A sportscaster (anchor) is the face of the sportscast. The good sportscasters are articulate, have great hair, and look good on camera. The great sportscasters are true journalists who enjoy writing, are passionate about their subject matter and are prepared for anything.
As sportscaster Steve Berthiaume of ESPN explained to me recently,"There are two types of people I come across in this profession. The first type is the person who views this job as a genuine craft or vocation. It's a unique job with a specific skill set. That skill set needs to be observed, honed, practiced, studied and refined. It's a profession, a craft and should be treated as such; with the proper amount of focus, preparation and dedication to detail.
"The second type, is the person who simply wants to be on television," says the host of ESPN's Baseball Tonight, "they are pleased just to see their faces on the screen and have cameras pointed at them, whether it's doing sports, news, entertainment, traffic reports, whatever. It would seem to make little difference to them to be hosting a game show or playing a villain on a soap opera; they're on television - mission accomplished. My advice to young people is simple: Be that first person. Never consider being the second."
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Almost every sportscaster starts their career in a small market and has to climb the 'market ladder'. Not everyone has the stomach to start their career in Zanesville, Ohio (Designated Market Area #203) then slowly move up to Jonesboro, AK (#181) then Augusta, GA (#114) and finally reach a top 100 market… in Fresno, CA (#55). It takes time, confidence and hard work. Berthiaume himself started in Charlottesville, Virginia which as the time was ranked as the 197th market out of 210.
So what gets an sportscaster from Billings, MT (#169) to Las Vegas (#42)? Personality, knowledge and perseverance. Having the personality to connect with an audience on a human level is what sets sportscasters apart, but without knowledge and credibility, charisma means very little. The audience is smart, they'll see right through a sportscaster who doesn't know what they are talking about.
Becoming a sportscaster is a high risk/high reward career choice, the ability to persevere through setbacks and maneuver a career through multiple markets is essential to success.
You have a natural charisma, enjoy writing and can focus even in the face of chaos and distractions. The underappreciated part of being a sportscaster is the vulnerability. If a sportscaster makes a mistake, everyone sees it. Bob Lorenz of the YES Network describes it as being "...the last line of defense. Even when things are chaotic, if I keep my cool and focus on my task, I can make things look effortless. And I love that."
I have seen sportscasters crack under the pressure or turn one simple mistake into a very big one. The finest sportscasters make it look easy. Being a sportscaster is not easy and it is not always glamorous.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the job market for many sportscaster jobs is highly competitive, particularly in large metropolitan areas. There are a large number of jobseekers attracted by the glamour of this industry, but you can make your big break if you are truly passionate.
If you have zero experience, try volunteering or interning at a College or a local TV station. Make friends with the Director because they may allow you to jump on set when there is down-time in the production schedule. This practice is invaluable and will ultimately lead to the creation of your demo reel. You should also find a sportscaster mentor, and absorb as much information as possible. Lastly, consider a career as a video editor or production assistant before trying your hand as a sportscaster. And above all, be humble along the way.
Top Photo Courtesy: ESPN Media Zone