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Q&A; with Bob Lorenz

Primary Sportscaster & Studio Host YES Network

An Inside Look at Being a Veteran Sportscaster & Sports Reporter

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In 1997 I was a young video editor at CNN/Sports Illustrated learning the ropes and trying hard not to make any brutal mistakes. My assignment one January night was to edit the Rose Bowl game between Arizona St. and Ohio St. to settle the National Championship. I was both excited and really nervous.

The game ran late and our broadcast had already started, meaning our Sportscaster Bob Lorenz was on set and didn’t see the end of the game first-hand. I feared he’d be confused at what was a peculiar ending to the game, stumble on air, and it would be my fault. I finished the highlights and my partner Brad Como sprinted out to the set and handed Lorenz the script, just as the video started to roll. He nailed it. Cold. As if he had seen the game ten times.

Brad and I sat there in awe, two young video editors just starting our careers in Sports TV, watching an expert at his craft. Afterwards, Lorenz made the effort to come up to Brad and I and let us know how great of a job WE did. I just sat there dumbfounded. This was a man who worked years at perfecting his craft, a true professional, and it showed.

When did you decide to pursue a career in Sports TV?

Bob Lorenz: 11th grade.  My buddy Mike and I, between football and baseball season, would take his portable Sony tape deck to basketball games and do play by play and color, and we’d walk around and interview our friends in the stands.  That planted the seed.

Bob Lorenz’s Sports TV “Stats”

bob lorenz sportscaster yes networkEducation: University of Southern California

Production Jobs held: Cameraman, Video Editor, Sports Director, Sports Reporter, Sportscaster

Stations: KIEM-TV3 (Eureka, Ca), WPTV (West Palm Beach, Fl) CNN Sports (Atlanta, GA) TBS & TNT Sports (Atlanta, GA), YES Network (Stamford, CT)

Best piece of advice:. Learn and do as much as you can in the world of Sports TV…HANDS ON.  If someone asks you to help pull a cable, pull it.  Get coffee?  Get it.  Try working a studio camera?  Try it.  Help put together a rundown?  Help.  Run the network?  Run it!  Because the more you do, the bigger edge you have over the guy or girl sitting next to you.

Follow Bob Lorenz on Twitterfollow Sportscaster Bob Lorenz YES Network on twitter

What was it about a career in Sports TV that originally lured you?

Lorenz: I loved the immediacy of it, even though some of the 1st on-camera things I did were taped, they were sort of "live to tape", and I loved the challenge of trying to get it right in one take.  Still do.

Did you always know you wanted to be on-camera?

Lorenz: Yes.  I knew there could be other opportunities behind the camera, but I made it a point midway through my college career to get as much on-air experience as I could.  An internship I had while at USC offered me the opportunity to do a lot of on-camera work, and I built a resume tape out of it.

Why on-camera?

Lorenz: Well, certainly I knew it was an avenue to get paid well, IF I did it well, so I worked hard at it.  I guess I prefer on-camera because I love the responsibility of being the "last line of defense", so to speak, about what goes on the air.  What comes out of my mouth essentially represents the network I work for, and I take that seriously.

Where did you go to school and how much did it help you in your Sports TV career?

Lorenz: I graduated from USC with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.  While there, I had a full-time job with CBS Extravision, an early form of teletext news, sports, weather, etc.  I honed my broadcast writing skills there (and got paid).  I coupled that with an internship with the newly formed City of Torrance, CA, local cable channel.  They offered USC students a chance to do on-air work.  I did a wide range of shows from hosting their local elections to a magazine show, to doing play-by-play for a community college and high school in the area.

bob lorenz famous yes network sportscasterWhere did you land your first job in Sports TV?

