Sportscasters are faced with a number of very important, bordering on critical choices for a broadcast. Are you a blue pen or a black pen caller? Do you go with a striped tie or maybe solid colour? And the topic of this post, do you go a headset or a stick microphone as your primary broadcast instrument?
For many, this is a no brainer. The headset, particularly in North America, has ingrained itself into the sports broadcasting tool kit. It’s one of the biggest investments you can make for your call, and is the first thing I pack when heading out on the road. However it’s not the only way to go, and in other parts of the world, and some darker corners of North America, the stick microphone is one that reigns supreme.
Paul Wheeler (left) is a good friend of mine. He’s a hockey writer for several websites including Stanley Cup of Chowder and is also a broadcaster for hockey in Britain and has covered a wide range of teams and leagues in recent years. He, like a lot of Europeans is an advocate for the stick mic and uses it in his broadcasts. He and I went back and forth via email to compile some questions and his answers of the use and popularity of the stick mic in his corner of the world.
Can you go over stick mic technique? How do you speak into it properly with correct spacing from the mouth, etc?
This is actually something I’ve still not quite managed to nail down. I usually just hold it comfortably, almost as if I’m singing into it. If you’re REALLY lucky, you’ll have one of the much older stick mics that you see on British football commentaries, that have a “lip” attached so you hold that touching your face and the mic is the correct distance away. Trying to stop your hands wandering (particular when you talk with them, like me) is one of the things I find hardest, too. Good technique is something that comes with time, and I’m still learning after a good few years. Doing interviews with them is tricky too, particularly on TV – they can’t be fully in the shot but they need to pick sound up, too. Usually if you hold them as if singing, though, it tends to be the best thing…at least for me, anyway.
studio panelists/PBP guys take interviews as well as simply call games. Me, though…I’m a traditionalist. I like standing there with a mic in my hand still.