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Diary of a commentator

Discussion in 'Our Errors are Mistakes: The Media Forum' started by ConigliarosPotential, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    It's incredibly weird to report to the studio and realize that my KHL playoff game is *way* down on the list of DAZN's priorities. Everything is all Commonwealth Games, all the time here right now, particularly now that the first day of competition has just finished; I'm used to being one of the biggest deals here, either because of my NFL presenting or more generally because I'm pretty much always here, but now I'm just a worker ant. Which is perfectly fine - I've got an ego, but not in this regard. It's just strange.
     
  2. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    For the dozens of you hanging on tenterhooks, waiting to learn whether Traktor Chelyabinsk could steal a game off of Ak Bars Kazan and take the series to a Game 5: they couldn't. (And they played really quite badly, especially on the power play.) Which kinda sucks - that's more money not coming my way - but does clarify the situation for me from here. I'm now calling Game 5 of SKA-CSKA tomorrow, have a day off in Leeds on Saturday, have Game 6 of CSKA-SKA on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., and then will head back to Scotland thereafter, returning on Tuesday as a day trip for Game 7 if there is one. It has been confirmed that I'll be calling every game of the Finals series as well, which is good at least! What to do on Saturday, now...should I go see Leeds United play Sunderland? (That would be humorous, given that the last soccer match I attended was Sunderland vs. Arsenal, roughly this time last year.)

    The funkiest thing that happened during my broadcast today was right at the very start. What normally happens is that about five minutes before the official start time, I chat with the guy in the control room and agree with him on when the broadcast should start - usually with a wide shot of the arena, just as or just before the players come out onto the ice - and then he counts me down from 10 or 5, and when he gets to 0, I know I'm live and can start my introduction. The biggest issue is that there's no standard way from rink to rink or even from game to game that KHL broadcasts begin: by way of comparison, when calling a CHL hockey game, the last 10 minutes before the start time are totally scripted, and I know what graphics are coming my way when and I know exactly when it's best for me to start speaking. But with the KHL, it's often a lottery, and such was the case today. We got to a wide shot, and I told the control room to count me down, and he got to 0...and just as I started to open my mouth, the broadcast went to a series of clips from the pregame warmups with backing music, exactly how we *don't* want to start a broadcast. I had a intro script all set and prepared, but in that instant I decided to set it aside and wing it, on the basis that the script wouldn't at all fit the pictures. So I tailored my commentary to the images we were seeing, and when the wide shot eventually came back, I went back and borrowed different sections of the script in a way that I think did work. But it is heart-in-mouth stuff at times when the unexpected happens like that!
     
    #502 ConigliarosPotential, Apr 5, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  3. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    CSKA Moscow won at SKA St. Petersburg 1-0 today, and the game was just as exciting as that scoreline sounds. The best thing I can say about it is that it didn't go to overtime, and therefore I could make it back to my hotel almost in time for the start of the Masters broadcast. Also, I was just a little bit out of kilter all day - it was probably my worst commentary performance of the trip, I think, although my overall standard has risen (I think) to where it was still very acceptable. Perhaps I was less sharp than normal because I'd played golf in the morning and also spent a lot of time walking up and down Leeds trying to buy sneakers and warm gloves for my son, so physical tiredness was a factor in addition to the mental tiredness from calling so many games involving the same teams over and over again. (In trying to come up with more filler material, I decided I would check and see which Canadian athletes had won medals at the Commonwealth Games overnight and reference them and DAZN's coverage of the Games during the broadcast; I also gave a shout-out to Adam Hadwin, posting a good round in the Masters yesterday 15 years after Mike Weir's win, and even gave a live leaderboard update at one point during the first period before promoting DAZN's Thursday/Friday PGA Tour coverage and also the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town next week. I really am glad to have the day off tomorrow!)

    There was a very strange moment in the game itself: when CSKA scored their only goal of the game, with about 6 minutes left in the third, the SKA coach yanked his goaltender and put on the backup who hadn't seen any action in the entirety of the playoffs. (He's a very good goalie and actually made the All-Star Game this year, but still.) He made two very good saves in his first minute on the ice, and then at the next stoppage of play, the starting goalie came back on. No idea what that was all about.
     
  4. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Sounds like a bathroom or vomit break to me
     
  5. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Quite a bit of drama in Game 6 of the KHL's Western Conference Finals between CSKA and SKA yesterday. After Lars Johansson had shut out SKA in Game 5 in his first postseason start, CSKA coach Igor Nikitin restored Ilya Sorokin in goal to start Game 4...and he promptly did this:



    Ilya Kovalchuk made it 2-0 for SKA less than three minutes later, and Sorokin was yanked from the game having failed to record a single save. Johansson played quite brilliantly thereafter, and CSKA scored in the second to make it 2-1 after 40 minutes...and then early in the third period, we had a major transmission issue from Russia, with the picture becoming horribly pixellated and the sound also crackling in and out. This lasted for at least 6-7 minutes; I was trying to follow the action on the screen and maybe commentate a few words when the picture was clear enough, but it was never clear for more than 2-3 seconds, and my eyes and ears were starting to hurt. The control room told me that they were trying to fix the issue, but I was stuck in limbo, and I even briefly checked SoSH to distract myself while waiting for the situation to resolve itself. Thankfully we didn't miss anything important, and I was ready to jump straight back in as soon as the picture was fixed, but if I'd been watching the game at home in Canada, I would have been pissed.

    I probably wanted SKA to win the game and have a Game 7 to commentate on tomorrow, but what I really didn't want was overtime, given that my plan was to race back up the road and watch the final round of The Masters. But CSKA had to ruin those plans by scoring with three-and-a-half minutes left in regulation to make it 2-2, and it stayed that way to the end of the third period. So we took our break, and I phoned my wife to tell her I'd be late home, and I accepted my fate somewhat resignedly - and yet, when the overtime started, I felt myself really up my game. I was having a decent commentary game anyway, for the most part, but in the OT I was so switched on and in the zone, even to where my range of vocabulary felt bigger and more appropriate to each event that occurred. Johansson had a brilliant save on Pavel Datsyuk where Datsyuk probably should have scored but didn't elevate the puck over Johansson's outstretched left pad; I said that Datsyuk might have nightmares about that moment if CSKA should score, and sure enough, only a minute or so later, Mikhail Grigorenko scored his second goal of the game to complete the comeback for CSKA and put SKA out of the playoffs. My call of that might have been my favorite goal call of the season; I didn't stick around to record it, so I'll have to do that when I'm back next week for the Finals series, but having listened to it a few times I think I really nailed everything about it. What's quite funny is that as soon as the goal went in, in the surprise of the moment I pushed myself back away from my desk, and as I yelled/growled "SCORE!!!!" my wheeled chair went all the way across the commentary booth and bashed into the door at the rear of the room, which apparently startled Agent Tim (who had finished calling the Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid derby not long before and was in the adjacent booth preparing to voice over some highlights). It's just as well that I get lost in the moment when a goal is scored and don't care what other people may think of me at that instant, as the racket I make is distinctly un-British.
     
