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Jarrod’s Blog: Questions About the Pacers Decision

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It has been a while since I’ve posted anything in my personal blog here and that’s because I’ve had some amazing opportunities come up that have given me insight into how things are done “on the other side”, while also creating a more well-rounded thought process.  Yes, I see some things differently, others, I see with two different sets of eyes simultaneously.

The Indiana Pacers announced the hiring of Jerry Baker as their new P. A. announcer.  Baker has plenty of experience with the Pacers and we welcome him to the #PABrotherhood.  However, in the wake of last week’s announcement, there have been some members of our community who have expressed some harsh feelings.

“Why did they even bother holding the auditions?”  “They knew this guy was their choice”  “Why waste everyone’s time?”

Well, I don’t know what exactly was going on out in Indianapolis, but I can certainly take a pretty good educated guess having gone through the process of hiring three P. A. announcers back in March.  Because of my position with my current company, I’m not going to dive into the specifics of it, but will offer a few answers to the questions above, and more.

“Why did they even bother holding the auditions?”

They wanted to see what they had available to them, and to work out a game plan that isn’t focused on one person, but the ability to call others.  A year and a week ago, I got a phone call from the Hershey Bears telling me I did not get the P. A. announcer job for last season, even though a few people said I was the best.  I could have sulked about it, but in the grand scheme, it was a two-plus hour drive from my house and I was going to miss a few games.  Yes, understandable.  But when they called in November for one game, that wound up starting a series of events that led to me announcing the rest of the season that January.  I could have easily said, “why did they waste my time going up there,” but I didn’t.  I saw it as an opportunity to try out for a job that I would love to have and to see how I stacked up.  Was I upset I didn’t get it, yeah because I’m competitive.  But I understood.

Being in the shoes of those making the decisions however, you never put all your eggs in one basket.  The Pacers knew they were going to have a quick turnaround and even if they asked Mr. Baker the first day the job became available, they should still have the auditions.  Why?  Because of how I wound up in Hershey.  You don’t know when your first choice may pull out, have a change of heart, or not want the job for any other reason.  So you hold an audition to find out what you have available to you in your market so you can line up one or two people just in case.  It’s an insurance policy.

“Why waste everyone’s time?”

This one grinds me to no end as both an announcer and in game ops…especially when I was the one that was saying it seven years ago when I was passed over during a tryout.  It’s not a waste of time.  Maybe this scene from Rudy will add a little perspective to it.

No, you’re not playing football for Notre Dame, but all you want to do is have that one shot to run out of the tunnel.  I get that.  Oh boy do I get that and totally understand.  When it comes to announcing though, you’re not wasting anyone’s time.  Any time you get the chance to audition, you get the chance to expand your network.  Whether it’s from other announcers at the tryout or from the people that asked you to tryout, you form bonds and friendships that can take you places.  Several times I’ve hired announcers from those I met seven years ago, and have even relied on one of those announcers who was hired from that audition I didn’t get.

Don’t hold a grudge, it can only cost you in the end.  You never know where you will end up, and more importantly, where those other people may end up.

Trust me, it’s not a waste of time to go through the process.  Because now you’ve created a demo reel, you’ve gotten a little bit of an idea of what that team does that you might integrate into your own events, you’ve had the chance to be part of an audition so the next time you come better prepared, and you may have even done the research to find this site or the group on Facebook which further expands your network.

“They knew this guy was their choice”

May be.  Quite possibly so.  But wouldn’t you want to know the team was prepared?  They knew who they wanted, but then they auditioned people to back him up.  Or maybe they have other needs within the organization that they would like an announcer.  It’s not unheard of for a team to have other games that aren’t on the schedule that still need announcers.  They’re putting out the word to find the voices they want to talk to in the future.  It also serves as a great way for them to take a long-term look at some people.  Does this person speak negatively about us online?  Does this person post inappropriate pictures?  Do they work in the community?  There are a lot of reasons to do something like this, so use it.

“Don’t ever miss an opportunity to audition for a higher position” – Jarrod Wronski

Remember that.  If you’ve only announced high school, don’t miss an opportunity to audition for a college or pro team.  Casey Motter, the voice of the Atlanta Braves had no baseball experience when he was hired.  But he took the opportunity and ran with it.  He could have easily said, “there’s so many others, why bother”, but he didn’t.  He’s used this opportunity to expand his own brand and help others.

You may not get the job, but there are people listening who may hire you just to have you there to give you experience and put you in a position to excel if the opportunity presents itself.

With the three teams I had last year, we had back-ups…ON SITE…for every talent position.  If the DJ went down, we had someone there that could handle it.  If the announcer had to leave, we had no less than two others who could fill in.  If we lost a host, yep, had at least one back-up in place.  Most teams do this.  I made my NCAA men’s basketball debut because I was at the arena to run the shot clock.  I wasn’t supposed to announce the game, but the regular P. A. announcer had an emergency and 12 minutes before the game started, I was being asked to announce the game because I was there.

Had I not taken the initiative to reach out to that school a couple years earlier, I wouldn’t have been in that position.  But I was in that position because I wasn’t afraid to audition for that position and show that I could do what they wanted.

It’s ok to be upset when you miss out on a job, but that needs to stop quickly.  That needs to end as soon as you hang up the phone, read the article, or leave the audition.  Because that reaction is almost as important as your audition.  It could cost you something bigger and better in the long run.

Understand that these decisions aren’t with the “we’ll find one guy and go” mentality.  We’re taught to be prepared, so we prepare.  That preparation may mean we don’t get to do a job we want, but it puts us in a situation that could allow us an amazing chance to do something we’ve always wanted to do.

“Being there is half the battle” – Jarrod Wronski

I would not have had my job with the Bears had I not “been” there for someone to hear me.  I would not have my full time job in game operations with three teams at once had I not “been” there for someone to realize I understand a lot of the nuances of game operations.  When I need someone to announce for me, I think of the people who have been there, the ones who stop by to see how things work, the ones who are there working on a daily basis.  My depth chart is based solely on those who are in attendance and can do the job well when needed.

You may not be the announcer today, but your audition could line you up and put you into a position that allows you to slide into the announcer’s role one day if the situation arises.  If one of my announcer’s gets sick, I’m turning to someone that’s there first, then calling off the list.  If you’re there, and they know you’re going to be there, which list do you think you’ll be on?

To all who tried out, I sincerely hope you got something positive out of the experience and can use it in your future endeavors, and best of luck to you.  There is another job in the future for you, you just have to put yourself into the right position to get it.

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