Working in radio full time is a dream come true for me and I am incredibly blessed. Over the years I have had the privilege of broadcasting many hundreds of high school football, basketball, baseball, and softball games in Colorado, Oregon, Idaho and Texas. I’ve also been fortunate to broadcast professional basketball on radio and TV. The past year has brought opportunities to broadcast high school sports in West Texas. I live Friday night lights ever day! I have been to all the famous Texas stadiums and then some. The one question that comes up the most – and it doesn’t matter where I am – is, “Do you have a catch phrase?” or “Can I hear your catch phrase?”
This has always struck me as odd. Out of anything I could be asked, that’s the main question? My answer is “No, I don’t have a signature catch phrase or sign off.” I want to be known for my quality play by play, not just a fake catch phrase. This is where I get up on my soap box. Remember, it’s the steak before the sizzle. It’s the game first. Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann hosted Sports Center on ESPN during the mid-1990’s. It was must see TV. Appointment television. They had fun and they used catch phrases. They were the best tandem ever. ESPN has some talented anchors today, but nobody is Dan and Keith. Even though they were funny and had the one liners, just watching them, you knew they put sports FIRST.
Sports is the foundation, and then build a few funny one liners and a catch phrase, if it’s organic. If I could give one piece of advice to young sportscasters it’s know the sports you cover inside and out first. Be an expert on the rules and terminology. Build your foundation first. I know it’s not as fun as sitting around with your buddies drinking PBR and thinking up catch phrases but it will pay off in the long run.
Over the years I have had the privilege of calling championship games at the Idaho Center in Boise. AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, (Yep, Jerry world), Ratliff Stadium in Odessa, TX. (Friday night lights) and Dell Diamond in Round Rock, TX – one of the premiere minor league baseball parks in the country. I wasn’t asked to call games at these amazing stadiums because I had a silly catch phrase….I built my foundation first. And I am still building my foundation, it never ends. I am still paying my dues. I guess the moral of the story is always be working on your craft, always building, then re-enforce your foundation and let the catch phrase come organically.
Editor’s Note: Jeff is Sportcaster Life’s newest contributor. Jeff has been in radio about twenty years total, as a Sports Director in Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and Texas. Currently Jeff is the Program Director/Sports Director for a three station cluster in West Texas.