Sports Radio News
Reaching The Majors Is Tougher For Broadcasters
For a week, play-by-play broadcaster Josh Maurer struggled to control his nerves. He hardly ate or slept. His body only wanted to focus on the job, which he kept reminding himself was basically the same thing he had done hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. All he had to do was call the games.
The difference? Maurer wasn’t in the minors anymore. He was with the Boston Red Sox, an opportunity he had been building toward ever since he was a kid listening to sportscaster Harry Kalas do play-by-play for the Philadelphia Phillies every night. And for minor league broadcasters such as himself, it’s the kind of opportunity that doesn’t often come along.
Not many hear their voices, but they’re out there. Calling games in places such as Lancaster, San Jose, Durham and Pawtucket, all in service of the big dream. While players in the minors strive to be the face of a major league franchise, broadcasters in the minors strive to be the voice.
For them, though, a bit more patience is required.
At any given moment, Major League Baseball’s 30 clubs have at least 750 roster spots to fill. Between the 60 full-time play-by-play jobs and other assorted radio and TV gigs, there are a fraction as many broadcasting jobs in the majors. The play-by-play positions are the pies in the sky for minor league broadcasters, and it’s basically impossible to rise quickly or cut corners in pursuit of one of those.
“It’s one of those careers where unless you have a big early push or unless you know somebody,” says Maurer, who calls games for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, “you’re really just going to have to work your way from the bottom up and go as far as you can.”
A young would-be announcer can aspire to make a living with a bat and glove rather than a microphone. But as is the case with most of us, the luck of the natural-athleticism draw tends to have other plans. For many, the microphone is the best way to stay connected to the sport.
Broadcasters in the minors are subject to many of the same things that test the commitment of players. The conditions are rough. The road trips are long. The pay sucks.
And minor league broadcasters can’t exactly minimize the hours they’re exposed to these things.
Announcers aren’t exempt from the assorted pains in the neck that come with the territory in the minors. For example, you never know when the team bus will break down. When things like that happen, it’s difficult to ignore the “grind” that is day-to-day life in minor league baseball. It’s only natural at such moments for doubts to creep in. And people—including significant others—do ask whether they would be happier in another line of work.
But for the baseball junkie, there are reasons to keep coming back to the mic. Among those are the games, which always get the juices flowing.
Beyond the thrill of calling the game, there’s also satisfaction to be gleaned from being around players as they try to play their way to the majors. If nothing else, it presents a chance to collect unique baseball stories.
These are the perks of the job, and they’re enough to keep a minor league announcer behind the mic—and, in the meantime, doing what’s possible to move up the ladder.
But that doesn’t mean moving around is easy. Things are pretty far removed from when a young Vin Scully could catch the attention of Red Barber and go from there. Like all ambitious professionals, minor league broadcasters must build their network.
“In other industries, if you meet a president of a company or a vice president, they can hook you in with another company or another similar job,” says Will Flemming. “There’s a finite number of Major League Baseball jobs. And once people have them, they don’t give them up.”
No kidding. A scroll through the broadcasting section on MLB’s official website reveals fewer than 10 primary radio or TV play-by-play men have gotten gigs within the last five years. (Yes, all men: Suzyn Waldman and Jessica Mendoza notably have color commentary jobs, but play-by-play in the majors is exclusively a boys club.)
Scully is the most extreme example with 66 seasons behind the mic for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, but the overwhelming majority of baseball’s play-by-play voices have been at it for a decade or longer.
By way of comparison, want to know how many players made their major league debuts in 2015 alone? According to Baseball-Reference.com, 227.
With this being the case, it doesn’t hurt for a minor league broadcaster to get a big break. Minor league players wait on pins and needles for their call to The Show. Broadcasters do too.
And when the call finally comes, the thrill is largely the same.
To read the full article visit Bleacher Report where this was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Fred Toucher: ‘ESPN is Now Just 3 People’
“Stephen A. Smith is on in the morning. He’s on the radio. He does a podcast. He’s at all the games. He does the postgames.”
How deep is the talent rotation at ESPN? Not very according to Fred Toucher. The 98.5 The Sports Hub morning host has certainly noticed that the network is turning to a small handfull of stars to do the bulk of the work.
“ESPN is now like three people, and Stephen A. Smith is on in the morning. He’s on the radio. He does a podcast. He’s at all the games. He does the postgames,” morning host Fred Toucher said. “Imagine if we had a microphone in front of us 12 hours a day…The guy’s going to snap one time.”
