I’m not a big reader. Outside of keeping up with league and team news via websites and blogs, I don’t find much joy in it. When I do read, it’s always non-fiction and it’s usually a biography. Over the years I’ve been able to collect a fair number of sports broadcasting books, a few of which I’ve taken a lot away from. I’ve got a section on the blog for books with quickie reviews from Amazon, but I thought for this blog entry I would share three books that I got a lot out of, and why.
1. “The Art of Sportscasting” by Tom Hedrick
This one is as close to a how-to manual as you get in sports broadcasting. I’ve often found it interesting that there is such a volume and apparent demand for coaching books, but that same demand and volume doesn’t apply to the media side. With Tom Hedrick’s entry, you get a great look at so many facets of the industry. I’ve read through this a couple of times, once cover to cover then a few more picking and choosing my spots. The book is a great mix of career advice and personal stories and reads very much like an autobiography mixed with a college textbook.
In it you’ll find lots of information on spotting boards, player identificiation, prep techniques and much more. It covers more than play-by-play, delving into anchoring and talk radio hosting. I really enjoyed this read because it was one of the only books I could find when I was starting out that helped lay out the areas I should be working on as a broadcaster. It’s by no means the be all and end all, but it’s an excellent start for people wanting to devote more time and energy into improving what they do.
2. “The Voice” by Ray Warren
Ray Warren is an icon. And this entry in the list may not resonate with many out there, but if you have a chance to pick this one up I highly recommend it. Ray Warren is the voice of rugby league in Australia…the Foster Hewitt, Vin Scully and other equivilants whose voices are instantly linked to their chosen sports. While Warren’s career extended beyond rugby league, to cover swimming at the Olympics and other special events, he is considered the voice of the sport.
If you know Ray’s work, what you’ll get is a beautiful first hand account and several side stories and anecdotes that detail his rise to popularity, and how even now he shines away from the spotlight. For those unaware of Warren’s career, you still get an almost rags to riches story about how a kid from small town, country Australia started calling rolling marbles down his hallway and calling them as horses in order to practice being an announcer. It details his game day routines, his preparation habits and so much more. “The Voice” quickly lept to number 1 on my favourite sportscasting books list, nudging out the next entry on this trio.
3. “Cornered” by Ron MacLean
I’ve always said that Ron MacLean has the easiest job in Canadian broadcasting. He introduces Don Cherry, steers his (in futile attempts) chats in the somewhat right direction, then closes out the segment with a witty pun or ending line. Having said that, there is no doubt that Ron MacLean has had millions of Canadians grow up with him and he’s become as iconic with the sport and Hockey Night in Canada itself.
MacLean’s “Cornered” is in many ways like “The Voice” by Ray Warren. It’s a personal, first hand account of his rise through the ranks of Canadian broadcasting. It details run ins with players, his trek through small town and job to job before being flinged into the HNIC scene and an eventual partnership with Don Cherry.
The book reads incredibly well and it feels very much like Ron is telling you the story directly. It’s casual, it’s informal and it’s very easy to read. Even not being a fan of Don Cherry, I really enjoyed the tails between the two and the book showcased the hard work that Ron MacLean has done in order to get to where he is today.
That’s it. My three favourite sports broadcasting books that I easily read cover to cover and recommend to anyone that I come in contact with that has an interest in sports broadcasting.