Sports Radio Imaging Voice Overs
I enjoy all the major sports, but baseball is my favorite.
I think that stems from the fact that my father played, for a short time, in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. After high school…and before he joined the service at the time of the Korean War…he had already established himself as a sought-after catcher. Had he advanced to ‘the show’, things might have been somewhat different in my upbringing. However, getting to ‘the bigs’ wasn’t part of the plan.
What he did instill in us, though, was the importance of sports. My brothers and I played all of the major sports, both organizational and as pick-up games. We also played for the Catholic schools that we attended.
While I had a series of favorite teams as a youngster, it didn’t take long for me to adopt an allegiance to Cleveland sports teams. I learned early on what would later be the gnawing, sad reality of being a Cleveland sports fan. But what I also discovered is that it took humility, patience, and, most importantly, guts to be a Cleveland sports fan. You had to have passion, if you were going to overcome the immense amount of heartache that seemed to dominate just about every aspect of Cleveland sports team.
This passion and energy, I believe, served me well when I became enamored with formats that weren’t specifically focused entirely on ‘music’. Up until that time, Sports and News had been imaged in a pretty conservative fashion. There were orchestras that made up the bulk of the music beds that were used underneath promos and within game-broadcasts. One of my early jobs was running the board during Ohio State football games and Cleveland Indians baseball games at stations like WHBC-AM in Canton, Ohio. The presentation was rigid, with a deep-voiced male enunciating the day’s contest and extolling the virtues of experiencing that game on ‘HBC.
But the folks at Jacor Communications changed all that. In the late-90’s, I had come back from working in Knoxville and had interviewed at a Jacor station in Columbus, Ohio for a Creative Services position. I would be responsible for constructing on-air promo material for use on the group’s heritage news-talk station and on their accompanying sports station.
Before I left to drive the two hours back to Akron, the program director gave me a cassette tape and told me to listen to what some of the other Jacor stations were doing with ‘spoken word’ formats. “I want us to sound like that,” he said.
That cassette tape changed my life.
Gone was the perfunctory baritone voice. To the trash-bin were the normally staid orchestral music-pieces. The presentation was young-sounding, funny, irreverent, and sometimes a bit crude, all performed on top of heavy-metal music riffs. It made something as traditional as a baseball play-by-play broadcast sound like a rock station. And I loved it!
There is very little room for middle-ground in sports, and the folks at Jacor understood this. Passions are high. Tempers can be easily un-earthed. A team is either legendary or they’re pathetic. A player is either an icon or he is a bum. Your team sucks, and my team does not.
So, in being a part of this epic format, I, as a voice-talent, try to keep all of these things in mind. It’s easy for me to be conversant in the format, because I was, essentially, ‘raised’ in the format, from my father, at an early age. And my die-hard dedication to my teams makes it infinitely easy to understand someone else’s dedication to their teams. (even if they are a Steelers fan!) J
And I get the vernacular of the format, because I get the vernacular of sports! I understand the lead-up to what an Ohio State-Michigan game represents. I know why playoff-hockey just feels different than the regular season. And I sense the depth of humiliating defeat because my teams have suffered so many of them throughout my years growing up.
So, when I have a chance to voice these promos (and even sometimes write them!), I put myself in the same place as those fans and I understand what they’re feeling. I know what it’s like to wake up on the morning of a big game where your team’s season is on the line.
Sports is about drama. It’s the drama of facing off against a foe whom is supposed to beat you, and you dig down and tap a reserve that you didn’t know you had. This pageantry plays itself out every day in this format, and it’s a pageantry that is a unique part of our American lifestyle, a unique part of my lifestyle.
Being able to help stations reach their intended goal within this Sports format is something that I look forward to every day. And it’s my wish that I would get the chance to explore it all with YOUR station.