Let’s Get Social!sports broadcasting jobs board

facebook like us button icon logo

Q&A with Play-by-Play Announcer Darren Goldwater

The Voice of College Football and Basketball on the SoCon Network

"You make your own luck" – Ernest Hemingway

While his friends were painting their faces and preparing to tailgate at Penn State football games, Darren Goldwater was working.

Job Category:

"I would show up an hour early and watch the game from the press box. Then I went into the locker rooms for postgame sound, rushed back to the [local sports radio] station to edit the sound and do the updates for the postgame show," reminisces Goldwater, currently the play by play voice of the SoCon Network. "I did everything they’d let me do and never said "no" to anything."

Going the extras mile helped Goldwater in his search for a job after college.

"About a month before I graduated from Penn State, Bob Martin, who’s the College of Communications Assistant Dean for Internships and Career Placement, suggested I go to the Baseball Winter Meetings to look for a job," says Goldwater. "In order to do that, he pointed out that I probably needed a play-by-play tape. We were in the middle of basketball season so they allowed me to call a State College High School basketball game. I was scared to death, but I had a blast.

With that one Basketball tape, I went to the Baseball Winter Meetings simply hoping to network with a bunch of GM’s to possibly get a job in another year or two. Somehow I ended up with two job offers. That was my first of many lucky breaks,"

Sorry Darren I think you’ve got it wrong and Hemingway had it right. Here’s more with the up-and-coming voice of the SoCon Network:

STVJ: What approach did you take in choosing internships while at Penn State?

Goldwater: I took every internship I could find with TV stations in State College and I worked for a local sports radio station for three years. SoCon network football play by play announcer darren goldwaterI covered everything from field hockey to football and was the update anchor for one of the local Penn State football postgame shows and some high school football halftime shows.

I did everything I could get my hands on. I worked at the student-run radio station simply reading the AP Wire news and I spent a semester at Beaver 103 as an overnight DJ (I know nothing about music by the way, just another way to get on the air). I learned from some great photogs, anchors and reporters and they all let me get hands-on experience in all aspects of TV news. But the most important job was obviously the job in sports radio.

It’s funny, when applying for jobs after college, I’ve never been asked what my GPA was in college, but I’ve always had to provide a resume and resume tape to show my experience. I tell every college student the same thing; whether they’re interested in TV, radio or print…whatever it takes, get experience. It will prove invaluable.

STVJ: Landing play-by-play jobs can’t be easy, any advice for aspiring play-by-play announcers?

Goldwater: Work hard, have patience, and be your own worst critic. All your friends and family will tell you how great you are and ask when you’re going to be on ESPN, it’s not that easy.

To this day, I still watch and critique every broadcast looking for ways to improve. It used to be that I’d have a list of two or three things per broadcast to work on (I didn’t want too much on my mind at once).

Once I improved those few aspects, I went on to the next things that annoyed me about my broadcasts. That lasted a few years. Now it’s more about consistency. When the gap between the broadcasts that felt great and those that felt horrible begins to close, or better yet, when there is no difference, that’s when you can really start to gain confidence. But it takes a while and doesn’t happen overnight (or in a year or two!)

STVJ: You’ve done play-by-play on radio and television, what are the major differences in each performance?

Goldwater: The obvious difference is that you’ll say a lot more in radio. I got great advice early on in radio, "pretend all of your listeners are blind, because they are! You are the only way they can see the action, so paint the picture." I learned not to say too much though…it’s easy to spend three hours on radio and never take a breath as you try to say everything that’s going on and describe what everything looks like.

Be sure to pause, take a breath, let the game breathe…it’s as important in radio as it is in television. If you’re talking too much, that action gets lost and listeners can’t follow a thing.

In television, the play-by-play has to complement the picture, not paint it. The conversation with the color analyst is just that, an ongoing conversation. But in the end, it’s just another game, so have fun calling it. The biggest difference, and my favorite part of TV, is the support staff for a television game. Producers, directors, audio guys, graphics, tape, replay, etc.

I’d tell younger guys and gals to trust the support staff…working well together produces a final product that will far exceed anything you can do by yourself.

STVJ: Take us through your basic preparation leading up to game day.

Goldwater: It really depends on the sport, but the bottom line is preparation is everything in this business. You’re either prepared or you’re not, there’s no grey area. I’ll be the first to admit, I probably spend too much time preparing for each game. I’ll use maybe 50% of the information on my chart for each broadcast…but I’d rather it that way than the alternative of being under-prepared.

Football is tough…it’s a week of prep for one, or in my case two games. The reason it takes longer is simple, you’ve got a two-deep chart for two teams with offense, defense and special teams…by kickoff, you have to be prepared for about 100 different players.

Basketball normally takes a day or two of prep per game. Everyone has their own formula, but regardless of the sport, I lay in the starters and backups to create a shell for my chart. Then I’ll research the team as a whole and each individual player and decide what bits of information make it onto my chart. The last thing I add to the chart are the stats.

Finally, I’ll watch video of each team to get familiar with what the players look like as I try to learn names/numbers, etc. To be honest, the part of the preparation that helps the most, more than stats or player bios or game notes, are the conversations with coaches and the radio broadcasters for each team. That’s where you’ll find out what’s really going on and find some really cool personal stories to add into the broadcast.

Keep in mind, a spotting chart is used as a safety net, something to easily glance down at when time allows in order to add some extra nugget of information into the broadcast. But if you rely on the chart for all the information during a game, you’re dead…like I said before, there’s no grey area, you’re either ready to call the game or you’re not.

STVJ: Ok now it’s game day, let’s say you’re calling a 1pm college football game, what is your schedule like for the day?

Goldwater: I’m a routine guy, just ask my wife! Wake up, eat breakfast, get in a good workout, briefly look over my charts and notes, shower, then head to the stadium. I’m always there no later than two hours before the start, and the routine almost never changes, regardless of game time or sport.

STVJ: Any horror stories from the booth?

Goldwater: How graphic do you want me to be? Two years ago in Statesboro, GA for a Citadel hoops game at Georgia Southern, I ate a slice of pizza in the media area before the game. By halftime I was sweating and nauseous figuring there was no way I could finish the game. I’d had food poisoning before and knew I had it again. Somehow I managed to make it through, finished up the postgame interview, packed up the equipment and made it to the parking lot…After holding back for two hours, I finally let it all come out and it felt GREAT!socon network play by play voice darren goldwater

Problem was, the force of throwing up ripped my esophagus.

I later threw up blood, eventually 4 pints (about half of what the average person has in their body) and ended up in a Savannah hospital. A late night emergency endoscopy to fix the tear, a night in the ICU and four total nights in the hospital later, I finally made it home. I missed two games in the process, but worse than that, my wife had planned a huge surprise birthday party for me (my birthday was three days after the game)…invitations, t-shirts, everything…needless to say, that never happened either. My streak of never being surprised on my birthday remains intact to this day!

STVJ: You just finished your first college football season as part of ESPN3 and the SoCon Network, how was that experience different compared to your previous roles?

Goldwater: For starters, it’s a ton of fun to get in on the ground floor of a network that’s just starting. The SoCon Network combined with the partnership with ESPN3, allowed the conference to dramatically increase their reach as well as their coverage. Instead of eight football and eight basketball games, now we’re doing that plus additional basketball, women’s hoops, volleyball, soccer, softball and baseball. It’s a great step forward for the league and I’ve loved being a small part of the inaugural year.

It’s also been great for me personally. The ability to work with so many other talented people, both on air and behind the scenes, has made me a better broadcaster.

sports broadcasting jobs board

Do you have Questions or Comments for Darren Goldwater? Post them here: