A little while ago, Alex talked about the differences between broadcasting a game solo versus having a go with a partner. Sometimes, the most difficult thing in being a broadcaster is communicating with a teammate who is only six-inches off your shoulder. With a hot mic in your face, our words are curated to the action of the game and as far as talking to our color analyst regarding the broadcast, we’re left to find different and non-verbal ways of speaking. So if you don’t have a color analyst often or are welcoming a new partner into the booth with your this season, here are some tips on making things run smoother in the voice so your broadcast can be as professional as possible.
Communicating Early and Often, Is Key
Don’t wait until 20 minutes before kickoff, puck-drop, first pitch, tip-off, etc. to talk to each other about the storylines of the game. Every broadcast is a story, and if you and your analyst have different ideas as to how the tale will get told, it makes for a disjointed broadcast and can really cause verbal “stepping on feet” in the booth. Try to get together earlier in the week to discuss the plan for the upcoming game, or at the very least have an email exchange to hammer home the production points, storylines, and hot button issues that you want to discuss or avoid.
Discuss a Non-Verbal Communication Method
Some people like to write things down and slide the note across the table to convey a message off-air. Other teams prefer to look at each other and play a game of charades that both parties understand. Then there are broadcasting tandems who communicate by touch with shoulder taps and other attention-getting motions. For me, I’m not the type that likes to look away from the action so I dislike written notes and having to look at my analyst while she/he makes hand motions. I prefer the touch method. Before games, and in email chains during the week, I talk to my analysts and let them know that if they have something to add during gameplay to just put their hand on my shoulder for a two-Mississippi. This lets me know that during the next break in the action, or slow point, to change my the cadence of my call so that it clearly spells out a verbal passing-of-the-torch and my analyst knows it’s their time to take the stage. Whichever method you choose, find one that works for both of you and stick to it.
This Is Your Broadcast, Don’t Be Afraid to Be Number One
For most of us, we don’t have TV Trucks, producers, directors, and a whole team of professionals guiding us where to go. As lower-level broadcasters, we have to wear all of those hats while calling the game. Don’t be afraid to remind your color analyst that you’re the director of this show and you’re running point. This isn’t a license to be a mic-hog and prevent the analyst from doing their job, but in a situation where time is of the essence and a quick decision needs to be made, it’s ten times easier when everyone knows their role.
Use your Media Timeouts Wisely
One of the most underutilized tools a broadcaster has in his arsenal is the media timeout. When we’re calling a game solo it’s the perfect time to reflect on the action since the last break, catchup on stats, and figure out storylines going forward. So how about with a broadcast partner? THE EXACT SAME. Don’t just turn off the mics, rest the headset on the table and banter about the great save the goalie just made or that moonshot that the star right-fielder just launched. While they were great moments in the game, unless they tend to the overall storyline, they’re useless. Use this break in the action to get on the same page as your analyst, talk about some instances where you talked over one another and how you can avoid it, or mention new and developing storylines that the game is laying out in front of you. The media timeout should be a micro-meeting of the minds and nothing more. Save the fanatic talk until after the final whistle.
Bottom line, whether you have a color analyst for one game a season or all of them, it’s a partnership and communication is key. Not only do you need to communicate during the call when the mics are on, but verifying as much as you can hours or even days in advance will only boost your broadcast that much more.