Most people in sports radio feel pressure to do a good job. But there are added layers of pressure that many hosts don’t have to face. The pressure of knowing that your performance could greatly impact future opportunities for other people. The pressure from others that are expecting you to falter because of your gender. The stress of wanting to prove that the people who took an unconventional chance on you made the right decision. Not everybody faces those obstacles. It’s something that Kate Scott has successfully dealt with throughout her career.
Kate doesn’t back down from a challenge. Be the first woman to call an NFL game on radio? No problem. Be the first woman to call a football game on Pac-12 Network? All good. How about calling an NHL game for a nationwide audience? Roger that. Can you host The Morning Roast in a top 5 market? On it. Kate clears barriers like an Olympic hurdler. She’s basically the Lolo Jones of sports radio.
Joe Shasky and Bonta Hill are Kate’s radio partners at 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. Together they host a three-person morning show that began just a few months ago on October 12. In our conversation below, Kate talks about the new gig and what it was like coming over from crosstown rival KNBR, a place she worked at for six years. She also talks about helping people see things differently, a double standard for women, being competitive as hell, kicking ass, a pit bull, and naps. Enjoy.
BN: How’s the new show going?
KS: Well I’m having a blast. But I think as far as how it’s going it really depends on the day. Launching a three-person radio show, not in the midst of a global pandemic, where you actually are in studio together and able to more easily build chemistry and figure out timing and mannerisms, that’s hard enough in person. We knew each other a bit beforehand, but we’re still definitely figuring each other out in that sense. So you add on a layer of we’re doing it from three different locations over video call. I can’t tell you how many power outages we had in the first couple of weeks because that was when the fires were really intense here in the Bay Area. One of us was cutting out. The next day another person would lose power.
I had to go into San Francisco a few days because we did not have power whatsoever over in Oakland where I live and had to broadcast from a studio by myself in the city. It has been a lot. I’ll say that. But I’m still having a great time getting to slowly but surely know my partners in Joe and Bonta and be back on the radio getting to talk about the teams that I grew up cheering for and have loved since I was a little girl. I love working with Bonta and Joe and am stoked about what we’re building. It’s really exciting, but I would be lying if I said it’s been easy and smooth sailing so far.
BN: How would you describe joining The Game after working for the competition at KNBR?
KS: I think it’s been a good break since I’ve been on KNBR here in the Bay Area. We left everything on really good terms. I know that I wouldn’t be here being able to host a show in one of the top markets in the country if it wasn’t for the support and opportunities that I got because of my six years at KNBR.
The first couple of days were a little weird. I remember having a giant note right on top of my computer with The Game closeout because you just get so used to saying we’ll be right back on KNBR The Sports Leader. I just told myself the number one thing you cannot do is say that even though it’s second nature because I was there for so long.
The main reason I left KNBR was because I had been at the Pac-12 Network for about a year and a half doing play-by-play and it just became really difficult to function while trying to wake up at four in the morning, work a morning show, and then call games at night while I was supposed to be watching other games that I then needed to talk about the next morning at six. Just the stress of trying to do those two things at once caught up to me. I also told management there, who had always been so supportive, “You know guys I’m ready for more. I want more. I feel like I’m much more than an update anchor on the show that I’m on right now. I’ve called a couple of 49ers preseason games for you. I just called football on the Pac-12 Network. I want more”. They said “We know that you do and we think you’re ready for it; we just don’t have a spot for you right now”. I completely understood that.
That’s how we left it. I said “I love you guys. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am right now with the Pac-12 and everything without you, so thank you for everything”. Who knows what the future holds, but best of luck. That’s how we kind of left it. Now at The Game I just feel like because of what they gave me, I want to do my best and prove to them I am worthy of this hosting position and this slot. A lot of it is in large part because of you. Now we hope to kick your ass in a couple years [laughs] because I’m competitive as hell and I don’t think you last in sports radio if you don’t have really thick skin and if you also don’t really want to win.
There’s the added layer of going up against the show that I was on for the six full years I was at KNBR. I love those guys to death. I sent them Christmas cards a couple of weeks ago. All of my old KNBR co-workers — on-air, producers, executives — reached out after The Game announced I was joining their squad to say congrats and wish me luck. But at the same time, just like I’m sure they want to kick my ass, I want to kick their ass. That’s one of the layers of fun for me being at The Game now.