Lorenz: First TV job at the NBC affiliate in Eureka, CA (KIEM-TV3)about Market 184 when I was there.  My buddy Mike, who was also a journalism major at USC with me, was called about the job, but he’d already accepted a news reporters job in Las Vegas.  So, he told the news director about me, I flew up for an interview, and BING!  I’ll never forget he made me ad-lib about a minute-long WEATHER forecast just to test my ability to ad-lib, have fun and think on my feet.  The job was for a one-man band Sports Director.  I shot and edited all my own video, and put together 4-minute sportscasts for the 6pm and 11pm news.

After your first few months did you know you made the right career choice, or were there concerns?

Lorenz: I knew I’d made the right choice, but I was making $800 a month to start! ($646 take home after taxes).  I was used to living in LA and making far more than that at CBS Extravision, and a brotha had bills to pay!

What is the most difficult thing about working in Television?

Lorenz: Sucking it up with the low wages would be one thing, but I think the hardest thing is being close to a job and not getting it, or should I say the "feeling" that goes with that, the rejection. You get more used to it, but for example, I flew to Boise, ID to interview for the #2 sports TV job, weekend guy, at a local station.  The Sports Director loved me, the News Director loved me, it was a layup…but the station GM said just looking at me, that "he looks like a junior banker or executive."  I’d worn a gray pinstriped suit that day with a white shirt and burgundy tie.  He may have been right, but my work spoke for itself.  However, he couldn’t get past my look that day.

fred hickman and bob lorenz at cnn/sports illustratedLorenz: What one has to remember at those moments of rejection is this:  sometimes the jobs you DON’T GET are a good thing.  I’d interviewed in Boise, Tri-Cities Washington, Bakersfield, Fresno, Norfolk VA, and even Cleveland.  Was a finalist for all, didn’t get any of ’em.  Then I got hired in West Palm Beach, FL, at the dominant #1 station in town, and from there I jumped to CNN.

Has working in television exceeded or fallen short of your expectations?

Lorenz: Exceeded.  I knew I’d work hard and have fun, but I’ve met some terrific people and made great friends along the way.  And I get paid to talk about baseball for a living, which I played all my life.  You’ll never hear me complain.

How has your career developed in titles, responsibilities and locations?

Lorenz: I went from Sports Director in Eureka (where I did everything), to Weekend Sportscaster in West Palm Beach (where I got to anchor and report), to late night/weekend Sportscaster at CNN Sports in 1991.   I almost immediately began breaking out of the studio to cover the MLB playoffs and World Series.  I went on to field host Super Bowls, Final Fours, World Series, and BCS title games.  I also went from straight sports news Sportscaster to hosting CNN’s specialty shows, including NFL, NCAA Football, NBA (both on CNN and TBS/TNT) and MLB.

What advice would you give someone looking to work on camera?

Lorenz: Get as many reps as you can.  I always tell folks, a player’s better if he takes 500 swings instead of 50, and 5,000 instead of 500.   The same is true of on-air work.  You might start out feeling like your head is swirling, looking into a camera, trying to speak and read and think coherently, but you’ll get used to it, and get better at it, the more you do it.

What’s the most memorable Sports TV event you’ve been involved in covering?

Lorenz: I don’t have just one that stands out, but I’ll name a few :  World Series – Joe Carter’s Series-winning HR off Mitch Williams; the Braves’ miraculous rally vs. Pirates in NLCS Game 7…Sid Bream, Mr. Wheels, scoring the game-winning run; cc sabathia new york yankees Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear half-off and the ensuing melee; not only covering The Masters in 1990, but playing the course the Monday after (the following day, my son Tyler was born…that was a very good week!)

Favorite Athlete that you’ve interviewed?

Lorenz: I don’t like to play favorites but Arnold Palmer was first real name-brand I interviewed, and he was a true gentleman. Same with Jack Nicklaus, they made big impressions on me early in my career in West Palm Beach.  More recently, C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees, he’s a regular guy like you and me, who just happens to make $23 million a year.  And just about any analyst I’ve ever worked with.  I’ve been very lucky to work with great people.

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Photo Courtesies (from top to bottom): YES Network, File, CNN/SI, CNN/SI & AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

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