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Brown Finds Voice In Broadcasting

Jason Barrett

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Former Colorado linebacker Chad Brown never has been one to shy away from an opportunity, but he has been known to shy away from talking about them.

Brown used to have a stuttering problem. It was something he dealt with as a shy kid growing up in California and throughout his career in football with the Buffs and 14 years in the NFL. Brown was once a beehive of nerves before any public speaking encounter, which almost seems impossible now because of the volume of work he does in broadcasting and advertising.

“I just think my thoughts tended to come faster than my mouth could get them out,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t say I had a severe stuttering problem, but I certainly stammered and stuttered a lot when I was trying to speak or even when I got excited.”

Brown is all over the airwaves these days on radio and television, and especially this week with the Super Bowl coming Sunday. He is in Arizona doing segments related to the big game on CNN. He also is taping segments for NFL Films and is doing radio interviews about the game sponsored by Solid Gold, a company that provides food and training for Wounded Warriors service dogs.

He is asked for analysis about everything from football air pressure to the strengths and weaknesses of quarterbacks Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. Brown played for both franchises in this year’s Super Bowl and was a teammate of Brady’s for two seasons. He also played in the Super Bowl for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And when he’s not dissecting the game, he’s selling game-day food in commercials for Juicy Burgers & Dogs.

“This whole journey I’ve been on has been very interesting and revealing on a lot of different levels,” Brown said. “I’m happy I kind of took the opportunity and ran with it.”

Brown’s first opportunity to step into the world of broadcasting came three years ago when fellow former Buffs linebacker Alfred Williams asked him to fill in for his regular co-host on their afternoon sports talk show on FM 104.3. Brown agreed and came away three shows later with a new confidence in himself.

Brown used to own Pro Exotics, a business he founded that was based in Littleton. He sold reptiles and other exotic animals from his store before a fire in late 2011 cost him the business. His love for animals remains strong but he no longer sells them. Instead, he runs Ship Your Reptiles and Ship Your Aquatics, businesses that help pet owners and hobbyists to safely, efficiently and cost-effectively ship animals around the nation.

But he seems to have found a new passion in what he calls trying to become a better communicator. He hasn’t decided yet if he wants to try to make a second career out of broadcasting or if he wants to be a coach. He will serve an NFL franchise to be determined this summer as a coaching intern and go from there.

“I’ve always had a philosophy in life that you’re always practicing for something,” Brown said. “Some of us practice something and it’s bad stuff and you’re kind of setting yourself up for something bad, and in this case, I’m practicing this with no idea where it’s going to take me, but I think it’s going to be a good thing.”

Starting at the ground level is also something Brown has never been afraid to do. Some 44-year-old former NFL stars would be reluctant to serve as interns on a coaching staff or attend the NFL’s Broadcast Media Bootcamp.

Brown dived in to that experience and he says it helped him realize he needed to slow down his thoughts and his words.

He has worked as a part of the CU game-day broadcast team for KOA radio (850 AM) the past three years, first as a sideline reporter and then as a color analyst for half of last season when longtime CU play-by-play man and color analyst Larry Zimmer suffered a fall and was sidelined.

Mark Johnson, KOA’s play-by-play man for the past decade for both CU football and basketball, said he can count on Brown to always be prepared.

“You can’t always say that about a former athlete, that they necessarily are able to turn their football knowledge that they know instinctively from playing into something that is digestible for a listener,” Johnson said. “So he is very good at that. And the steps he has taken and really grown in the last couple of years is on the broadcasting end of things. That’s not something you can just learn overnight. It takes time and he has made great strides in that regard in terms of knowing when to speak during a game, how to concisely make a point or convey that knowledge to the audience. He has made some great broadcasting improvement the last couple of years.”

Brown, who played on the Buffs’ 1990 national championship team, said he never feels more comfortable than when he is doing CU games because he knows many in the audience recognize him as a former Buff and want him to do well. He said learning to relax and studying the nuances of television broadcasting has been a big area of growth.

He is able to joke about some of it now.

“The first year I was just trying to stop myself from physically sweating every time I came on camera,” Brown said. “I mean, the Albert Brooks scene from ‘Broadcast News.’ That’s a real thing. That’s a real physical reaction that you literally have no control over. A lot of time I was so happy I had a suit on ’cause the suit would cover up the fact that my dress shirt underneath was completely stuck to my body from all the sweat.”

Brown said at some point during his football career he played every linebacker position possible. He said that wealth of experience made him more valuable to his team. It’s no different in broadcasting. His experiences as a sideline reporter, color analyst, guest commentator or panel member have helped make him more well-rounded.

