Back, Back, Way Back…….Working As a Play-by-Play Announcer

Are you a sports nut? Do you watch any and every sporting event you can get your remote on? Are you one of those people who even enjoys a good lumberjack contest at 3:00 A.M.? You might also be the kind of person who likes to provide commentary right along with those pros on T.V. If this sounds like you, you may want to check out becoming a PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER. Just think, in 10 or 20 years your name might be in this list: Harry Caray, Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, Howard Cossell, Dick Vitale, John Madden, Bob Costas. Now that you have dreamed of that day, dive in and find out all you ever wanted to know about this profession.

Those interested in Play-By-Play Announcing have a variety of events from which to choose. There are those televised events that we often see such as baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis, and golf. However, the opportunities do not end there. Announcers are also used in boxing, horse-racing, billiards, ice-skating, extreme sports, swimming, track and field, and much more. Whether it be at the high school, college or professional level, if there is a sporting event, there is probably someone doing commentary for it.

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCERS broadcast sporting events so that the audience at home can experience them without actually being there. Radio PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCERS must paint pictures with words so that listeners are able to “see” what is going on. Television PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCERS have the job of enhancing what is being seen by the home-viewer. In order to accomplish such a task, an announcer must cover the event fairly and accurately, while keeping the audience entertained. He/she must make the game relevant to the listeners, and provide interesting information about those participating.

In addition to the duties of providing the play-by-play commentary, announcers may have to relay information about station programming, Public Service Announcements and commercials. These additional duties often come in the form of prepared scripts, but having to ad lib is nothing new to PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCERS. Some announcers might also have the chance to interview guests or make promotional appearances. It is not unheard of for PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCERS to operate the control board, monitor the transmitter, or do production work.

PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCERS should be, first and foremost, sports fans. Enjoying reading books and newspapers, watching television programs, and listening to radio shows about sporting events is a must. Beyond a love of sports, the person must be able to write informative, entertaining material that will educate the listener in the area of the event. Announcers should have well-controlled speaking voices, and the ability to use proper pronunciation and grammar. Being hardworking and diligent are also helpful qualities. Finally, knowledge about the production and editing of radio and television programs, along with engineering and electronics is essential in such a technologically oriented field.

Those wishing to pursue a career as a PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER are encouraged to obtain a college degree in Communications, Radio-Television, or Journalism. There are many universities throughout the country specializing in these areas. Getting a Physical Education minor is also recommended to build a solid foundation for working in the sports industry.

For further experience, individuals should look for internships with radio or television stations. Working on a high school or college station is also a good idea. These positions are usually readily available to those interested.

Salaries for PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCERS are usually low, with the exception of announcers at major networks, or stations in large markets. Pay is generally higher in television than radio, and at commercial rather than public broadcasting stations. Despite these differences, on average, an announcer of this type makes about $28,000 annually.

Employment for PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCERS is expected to decline through 2010 due to the lack of growth of new radio and television stations. Openings in this area will probably be created because people are leaving the field.

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