What makes a good broadcaster?

Often it's easier to answer the opposite question: What do we dislike about broadcasters?

3 Kinds of broadcasting statements

Value added (good)

Value added statements teach the listener something they don’t know about the player, the sport or the venue. They add value to the experience of consuming a game.

They are quite rare.

Listen to:
Keith Jackson
John McEnroe
Vin Scully

General (neutral)

General statements are the most common. They describe the action, tell a story and generally inform.

An announcer who has a day of all neutral statements has called a great game.

Listen to:
Al Michaels
Jim Nantz
Mike Tirico

Mind numbing (bad)

Mind numbing statements make listeners teeth rattle just before they change the channel.

Sadly, these are too frequent in sports.

Listen to:
Dan Dierdorf
Phil Simms

5 Types of mind numbing statements

  • Mistakes and factual errors
    Statements as fact that are just flat out wrong. Nothing irks a listener as much. This includes mispronouncing a person’s name, giving a wrong score or misrepresenting what’s happening in the game. Listeners will forgive a casual slip of the tongue (It’s 6 to 3, excuse me, 7 to 3.) But, we won’t forgive more than a few of those per game.
  • Trite or cliche statements
    You know them when you hear them. They make you yawn or worse.

    "They gave it 110 percent"
    “… has a burning desire to get it done"
  • It's all about me statements
    "It's all about me, the announcer." No, it isn't. No one tuned into this game to hear you, unless you're the hall of fame color analyst. (But then, you're not at this camp are you?) As a play by play broadcaster, try not to make a listener regret that you're there!

    Don't talk about yourself is a good general rule.

    Here is high praise for an in-game broadcaster: "I didn't even notice them."

    If you want to be the center of the story, find another interest, or go to a sports skills camp.
  • Blabbing, babbling and nonsensical statements
    “That was some kind of play.”

    There is no reason to utter that sentence. It gives a listener zero information and is now, sadly, too common.

    Also, when asking a question, get to the question quickly. Try not to babble.

    Listen to any sports broadcast for something that makes no sense. It usually happens in the first 10 minutes and then, once you notice them, you'll notice them throughout the rest of it. It's often better to let the game play speak for itself than to speak when you really don't have anything to add.
  • Off-the-rails statements
    If a story can't be summed up quickly, it might lead to "off-the-rails" statements (similar to the nonsensical) of times when the story has to be interrupted so much that no one cares what happened in that story.

    Learn the cadence of various sports. Most have natural breaks when time will allow a quick story, but it's essential that you can tell any story succinctly.

    And, if it isn't about someone at the game (athletes, coaches, family members in attendance), it’s a safe bet the story may go off the rails. The job of the sportscaster is to describe the game in play or tell a useful story about the people involved in the contest itself. Anything else might go off the rails.
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