He only recently began to feel like he has conquered the stuttering.

“I’m not immune from it,” he said. “It still comes up from time to time, but I’ve got control of it. It’s in my mind, if I think about it, I can control it. I am and it is still very much a work in progress.”

Credit to Times-Call who originally published this article

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Sean McDonough: Lack of Energy Criticism ‘Bothered Me’

“I hope people who’ve heard me over the years know that’s not the way I usually sound, and maybe I shouldn’t have tried to power through it.”

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Sean McDonough
Courtesy: Joe Faraoni, ESPN Images

The Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers have faced off in an intense, hard-fought Stanley Cup Final series. Broadcast by ESPN on ABC and streaming on ESPN+, the games have featured the NHL on ESPN commentary team of play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough, analyst Ray Ferraro, reporter Emily Kaplan and rules analyst Dave Jackson.

During the broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final last Thursday, viewers felt that McDonough sounded under the weather, an observation that ESPN confirmed to be the case the next day. Nonetheless, McDonough was able to call the Panthers’ 4-3 victory in Game 3 and went behind the microphone two days later for the fourth game of the series. In a recent interview on Schein on Sports on SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio, McDonough explained how he was feeling and being able to execute his role.

“I’m still a little under the weather, but we’re powering through it,” McDonough said. “It’s the playoffs – everybody’s playing hurt, certainly all the players are. It’s a grind – [the] playoffs started two months ago. We’re on the charter coming back from Edmonton here to Fort Lauderdale yesterday, and I would say as you walked up and down the aisle on that plane, half the people were coughing or clearing their throat or sneezing, so a lot of stuff going around.”

McDonough expressed his gratitude for Oilers head athletic therapist T.D. Forss and their doctor with how they helped to have him ready to call Game 4. By the time the game started, he felt a lot better and ended up calling an 8-1 Oilers victory to extend the series to a fifth game. Schein remarked that McDonough sounded incredible, which led the ESPN play-by-play announcer to mention a criticism he has been receiving from fans on social media.

“Well you know what, it just kind of bothered me – not that you should pay attention [to it] – but people [said], ‘Well, you’ve got a lack of energy,’” McDonough conveyed. “Yeah, I’m really not excited to call a Stanley Cup Final game. I’ve been doing this for, I don’t know, 30-something years now. I hope people who’ve heard me over the years know that’s not the way I usually sound, and maybe I shouldn’t have tried to power through it.”

McDonough divulged that it was a collaborative decision to have him try to call Game 3 of the series and is glad that it is behind him at this point. Schein was incredulous towards the criticism, remarking how McDonough has excelled in big spots on monumental events in the past such as the World Series, Michigan-Michigan State game and Monday Night Football. McDonough remarked that he read an article instructing consumers how to call a goal in the Stanley Cup Final, leading him to question if the author watched Game 2 of the series. He tries not to let it bother him and felt that by discussing the narrative, they were giving it more life.

“We do this to do the biggest games at the biggest moments, and the fun part, one of the many fun parts of the job, is when the big moments come, either you nail them or you don’t, and that’s what I love about it,” McDonough said, “and I’ve been lucky to be in the right place at the right time for a lot of really exciting games over the years.”

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Tom Ackerman Recalls Working at KMOX with Jack Buck

“I had to tell my mom, ‘I have to go, I’m sharing a pizza with Jack Buck and he’s coming back in the room.'”

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Graphic of the Jack Buck statue outside Busch Stadium and a photo of KMOX Sports Director Tom Ackerman

Today marks 22 years since Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck passed away at the age of 77. Buck grew up in Massachusetts and Ohio, but St. Louis became his home when he joined the St. Louis Cardinals broadcasting team in 1954 and he remained with the team through the 2001 season.

Buck received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award from the Pro Football Hall of fame in 1996. He was also named Missouri Sportscaster of the Year 22 times, inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995 and the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2005.

Buck started with the Cardinals in the minor leagues before getting moved up to the major league team. He would work the first season on KXOK before the team moved its games to KMOX, where he would spend the next 47 years.

Buck held the position of Sports Director at KMOX, a title now held by Tom Ackerman who also co-hosts Total Information AM in morning drive in addition to overseeing the sports department. Ackerman told BSM about the first time he remembers meeting Buck after starting as a part-time producer with the station in 1997.

“Very early on at KMOX, he was in the sports office by himself, and I came in there. I hadn’t been on the job very long as a part-time producer working behind the scenes. I thought ‘this is my chance,’ so I walked in and introduced myself and told him what a big fan I was and that I had read his book multiple times.

