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Q&A; with Sean Allen, Sports TV Producer

New England Sports Network (NESN)

An Inside Look at Being a Sports TV Producer

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There is a common belief that you can’t go home again, but Sean Allen, Producer for New England Sports Network (NESN) in Boston, disagrees.

“I was a huge sports fan growing up in New England,” recalls Allen ”then my career path took me to Los Angeles and Seattle…but now I’m back in Boston.
It is a dream position because it brought me back to the area where I grew up and gave me the opportunity to cover my hometown teams and meet many of my boyhood idols”.

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

I decided pretty early on that television was the career I wanted to pursue.  I was a huge sports fan growing up and sports TV was intriguing to me from about as early as ten years old.  Long before the advent of Sports Center and other nightly highlight shows, I was a fan of local sports.  In fact, my small town didn’t even have cable television until I went to college.

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

I think what initially lured me was the wit and ease of conversation in the nightly sportscasts of my favorite sportscasters like Bob Lobel, the longtime Boston Sportscaster.  It always seemed like they were having fun. What could be better than getting paid to watch your favorite sports teams and bring the scores and highlights to the fans?

Sean Allen’s Sports TV “Stats”

Education: Emerson College

Production Jobs held: Assignment Editor, Writer, Producer

Stations: Fox Sports Net – Los Angeles, CA & Seattle WA, New England Sports Network (Boston, MA)

Best piece of advice:. Practical experience is just as important as education if not more.  I would recommend finding the best, most affordable school possible and doing as many internships as you can.

Did you have concerns it would be difficult to land your first job in Sports TV?

I made up my mind too early in life to worry about getting in the door.  It wasn’t until I had a college degree in my hand that I gave much serious thought to the challenges of getting my foot in the door.  Once I had huge student loans staring me in the face, the prospect of moving to a small market and struggling didn’t appeal to me.  In retrospect, I should have bitten the bullet and gotten started right away. Instead, I used my education to pursue other career paths for five years.

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

I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication – Broadcast Journalism from Emerson College in Boston.
The program was very hands on and prepared me well in all aspects of the industry.  Writing, producing and on-air skills were all stressed heavily.  Also, the journalistic ethics and history were a core part of the curriculum. 

The professors were all current or former professionals in the industry and students were given a very practical approach to learning. The equipment was very current for the time.  I learned editing on ¾ inch deck to deck. Now they have several cutting edge studios and control rooms and Avid editing systems. 

I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything but I would trade the student loans I was left with.  Practical experience is just as important as education if not more.  So I would recommend finding the best, most affordable school possible and doing as many internships as possible. 

Where did you land your first job in Television?

I spent five years in entertainment before getting into television.  I was working in feature development for Castle Rock Entertainment when I decided that it wasn’t my passion and it was “now or never” for me to get into sports TV. 

A friend of mine told me about an opportunity as an Assignment Editor at Fox Sports Net in Los Angeles.  I missed the boat on the usual route of Production Assistant as an entry into broadcasting.  I was too old and I was making too much money to start in an entry level position.  So Assignment Editor was perfect for me.  I spent six months in the position before making a lateral move into becoming a Writer.  I was writing for the National Sports Report and other Fox shows and enjoying it.  college football sports producer

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

After a couple months of trepidation early on, I was very happy that I made the leap into Sports TV.  The only down side was the hours. If you’re not ready to work late nights, weekends and holidays then sports TV is not for you.

It was an adjustment after several years of 9-5 Monday through Friday, but it was the right move for me.  Another thing that was hard to get used to is the uncertainty of the business.  Sports TV is so much less stable than it used to be and I experienced that pretty early on.  I was laid off for four months and couldn’t find another job despite my willingness to go anywhere in the country.  Luckily, I was brought back to the same job at Fox Sports Net before I ended up homeless. 

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

I’m very glad that I chose television as a career.  There’s no better rush than being part of a “perfect” show and it’s very fulfilling to start over every day, create a show from scratch and see it come to fruition. 

What is your current title, responsibility and location?

I’m currently a Producer at NESN in Boston.  I produce Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins pre and postgame shows.  It is a dream position for me because it brought me back to the area where I grew up and gave me the opportunity to cover my hometown teams. 

sports tv switcherDo you have any advice for someone considering a career in Sports TV?

I would not discourage anyone from getting into television.  I would suggest that if it’s a career you’re considering that you do plenty of internships to see if it’s for you.  When interning be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities in front of you.  You’d be surprised how much people will actually let you do if you just ask.  Try to experience every aspect of the organization to see what is right for you.  Also, no matter what position you’re in, always work as hard as you can.  Opportunities for advancement are plentiful for people that are willing to work hard.  Lastly, it’s very important that your significant other is very understanding and supportive of this lifestyle and the potential for relocation. 

Do you have a memorable story – whether funny, sad or just interesting – that you’d like to share?

My career is full of the kind of memorable moments that make working in sports fun. From the people I’ve worked with to the places I’ve been able to go.  I spent a week broadcasting from Detroit leading up to Super Bowl XL, gotten the chance to visit almost every MLB ballpark and worked with several of my boyhood idols. 

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