BN: When you talked about not saying the wrong station, the first thing I thought of was what the negativity and criticism is like being a female sports radio host. Knowing how some listeners will lash out if you make a mistake, does that cause you to go about your business any differently?
KS: I think so, yes. I think that for everything I do whether it’s prepping for my show or calling a game, I over prep because I know that there is a double standard when it comes to being a woman and being a man in this industry. It is assumed if you are a man that you know sports. Period. It is assumed if you are a woman, there’s a chance you might, but I’m going to listen really closely for you to prove to me that you actually don’t. So I over prep for everything.
A large part of that is because I feel a massive responsibility to my gender because I know how rare it is to hear a woman on a football game, or a hockey game, or on a morning show like I’m hosting in San Francisco. One of the most important things for me is that I am successful so that other women who want to do this can get the opportunity. That’s the big thing for me. And not just women, other non-white men, just people who aren’t the usual person who you’ve either heard call a game or heard on a radio show. I think that whatever I can do to help those who are doing the hiring start to think a little bit outside the box and say “Wow, I was terrified to give Kate this opportunity, but she’s doing okay and the feedback seems to be great. Maybe I need to continue to think outside the box when it comes to hiring other roles”. If I can help push that idea forward just a little bit then I’ll consider my career a success.
BN: When you have broken barriers as the first woman to call an NFL game on radio or the first to call a football game on the Pac-12 Network, what does that mean to you, and what do you think it means to other females?
KS: It means that I’m doing something right; that the prep and all the hard work that I have been doing behind the scenes for years is paying off. It means that I’m very fortunate to have crossed paths with a number of men and leaders who have been willing to take a risk and put themselves on the line to try something new. Whether that was Lee Hammer and Jenn Violet at KNBR. Whether that was Bob Sargent and the 49ers, the leadership of the Pac-12; I wouldn’t have gotten those opportunities without them being willing to take a risk. That means something to me as well and I have taken that responsibility very seriously and wanted to — similar to what I said about KNBR and Murph & Mac — prove to them that I was worthy of this opportunity and let them know just how much it means to be given the opportunity by doing really well on those games.
I’ve heard from a number of women after the football and hockey that it gives them hope and it motivates them and inspires them to maybe think that they could do something that they didn’t think they were capable of before. That means everything to me. I don’t do this for the notoriety. You know that I didn’t want to talk to you about myself today. I was hoping that you were calling to maybe have me opine about one of the great people I’ve worked with over the years. But that’s been one of the cool things for me; women who have done sidelines for years who have reached out and said, “Man Kate, play-by-play just sounds terrifying to me, but hearing you on that hockey game, you got me thinking maybe I should start looking at giving play-by-play a try in the sport that I’ve covered for so long”.
I’ve gotten messages from other women who were watching the game with their kids and said “My son thought you were awesome and now you have given my son this idea that hey, it’s not just men who call a sport, women can do it too, and now he might look at his sister in a different way”.
I’m sure that there are some women out there who hated it [laughs] and think I sound awful, but I try to focus on the positive. It seems like it’s been pretty well received by other women in this industry and even women who aren’t in this industry but who are just looking for something that’s outside the box, somebody taking a risk. Hopefully that has motivated and inspired them in whatever they do too.
BN: Some athletes say the losses hurt more than the wins feel good. But when you have people saying, “Hey my daughter is inspired by you and now thinks something is possible that she didn’t before”, I would imagine that means way more than Twitter trolls writing something crazy.
KS: Well I mean Brian, you know, the one negative comment you get about a show is always the one that sticks in your side and keeps you up at night. But over the years I have learned what you just said, focus on the good because that is truly what matters. If you can inspire one little girl or open up the eyes and minds of one young boy or one grown man, then it’s worth it to me.
It is a lot of work and I do put a lot of pressure on myself. I do take on a lot of responsibility when maybe I don’t have to but I just feel like it’s so important to help people see things just a little bit differently while doing what I love.
I’ve never taken any of these opportunities because I wanted to be the first or wanted to be considered a trailblazer. I’ve just done it because I’m always looking for that next challenge and how to get better and how to continually just be relentlessly self-critical and help get myself through that next challenge. If in the process that can inspire a couple of people along the way, yeah, just like you said, I have held onto those tweets and emails and when I’m having a bad day, you know for sure I look back and use those to remind myself that even though a lot of people on the text line today said that “you suck” and “you shouldn’t be on the radio”, there are a number of people that disagree. So remember that and keep going.
