five years ago people would have to either attend a sporting
event or read the newspaper to find out about the results of
baseballand football games, tennis and boxing matches, horse
and boat races or other sports activities.
the year that brought sporting events to the ears of the
people through spark transmitters, code, and the converted
telephone (the microphone of today). A year later, in 1921,
the first popular priced home radio receiver was produced by
Westinghouse for about $60.00, not including head sets or
loud speakers. Thus, radio promoted the popularity of sports
as the audience could be in their homes and share in the
thrills of a game.
5th, 1921, radio's first professional baseball game was sent
over the air waves by the country's first radio station,
KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA. Harold Arlin described the
play-by-play contest of 7 walks and 21 hits from the field
to the broadcasting station. For one hour and fifty-seven
minutes the radio audience listened to Harold Arlin use his
eyes, ears, brain, a wireless telegraph and a converted
telephone to recount the defeat of the Philadelphia Pirates
(8 to 5) by the National League Pittsburgh Corsairs.
also the first man to broadcast a tennis match and give
first play-by-play account of a football game (University of
West Virginia and University of Pittsburgh). As a result of
Arlin yelling so loudly on one touchdown, he knocked the
station off the air.
1920's there were only written descriptions of the games.
But with the beginning of radio, the sports broadcaster made
the game come alive by painting pictures with words and also
using props for sound effects. A hollow block of wood tapped
with a stick or a pencil was used for the sound of a bat
hitting the ball, the placement of a microphone near an open
window where a group of extras were hired to cheer and shout
upon signal, or the use of a canned sound track of cheering,
with the broadcaster adjusting the volume for effect,
reached the listeners who were miles away. It made the
audience feel that they were at the event.
sports broadcaster was and is like an artist or poet. On TV
a sportscaster with his/her commentary provides the captions
for the picture. But on radio the sportscaster has to make
the listener see with their mind's eye. It becomes a canvas
and it is a challenge to the sportscaster to paint the
picture with words of the action that he is viewing. The
listener puts his own brush strokes on this painting by
bringing their experience and imagination into play, thus
completing the picture.
broadcasters have always preferred radio. For many people,
long after the details of a game are forgotten, the voices
and phrases of the broadcaster are remembered; the Mel
Allens, Red Barbers, Jack Brickhouses, Don Dunphys, Graham
McNamees, Bill Sterns, Harry Carays, Russ Hodges, Vin
Scullys, Dizzy Deans, Phil Rizzutos, and many others who
brought the game alive. Who can forget the phrases of "Holy
Cow!", "They're Off!", "Going, Going, Gone!", "Say Hey!",
"How about that?", "How sweet it is!", "Oh my!", "Bye, bye
baby", and of course Rus Hodges' cry of "The Giants Win the
Pennant! The Giants Win the Penant!" after Bobby Thomson's
line drive into the lower deck of the left-field stands to
clinch the series for the Giants in 1951?
advent of radio a new career was born, that of the sports
broadcaster. Many young people would dream of becoming the
next Red Barber, Mel Allen, Vince Scully, etc.
Enberg, chairman of the board of the American Sportscasters
Association and an NBC broadcaster has advice for young
people on how to become a sportscaster.
by Dick Enberg, ASA Chairman of the Board and NBC Sportscaster
baseball broadcast on radio didn't last long. In the second
inning of a semipro game, one of the players fractured an
ankle while trying to break up a double play, and since the
team only had nine men in uniform, the game was called. The
forty fans jumped into their cars, Dick Enberg tried to say
good-bye gracefully, and the one-man band unhooked wires,
packed equipment and wondered if Red Barber really started
time, I was working my way through Central Michigan
University. The summer radio job paid one dollar an hour,
and my first baseball game netted me a total of two dollars,
including travel time.
this is a preface to the subject: How does on become a
sportscaster? I have received hundreds of letters from young
men and women who want to know how they should prepare
themselves for work in broadcasting sports. Obviously, there
is no set formula. And certainly, I can't recommend the
exact course that I took because I had never really planned
to make sportscasting my full-time livelihood (I prepared to
become a teacher, and taught and coached for four years at
Cal State University-Northridge before going into full-time
here are some guidelines. These are factors which seem, in
retrospect, to have been most fundamental in my career:
1. I have
been an avid sports fan all my life. I went to games, read
books, devoured sports pages, listened to broadcasts. If you
aren't an enthusiastic fan, you should probably consider
another occupation. This job is not particularly easy or as
glamorous as it might appear, and if you don't enjoy sports,
you would not only be unhappy, but you would also probably
offend those listeners who are sports zealots, and who are
received a college education - not, admittedly, with the
intention of becoming a sportscaster. But it has proven
invaluable. Broadcasting involves writing, informing,
entertaining, and educating, and you can't help but be
better qualified to meet the challenge with four years of
college education. An obvious major is communications,
radio-tv, or journalism, but often young people overlook the
importance of a physical education minor. If you wish to
become a well informed sportscaster, the P.E. training
offers important foundations for both major and minor
involved in broadcasting, I practiced constantly. A portable
tape recorder is an invaluable asset. Go to a little league
game, a high school or college game, and practice calling
the action. You can even practice at a major league game.
Sit in the upper deck (you may feel a bit conspicuous at
first) and start polishing your approach. I used to turn
down the TV sound and sharpen my play-by-play calls in my
own living room.
4. I was
willing to start at the bottom. I had no choice, of course,
but many people today seem unwilling to accept the fact that
a training program is helpful and that those experiences are
part of growing up. Just as most ball players need minor
league seasoning before coming to the majors, so it is with
broadcasters. This allows a young announcer to make mistakes
in front of the least critical audience, we all make them.
It's best to have honed your talent so as to make fewer and
fewer as you ascend toward larger markets.
listened, all my life, to sportscasters. As my interest in
the profession sharpened, I listened more critically. It
doesn't pay to totally copy someone's style, but being a
good listener, you can generally pick up a healthy set of
do's and don'ts. If you hear or see something that fits your
style, employ it.
is a true test of a sportscasters talent. And that's about
it. When you analyze it, the formula is about the same as it
would be for any endeavor; there just aren't many
substitutes for education experience, preparation, hard
work, and a real love for what you are doing. If you think
sportscasting might be your thing, I wish you luck. May it
be as richly rewarding for you as it has been for me.
American Sportscasters Association,