So, You Want To Be A Broadcaster?

Broadcasting is a great career option for many former college and professional athletes, who want to combine their passion for and knowledge of the game. In other words, you can do what you love to do—and get paid for it. But, like a lot of things in life, it is not as easy as it looks.

If you’re serious about pursuing a broadcasting career, here are some game-winning tips to build your career.
Get experience
Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell believes the key to success in any field is to devote 10,000 hours to master it. Think about how much time you’ve devoted to becoming an elite athlete. You probably spent at least 10 years honing your craft before you earned your first paycheck. Fortunately, the expertise you already have, which took years to learn, will speed up the time required to become a skilled broadcaster.

When professional athletes ask me about breaking into broadcasting, I make sure they understand it’s an extremely competitive business. The key to success is plain old, hard work. For rookie broadcasters, it is all about getting as many “reps” as possible. From learning how to connect with the camera, read a teleprompter and “toss” to your partner, to getting used to a director talking in your ear, there’s a lot to work on.

Make Yourself Relevant
Your star will never shine brighter than when you’re a professional athlete. If you know how to parlay your celebrity into future career opportunities, you can take advantage of this for the rest of your life. The best time to start your broadcasting career is now—while you’re still playing. Yes, time can be scarce, especially during the season. But there’s always time to be accessible to the media, to smile, to provide informative interviews and to be a “good ambassador for your sport.”

Be accessible
There’s also time to spend a few hours a week working on your media skills. Do as many interviews as possible. Be the person who is always willing to talk to the media. And be the person who offers real insight into the game, rather than clichés and overused phrases.

Every interview is an opportunity to hone your broadcast skills. The more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will become on camera. On a related note, these same traits that could lead to a lucrative broadcasting career can attract endorsement dollars now.

Befriend the media
As a professional athlete, you are surrounded by successful local and national broadcasters. These are people who can help your career. If your goal is to break into broadcasting, it’s imperative to build your network of on-air talent, producers and network executives.

Offer to take them to lunch or for coffee. Not only will they give you valuable, inside information about how to succeed in this competitive business, but they just might take an interest in advancing your broadcasting career. All for the price of lunch!

Get coaching
Take advantage of your league’s broadcast training. Work with a Media Coach.
The NFL and NBA both offer “Broadcast Bootcamps” where you spend three days getting intense hands-on broadcasting experience. And get the opportunity to network with dozens of sports media execs.

Whether or not you have the opportunity to attend a “Bootcamp” you can work with a media coach and/or take sports broadcasting classes at a local college or junior college. There are a number of experts who specialize in helping broadcasters and aspiring broadcasters work on important skills. They help you with grammar and enunciation and how to communicate effectively to your viewers. They can work with you to improve crucial broadcasting skills, including working with on-air partners and be handling chaotic situations.

Build your media brand
Build your media brand while you are still competing. Cultivate a reputation as a media-friendly player on your team or in within your sport.

Use social media wisely. You have a unique perspective of your sport and a direct platform via Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Dozens of athletes have hundreds of thousands of followers and/or “friends.” If you want a post-playing career in broadcasting, then use social media to further your career. Don’t break stories or betray your confidences on Twitter, but use it to share your expertise, provide tips about your sport and to grow your fan base.

Grab the mic
You want a break into broadcasting? Try to host or participate in a local TV or radio show. You won’t get paid much, if at all, but it will be a great experience. Ask for a job or internship at a network during the off-season. The more you know about how production works, what are the roles of talent, the producer, the director and the network executives, the easier your transition will be.

Michael Strahan started his media career while he was still playing in the NFL. He was a once-a-week regular on Best Damn Sports Show Period. For $500 a week. But he honed his skills, which helped him transition right into a highly-paid studio host on NFL on Fox.

When someone asks, what are you going to do when your playing days are over, it’s easy to say, “I want to be a broadcaster.” But do you have a plan to make it happen? If you do, then go to work!


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