BN: What has been your favorite broadcasting experience over the years and what was your most frightening experience?
KS: Can they be one in the same?
KS: [Laughs] I think it was calling the NHL game for NBC back in March. It was utterly terrifying. I had never called a hockey game before. I grew up watching the sport, attending minor league hockey where I grew up, falling in love with the San Jose Sharks when they were the expansion franchise that launched and followed them. I knew the sport but there’s a massive difference between knowing a sport as a fan and sounding intelligent enough about a sport to call it for a worldwide audience of really well-versed hockey fans.
I only had two months to prep for it and it was in the midst of me also calling four different basketball leagues last year. I got the call in January while I’m calling Pac-12 men’s and women’s basketball, WCC men’s basketball, A-10 women’s basketball on the East Coast, and “Hey by the way in the middle of all of that, we’re going to need you to prep to call Blues-Blackhawks in two and a half months on national television. Are you interested?”.
Because of the previous experiences I had, I remember having a lot of fear when I called the 49ers’ games, having a lot of fear when I called football in the Pac-12, and all that experience had helped me realize you’re ready for this. You can do this. You know this sport. Have confidence today and just let go. Just really lean in and enjoy this. You have two analysts who are Olympic gold medalist who know the sport like the back of their hand. You have an incredible crew in the truck. Just be yourself and have fun.
I think it was the first time that I really just relaxed on a broadcast as crazy as it sounds and because of that just had a really great time. NBC was incredibly happy. Surprisingly to all of us the feedback on social media was incredibly positive. It was a heck of a way to start my hockey play-by-play career but I’m really hoping it’s not the last time I get to call it because it was a ton of fun and I love that sport.
BN: What do you do to just relax?
KS: [Laughs] What do you do, Brian? Do you have any recommendations?
BN: [Laughs] There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of pressure. What do you do to just unwind and, for lack of a better word, escape that type of pressure?
KS: I really struggle to do that if I’m being honest. I suck at relaxing. I try to be really good at everything I can, but my friends tell me I suck at relaxing. I did purposefully adopt a dog a year and a half ago — Piper the pit bull — because I needed something that would force me to put the phone down, force me to stop looking at the computer, and force me to get outside because that really is the one thing that relaxes me.
I love being outside whether it’s just a mile walk around my block, whether it’s going down to the park and playing fetch, whether it’s going for a long hike or going camping for a few days. There’s just something about being outside because I think most of our profession is being in little closet-sized studios, being in arenas, being inside that there’s something about being outside and just being in fresh air that really helps bring a little calmness and relaxation to my soul. The dog has really helped with that and if you have any other suggestions I’m all ears because I’m still working on perfecting that skill.
BN: Well I think you’re on the right track with naps.
KS: Yes, okay naps, scotch, and cigars. I do like to sit out on my back deck from time to time and have a little nip of scotch and a good cigar and just take some deep breaths and remind myself that I’m only 37 years old and to be where I am in my career, I’m doing okay. So it’s okay to take a deep breath and sit in that for a little while.
BN: Are there any goals you would like to cross off the list in the years to come?
KS: There are two for me. I’m aware that this could change because my goal coming out of college was to get to ESPN. I’m 37 and I still haven’t done anything for them. As I said a moment ago I’m starting to realize things have gone all right so far without reaching that goal. But I would love to call something at the Olympics. Being a kid born in the ‘80s — I know for some youngsters these days the Olympics don’t have the same cache — but every couple of years I just want to watch every sport that I can even if I have no idea what the rules are. There is just something about rooting for your country, getting to know the stories of people from other countries. Calling the Olympics in any event, I will teach myself the rules and I will learn how to call it. That’s what I told NBC after doing hockey for them in March. That’s something I would really love to do.
The sport I played more than anything growing up was soccer. I was a competitive soccer player and was planning to actually go and do that in college until I tore my meniscus my junior year of high school, which set my broadcasting career in motion.
Men’s or women’s World Cup would be an absolute dream. Getting to call matches, host a show, be a sideline reporter, or getting to be involved in any aspect of a World Cup would be a dream come true for me.
Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?
“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”
Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on!
We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.
“I HAVE A JOB.”
With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon.
“I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”
You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far.
Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service, AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker.
“I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”
Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard.
“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”
In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.
“I HAVE COMPETITION!”
That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
What Tom Brady Needs To Know Before His First Fox Broadcast
“Our panel includes a fellow player-turned-analyst, a legendary play-by-play man, and a broadcasting coach.”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Tom Brady announced he is retiring from the NFL today. It happened literally a year to the day since the last time he retired.
The last retirement lasted just 40 days. Before the end of March of last year, Tom Brady had decided he was done pretending to be happy about embracing life off of the field and announced he was returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a third season.
I guess we cannot rule out that that will happen again. The difference this time around, at least for Tom Brady’s professional life, is that he has a plan for his future. Now that his playing days are over, it is time for him to start his ten-year deal with FOX to be the analyst in the network’s top NFL booth.
Audiences do not know what to expect. No one can deny that Brady brings star power. He is the GOAT after all, but we cannot say for sure if he will be any good.
The pressure is tremendous too. Not only is Tom Brady embarking on a new career, but football fans seem to have taken a liking to the guy he is about to unseat. Whether Greg Olsen gets kicked back down to the number two booth or he is forced to share the spotlight in a three-man booth, plenty of people will look at Brady as the reason we hear less from the guy regarded by many as the best analyst on TV right now.
Brady does not have much room for error here. Since that is the case, I thought I would get some perspectives from people that can help him out. I asked three people to give me their best advice for Tom Brady.
Our panel includes a fellow player-turned-analyst, a legendary play-by-play man, and a broadcasting coach.
THE PLAYER TURNED ANALYST: ANTHONY BECHT
In 2000, the New York Jets used the 27th pick of the NFL Draft to select Anthony Becht. He played for five different teams during his twelve NFL seasons.
His broadcasting career began in 2013. Becht worked on ESPN for eight years as an analyst on the network’s college football games. He has since abandoned the booth to return to the sidelines. He will be the head coach of the St. Louis Battlehawks when the XFL starts its third first season this month.
I texted and asked him to look back on his broadcasting career. What does he wish he knew before he started? Here are the three pieces of advice that he had for Tom Brady.
1. Less is more. Folks want to watch the game and just know the “why”. Providing tangible information in a five or six second window is key.
2. Fans want to know about your personal experiences as a player – information and stories they can’t get or wouldn’t even know about because they never did it at the level we did. Share those when the time comes in a game.
3. Have a strong opinion about what you agree or disagree with, but be able to voice it without being demeaning towards players and coaches. It’s an art form and takes time to articulate that in a way that’s done right. I never bash any player or coach because a lot of work goes into be a professional athlete and coach. That needs to be respected but critiqued appropriately.Anthony Becht via text message
THE PLAY-BY-PLAY LEGEND: TIM BRANDO
Tim Brando has worked with a lot of people. That happens when you have been calling football and basketball action on TV for as long as he has. When I called him on Wednesday to discuss what is ahead for Tom Brady, he drew on his experience with another Brady.
Brando was working with Jole Klatt in his early days at FOX, but he and Klatt were not going to be an exclusive team. He remembers Brady Quinn coming in to their booth shortly after his NFL career had eneded. Quinn was about to make his debut for FOX. Before they were ready to turn him loose, the network wanted the former quarterback to get a feel for the pace and atmosphere of a broadcast booth.
I do think it’s important that you have a new talent understand what that workplace is like in the booth – the choreography that takes place, because there is choreography. If the ball is deflected, your spotter’s hands are coming together like a bad clap. If there’s a hit, who caused the hit? Who stripped it? So there’s a hand signal for stripping the ball and then recovering the ball with the arms closing together. So who got the recovery? Who caused the fumble? Those things are always helpful.
There are things that are going on frantically in the booth, but you as a broadcaster have to remain calm, understand it, and sound succinct and confident. That just takes time and it takes reps.
That’s one of the great things I think that Greg (Olsen) probably had an advantage in, as do a lot of analysts that get better over time. They do games of lesser importance that maybe the whole world is not watching.Tim Brando via Telephone
Tom Brady won’t have the luxury of time or of reps under the radar. He may get to do a few practice games, but the first time he will be calling a game on live television, it will be one of the biggest of the week.