  6. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    A quick KHL playoff finals update: I've finished my prep work for Saturday's Game 1 between Ak Bars Kazan and CSKA Moscow, pending any late news I may hear of tomorrow, to ensure that I can have a day with my family (my only day with my whole family during their two-week spring break) before driving down to Leeds on Saturday morning. I will have a color commentator for all of the Finals games, which is nice - I think. And I'm also told that my Gagarin Cup Finals commentary will be used on DAZN Germany and DAZN Austria as well as DAZN Canada, with Germany and Austria just having signed deals to broadcast this year's Finals and then pick up at least next year's full KHL season. Not sure if they'll have German-language commentators for next season, but it's nice to have a slightly bigger audience...and how ironic that the one time I'm really commentating directly for an Austrian audience, I'm not in Vienna!

    Mind you, this assumes that my car gets me to Leeds and back in one piece. I had some funny noises coming from my engine and brakes over the past few days, so I got it looked at by my local garage, and I had a new spark plug fitted and oil change undertaken today, with a new set of tires and brake pads needing to be installed on Tuesday after I come back following Game 2 on Monday. This is the not-so-hidden cost of my preference for car travel on my commentary trips; it's one I'm willing to bear, but it does rather lower my financial margins for the season, especially given all of the playoff series that haven't gone the full seven games and the commentary opportunities that have been wasted.
     
  7. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Game 1 of Ak Bars Kazan and CSKA Moscow is in the books, and it finished 2-1 for Kazan - not a great game, just the one goal in each period, but a solid result as I'm concerned, insofar as CSKA is probably favored to win the series (despite not having home ice advantage) and this makes it much more likely that the series will go at least five or six games. I botched the first goal call badly: everything was going great right to the end, when I said "...and the goal for Kazan makes it one-nothing in..." ...and I wanted to end with "Kazan", but I knew it would sound wrong to say Kazan twice so closely together, but I couldn't think to say "in the Tatneft Arena" - which is the obvious way out of that dilemma - and instead fumbled over an unrelated ending to the call. That's the sort of mistake good play-by-play men simply don't make, and I don't want to be making that mistake in the playoff finals.

    The other unfortunate element of the broadcast was as the start: I didn't have a running order, and I knew the start of a playoff finals series might be different than normal, but I had every reason to expect that when the two teams took their positions at the bluelines and an announcement came over the PA system, the national anthems were about to start...but they weren't, and I had to segue back to normal chat. And then about 30 seconds later, suddenly I heard music - with no obvious prelude - and had to break off very quickly. Agent Tim tells me that Russian media is never very forthcoming with international broadcast requests, so I probably can't expect that to improve going forward, but man, it doesn't sound professional to start a broadcast like that, and you'd think the KHL would be working with all of their broadcast partners to try and make a better first impression than this.

    Apart from those points, everything went pretty well - my other two goal calls were very solid, and my voice sounded good all game - although it was rather difficult to adjust to being with a color commentator again. I've gotten into such a flow of calling games by myself and filling the dead air with thoroughly researched material that I found myself with a surplus of material, and whenever I tried to crowbar some of that material into the broadcast, I never seemed to pull it off quite as well as I'd like. Also, Paul has been working with Aaron Murphy on KHL games recently for a different network, and Aaron's pronunciations of some of the players aren't in line with mine (which I'm pretty sure are correct given the research I've undertaken), which means that Paul is sometimes pronouncing names differently than I am. The funniest one today was Igor Nikitin, the CSKA head coach: I've been calling him "Ni-KEY-tin", but Paul was calling him "NI-ki-tin", so during the first intermission I pointed this out to him and suggested it should be Ni-KEY-tin, if for no other reason than that it shouldn't sound like "nicotine". So during the second period, Paul called him "NI-ki-tin", knew it wasn't right, stumbled, and in trying to fix it said "Nicotine". Oh well...

    Incidentally, I've recently acquired a copy of NHL 18 for my new Xbox One, and yesterday I started playing the Champions Hockey League - mainly because I thought it'd be hilarious to have Mike Emrick commentating on the league that I normally commentate on. I was right. :) (Hearing him say "Växjö" and "Liberec" they way I pronounce them - i.e., correctly - was almost worth the price of the game for me.)
     
  8. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    This has got to be sort of an out-of-body experience for you. Though someday when it's your calls on the video game, I bet it'll be even more fun.

    How harsh were you about the goalie controversy? I assume CSKA has gone with Johansson since that incident.
     
  9. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I wouldn't say it was a controversy - I predicted that Sorokin would be pulled just after the second goal, as he was, and then it was pretty easy to compare and contrast his 0 saves on 2 shots with Johansson. Johansson did start yesterday and did fine; I suspect Sorokin's confidence is shot now, and that Johansson will stay in goal unless he blows a gasket, but we'll see.

    By the way, here's a full set of video highlights from Game 6 of CSKA-SKA - including the OT goal call (around the 7-minute mark) and - just before that, at around 5:40 - the moment where Pavel Datsyuk probably should have won the game:



    That could prove to be Datsyuk's last notable moment in hockey - it seems as though the SKA team might be breaking up, with Kovalchuk heading back to the NHL and some of the other key players leaving as well, so Datsyuk may retire with this being his final memory. Bummer.
     
  10. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Game 2 of the Gagarin Cup Finals ended exactly as Game 1 did, in a 2-1 Ak Bars victory. I did feel much more switched on with my commentary, though, and my partnership with Paul was much smoother - we did spend a lot of time chatting before the game, as he arrived at the studio very earlier and I arrived even earlier (having had to check out of my hotel five hours before game time). We had him repeat the names of the CSKA players with problematic pronunciations over and over and over again before the broadcast started until we were both on the same page there!

    My best moment probably came after Bogdan Kiselevich scored CSKA's goal to make it 1-1. In the moment I said it was his first postseason goal, but as Paul was doing his post-goal analysis I looked over at the stats and noticed Kiselevich hadn't scored any regular season goals either, and that he'd played in all six of Russia's Olympic games as well without a goal. So I quickly did some mental math, and when Paul was done I said, "Between the playoffs, the regular season and the Olympics, Kiselevich has now played 68 games this season - and that was his first goal in all competitions. Quite a time he's picked to come to the playoff party," or words to that effect. That wasn't something I could have done so smoothly when commentating on my own - I needed the time Paul gave me to compute the stats and give the quote. (Although in a gallery game, of course, the voice of a producer in my ear might have given me that statistic...but it's more satisfying getting there on your own.)
     
