He was crusty, old school, smoked English Ovals, had a gray toupee and
seemed to yell a lot. But as a young broadcaster, if you were patient and looked past
the bluster, Bill Bransome could help you. By the time I became his desk assistant
in the late 70’s, Bransome had already spent “forever” in the business. Newscaster.
Sportscaster. DJ. Whatever you could do behind the mike.
This was KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia when, moments before an 11:45
sportscast on a Saturday night, Bransome yelled through a studio intercom. “I need
to know how to pronounce this kid’s name and I need to know now!,” he
commanded. The kid was a second string defensive back for a local Division 3
school that had just won a national title in football. Nobody, except perhaps the
young man’s mother, would have known whether or not his name was pronounced
correctly. But to Bransome, it mattered. And so I was the guy who woke up the
school’s sports information director to find out how to correctly pronounce the
name of a second-string defensive back on a Division 3 football team.
Recently I marked the tenth anniversary of Bill Bransome’s passing with that
memory. It reinforced an important credo for all broadcasters, that no fact is too
small, too insignificant to go unchecked. Never underestimate your audience. And
never underestimate who might help you in this crazy business.
The voice. As a broadcaster, it’s your tool, your instrument, your very livelihood. How to use it and take care of it is critical. And the best I’ve come across at helping you to do that is Dr. Ann Utterback .
Leaving yourself open to criticism and suggestions will make you a better broadcaster.
In 1982, I was literally learning about television while working in television– the old PRISM–forerunner to today’s Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia. I was editing a feature on the 1946-47 Philadelphia Warriors, the NBA’s first champions. A gentleman by the name of Roy Hensel suggested the concept of “audio sweetening,” that is, adding crowd noise or other effects to old black-and-white footage that was without a sound track.
It’s common practice of course, but being relatively new to TV, I had no idea. The suggestion—obvious and simple as it was—added depth to the feature, literally bringing the past more alive.
Leaving your ego at the door and being open to feedback from anyone you work with can only help YOU.
So there was this kid in high school. He had pimples and was kind of fat. He
was nervous around girls. He definitely was not one of the cool kids. He didn’t
have a ton of friends and did weird stuff like go home and put his TV on a
channel full of static and make pretend he was announcing sporting events,
using the static as fake crowd noise.
Today, that kid’s high school is holding its graduation ceremony. And almost
40 years after he graduated, they’ve asked him to come back to be the
Brian Clapp used to hire sportscasters. Now, he’s helping them to get hired.
Born in Boston, Clapp is based in Seattle, where he was the former news director of the city’s Fox affiliate. His aptly named website, www.sportstvjobs.com, is a treasure for those who aspire to cover the events they love watching as fans. Clapp says the site is designed to “help 15 to 25 year olds (and older) to see what it’s like to work in TV (sports) or for anyone who’s trying to make a career of it.”
There’s career advice, resources, videos, blog links and yes, actual employment opportunities. And the ads aren’t just for those who want to be on camera. A slew of behind-the-scenes options are also available.
While it still pays to network and personally develop contacts in the industry, www.sportstvjobs.com is a more than worthwhile option for those who want to explore, in depth, what it takes to get a job in TV sports.