Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some really great announcers at all levels. The vast majority were nice people, however I’ve run into a couple that allowed their ego to get in the way or assumed their legacy would precede them. It’s this small minority that I’ve become more open an honest with other announcers because this small minority are usually the ones that have gotten too comfortable and feel they’ve reached the pinnacle of their craft.
My goal since day one of my own career has been, “Use each game to get better”. I flub a word, I get upset. Something doesn’t sound right, I get upset. I’m going too fast, I get upset. I can have a perfect game every now and then, and have had people tell me how great I sounded on nights I knew I didn’t sound good. Those are the nights in which real announcers are made, and others fall by the wayside.
Self-accountability is important in what we do. If I know did didn’t do a good job, and let someone else tell me I did which I know I didn’t, I’m not going to get better. I’ll get comfortable and relax, which leads to loss of focus while leads to doing a poor job. Feeling I had an “off night” is ok, really isn’t. You had a bad night, now come back tomorrow and do better. Remember, no matter what kind of trail you have blazed for yourself, no matter how many obstacles you’ve knocked down in front of you, behind you is a path that’s easy for someone to come up behind you and pass you when you get tired and lazy. Kind of like the hare and the tortoise.
It’s with this, that when fellow announcers ask for feedback, I’m honest. Most of the time I’m a nice honest, but there are times I’ve been brutally honest and hurt some feelings. However, everyone that gets my honest feedback can rest assured that they’re getting it because I want them to get better and hopefully do the same for someone else some day. Please, feel free to use me as a resource. The only way we’re going to get better as a whole, is to ask for help. The only way others are going to get better is helping each other.
The next time you go to a sporting event, walk up to the announcer, introduce yourself and try to strike up a conversation. In my position and history, there have been times I’ve been thrust toward announcers like some announcing God (I’m not) and it’s awkward for everyone involved. I ask the announcer how long he’s been announcing, give them my card and encourage them to join the Public Address Announcers group on Facebook. Then offer, if they ever need any advice on their style or anything else with announcing, please reach out. Most of the time I hear back in one way, but sometimes there are those who don’t really care. Those can be frustrating.
Personally, I’m a little wary of introducing myself in some situations because when they hear “SportsAnnouncing.com”, they get star-struck. Please don’t get star-struck. I’m an announcer, just like you and if I’m talking to you it’s because I hear something good.
But what about those times the announcer is just bad, you may ask? That’s a tough one. We all know them. The fast-talking screamers who yell over the play and never stop talking. In those situations, ask around. Is it someone that’s been doing it for a while, or is it someone that’s been thrown behind the mic and is giving their best effort without any sort of structure. If the former, I will still introduce myself and ask if they need help with a spotter. If the latter, I’ll ask if they’d like me to sit with them to help them out with some pointers. Either way, I use it as a means of getting to talk to new announcers.
In the first instance, if working with someone who has been doing it awhile, try to strike up a conversation with them to find out about their history. Where else have they announced? How long have they announced? You can show an interest in them and it helps them let their guard down. In the end, you might be able to help them either with that game, advice, or making them feel comfortable. There will be the ultra-rare occurrence in which you will have someone that just can’t be helped and feel they know it all. Those are the announcers who I never hear from again unfortunately and are usually set up for the awkward situation in which they proudly boast, “I’ve been announcing here for 25 years and nobody will take this job from me,” only to have someone else hired for a big event. Yep, it’s happened a few times, it’s awkward, but if you’re in that situation, just go in with humility, happy to be there, and put on your best show.
The last thing in this post to remember. NEVER try to show up another announcer, it will bite you in the rear later. I once got called “amateur hour” by an announcer who would up becoming a great friend. Yeah, I did give a little bit of emphasis when doing the opening that day, but then let it go and did my style. If you try to show up another announcer, then you wind up getting out of your style and your comfort zone which leads to mistakes and being someone you aren’t. Develop your style, make minor changes as necessary and continue moving forward.