  11. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Game 3 is now in the books - it went into overtime tied at 2-2, and although CSKA had outshot Kazan 32-14 in regulation, I fully expected the Ak Bars to find a winner and end up one game away from the title. Indeed, they looked the better team in OT and had one or two half-chances of a goal, but then they won a faceoff in their own zone, and this happened:



    I feel like this call is just ever-so-slightly over the top; if I'd have ratcheted this down just a notch, I'd be very happy. But hey, it was an overtime goal in the equivalent of the Stanley Cup Finals, so I should be allowed a bit of leeway on the side of over-enthusiasm, no? The funny thing is that just before this faceoff draw, I had said that "I fully expect at this stage to see a second overtime period - BUT, it just takes one moment of brilliance or one huge mistake to settle affairs here in Game 3 of the Gagarin Cup Finals", and then Paul talked a bit about the "mistakes" side of that equation. So we teed this up pretty well.

    So I'm very happy with the state of affairs - I'm guaranteed at least one more game, and it means that my hotel reservation (through Sunday) is now secure. I have tickets on my day off on Saturday for the first two sessions of Day 1 of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield, just under an hour south of Leeds by train, so this has all worked out very well in that regard. The shame is that I'd just started to develop quite a good rapport with Paul, but now our partnership for the season is over - he's off to Budapest on Saturday (with Aaron Murphy) to call Great Britain's games in the second tier of the IIHF World Championships - and I'll have to start afresh with Ron Shudra, the former teammate of Wayne Gretzky on the Edmonton Oilers. Ron's a good guy and I'm sure it'll be fine, but it really does make a difference to work at least 3-4 games in a row with someone and start to get a better feel for how you interact together. Hopefully I'll get 3-4 games with Ron, mind you...
     
  12. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    My ice hockey season is now potentially one game away from ending, as Kazan won 3-1 in Moscow this evening to take a 3-1 series lead in the Gagarin Cup Finals. That scoreline included a weird empty net goal where the puck was flung down the ice from behind the Kazan goal line, appeared to be heading well wide (and so the CSKA defenseman nearest to it didn't chase it hard because he wanted to win an icing call), but stayed on edge and curved toward and eventually into the net before the defenseman could get there. Ron, my co-commentator, compared it on air to a curling shot that was brought into the house; I compared it to an 80-foot putt at Augusta National. A really good game on the whole, but alas, it means some Game 6 or Game 7 drama is pretty unlikely.

    Ron and I developed our partnership very well very quickly on the air tonight, which was great - we made several Don Cherry references, made each other laugh from time to time, and generally did enjoy - and sounded like we enjoyed - each other's company. Makes a really big difference, I think. Also, I've really noticed over the past few days that much more of my commentary has become instinctive: I'm not really having to think about it, in a way that I've never really felt before, and while there are dangers in that (i.e., sometimes by just going with the flow you can lose focus momentarily), I'm definitely liking the way I sound. I recorded the entire first period of our broadcast from Game 3 the other night onto my laptop hard drive this afternoon, and I think this could be the demo tape I'll be able to use for quite a while.
     
  13. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    It's over. Kazan won Game 5 by the score of 1-0, the Canadian Olympian Rob Klinkhammer scoring the only goal (and his second game-winner of the series) on the power play early in the third period. Not a great way to finish what was not a vintage postseason; I didn't get to call a single Game 7, which kinda sucks. Oh well. The highlight/lowlight of my commentary today came at the very start, when I accidentally pressed a yellow button on my control panel that muted me, and I didn't notice it, and when I pressed the main red button to go on air to start my introduction, nothing happened...and I almost panicked after several seconds of silence before spotting the indicator light that diagnosed my problem, at which point I quickly pressed the yellow and then red buttons and started my introduction as though nothing had happened.

    I guess my updates will probably start dwindle to nothing from here for a while. I'm calling two days of Madrid Open tennis in the second week in May, and probably a glut of FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers at the end of June and start of July, but apart from that I don't know what if anything might be around the corner. Agent Tim, when I asked him about this, suggested that there might be some Argentinian or Central American Champions League soccer forthcoming, thoughts of which don't fill me with awe and wonderment. When I chatted with Producer Phil in Leeds a few days ago, asking if he knew what DAZN's NFL coverage might look like in the fall, he responded with a series of very straight-faced "I don't know" responses that didn't fill me with great confidence for my NFL presenting future. And while I certainly assume I'll be back calling even more KHL games next year than I did this year - especially given that FreeSports in the UK has full KHL rights for the next two years, meaning that Aaron will likely be calling those games and not coming often to Leeds if at all - there are no guarantees on that front either. When you start chasing dreams, I guess you tend to leave job security behind...but it'll be nice to have the summer of a schoolteacher in many respects, I guess.
     
  14. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    I can think of a few summertime sports. Who has MLB's european rights? How are those international broadcasts produced, is it all Baseball Network / ESPN or do local countries put their own commentary over it?

    Also, I hadn't heard much about Producer Phil, but I remember the name Producer Ben, who seemed to like you. Do you have a wider variety of allies at your (I guess) client company?
     
  15. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Oh, there are summertime sports, but not really any for which the rights are owned by DAZN Canada - see the far-right column on this chart:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAZN#Sports_rights

    Producer Phil is responsible for DAZN's NFL coverage - he's in the weeds re: the NFL Draft at the moment, which might explain his responsiveness or lack thereof the other day. I certainly have had a very good relationship with him, at least as good as my relationship with Producer Ben...and really, there's nobody at DAZN in Leeds with whom I don't get along, but of course that all counts for nothing if there aren't assignments to give me.
     
  16. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Well...before I'm back in action with the Madrid Open tennis on May 10-11, I've just been offered (via Agent Tim) a chance to call an MLS game next Saturday: the New York derby, City vs. Red Bulls. It'll be from Leeds, so it's just a day trip, and while the pay won't be great, it's definitely a chance for me to strut my soccer stuff and prove my MLS credentials. So that's exciting!
     
  17. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    I'll be there! Prepare your pitch-invader bits while you can!
     
  18. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I was watching the weekly MLS highlights show this morning, having recorded it overnight on Sky, as part of my preparations for the New York derby on Saturday when I got an unexpected phone call from Agent Tim. He had talked this morning with someone in Leeds and has been told that DAZN has done some audience research in Canada, and apparently their viewers have expressed a preference for British commentary voices on their soccer matches. As such, I've been stood down from Saturday's match with immediate effect, and I'd have to think that I've commentated on my last soccer match for DAZN for a while, or possibly ever. (I do think my soccer commentary style is quite British, and I thought I was a very good fit for the MLS in particular with that in mind, but I don't know if there's anything I can do to plead my case here.)

    This wouldn't really have been a profitable trip for me, and I don't mind doing without another long day on the road between Scotland and Leeds; also, when getting back into a sport I haven't called for a while, I have to do a disproportionate amount of extra research and preparation to feel like I'm fully up to speed, and with tennis coming up next week I was figuring to have my hands full. But all that being said, this certainly does suck. I guess this is the nature of the job, and it is what it is...but it doesn't fill me with great excitement for my future.
     
