sound like a total moron.

The football season was a fun one; my first as a broadcaster. Since July, and this includes the Vermont Ice Storm, I did 36 games, logged a ton of miles on the old car, and now have been able to braindump the season a bit so I can prepare for the hockey and basketball seasons. My wife is pleased with the fact that I will not be taking daytrips that start at 4:00 in the morning, ending at 11:00 at night when I am seeing purple iguanas from driving for too long. Yes, those little suckers play games with you after driving for 11 hours, and being on the "A" game for another six while at the game. Now, she only has to get used to three or four games in a week, but at least the trips are local.

Saint Michael's basketball is going to be a blast this year. Both the men's and women's teams have shown quite a bit of improvement. If the men can get consistent play out of Chris Cayole, and Brendan Mullins continues his improvement, this could be a team to contend with in a wide open Northeast Ten. In the first three games Brian Monahan has showed he can rebound, and the youngsters have grown up a bit in the past year. Running and gunning seems to be the way to go for this team.

The women are now 3-0 and are rolling. The Rayner twins look fantastic, and Anna Florent could be the most improved player in the conference. Two freshmen, Meg O'Shea and Alexis Keller are two good shooters with quickness and good defensive skills. Allison Dunn is shooting from long range well, and coach Jen Niebling has this team looking very strong. If they can play the first half the way they play in the second, this is a team that could very well make the NCAA Tournament this year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The trip to Hamilton.......

Off to Hamilton for another drive around the NESCAC.

Well, the drive down to Hartford last week was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Thankfully my last trip of the NESCAC season had a little bit more scenery as I made my longest trip of the year to Clinton, New York for the Middlebury/Hamilton game.

First of all, as much as I love my job, travel is the least glorious part. Some writers and broadcasters get to travel by plane, or even with the team on the team bus. I on the other hand get to travel in the luxury and style known as my 2000 Hyundai with vanity plates and 115,654 miles on the thing. The most fun part of the beginning of the travel day is waking up at 3:45 in the morning after getting home at 10:00 following a high school playoff game and trying to find a 24 hour gas station in Northern Vermont that at least serves Green Mountain coffee. Yes, those of us in the media are coffee snobs as it must have significant caffeine content and have a little flavor to its robust aroma. Ah yes, the glory of it all.

Anyway, as is my habit, I digressed. (Just ask my wife about that, she could tell you some stories.) When the sun comes up, the drive from Burlington, VT really is a nice one. In Vermont, the drive takes you through the towns of Shelburne, Vergennes, Addison, and then miles of hills and farms. Word to the wise, if you don’t like the smell of various animal dung, roll up the windows and turn off the air. There is about a 15 mile stretch of Route 22A in which the smell is so bad, the car automatically speeds up about ten miles an hour to get away from the stench. Upon entering New York state, the obscure and the downright amazing become evident. First for the obscure since that is what I do best. When driving in between the state line and the New York Thruway, (interrupted by I-87) counted 14 Baptist churches (yes, I counted; I was bored) with various messages saying things like “Jesus is Lord”, “YOU were God’s best decision”, and other various messages looking to convert heathen tourists into Bible quoting messengers as they go to spend their milk money at the outlets. Also, if you are going to make this trip and don’t have satellite radio; go get one now. In Vermont I was able to hear Dana Jewell of WDEV giving me the local news and mentioning next Saturday’s “state holiday”; the opening of deer hunting season. Ah yes, if you are going into the woods of Vermont for the next couple of weeks, just remember to wear orange, it will save your life. If you don’t wear orange, some dude named Bubba who has had two cases of beer for breakfast will somehow confuse you for a four point buck. “Dayum, I could have sworn that thang had antlers. Ah sheeewt, I guess we can still mount him on the wall next to the 57 Chevy we shot last year.”

Now to the downright spectacular. When the sun comes up over the Adirondack mountains, the view is simply stunning. Route 29 takes you through the Adirondack State forest and the road is literally surrounded by trees. For a few moments, the trees envelop the road and one feels like they are in some sort of natural tunnel. Despite the fact the temperature was in the low 30’s, I still opened up the windows so I could smell the trees and the various lakes and streams I was experiencing. I was tempted to take a side trip to some of the various historical sites along the way, but held off since I did have a game to do.

