This past weekend, I had the opportunity to interact and pick the brain of some of the best sportscasters and sportswriters in the country. To Salisbury, North Carolina I went, a place I had neither been to before or even heard of.
The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) has been holding their annual awards weekend in Salisbury for decades. The people were very welcoming and excited for the all the guests that come in from out of town. This is their event of the year and they all put on a show.
My first night, we had a fantastic barbecue dinner at the old train station. It was a beautiful night and a local band even played on the patio.
After dinner, it was a night full of conversations with others who share a passion for sports broadcasting. As you could imagine, many beverages were consumed as the chatter continued late into the evening. I had the honor of talking with everyone from Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe to the sportscaster of the year from a smaller state.
The next day, most of the sportscasters and sportswriters of the year hit the golf course for a scramble. The young guns, like myself, remained in the Holiday Inn conference room for a seminar put on by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA).
And what a lineup of speakers we had.
- Wes Durham – Voice of the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Tech
- Chris Farrow – Coordinating Producer for ESPN (primarily college basketball)
- Jon Chelesnik – CEO of STAA
- Wyatt Thompson – Voice of Kansas State
- Tom Boman – Broadcast Manager at Learfield Sports
- Bill Roth – Voice of Virginia Tech
- Dan Shulman – MLB, NBA, and college basketball play-by-play on ESPN
- Bob Costas – one of the best of all time, Mr. Everything on NBC
All of the talented veterans in the broadcasting sector knew a ton and were eager to share.
One of the great things about the media field is that everyone needed assistance to get where they are now. They all recognize that guidance and support is needed and they enjoy returning the favor to the next generation.
My favorite line from the weekend came from our first speaker, Wes Durham. “Don’t misrepresent the privilege,” he stressed. That can work for a lot of other jobs as well, but especially in sportscasting. It truly is a privilege to get a front row view of a program and game so one must never forget that. There are thousands of people out there that would love the job and willing do it cheaper.
“Don’t misrepresent the privilege.”
In the public, online, while chatting with alumni or fans. Nowhere. Don’t ever forget that. I know I won’t.
The weekend was also about meeting and bouncing ideas off our peers. It’s important to learn from those that are already doing it, but I also have to be cognizant of talent my age that will be the broadcasters of tomorrow. The play-by-play guys all knew each other and most were good friends. They look forward to the annual weekend because it’s a time to share stories and ideas, but mostly give one another a hard time.
Monday night was the annual NSSA awards banquet where all of the winners were honored.
Dan Shulman and Joe Posnanski were named National Sportcaster and Sportswriter of the Year, respectively. Bob Costas and John Feinstein were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Every one of the winners was a great storyteller. That was a constant I saw all weekend. And something I must work on.
Shulman’s life story was incredible. He went to college to be an actuary, then graduated and realized his heart wasn’t in it. Posnanski told in-depth stories of his favorite moments on the job.
Though a bit long, every one of their speeches was interesting and kept my attention. And that’s not easy to do.
I am very thankful for the opportunity to attend the STAA conference and NSSA weekend festivities. Every successful media member was open to discussion and willing to provide useful tips. I hope to return again one day, as a winner, and full of experience and stories to share with a young group of broadcasters.
[Photo via NSSA]