  19. StupendousMan

    StupendousMan Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Ugh. So sorry to hear that.

    Stupid audience preferences :-( They don't really know what's best for them!
     
  20. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Agent Tim called me again this evening with what he presented as some more bad news - "It's 'pick on Darren day', it seems," he said. There was a rare glitch on the logistical side of things regarding the Madrid Open tennis, and my commentary gigs on 10-11 May are now actually on 9-10 May. Luckily I was planning to drive and hadn't bought non-refundable train tickets, and it was easy enough to move my Airbnb reservation forward by a day; it's just a question of being awkward insofar as I'm now heading south on the 8th of May, which is a school holiday, instead of the 9th, which isn't. The stupid thing is that I'd queried this a week or two ago, wondering how I would have any commentary to do on the 11th when that's quarterfinals day and all of the men's singles matches possibly bar one or two would be on the stadium court anyway and therefore part of the World Feed commentary instead of what I do. Anwyay, not a big deal, but another reminder that so much of what I now do is out of my hands!
     
  21. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    "...and we know the audience prefers british commentators for soccer, because all we ever give them are british commentators for soccer..."

    what are your prospects for diversifying clients beyond DAZN? I vaguely recall you were 100% committed to them so as to build a relationship, but at some point you're going to want to put your eggs in more than one basket, right? Is Agent Tim helping you in that regard, or is he a bit conflicted? I have no idea what the networking is like to meet the sports producers at other networks.
     
  22. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I don't think that's entirely fair - I'm sure the Canadian MLS audience in particular will have heard American voices on DAZN, and certainly plenty of North American voices in their soccer-watching history. Heck, when I'm in the USA, *I* tend to prefer listening to British voices on soccer coverage, albeit more because they tend to be better soccer commentators than because they have British accents - as always, it's really down to the individual, but I think the general stereotype is probably fair.
    There aren't too many other baskets in which I can put my eggs at the moment outside of DAZN, really - at least not in Britain. I'll explore possibilities with the BBC and Eurosport and maybe Sky and BT Sport at some point, but for now there's really not much I can do unless I want to commit to moving back to the States after (or before) landing gigs there. I'd have liked to get a proper soccer demo tape together, mind you...but so be it, at least for now.
     
  23. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Just a quick reminder for anyone following this thread that I'll be commentating on the Mutua Madrid Open over the next two days (tomorrow and Thursday). I'll probably be calling the action on Stadium 3, the third of the three main courts, but won't have my exact match assignments until I get down to London later on this evening. I can't say I'm looking forward to the drive, given how warm it's getting in Britain at the moment and that the air conditioning in my car isn't working very well, but so be it.
     
  24. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    My commentary order of play for tomorrow:

    --At Noon CET (6 a.m. ET): David Goffin vs. Robin Haase
    --4th match on court, approx. 6 p.m. CET (Noon ET): Fernando Verdasco vs. Leonardo Mayer
    --5th match on court, approx. 8 p.m. CET (2 p.m. ET): Borna Coric vs. Jan-Lennard Struff

    Goffin is #10 in the world (and the 8th seed this week), and Coric is a real up-and-comer; otherwise, it's a selection of journeymen. Which is perfectly fine. Under other circumstances I might be vexed to have one early match and two later matches, with two WTA matches on court in between, but as this will give me extra time to research the latter two matches, I'm perfectly fine with that, not least as it's almost midnight and I've only just about finished my Goffin-Haase research.
     
  25. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    This comment about the Goffin-Haase match I just called over at www.menstennisforums.com made my day just now:
    Yes, that was me - and I did sigh quite loudly (before noting that I had sighed in case the microphone hadn't fully picked it up). An enjoyable match despite the margin in the second set - it finished 7-5, 6-2 - and now I need to get my skates on and start researching my two remaining matches today.

    The one downside to my opening match was logging on to TennisTV myself after the fact and discovering that the replay of the Goffin-Haase match didn't feature my commentary. Apparently the World Feed broadcast is there instead, which is more than a little irksome...although I've been told I should be able to get the full broadcast downloaded and sent to me in due course, which is very helpful.
     
  26. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Meanwhile, Agent Tim has just shown up in the studio. He told me he's here to call the Under-17 Women's European Championship match between Lithuania and the Netherlands. My response was to ask him what he did in a former life to deserve that sort of punishment. He said that he'll have to call all three Lithuania games in the group stage, as they're hosting the tournament and UEFA wants all of those matches to be called even though Lithuania lost a pre-tournament friendly to Germany by the score of 11-0; needless to say, information on the players in the Lithuanian U17 squad is somewhat difficult to track down.

    That, my friends, is the dark side of sports commentary on television.
     
  27. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Bloody hell...Mayer defeated Verdasco 6-2, 6-1, and Coric defeated Struggle 6-2, 6-0. Good news means I get an early night; bad news is that the tennis was *rubbish*. Sigh.

    At least my lineup for tomorrow looks promising:
    • 2nd on Stadium 3: Kevin Anderson (6) vs. Philip Kohlschreiber
    • 3rd on Stadium 3: Coric vs. Dominic Thiem (5) or Federico Delbonis
    • 4th on Stadium 3: John Isner (7) vs. Pablo Cuevas
    Of course, there's every chance I won't get home tomorrow night until 4 a.m....
     
  28. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    As a postscript to my day, after going out for dinner I came back to the studio to start researching my matches for tomorrow, but I also knew that my commentary partner - the imaginatively named Dave Bracegirdle - had to leave no later than 10:30 p.m. to catch the last train to Nottingham tonight, so I offered to make myself available if required to finish things off. And of course, Dominic Thiem was broken by Federico Delbonis when serving for the match at 5-4 in the third, so after Thiem broke back to lead 6-5, I had to step in - "like a closer in baseball", as I put it. So that was a little weird, but at least Delbonis took Thiem to deuce in the final game to give me something to do and a little drama. Which was much needed, after the commentary day I had!
     
  29. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    What a day I had yesterday. I arrived at the studio just before 10 a.m., didn't leave until nearly 9 p.m., and didn't arrive home until just before 3 a.m.

    I still had prep work to do upon arriving at the studio, and by the time I finished that I had only about half an hour spare in which to pop out and buy some food for lunch and dinner and eat the salad I'd bought for lunch while the WTA doubles match first up on Stadium 3 concluded - it lasted nearly two hours, which proved a foretaste of things to come. The biggest issue for me was how short the gaps were between the three back-to-back-to-back matches on which I was to commentate: I barely had 10 minutes or so between the end of one transmission and the beginning of the next. As a result, I had about three bites of a sandwich and half of a cookie (crumbs of which got stuck in my throat and caused some coughing) between 1 and 9 p.m. Adam, the other commentator working with me and covering the Arantxa Sanchez Stadium court, said at the start of the day that he prefers a day with no gaps so he can just bang everything out at once, but on yesterday's evidence I now strongly prefer having the ability to rest and recuperate between matches.