Brando says in that case, it is really important that Brady use his instincts to his advantage in the booth the way he did on the field.
I don’t know Tom well, but I know him well enough to know that he prides himself on preparation. I don’t doubt for one minute that he will be prepared. He’s obviously an incredible competitor. You know, this is a this is a business of competition too.
If you’re a great player, just like a coach, you love the ecstasy of victory. You don’t want to admit it, but you love the agony of the defeat as well. That feeling of defeat is something we feed on to motivate you for your next performance. In television and sports television, you don’t get that in terms of winning and losing, but you do get it if you look at it as a great performance,
I believe that all great broadcasters are performers at heart. It takes a certain level of of a theater. It’s live. It’s not scripted.
I think some players that get in the booth that are looking to have that same, you know, euphoria that they have after playing and winning a game. Some of them get that and understand that in broadcasting and get out of that the same thing and others don’t.Tim Brando via Telephone
THE BROADCASTING COACH: GUS RAMSEY
Plenty of broadcasters turn to Gus Ramsey for critiques and advice. The Program Director for the Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting at Full Sail University is also a broadcasting coach working with clients at all levels of the business. They trust his opinion because of his professional experience.
In a prior life, Ramsey was the producer of SportsCenter on ESPN. He has worked with a number of incredibly talented people and been tasked with taking newbies to new heights, so I asked him what he would be thinking if it were his job to get Tom Brady ready for his first FOX broadcast.
Sometimes great athletes forget that most humans don’t know what the athletes know. Things that are basic or simple or even mundane to the athlete are incredible pieces of wisdom or insight to the average fan.
When I was at ESPN we had Tony Gwynn in for an episode of Baseball Tonight. In our show meeting, Tony was explaining why a hitter was slumping because we was cupping his wrist. He went on explaining it for 30 seconds or so. The room was in total silence, eating up every word. The greatest hitter of our generation was doing a deep-dive on hitting. It was amazing.
Tony suddenly got a little self-conscious, stopped explaining and apologized for “going on too long” and we were all like “No!! Keep going!” Tony thought is was boring. It was just the opposite.
Athletes can think things they’ve learned and repeated their whole lives are common knowledge so sometimes they don’t share that info because they think “everyone knows this.”
I want to walk away from a broadcast feeling like I learned something. Sometimes the ex-athlete doesn’t realize how much educating they can do in a broadcast.
The other thing I always encourage former athletes or coaches to do is to take the viewer where they’ve never been; on the field, in the locker room, in a contract negotiation, etc. If you can get that viewer to fully appreciate the feelings and emotions of what goes on in those places, you enhance the experience for us.
Terrell Davis was an analyst on NFL Network for a bit after his career. He once described Champ Bailey running back an interception 100 yards by saying as Bailey got to the 50 yard line “right here it feels like someone put sandbags on your ankles.” I’ve never run 100 yards in a football uniform in Denver’s altitude, but Terrell’s line helped me better understand what it feels like.Gus ramsey via text message
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.
Mark Packer Loves Reading Your Memories & Tributes to Billy Packer
“I’ve heard from all kinds of coaches. I’ve been blown away. It’s just another reminder of the impact Billy had on so many different people, not just the world of sports.”
It still stands today as one of the most iconic moments in the storied history of Arizona basketball. Three simple words said it all as the Wildcats celebrated an overtime win over Duke to win the 1997 national championship. “Simon says championship.” Those were the words of legendary broadcaster Billy Packer as Miles Simon fell to the floor with the ball in his hands. It’s one of many lines his son, Mark Packer, has been reminded of recently.
It was the perfect three words after the country just watched Simon carry Arizona to college basketball glory. Packer captured the moment perfectly, just like he did during every Final Four for 34 years.
Packer passed away last Thursday at the age of 82 but his legacy and impact in sports broadcasting will never perish. He was heard during every NCAA Tournament from 1975 to 2008 and was on the call for some of college basketball’s most iconic moments, including Michael Jordan’s shot to win the 1982 National Championship, Bird vs Magic in 1979, and even Kansas completing an improbable comeback to win the 2008 championship in his last broadcast. And the best part of it all was that Packer did it his own way, with his own unique style.
