My background in this industry, the on-camera side of things at least, is all from the school of life and practical experience. I never majored in journalism at University, and outside of a part-time sports broadcasting course taught by two local TV anchors in Vancouver, I’ve never been to school for the journalism and on camera presentation aspect of the business.
My history is largely technical. I went to school for Broadcast Television at BCIT, learned all the technical aspects of production such as planning, audio, lighting, cameras and other more technical elements. My goal was to be a Television Director, which I was for about 5 years before play-by-play got its hold on me.
So when I was having difficulty with delivering all the information I wanted to in a logical and consistent fashion, it’s no surprise I went back to my routes and created myself a rundown. In television vernacular, a ‘run-down’ is a list of elements in a broadcast, what they are, how long they run from and where they are played from. An example might be:
The above image is a bit complicated for sportscaster use, it’s designed for a newscast. But from left to right it tells the director what element they are on, what it’s called, what type of element it is (whether it’s live, pre-recorded or a combination of both), who’s speaking to it (ie: which news anchor) and how long both it runs, and where the show is at in terms of overall time.
For me, I needed something like this. I found going into a broadcast with just a broad range of notes that I was blurting out at random times and the overall ‘game story’ failed to evolve during the show or surface at all in some cases. So I created myself a rundown sheet to keep me on track. It’s far from the most complicated or complete thing out there, but it made an instant difference in the way that I delivered my pre-game shows. All of a sudden I was able to plan out my game notes, select what information I’d place in where and deliver it in order and consistently from broadcast to broadcast.
In the above sheet, you can see that I have space at the top for the initial comment, a key game story that summarises the next 3 hours in one sentence. Is this a battle of the top two teams? Does this have the potential to shape up as a shootout between two high powered offenses? A one liner that can hook an audience in. I then breakdown my off-ice content, who I’m interviewing and what we’re discussing. Following that I go into a brief statistical analysis of all the key numbers like record, special teams and leading scorer.
From there, my game notes take over. I use the space to order and select what I want to use and I often round things out by speaking about something that relates to my first coaches interview and the first question I ask. For example, if I ask a coach about the last game his team played, and the team went 4/6 on the powerplay, my last topic in the talking points section might be the team’s powerplay numbers and how that might factor into the game.
I hope this helps anyone else in a similar position. I’m very bad at remembering all of my notes, I have to have them written down. Not so that I can read off them, rather for me to be prompted. Cold calling my brain is not a technique that has worked for me in the past, but a short prompt and glance down at a sheet often steers me in the right direction. This rundown does just that. It’s not something I read off, but something that steers my broadcast and makes sure it has purpose and direction, and isn’t just a rudderless ship until play begins.