    Anyway, I would up seeing some really good and varied tennis. Anderson v Kohlschreiber started out rather one-sidedly, with Anderson racing out to a 5-1 lead, but Kohlschreiber got one of the two breaks back and at least forced Anderson to serve it out for 6-3. Then Anderson broke again in the fifth game of the second set, but the German broke back when Anderson served for the set at 5-4, and they went to a tiebreak in which Kohlschreiber had set points at 6-4, 6-5 and 7-6 before Anderson took his first opportunity to win the tiebreak 9-7 and the match. Knowing I had a long day ahead, I was actually secretly rooting for Anderson to close out the match in straight sets, but I certainly relished the drama of the tiebreak. Little did I know that four more breakers lay ahead...

    The second match, Thiem v Coric, was a potential preview of the future of men's tennis, and did it ever live up to its promise. Possibly the match of the tournament: Coric played brilliant tennis to win the first set, and then Thiem rose to near his level in the second set before getting broken at 4-4. But with Coric serving for the match, Thiem brilliantly broke back, and the tennis both men played to get to the second-set tiebreak was just stunning. At one point I compared the way Thiem constructed one point to a Lego Master Builder, and at another I mentioned that the quality of the tennis was giving me goosebumps, which it was. I was able to catch myself, though, and remind myself that my job was to narrate the match, not to enjoy the spectacle as such; that's a lesson which is much more difficult to absorb in a sport like hockey, when everything is happening so quickly and your adrenaline level never has a chance to recede. The tiebreak was curious: Thiem went 6-1 in front, then Coric saved four match points in a row before Thiem finally wrapped it up on serve, 7-5. The third set was almost as good as the second, with Thiem saving three break points in the eighth game before holding after five deuces, and then Thiem broke Coric to 15 in the ninth game before holding to love to win the match 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Such high quality, in a match that lasted 2:25.

    And then there was Isner v Cuevas, which did not resemble a clay court match in the slightest. Isner had 32 aces, Cuevas had 16, and there were a total of two break points in the entire match, both of which Isner saved in the first game of the final set. Inevitably, it went the full distance - another 2:25 marathon (in comparative terms) - and Isner won 6-7(9), 7-6(3), 7-6(4). It was the sort of contest that can make you remember how Isner played a match at Wimbledon which finished 70-68 in the fifth set, and while I enjoyed it, a) I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Thiem v Coric, and b) it did bore me from time to time. At one point the camera zoomed in on a young woman pointing her cell phone at the court as if to film the action, and I noted that my daughter might like it if I bought her the phone case she was using, hopefully in a way which sounded both sincere (which was true) but also indicative of the fact that the tennis wasn't so captivating that my mind couldn't wander to thinking about cell phone cases.

    As I certainly know now, it really is rather difficult to not repeat yourself over the course of nearly seven hours of tennis - I'm only half-joking when I suggest that having a thesaurus at one's side during one's tennis work might be a good idea - but one great thing about tennis commentary is that you can come up with a turn of phrase in your head you fancy using while one point is going on, and then you can save it to use later at a more appropriate juncture. One other element of tennis commentary I enjoy is being able to launch into a soliloquy, either during a changeover or possibly something that can run between points, which is connected to tennis but which can become more philosophical. For example, in discussing Rafael Nadal's current clay court winning streak, I mused about whether it was good for tennis and whether as a fan you might prefer watching dominant excellence relative to competitive drama - citing Tiger Woods as another example of the phenomenon. Or when noting how Coric plays tennis right-handed but signs his name and writes left-handed, I noted how mysterious human physiology can be and how people like Phil Mickelson in golf or many skaters in ice hockey may do everything right-handed except play their sport left-handed, in part because of how the upper hand on the shaft of the club or stick helps generate so much power on a drive or slapshot. I think I do that rather well, and I'd like to make sure I think about how I might incorporate such storytelling more into my ice hockey and other commentaries.
     
  30. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    A quick start-of-summer update - things have been quiet on the commentary front, as you might expect in the absence of games for me to call, but I do have a couple of notes to share:

    --I had a brief email exchange the other day with Producer Phil at DAZN, and there's still no news on the NFL presenting front. I'm now in the very awkward position of having a potential clash between the first weekend of the NFL season and the second weekend of the CHL's group stage, and not being sure when to tell my CHL producer about it. I haven't yet mentioned that I'll be in Jakarta for the first weekend of CHL games either; I'd wanted to share both potential clashes at once, but I don't want to risk missing out on four CHL games (or the small possibility of having the CHL look elsewhere for the rest of the competition if I can't be involved for the first two-thirds of the group stage) for one potential NFL game that might or might not materialize. The NFL is my top priority, even if it doesn't pay as much; I've been listening to every "Around The NFL" podcast throughout the spring along with a few Ringer NFL and MMQB podcasts and staying as informed as I can of all offseason news to be sure I'm ready to hit the ground running next season, but only time will tell whether this job will be there for me.

    --I've been given a preliminary list of the FIBA World Cup qualifying games I'll be calling at the end of June and start of July, and I can't say it's too exciting. Lauri Markkanen will at least be involved in Czech Republic vs. Finland, but Chinese Taipei vs. Philippines and Jordan vs India don't exactly get the blood flowing. Of course, all of this is still subject to change, and hopefully I'll get a few more games above and beyond these anyway, but we'll see.

    --I have finally scheduled a meeting with Rob, the BBC's consultant who had been recommended to me by Conor McNamara, to get some commentary coaching. I've prepared a list of six demo reels for him to review: a set from Dominic Thiem vs. Borna Coric (tennis); a period of CSKA Moscow vs. Kazan (hockey, with color commentator); half a period plus OT of Sweden vs. Germany (hockey, solo); my pregame/halftime/updates/postgame work from the Chiefs-Jets game (NFL presenting); extended highlights of Paulistano vs. Mogi Das Cruzes (basketball); and my calls of Gonzalo Higuain's two goals in the Juventus vs. Milan game (soccer). Rob will watch all of these and take detailed notes, then meet with me at the guest house where he'll be staying in Carnoustie, on the Tuesday evening of Open Championship week - he's part of the BBC's radio golf commentary team himself - to talk me through everything and assess my strengths and weaknesses. I'm not necessarily expecting to receive any blinding revelations, but any tips from an expert observer will be much appreciated. And hopefully this might help me on the networking front and perhaps open the odd door within the Beeb; Rob has already given me the name and email address of BBC radio's golf producer, so I've sent him an email, although I haven't yet heard back.
     
