Every broadcast should start with one, and every broadcast should end with one. It’s not a whistle, or a buzzer or a gun….it’s a ‘show’, a pre or post-game show.
Life reader @jayramadan17 tweeted at us recently to ask about any tips or advice we had for getting the most from pre and post-game shows on your broadcast.
@sportscastlife what are some tips you’d give on doing pregame and post game shows?
— The Journeyman (@jayramadan17) October 7, 2016
This is an area that I am admittedly weak on. I’ve written before on formatting a show and how I tried to rectify some weak areas for me. Through my five years in Powell River calling Junior A hockey, I could never find a pre or post-game format that I really liked. I’d often get into a game and realised that I’d left out some key information, or gotten off the air from a post-game interview and remembering a question or key event that I wanted to cover that got left out. All I can imagine is fans at home tuning in for that specific bit of information and leaving unsatisfied.
Regardless, it’s an area of sportscasting that I played around a lot with and here are some thoughts on each, because they are crucial parts to any complete broadcast.
Without playing the obvious card too early, the focus of this should be on what’s about to happen. What is the key storyline going into this matchup? Why does it matter? Are there any subplots such as individual or team milestones that could be met today? Are there any key personnel that listeners should look out for? Everything should be presented in almost a countdown mode so that the fan is ‘amped’ by the time the start of the game occurs.
In terms of a pre-game show format I like to try and do the following:
- Initial welcome and the key stat – I always opened up my broadcasts with an interesting tidbit. It could be how many days since these two teams last met, or a win or losing streak for both teams. It could be the day of the game as well. I opened up one game by saying something to the effect of “It’s a dark and spooky night, Halloween in Powell River as the Kings get set to fittingly take on the Nanaimo Clippers decked out in their orange and black uniforms.” Hardly a groundbreaking statistic, but it was unique to that game, that opponent and drew audiences in better I think that just a “good evening and welcome”
- After a short pre-amble introducing myself and the broadcast, I’d do a couple of sentences on the game ahead. The matchup, a short stat (ie: 3rd game of the season series) and the puck drop time. All the vital info for fans if they only listened to the start of the pre-game show. I’d also run down what was on my broadcast that night, covering pre-game and intermission interviews.
- Despite the pre-game being about looking ahead, it’s important to give context. Look at how we got here. For me this often involved a look back at the previous game (handy for multi-game weekends) and playing a quick highlight. Being able to say “Team won 3-2 last night to stretch their streak to 6” gives context to the importance of the current game and doesn’t leave fans out in the dark if they missed some action.
- From here on out it’s all looking ahead to puck drop. I would often write myself a one-page of notes for the game ahead, key points that I wanted to get out. This is where your prep comes into play, not your player info unless there’s a reason to bring it up, but your team and situational stats. Is there a mismatch on special teams (or between offence rankings and defence rankings)? Is one team hot and the other cold? This is where you get to compare and contrast and really set the scene.
- At this point I’m usually about 5-6 minutes into my pre-game show and it’s time for someone else to talk other than me. I’d throw to a coaches interview, my team first, then the opposition. Each interview ranged from 3-5 minutes each which took me to about 2-5 minutes before the start of the game.
- With the remaining time, I’d recap my key storyline for the game, recap the meaning of the game and one thing to look for. You could do this in a keys to the game style or do a ‘reset’ of sorts that you’ll see news broadcasts do at the bottom of the hour. What are your top headlines? This is for the benefit of those tuning in for a 7pm game that turn on a few minutes early…they didn’t hear your stuff at 6:45.
- I also liked to try and squeeze a quick league scene setter as well. Other games and news from around the league, no more than 30 seconds.
That was my pre-game show for the most part. I played around with different features and formats. I went down to one interview for a while and included a tale of the tape which was essentially comparing key stats from the two teams, like you’d see ahead of a boxing match. I found this a little dry for my style, but it may work better with someone else. I pinched the idea from a broadcaster who I respect quite a bit, Les Lazukuk with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. It works for him, but I never felt comfortable with it.
Post Game Shows
This is where I really struggled as a broadcaster. My memory for what happens in a game is awful, so unless I took notes throughout the course of a game, I was hooped when it came time to recap it. I got better as time went on, but still not to a point where I was happy. That being said, the format of my post-game show never really waivered:
- Scoring summary and game recap. Go through goal by goal, scoring play by scoring play and recap the game. This should take you 1-3 minutes depending on the volume of offence in your game. A fan tuning in at 9:45 should be able to get a good handle on what happened from a game that started at 7:00 from listening to your recap. Scoring plays, key moments, run through what just happened.
- The coaching staff and players I worked with were always pretty good so I never had to wait very long for them to show up to the press box. Once I saw them I would often take a break so that I could set them up and a camera to record the video of the interview, and then come back with a clean entry point for editing. A short 30 second break provides a nice buffer if you can do it and prevents the awkward “oh just waiting for them to get the headset on”. The post-game interview is the crown jewel of the post-game show and should be most of the show. I tried not to recap every goal because I’d just done that myself, but instead focus on a few key moments and ask maybe 4-5 questions on the game itself before moving ahead. Much like your pre-game show is the transition from the last game to current, the post-game show transitions from current to next during this interview. The final 2-3 questions would be on the upcoming game or series ahead, what to expect, week ahead in practice, things like that.
- From there you can either bail on your broadcast and end it or pad things out more. Another quick scoring recap (10-20 seconds tops), out of town scoreboard with a focus on divisional teams, describe the impact of this game and those ones (valuable late in the season), standings update, milestone update (if applicable) and all these things. How did today’s game impact everything you bought up in the pre-game show?
- Preview and promo the next game.
- Sign off.
The post-game show for me was taken care of by the coach and/or player. I’d just talked near non-stop for almost 3 hours and I’m certain audiences didn’t want to hear from me anymore. So if I can bring in another voice to steer the final 10-15 minutes then it becomes more impactful I believe.
That’s about it for my take on pre and post-game shows. They are an information and promotional delivery vehicle used to build hype and educate an audience ahead of either this game or the next. Some of my best quotes and sound bites came from post-game interviews where emotions are still running high and it’s some of the most fun you can have on air.
Use the time effectively and make sure all your information has a purpose. If you’re on air 15 minutes before a game, have 15 minutes worth of content. There’s nothing worse that a pre-game show stalling for time…if that’s the case then why did you go on air when you did? Plan, check and re-check.