On Being Interviewed

Tonight I’ll have the chance to see what the other side sees. That’s when Temple University Television interviews me. Normally, I’m doing the interviewing.

The most important part of being a good interviewer is to be a good listener. Theoretically, you can go into any interview with one question and if the interviewee says something that is intriguing and/or requires a follow-up, then that becomes your next question. You can literally do an entire interview this way, following up and going down different roads. Of course you want your report to be comprehensive, so if there are other aspects of the story that need to be addressed, then other types questions are required. Having a few questions prepared for your interviewee is fine, but constantly referring to them from a notepad or simply reading can be disconcerting. In a long-format interview, where you are talking at length with someone as part of a feature, it’s generally acceptable to have a pad with some prepared questions. Still, even in this mode of questioning, good listening is a key.

Temple students, take note!

For more information on Temple University Television and its coverage of the
2012 Olympics from London, visit http://www.templetv.net/

Looking forward to the experience!

Temple at the Olympics

Sorry if I’m gushing, but students at my alma mater are getting the experience of a lifetime.  They are in London, covering the 2012 Summer Olympics.  My thanks to Molly Clark Davis, Temple’s Alumni Relations Officer for the Arts and the School of Media and Communication, for passing this along…

 For more information on Temple Students covering the Olympics, click here.

Interviewing the rich and famous.

ESPN sportscaster Mark Jones was born in Canada. But that doesn’t mean he
couldn’t have been star struck the other night while interviewing the President of the
United States.

It happened at halftime of the exhibition tilt between the Olympic basketball
teams from the United States and Brazil. Barack Obama was in attendance along
with wife Michelle and Vice-President Joe Biden at Verizon Center in Washington,
D.C. That’s about as highfalutin as it gets. And not only was Jones cool with the
country’s number one basketball fan, but Obama himself showed he could talk
basketball.

My first big time sports interview was with former L.A. Laker great and Hall
of Famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar. It happened when I was hired as the halftime host
for 76ers basketball on regional sports network PRISM-TV. The interview was
awful. I was nervous. I had prepared questions. I was stiff. Not only that but back
then, Kareem was a notoriously difficult interview anyway!

Take a deep breath before your big first interview. If it’s to be a brief one, a
few good questions in your head should be enough. Listen and follow-up interesting
responses—that’s the key. And also remember whoever it is your speaking to—it’s
just another human being, like you. Really…

Associate!

This past June, young aspiring sportscasters had their own audience with Bob Costas.  The NBC and MLB network veteran was an inductee into the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association (NSSA) Hall of Fame and a healthy number of college-aged folks had the chance to get up close and personal with Costas and others.

One of the ways to network to “network” talent and others is through an association.  Typically, associations are formed in order to bring together like-minded individuals who share an interest in a particular industry or cause.  The more than half-century old NSSA has interesting articles, industry links and other resources that can help in your career development.  And if you’re pouring much of your money into your college education—not to worry–they even have a special student membership rate.

Go to http://nssafame.com/ for more information and follow them on twitter at @NSSA_DaveGoren

Your demo: do it for you, by you.

Whatever demo you decide to produce, you personally need to be responsible for as much of the material as possible.  This goes for production people as well as performers.  Once you’re out in the working world, others will be involved in a television or large radio production.  However, if you’re an aspiring television or radio anchor/reporter, you should shoot/record all interviews and footage as well as script and edit any packages yourself.  That goes for the editing of the actual demo reel as well.  News directors might ask you if you indeed did the shooting, scripting and editing yourself because you will probably have to perform the same duties if you get the job.   

You’re A River!

Think of yourself as a river, starting as mere rivulets in the mountains, fed by
smaller rivers and streams along the way, getting wider with each mile. Now, think of
yourself, an aspiring sportscaster, in the same terms. You have your own, nascent style.
But along the way you are “fed” or influenced by others, those whom you spent time
admiring or simply grew up listening to or watching.

Athletes, musicians, actors and actresses are invariably influenced by their “idols”
during their formative years and sportscasters are often times no different. As a child,
Marv Albert’s distinctive “Yes” or Chris Berman’s “He could…go…all…the…way” are
some of the signature phrases that are imitated at the dinner table or during certain
moments of every day life.

When trying to find your own “voice,” that is your own, unique broadcasting
style, it is important to delineate between imitate and influence. If you try to imitate
another sportscaster, you are bound to come off as a parody. Chances are, a prospective
employer (let along your audience) will see through it and it will not be to your benefit.

Return to the river metaphor for a moment. If you happen to admire someone’s
on-air style, allow that to be a tributary into your own personal flow. Allow it to be just
one of a substantial number of small streams that you intersect with along the way.
Eventually, it will mix with you, the larger river, to a point where that particular quality
that you like is indiscernibly mixed with an overall style that will eventually be unique to
you.

Zoo’s Memories: Kid Stuff

When I was 11, I was fascinated by the disc jockeys on the old, AM rock ‘n’
roll stations. They would “talk up” a record, pattering over the song’s introduction,
suddenly ending their spiel just as the lyrics were coming in. This tapped into my
very being, unearthing what has turned out to be a career in broadcasting.

If you feel the urge, whether you’re 21 or 41, explore it. If you think you’d be
good at voiceover work, start reading copy into a digital recorder. Use that same
tool if you’d like to be a news or sportscaster. Aspiring play-by-play announcers can
take that same recorder, buy a cheap ticket to a minor league baseball game,
and “announce.”

I often tell people that while NBA players have had plenty of organized play
and coaching through high school, college, AAU and other leagues, much of what
they do is rooted in what they did as kids playing in parks and playgrounds.
Recently, I unearthed an old cassette from when I was 14 years old, “announcing” a
baseball game into a tape recorder. Except for being a few octaves higher, it
sounded strangely like the guy who’s been doing 76ers games on Comcast Sportsnet
for the last 18 years.