“It has really been remarkable,” said Mark Packer. “When Billy passed Thursday night we put it out on Twitter and it took off but I didn’t really know what to expect on Friday and Saturday as far as reaction. But the tributes have been fantastic and our family has loved it.
“I have heard from just about everybody and their brother. Folks I never thought I’d hear from, I’ve heard from them, such as commissioners, whether it be the NBA, whether it be other Power 5 leagues, I’ve heard from all kinds of coaches. I’ve been blown away. It’s just another reminder of the impact Billy had on so many different people, not just the world of sports. To me, that’s been comforting to all of us. It just reinforced all the stuff we knew he was about and brings back special memories.”
Packer’s style of broadcasting has been well-documented over the years. He was honest about what he saw and always spoke his mind. Granted, that didn’t always sit well with college basketball fans, but Packer wasn’t concerned about that. He was honest because he cared.
“He wanted the game of college basketball to be the best it possibly could be,” said Mark. “When he saw things he did not like, the one thing he always did was speak his mind. He ruffled feathers and he didn’t care. His intent was to make the game the No. 1 priority. You realize now he didn’t have it out for your team, he was just speaking his mind.”
That style meant fans would often yell at games, ‘You hate Duke! You hate North Carolina!’ Packer’s honesty was often taken by fans as he hated their favorite team. He used to laugh at that, just as Mark does know when he thinks about those moments. That’s because Mark can remember feeling the same way as other fanbases as a kid growing up rooting for NC State.
“When he was calling an NC State game I thought he was always out to get my team,” laughed Mark. “He’d be doing a game in Raleigh — we grew up in Winston-Salem — and the next morning after the game I would be eating breakfast before school and I would say ‘Man, Billy, you really got on so-and-so last night, what’s your problem with NC State?’
“He used to just laugh, because I thought he had an agenda against my team. Of course the funny thing is, we’d go on trips with him to other games and you’d hear fans say, ‘Billy Packer hates my team!’ It almost became a laughing joke, even amongst the family members, that Billy Packer was out to ruin your team’s day when he does a ballgame.”
Mark has always referred to his dad the same his television partners did. That goes for his two other siblings, as well. “Dad” was rarely, if ever, said in the Packer household. Instead, the legendary broadcaster was called by his first name.
“The fact they called him Billy on television, we never called him dad,” said Mark. “We just called him Billy.”
As you can imagine, ‘Billy’ had a lot of stories. That’s normally the case when you’re around the game’s greatest players and broadcast the legendary games we still talk about today. Packer was always quick to share those stories with his family, which made for an entertaining childhood.
Out of the hundreds of messages Mark has received since his dad’s passing, he says he hasn’t heard any stories he’s never heard before. But that doesn’t mean people haven’t been telling him stories about his father.
“We’ve heard them all, quite frankly,” laughed Mark. “Maybe the thing that was so funny about it was that it reinforced some that we thought were total BS when we heard them the first time.”
Packer will always be synonymous with college basketball and the NCAA Tournament. He was the voice of the sport during its golden era and helped bring the magic to TV sets across the world. If Mark had to guess what his dad is most proud of regarding his broadcasting career, he says it would be just that.
“From a broadcasting standpoint, probably the Final Fours,” said Mark. “When you, I think the number was 34 I heard, and he did so many of them, for us, we kind of took it for granted. It was just something he did. It was March and Billy is about to go do March Madness. It was just fabric for not only him personally, but also the family. He just loved the sport and wanted it to be good.”
Mark has carved out an incredible broadcasting career of his own. He’s hosted both radio and TV shows with outlets such as the ACC Network, WFNZ in Charlotte, and ESPNU. Having a front row seat to one of the most iconic careers in broadcasting, undoubtedly helped shape his career. Mark is very forthcoming as to what lesson he took from his dad the most.
“Oh, that’s easy,” Mark said. “That’s prep. He always studied. He was always coming up with notes and angles and facts. I have always done that with the radio and TV shows, that you constantly prep, you constantly read and make notes. You may not use but 10 percent of whatever you’ve been studying, but somewhere down the road you’ll use it again.
“When we were cleaning out his closet I ran into an entire box of old notes that he had from games from yesteryear. I kept every one of them and I can’t wait to look at them and relive those games and see his prep work and point of detail for all those games.”
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.