Once I got onto the New York Thruway, I was very pleasantly surprised with the scenery. As I bombed my way towards Clinton, the drive takes you along the Mohawk River and into the hill country near Oneonta and Cooperstown. If you glance off to the right, you can see the dams and the hills that lead you into some of the small towns of this region. I have to admit that being the baseball addict I am, when I saw the Cooperstown exit, I was tempted to call the boss, say I was sick, couldn’t do the game and head to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thankfully I am not that stupid and then turned my attention to passing a semi that was going only 45 mph.
When I arrived at Hamilton College, I was beyond impressed. I went to the first building to find a restroom and ask where the Student Union was so I could grab coffee and breakfast, and it turns out the man I asked directions from was none other than head football coach Steve Stetson. Steve wasn’t content with just giving me directions, he offered to walk me over, and to give me a brief tour of the campus. Hamilton boasts a brand new 9.7 million dollar science center, a new athletic facility, new training rooms, and countless other improvements to their academic facilities. The campus blends the old and the new to near perfection and it creates a wonderful setting for Hamilton students to study and learn. I also have to say this for Coach Stetson, he is truly a world class man. Here he was, two hours before a game, and he was taking the time to give me an education on the school he loves, he bought my breakfast, and then we talked more about the school and his football team. He had a recruit to talk to before the game, and he kept apologizing for the fact he had to run and keep our visit short. Trust me coach, I was thrilled you took the time to give me a tour and appreciate some very good company after a very long early morning drive.

Here are the final, and obscure stats from a season's worth of NESCAC road trips: (Yes, these are actual counts)

Cups of coffee consumed: 17
Cans of energy drinks guzzled: 4
Times I said, "Crap, where am I?": 7, all during the Hamilton trip.
Buffett CD's listened to: 7
Times I did three games in the weekend: 2
Miles driven: 1,784
Gas stops: 11
Times I screamed, "Why don't I have satellite radio???": 238
Cops who passed me: Only four, I leave so early in the morning they aren't even awake yet.
Tolls paid: $18.30
Times I called my beloved mother to ask if she listened to the game: 4
Times she actually listened to the game: A big fat gigantic goose egg.

Home stats next week, but those aren't nearly as interesting.....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Middlebury Tailgate.......

Well, this week I was going to write about the trip down to Hartford for the Middlebury/Trinity game, but the weather was nasty, it was all freeway, and due to some automotive challenges when I got to the game I wasn’t able to do the usual walk around the campus. Instead, a tradition the parents of the Middlebury Panther players have made me a part of.

Tailgaters in college football are everywhere. There are the tailgates done by clubs, organizations, alumni groups, and in this case the parents of the players. It all started for me when I received a very nice e-mail from George Hrdina, the father of running back Stefan Hrdina who was complimenting me on the quality of the broadcasts. I went to go say hello at the Colby game and was offered breakfast, coffee, and even some snacks for the game. I was then more or less ordered by Donna Secor, the mother of captain and defensive back Scott Secor, to join them after the game and for the rest of the gatherings throughout the season.

To say these guys and gals put out a spread would be like calling the Grand Canyon a hole. There is chicken, pasta, drinks of the adult variety, but most importantly, it is a chance for the players to talk to their families, and get a good lunch after a hard fought game. In the case of Saturday’s game at Trinity, there was a cake for linebacker Eric Woodring whose birthday was on Sunday and of course everyone sang happy birthday to Eric.

Being someone who isn’t used to being on the inside so to speak, I have gotten a chance to get to know the players and their families in a more relaxed setting. Tiger Lyon’s parents fly up from El Paso, Texas for every game, and his sister comes for the home games. Scott Secor’s parents come from Lake Odessa, Michigan, and Mac Conn’s family came out from my old stomping grounds in Piedmont, CA. This is something the parents do for every game and they love every second of it. I have learned that Scott Secor was injured as a freshman, and barely knowing anyone always had a room full of friends in his hospital room to keep him company and give him real food. By the way, Scott already has a job lined up on Wall Street. This weekend I met Eric Woodring’s family for the first time, along with about another 10 family members of other players that Donna introduced me to. I am getting the chance to find out what makes these players the outstanding young men they are, and just how tight knit the entire Middlebury College family is. This is a point of view that most broadcasters don’t get the chance to get. Thanks everyone for making me feel part of the family.

By the way, as I say hello to this wonderful woman during every broadcast………Hi Donna!!!!