  31. Mugsy's Jock

    Mugsy's Jock Longtime Member Lifetime Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Love the Philippines Gilas! The coach there, Chot Reyes, managed Ad Sales at TV5 when I worked there a couple years ago and now is running the entire network as well as ESPN Philippines on the side. Their team is anchored by former New Jersey Net Andray Blatche, and if that's not good times, I'm not sure what is.

    Jordan Clarkson also carries a Philippines passport, though in the past hasn't been persuaded to sign on to the Gilas.
     
  32. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    That's some quality background information - thanks. I'm now looking forward to that game a little bit more. (Jordan vs. India? Not so much...)
     
  33. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Sigh...Agent Tim phoned this morning, and to make a long story short, two of the three basketball games I was going to be calling have changed. Now I'm doing Lebanon vs. Jordan on June 28, and Qatar vs. Iran and Czech Republic vs. Finland on June 29. And that's probably it, because the fact that so few of the games during this international window overlap with one another means fewer outside commentators (e.g., Tim's guys like me) are necessary, and they can save on costs by using their own people. At least my three games are now compressed into a 24-hour period over two days, which makes it a shorter and therefore a slightly less expensive trip...but this isn't really the sort of sport that makes me want to commentate for a living.
     
  34. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    So I leave for London on Thursday morning for my back-to-back days (three games) of basketball commentary - I'm taking the train each way this time, which hopefully might leave me slightly more rested for my game on Thursday night than if I had to concentrate on the road and potential speed cameras for 6+ hours, although I don't like being at the mercy of the British rail system. I should be down to Feltham with three hours to spare, but if that starts to dwindle...well, I guess I could always hit traffic jams on the motorway as well.

    I've now researched all six teams I'll be calling, and there are more NBA and ex-NBA players than I'd first thought. Finland has Lauri Markkanen (Bulls), Erik Murphy (briefly with the Bulls in 2013-14) and also Petteri Koponen (#30 overall pick by the Sixers in 2007 but never played a regular season game). The Czech Republic has Tomaš Satoransky (Wizards) and the legendary Jan Vesely. Iran has Hamed Haddadi (ex-Grizzlies and Suns) and Arsalem Kazemi (briefly with the Hawks). Qatar has Trey Johnson (benchwarmer in the 2011 playoffs for the Lakers). Even Lebanon has Ater James Majok, a former 2nd round pick of the Lakers who never played in the NBA. Only Jordan has no former NBAers, although they have Dar Tucker, the former DePaul player who helped lead San Lorenzo to the South American and Argentinian championships this past season; I commentated on him when San Lorenzo thrashed Chile's Espanol de Talca in the FIBA Americas League earlier this year. So it might all be somewhat more interesting than I'd feared; Iran should thrash Qatar, I think, but Lebanon-Jordan and Czech Rep-Finland should both be pretty even, and every game is meaningful in the context of the World Cup qualification process. I've downloaded the full-game broadcasts from each of the earlier group matches between each pair of teams, and I'll probably watch at least Jordan-Lebanon on my way down south.
     
  35. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    My long day of travel and commentary is just about over. The boring logistical bit first: I drove to my local train station in plenty of time, my ticket being first into Edinburgh and then a change to turn around and go right past my town on the fast train to London Kings Cross. There was a 10-minute turnaround scheduled in Edinburgh, but when I discovered that my first train was 15 minutes late, I decided to drive down to Berwick-upon-Tweed (30 minutes away to the southeast) and catch my second train there and missing out on the first train altogether. Which isn't going to make my return journey any more fun - and as it turned out, the second train was late departing Edinburgh and I probably would have just about caught it, but it's always better not risk cutting it short at the other end. I prefer being in control of my own destiny and driving, but the rest of my trip worked out fine (I was able to watch the whole of Jordan vs. Lebanon on the train, which definitely helped), and I was down to my bargain-basement, £24/night Airbnb room by 5:00 ahead of my 7:30 tip-off time.

    I got to the office and chatted with another commentator whose voice I recognized - his name is Jeff, he's from North Carolina, and he has a really pronounced Southern accent. I'm glad politics never came up, but it was interesting to hear how he came across to Britain and married a Brit, got divorced, remarried a Spanish woman and now lives in Valencia and flies up just to do basketball commentary. I mentioned that I was calling Lebanon-Jordan today and listened to him and Paul, the FIBA-employed coordinator of all our basketball broadcasts and commentaries, talk at great length and in some detail about the whole Asian qualifying process and the various permutations involved, nodding my head and trying to sound like I knew even half of what they were talking about. I simply don't, and can't, do enough basketball to be as well educated as they sound about the World Cup qualifying process.

    Mind you, I was very well prepared for my game today, although I had to call some late audibles when I saw that three players had been added to the Lebanese squad - including Sam Young, the former Memphis/Philadelphia/Indiana player (249 NBA games played) - and another two to the Jordanian squad that I had known nothing about. I think I've got the basketball thing down pretty good now: my research covers everything I need to know, I know pretty well how to incorporate my research into my commentary, and I like how my voice sounds on the tape. (It was interesting to listen to the Brit who called the previous Jordan-Lebanon game this afternoon: he seemed to have done almost no research whatsoever, and while his voice was pleasant enough, he added no facts or anecdotes to his commentary at all.) The game itself started with a 7-0 Jordan run followed by a 12-0 Lebanon run, and apart from a brief tie early in the second quarter, Lebanon led pretty consistently throughout...until the very end. Jordan managed to narrow its deficit to one inside the final minute, got a defensive stop, came up the floor and drew a foul with 3.9 seconds left that sent a 73.5% free throw shooter to the line. He bricked both of them, Lebanon got the rebound and heaved the ball up the floor, and that was that: a 77-76 Lebanon win, despite their being outrebounded by at least 20 on the night. Both teams combined to shoot 33 for 63 from the line, and at one point I exhorted any kids watching the game to "Eat their greens, brush their teeth, and practice their free throws!"

    Not the best of games, but it was nice to have a close and dramatic finish to call to start the trip off. Now I have to hope I can get any sleep at all in my hot, stuffy, smelly room on my really cheap mattress (and have an OK bath tomorrow, given that there's no shower in the flat); I'm definitely getting what I'm paying for, all in the quest to save a few quid on travel expenses and make my profit that much bigger, but hopefully it doesn't impair my performance tomorrow, even if I am only 6-7 minutes' walk from the office, which is far better than the nearest hotel would have been.
     
  36. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Two more very close games to wrap up my Basketball World Cup trip: Qatar, which I'd written off as no-hopers against Iran's experienced team, led for most of the game - including by double figures halfway through the fourth quarter - only to disintegrate down the stretch. Iran eventually got a put-back slam dunk with 1.1 seconds left to win by two. And then Finland, with Lauri Markkanen looking very rusty and ineffective (only 13 points, with very few 3-point shot attempts), fought the Czech Republic tooth and nail on the road, only to lose by four in a game that was also up for grabs into the final minute of the game. So that's three really good games and three fun commentaries to make in a 24-hour span.

