Five Myths and a Fact About …

Earlier this week, post appeared on my feed from the Sportscaster Life blog and as I was reading it, realized that a lot of it can apply to P. A. announcers along with sports casters.  Alex Rawnsley grabbed some excellent ideas that we’re able to tag along with. Sportscaster Life: Five Myths (and One Fact)

Earlier this week, post appeared on my feed from the Sportscaster Life blog and as I was reading it, realized that a lot of it can apply to P. A. announcers along with sports casters.  Alex Rawnsley grabbed some excellent ideas that we’re able to tag along with.

Sportscaster Life: Five Myths (and One Fact) About Sports Broadcasting

We’ll take a look at the five myths and one fact and relate them to P. A. announcing.

  1. P. A. Announcers get rich
    The biggest myth in sports is that all the people who work in it make bank.  Nope.  Not true.  When I first started, I was lucky to get a hotdog and drink.  Now, I can “command” up to $150/game.  I make more as a DJ for one night than I do in a week to be a P. A. announcer, but I use the networking the announcing creates to help my other job.  Even when I travel for events, it’s still not enough to afford houses in all the cities I work.

    I’ve long said that only the athletes, some of the higher profile executives and top tier of broadcasters can make a comfortable living off working in sports.  It’s true.

  2. You just show up and call the game
    Oh my how false this is.  How false this is.  While there have been times I’ve been thrust behind the microphone, the fact-of-the-matter is, to do it right you need to prepare.  That includes obtaining rosters, looking at names, practicing how you’re going to say things, and reading the script–or in some cases, writing the scripts and itinerary.  If you’re responsible for music, you also need to coordinate what you’re going to play and make sure you have the songs the players and fans want.

    While yes, you can just get behind the mic and fly by the seat of your pants, it’s a lot more enjoyable to know something about the team’s you’re announcing for, upcoming events, and being more than just an announcer, but becoming part of the overall atmosphere.

  3. It’s a great way to follow sports and watch games
    Like in the blog post, there is a technicality in which you are watching sports, you just aren’t watching them like a fan.  To give you an idea of what it’s like after I announce the batter to start an inning.
    * Look at the batter to verify one last time
    * Check the on-deck batter
    * Look at the defense to get a mental note on where they are in case the ball is hit
    * Watch the pitcher throw a pitch
    * Listen to how the umpire makes his ball/strike calls
    * Look at the fans to see where they’re sitting
    * Listen to the fans to listen to the noise they’re making, positive or negative

    And that’s only after the first pitch.  You will find yourself doing these and more throughout the process of the game.  You need to follow along to do it right and not just sit there waiting for the next batter.  Yes, anyone can do it, but only a few can do it well.  This is what separates a professional P. A. announcer from someone doing it as a lark.

  4. I have to go to school and get a degree/masters in Sports Broadcasting
    Thank goodness, no.  But there are some who hire only if you have a degree.  To me, I think it’s bunk, but can understand why some use that as a qualifying factor.  They want someone who has shown they can put in the work.  However, that’s not always the case.  In my first job in Minor League Baseball, I was working as a full time staff member with others who were seniors in college.  I should have been a junior in college that year, but I used experience and always being around as a reason to getting a job.  Hard work and a positive work ethic go a long way, but you also have to open some doors for yourself and create a great network.
  5. It’s easy
    “I’ve watched you do it and you make it look so easy, it isn’t.  I don’t know how you do it.”  A lot of practice and work, that’s how.  But I hear this quite a bit.  Consider that I announce hundreds of events a year and set-up my computer that I use for all those events so I know where everything is located.  That’s why it’s easier for me than someone else coming in who only does it once or twice.  I know where everything is and have learned to anticipate plays and think ahead.  I’ve practiced.  When others were dating girls, going out to bars, or in some cases, in school, I was probably announcing.  I was probably going to a game to listen to the announcer.  I was scanning YouTube to listen to announcers.  The only way to learn is to put in the work, and there is a lot of work that goes into it.  It’s also not always easy.

    P. A. announcing is so specialized, that except for a couple of Facebook and Yahoo! groups, finding others who are like minded is tough.  I’ve called high schools and colleges to ask about their announcers and there have been times they have no idea who is announcing.  It’s “somebody”, not even a proper name.

The Myth:

  1. It’s worth it
    My dream is to announce for the Washington Capitals.  However, my track into hockey came more than a decade AFTER I started announcing.  I spent nine years in Minor League Baseball, announcing baseball and numerous other stadium sports.  My first hockey experience was limited to college club hockey, but didn’t really kick in until 2002 when I started announcing high school hockey.  That led to games, many games, and then tournaments and eventually the right people heard me announce.  Now, I get to work Washington Capitals home games running their video content system.

    It’s not always a straight path to the top, it’s winding, but it’s worth it.  With every curve in the road comes the chance to meet new people and gain new experiences.  With every straightaway, it’s a chance to run with something and see if it works or it doesn’t.  With every pitstop, it’s a chance to learn new ideas and gain experience in something you may never had considered.  And with every flat tire, overheated engine or empty gas tank, comes a chance to learn a valuable lesson and push on.  But it’s worth it.  I’ve had the pleasure of announcing the pre-game announcements for Caps games three times.  That’s the closest I’ve been to my dream which actually started when I was four or five years old.  But I’ve also had the chance to meet a lot of great people and experience a lot of great things.  I’ve been part of championship teams and part of championship experiences.

Jarrod Wronski

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