The single most important thing a broadcaster can do is prepare. You’ll see it all the time in spotting charts and research on teams and histories. Important match-ups or niche stats gleaned from hours of online digging. But it also rings true to the tech side of your broadcast, in particular having broadcast backups for when things don’t pan out quite right.
Ask yourself these questions: If my mixer were to blow up 30 minutes before a game, how would I call that game? If the internet goes down in the building, how do I connect to the station? What happens if my headset doesn’t work?
It’s vital to have broadcast backups for these very situations, and 1000 other things that can go wrong on air. Connection drops on the internet happen frequently, and with more and more broadcasts being online only or online dependent, the ability to work around that is vital.
Equipment fails. It’s a fact. So having the ability to call a game even when the world around you is collapsing can be not only a great skill to have, but can make you look extremely professional to current and future job prospects.
While every broadcast setup is different, many have common elements. Your audio will likely go through a mixer, which then in turn either goes to a phone line or a computer. That line or computer then sends that information to a radio station or an online platform to deliver to an audience.
It’s important to ask yourself, what happens if one of these goes down? How do I troubleshoot each of these steps? What are my broadcast backups?
In many cases, your cell phone can be the answer. If your broadcast uses a phone line to the radio station, use your cell instead. Call the game directly into your cell, or connect your mixer to your phone using a third party device.
Is the internet down? See if your data plan can accommodate audio streaming for a few hours.
My broadcast backups included having an app on my phone. In my situation, we used the app Discord to deliver our signal back to the radio station. While I never had to use my phone, I always had the Discord app on standby and enough data on my plan to do a game if needed.
Being prepared technically is just as important as preparing your spotting boards or intermission/half-time content…if not more so.
If you can’t connect because you’ve had a major tech issue…no-one is going to hear your mind-blowing piece of research on a player. No-one is going to hear that great interview with a coach. And no-one is going to hear you.
Having broadcast backups IN PLACE and ready to fire can be the difference between on air and radio silence. Knowing they’re there gives you piece of mind and allows you to focus on the game and doing what sportscasters do best….tell stories.