That led to a new segment on Toucher & Rich titled “Stephen A. Smith is horny” with music by R&B artist Barry White playing in the background. Throughout the nearly 20-minute aside, the show played clips from Smith’s Cadence 13-produced podcast recently renamed The Stephen A. Smith Show, and spoke about how he is now giving dating advice to close out episodes of his show.
“My man can’t help getting horny on it every single episode,” Jon Wallach said. “He is trapped with a microphone in front of him 18 hours a day – he really is. He’s on TV and the radio and podcast. It doesn’t stop.”
Because of Smith’s busy schedule across ESPN programming – including First Take, NBA Countdown, NBA in Stephen A’s World and guest appearances on shows such as SportsCenter and Get Up – he seems to be over the airwaves more often than not. On top of that, he hosts new episodes of his podcast at least three times a week. He has said the network did research that found he had reached 1.7 billion people on ESPN’s YouTube page last year, and that the number is expected to hit 2.4 billion at the end of this year.
The Boston morning show surmised that since Smith hardly has moments away from his profession, he cannot help but to talk about topics such as dating advice to vary the content.
“He just loves to drop into that sexy – ‘We’re going to do dating advice because everyone’s reaching out for dating advice from Stephen A. Smith,’” Toucher said.
Sports Radio News
Evan Roberts Says WFAN Found Next Star in Audition This Week
Evan Roberts thinks he has heard the future of WFAN. The co-host of Carton & Roberts said Tuesday afternoon that an overnight audition he heard on the station is going to yield big results.
Roberts said he could not sleep on Monday night, so he turned on the station to hear a new voice on the air and he was impressed.
“Alvin was on the air from midnight to two, and I’m going to make your prediction. He will be full-time here in the next three years,” he said. “Very good. He was tremendous.”
The Alvin in question is Alvin Cintron. He is a listener that Carton & Roberts explained would make videos and send them to program director Spike Eskin with a note asking when he would get his shot on WFAN.
“I listened to about 45 minutes of it,” Roberts said. “First radio show ever! I think the story is Spike literally found the guy on social media and said, ‘You know what? I’ll give you a shot.’”
Cintron posted a video on Facebook of himself listening to the segment. He called it “surreal.”
Craig Carton joked that if Evan Roberts thinks Alvin Cintron is going to be part of WFAN’s full-time staff in the next three years, that means he has someone on the staff getting fired and that Alvin is going to jump ahead of the current WFAN part-timers working towards the same goal.
“I didn’t put anybody down,” Roberts answered. “All I said was I thought he was brilliant last night, and I’m making a prediction. I think within the next three years, he’s full time.”
Sports Radio News
Binnie Media Brings VSiN to New Hampshire
“Their programming is best-in-class and the support from the VSiN team goes well beyond the content we air on the station.”
VSiN is going to New England. Content from the sports betting network will be heard on Binnie Media’s 106.3-HD2 in Nashua. The station will be branded VSiN Radio 106.3-FM HD-2.
“We’re thrilled to team up with Binnie Media to deliver the real-time news and insights New Englanders need to inform their wagering decisions,” Brian Musburger, founder and CEO of VSiN, said in a press release. “New Hampshire was one of the first states to embrace legal sports betting and, with Massachusetts recently legalizing, there has never been more interest in the informative and educational sports betting programming VSiN delivers every day. We are excited to bring our team of betting experts to Binnie Media’s passionate sports audience, especially in Massachusetts, the home state of VSiN’s parent company, DraftKings.”
In addition to the long-form content on 106.3-HD2, VSiN will also have a presence on other Binnie Media stations. Brent Musburger’s Action Updates will be heard on eight other stations in the group. They will run twice a day, giving the network a multi-format presence across the state.
Binnie Media is the largest privately owned and locally managed media company in Maine and New Hampshire. It owns fifteen radio stations as well as digital and outdoor marketing brands.
“Sports betting is quickly becoming part of the daily conversation. As we evaluated the options in this space, we landed on VSiN,” added Heath Cole, VP of Programming at Binnie Media. “Their programming is best-in-class and the support from the VSiN team goes well beyond the content we air on the station. From the short-form Action Updates to the digital content the VSiN team creates for our listeners, we think this content is, by far, the best in the space. We’re very excited about the opportunity to bring this programming to our listeners.”