    One curious point about the Qatar-Iran game is that the Iranian roster still hadn't been finalized and published three hours before tip-off. I had a list of 20 guys who might be in the 12-man squad, but even then, I didn't know if anyone new who hadn't played in any of the first four games might have been added. The amount of detective work I undertook...I was Googling the results of Iran's recent warmup/friendly/exhibition games against Serbia and China to see if I could find a lineup that would give me any clues (I couldn't), then I went down to the FIBA office in the building to see if I could ask anyone for help (but nobody had arrived yet). Luckily, there was a directory of contacts for all of the games during the current World Cup qualifying window, and from that I took pictures with my camera phone of both the list of onsite contacts in Doha and their email addresses, and the FIBA employees based in Asia and their email addresses, and sent them each emails asking for help. Only one person got back to me, and as it happened, he was two minutes' too late: the roster was finally published on the FIBA website where it was supposed to be, and that was that. (There was one new player in the Iranian team after all...)

    I did a bit of networking as well. I bumped into Simon Reed, he on his way into Eurosport while I was waiting in reception for my security pass, and we had a quick chat about things (including our forthcoming trips to Jakarta for the Asian Games - I've just found out I'll be flying Qatar Airways from Doha via Edinburgh, my first trip with that airline, which even in Economy Class should be rather decent). I made a point of seeking out Paul again, the head of the whole FIBA outfit here, and thanking him for his help / making sure he knows who I am. And also, this morning I wound up chatting at some length with Stephanie Dubois, the 87th-ranked women's tennis player in the world and a French Canadian who now provides color commentary out of the same booths that I was working in today and yesterday; she was covering the two semifinals from the Eastbourne grass court tournament today. Among other things, I noted to her that DAZN Canada has really struggled to find French Canadian commentators of any sort to help them comply with Canada's bilingual legal requirements, so maybe I can put her in touch with Agent Tim and see if I can match-make after a fashion there.

    One other aside: I need to stop posting on SoSH closely before and even during (i.e., at halftime of) games I'm commentating on. That's no good for anyone.
     
  37. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    6,712
    Hey CP, how come you never get to call any of the really fun games?

    (at least you're not a sideline reporter)
     
  38. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Yeah, I saw that. To be honest, I'll settle for good close games and not have to worry about massive incidents like this, although I know I'm prepared to handle them should they happen. The closest I've probably come to something like this was when the NFL kneeling protests were kicking off early last season and I prepared myself to address that serious political situation in my pregame coverage of Ravens-Jags at Wembley - and the thing is, I fully back myself to cover the serious stuff seriously and somberly, with the right amount of emphasis but not over-emphasis. That's what a lifetime of watching sports and reflecting on everything from Jim McKay's "They're all gone" at Munich 1972 to the Bay Area earthquake before the A's-Giants World Series Game to, indeed, the "Malice at the Palace" and everything in between ought to give you.
     
  39. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Incidentally, it's one week from Tuesday that I travel to Carnoustie to get my dose of constructive commentary criticism from the guy affiliated with the BBC (Rob) that Conor McNamara previously recommended to me, and Rob sent me an email the other night saying that he'd reviewed all of my tapes. he good news is that he liked what he heard - he said, "It’s most impressive. Fluent, well researched and displaying great versatility over a whole range of sports." The bad news is that he might not be able to improve me as much as I'd like: "I have a few observations which I hope will be helpful – but I warn you that I’m unlikely to be reinventing the wheel in terms of constructive criticism." So I may wind up playing a significant chunk of money to him and get very little out of it.

    That said, I'm still excited to be meeting with him. For one, this may open up proper networking opportunities within the BBC for me. But even more than that, it'll be great to talk at some length with someone about my commentary - I suspect that I'll get more feedback about my work in this one meeting than I've gotten in the rest of my career combined. I'm certainly going to come armed with a list of topics to discuss with him, and ideas I want to bounce off of him.
     
  40. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Hey, I'm now officially an award-winning sports commentator! (Sort of.) Check this out:

    http://www.broadcastdigitalawards.co.uk/winners-2018/

    Eurosport's coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics won the "Best Sports and Live Event Coverage" at the Broadcast Digital Awards 2018, ahead of five other shortlisted finalists - including the BBC's 2018 Winter Olympics coverage. Which is nice.
     
  41. StupendousMan

    StupendousMan Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Congratulations! (Sort of.)
     
  42. eddiew112

    eddiew112 Member SoSH Member

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    I wish I had seen this earlier! I lived in Lebanon for four years and followed the league while I was there. The Lebanese league is surprisingly good at the top and the national team generally punches above its weight. They have been down a bit in recent years, and their best player (Wael Arakji) tore his ACL at the end of last season. I actually had a few friends at this game, so keep the stories coming!
     
  43. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Cool! FWIW, here are the (rather poorly edited) highlights from the Lebanon-Jordan game, featuring my commentary - I think a week or two after each game, the full games get posted on YouTube as well:



    Lebanon crushed Syria in their final group game, so Arakji being out of action hasn't had any tangible effects yet. Lebanon, Jordan and Syria now all move to a combined group with New Zealand, China and Korea, with Lebanon/Jordan/NZ all tied with 5-1 records (all first-round results carry through to the next stage). I think both Lebanon and Jordan might manage to sneak through to the World Cup proper in China next year, but we'll see; hopefully I'll be involved in the rest of the qualifying process, and with a bit of luck I *might* get nominated to go to China to commentate on the World Cup itself, but we'll see.
     
  44. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I drove up to Carnoustie on Tuesday to meet with Rob for the commentary training session I'd mentioned previously. And what a wonderful experience it was: we chatted for four hours, one or two interruptions notwithstanding. (One of those interruptions was John Inverdale, the very prominent BBC presenter, stopping by the house to pick up Rob's housemate to go see the Montrose vs. East Fife football match up the road in the Scottish League Cup.) He had forensically examined my tapes and highlighted a number of moments where my delivery wasn't quite right, while at the same stressing that I'm doing great overall - I think he said that I'm the most versatile commentator he's ever worked with, which was very encouraging. His 16-year-old son, a big NFL fan, had actually watched some of my NFL highlight narration work and was very complimentary, although he did take issue with my characterization of Jacoby Brissett as "competent". I do need to speak less, try to make my delivery more staccato and speak in shorter sentences; when I'm working with a co-commentator, I need to make sure I've researched the other commentator so that I know everything about him and can be ready to lean on him particularly if a game proves to be a blowout; and another really good general tip is to make sure I spend five minutes shortly before the start of every broadcast reminding myself who my audience is, and the level of knowledge the average viewer will probably have about the sport.