“He sticks his hand out, shakes my hand, looks me in the eye and says, ‘What kind of pizza do you like, kid?’ I’ll buy it if you go downstairs and get it.” Ackerman said Buck called for delivery and he and Buck shared a pepperoni pizza and talked. “He took an interest in me and was talking to me, and he did that with a lot of people. Not longer after that I was around him a lot covering the Cardinals,” Ackerman said.

“I remembered my mom called me and asked me how my day was going,” he said. “I had to tell my mom, ‘I have to go, I’m sharing a pizza with Jack Buck and he’s coming back in the room.'”

Ackerman said early in his career he was hosting a Cardinals post-game show on KMOX. An outfielder who had been filling in for JD Drew hit a couple of home runs in the game. When Ackerman started the post-game show he said, “JD Who?” and talked about what a job the replacement did.

He said the next day, Buck invited him to lunch. At one point, Buck said to Ackerman, “So, I heard your post-game show last night and I heard you say, ‘JD Who?” If I were JD Drew’s parents, I wouldn’t like that very much…Be honest in your reporting but understand the people that you’re covering.”

“My mind was blown that Jack Buck listened to me first of all,” Ackerman said. “But then he was correcting me and praising me at the same time. It was incredible. It was his way of getting his message across but also lifting me up and encouraging me.”

Buck was well known nationally. He called 18 Super Bowls and 11 World Series. He did NFL games for CBS and NBC and did many years with Hank Stram on CBS Radio for Monday Night Football, and he also called AFL games for CBS. He did baseball nationally for ABC and CBS in addition to his duties locally with KMOX and the Cardinals. He also had called NHL and NBA games in St. Louis and had experience doing wrestling, boxing and bowling.

Many remember his famous call when Kirk Gibson hit his legendary walk-off home run during Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, “I don’t believe what I just saw,” and his memorable call of Kirby Puckett’s game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, “Annnnnd we’ll see you tomorrow night.”

In St. Louis, where there is a statue of Buck outside of Busch Stadium, he is remembered for his “Go Crazy Folks, Go Crazy” call of Ozzie Smith’s walk-off home run in the 1985 National League Championship Series or simply his “That’s a winner,” which he would say following every Cardinals victory. He also had a great sense of humor. In 1998 when the statue was dedicated, Buck said, “I’ve given the Cardinals some of the best years of my life. Now I’m going to give them some of the worst.”

Buck was much more than a broadcaster to those in the St. Louis area. He was involved in the community and one of its strongest supporters. He also hosted and took part in more charitable endeavors than could be counted.

“I followed him to a lot of events when I could,” Ackerman said. “I spent time with him a lot at the Missouri Athletic Club Sports Personality of the Year dinners. To think that I now host it is amazing. I think about him every single time I am up there. I used to sit there and help engineer it and watch him and dream of what that would be like.

“He would go out of his way to emcee events, be part of the community, help people, take pictures and sign autographs, help kids, visit kids in the hospital. He was amazing. He was everything I hoped that he would be and then some. He was a fixture in the community…I think he just really liked people. He was genuinely interested in what people were about, what they did and who they were. I think that made him better at what he did. He was very approachable, and he knew his listeners very well. It felt like he was your companion.”

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ESPN Beaver Dam to Carry University of Wisconsin Women’s Volleyball

“By adding UW Women’s Volleyball to our lineup of premier brands and teams, we ensure that fans across the state can experience every thrilling moment.”

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Logo for ESPN Beaver Dam and a photo of Wisconsin women's volleyball players
Photo Courtesy: University of Wisconsin Athletics

Good Karma Brands has announced that ESPN Beaver Dam will join 100.5 ESPN Madison and 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee as a broadcaster for all University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball games starting in the 2024-2025 season. This expansion will guarantee that fans all over Wisconsin get live broadcasts of one of the strongest volleyball teams in the country.

“We are excited to join the group of GKB stations to deliver all the action and excitement of UW Women’s Volleyball games to fans,” said Sheri Sackett, market manager for ESPN Beaver Dam in a release. “By adding UW Women’s Volleyball to our lineup of premier brands and teams, we ensure that fans across the state can experience every thrilling moment.”

The UW Women’s Volleyball team finished the 2023 season at No. 3 in the AVCA Poll after a strong performance in the NCAA Tournament that led them to the semifinals. The addition of ESPN Beaver Dam will greatly increase the team’s exposure and audience reach.

In addition to UW Women’s Volleyball, ESPN Beaver Dam is the home for the Milwaukee Brewers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Green Bay Packers, the Wisconsin Badgers, and the Beaver Dam High School Golden Beavers.

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