    At the start of our session, Rob asked me where I might want to be this time next year, assuming I could wave a magic wand and be wherever I want to be. Which was a great way of framing our discussion, and it also made it very easy for me to ask if there were any contacts at the BBC to whom I might reach out. (And there are - I'm thinking the 2020 Olympics might be a feasible target, but we'll see.) Anyway, the session was everything I'd hoped for, really - and as Rob pointed out, the BBC has any number of training courses, and trainers, that teach journalists how to write news articles or prepare 90-second TV segments, but for sports commentators who are on the air all the time for hours at a time, and who very rarely get any meaningful feedback at all, he's basically the only authoritative source of help and advice. It's a very strange business, this one.
     
  45. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    Brissett absolutely deserves "competent". He won 4 games in the NFL with a roster whose talent compares unfavorably to Alabama.

    It's great that you've found the one and perhaps only professional coach whose advice is valuable. I guess it's his connections or recommendations of you to others that might make even more difference, so I imagine you've been trying to figure out what he likes or would appreciate or could use help with as well. Winning friends and influencing people - just the job you signed up for, right?

    Surprised to hear you say you want to be more staccato. I find that style to come across as affected and/or jarring. Here's a clip I recently posted in another thread, introducing a sport I like. The narrator's intonation makes it clear that he's reading off a script rather than having a conversation with viewers (the way you might hope, say, a weatherman would talk), and part of that derives from the staccato, enunciated nature of his delivery. Just comes off as unnatural. Yeah, you don't want to be slurring a drawl, either, but I'd be surprised if very many top commentators had a delivery style readily described as "highly staccato".
     
  46. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I did try to choose demo tapes that showed me in my best light, largely with the goal of demonstrating my abilities and putting myself in a position where he might recommend me for future gigs at some point down the line. But it's good for me that he was still able to find some flaws and instruct me in a way that I think will be helpful.
    To clarify, the idea is that I ought to be more staccato, not staccato as such. I tend to speak just as I write, using lots of sentences with semicolons and dashes and parentheticals, and the point is that shorter, sharper sentences usually work better. It's more of a "swing thought", in golf parlance, for me to use than a suggestion that I should aim to become Edward R. Murrow. Rob showed me several instances where I my voice went up in pitch at what could/should have been the end of a sentence, and my goal should be to try and round off each thought into a sentence of its own, rather than trying to link everything together.

    This was particularly interesting analysis in the context of my ice hockey commentary. The North American hockey commentary style on TV isn't far from what you might get on radio: even the best of the best (Mike Emrick being my role model) use many descriptive words that aren't really needed on TV when people can see the puck for themselves. In particular, "directional words" can clog things up unnecessarily - Rob highlighted one clip where I noted that a player "skated backwards into his own zone", which when you spell it out like that really ought to be self-explanatory. In fact, Rob suggested that I look at certain passages of play around the net, transcribe my commentary word for word, and figure out which words/phrases/clauses didn't need to be spoken at all.

    So, by "staccato", Rob's suggestion is that my ice hockey commentary could be rather more like soccer commentary. My current style might sound something like this: "Marchand, feeds across to Pastrnak, now in deep for Bergeron, back to Marchand who shoots AND SCORES!" Whereas my target should be something more like: "Marchand...Pastrnak...Bergeron...Marchand SCORES!" Of course, the ice hockey style I should aim for is somewhat dependent upon where I want to go as a commentator: if I want to focus on my work for DAZN's Canadian audience with a view to potentially getting an NHL gig someday, I probably shouldn't abandon the more North American style, whereas if my more realistic ambition is to target working the Olympics for the BBC, I should be more willing to follow the more British template. In truth, I'll probably aim to end up somewhere between the two extremes, as my North American style can do with some British-style pruning anyway. To get there, though, I'll probably want to start from scratch using a very pared back British style and build back up from there, rather than trying to stick with what I've been doing and figure out how to cut out words and phrases that I would otherwise naturally use. And the good news is that I'll have plenty of low-key CHL and early-season KHL games I can use for experimentation along these lines - it's not like I have to jump straight back into playoff mode with all of this.
     
  47. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Just a quick update (from Concord, NH on my family holiday): I've been asked by DAZN to present two preseason NFL games, including Eagles-Patriots on August 16. Which is nice to know that I'm still on their NFL radar, although I won't be able to accept these two assignments because I'll be in Indonesia on Asian Games baseball/softball duty. Apparently Producer Phil is no longer on NFL duty, so they're waiting for a new person to be installed and figure out where he wants to take their NFL coverage for the upcoming season; for my first CHL trip to Vienna of the new season, I'll be calling games on September 6-8 but have booked my flights via Newcastle, roughly halfway between my home in Scotland and Leeds, so that when I come back on the morning of Sunday the 9th - the first full day of the NFL season - I'll be able to either drive to Leeds if I have an NFL game to present that evening or back home if I don't. (I've confirmed with my CHL contacts that I won't be able to call a hockey game on the 9th, eschewing the bird in the hand for the hope of more in the NFL bushes, so to speak.)

    Speaking of the Asian Games, I've received a bewildering array of documentation ahead of my departure next week. One really bemusing thing is that I'm supposed to wear an official Asian Games uniform whenever I'm on commentary duty - and I'm being given only two shirts, which means I suspect I'll wind up using a lot of my per diems on laundry expenses. Also, it looks like it won't be possible to do much preparation until very shortly before the Games begin, as there's virtually no information available about individual athletes yet and probably won't be until the last minute. Which is worrying, but may encourage me to freestyle a bit more in my commentary style (which is what I'm looking to do anyway following my coaching meeting with Rob a few weeks ago).
     
  48. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Just got word from Agent Tim this morning that I have indeed been offered the NFL hosting gig again - every Sunday throughout the regular season. (Yay!) Tim is going to try to get me a pay raise; I was getting paid a pretty basic rate last year, significantly below what the soccer presenters were getting for their gallery games, although I was getting hotel accommodation in Leeds on Sunday nights when necessary. But I'm really just pleased to have a chance to refine my presenting skills and stay connected to DAZN's biggest rights package, this time from the very start of the season rather than joining a few weeks in.
     
  49. jungleboy

    jungleboy lurker

    Messages:
    121
    Just to let you know, my former employer, Infostrada Sports (now Gracenote Sports) will be producing athlete biographies, historical results and facts and figures for the official news service of the Asian Games, so these will be available to you. This is the same company that produced the same data for PyeongChang and many other previous events. So hopefully that'll help you out a lot. Regarding biographies, they'll have a team on the ground collecting and updating them as the Games progress, so make sure to check back later if you don't find what you need initially. Good luck!
     
  50. CallYaz

    CallYaz Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    116

    Congrats, as they continue to grow the NFL in Europe this could be great for you, which is good for me because I only come to the Media Forum to read your updates.
     

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