Dismiss Notice
Guest, I have a big favor to ask you. We've been working very hard to establish ourselves on social media. If you like/follow our pages it would be a HUGE help to us. SoSH on Facebook and Inside the Pylon Thanks! Nip

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

    Messages:
    4,488
    Yeah, pretty much that.

    Ugh, I'm shattered this morning. But I really enjoyed last night's broadcast - in general I felt a bit looser than normal, and I accomplished my goal of generally trying to add just a little more analysis to my narration of highlights above and beyond just describing what I'm seeing on the screen. (My aim is to be more interesting and/or humorous than, say, Charissa Thompson is during a NFL Game Break on Fox - not exactly the highest of bars to clear, but I'd like to think I routinely clear it with room to spare.)

    Oh, and just before the end of last night's game, I had a quick debate with Producer James about how we should end the broadcast. Normally we try and squeeze in a RedZone look-in as we're signing off, but James thought that might night be a good idea given that there was only one other game going on (Steelers-Broncos), and the risk that RedZone would cut away to Scott Hanson and/or an early-games highlight feature was high. I thought that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, and we decided to play it by ear and see what was happening when the moment came. Well, when the moment came, the Steelers had the ball three yards out from the end zone, and we went across just in time for me to call Big Ben's Big Boo-Boo. I had time to set it up and say something like, "We've all seen this script before...", and then I said something which half-suggested the guys in the control room should turn up the CBS audio, and when they did the only word we hear was Jim Nantz saying "Interception!", and then they turned it back down and I took it from there. So I basically got to call the play just as Scott Hanson might in the same situation - I had the rosters in front of me and was able to note that Shelby Harris fought off a block from Markice Pouncey to read the play and make the pick. It was a very satisfying way to end the evening...or it would have been, but for the long drive home I had to make thereafter.
     
  2. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    I traveled across to Glasgow yesterday to meet with a senior executive at BBC Sport who is responsible for their Olympics, Commonwealth Games, NFL and Wimbledon programming - he was recommended to me by the commentary coach I hired back in the summer, and I finally managed to steal half an hour of his time. Unfortunately, it wasn't the most immediately productive meeting; it sounds like there aren't any obvious gaps for me to fill, and try as I did to aggressively sell my capabilities particularly re: the NFL, the best I could get at the moment was the encouragement to keep in touch and a promise that he would try to find the contact details of some relevant producers at BT Sport (college football) and Sky Sports (NFL).

    BT Sport and the BBC have a sort of informal partnership in some areas, particularly re: soccer and cricket, and I have wondered recently if BT Sport might be interested to know of my existence. They have the rights to show all ABC/ESPN and CBS college football games, and they do show quite a lot of it (often as many as 4-5 live games on a given Saturday, and most of the bowl games), but they don't use any of their own talent as such: they don't have their own studio presence, and instead just take the studio shows from the American broadcasters and don't in any way try to tailor the content for a UK audience. I don't think that's likely to change, but it is possible that if they know that I exist and like my skillset, there's at least a chance I could help spark the creation of new programming to my benefit.

    Anyway, I've been having a bit more luck back in the States - I've gotten a few contacts and am starting to open a few doors, and it may well be that my long-term future is in America. There are certainly more commentary jobs available back home for people with my accent, albeit of course a much larger pool of potential talent scrambling for those jobs. I'm certainly both optimistic and realistic at the moment about what might be possible!
     
  3. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Meanwhile, I'm presenting the Arizona-Green Bay game on Sunday. Seriously? (I mean, I get it - the Packers are very popular in Canada, and our producer went to Green Bay a few weeks ago to prepare a number of features which we can now highlight in our broadcast, but I guess this is sort of the equivalent of sending Buck and Aikman to call a NFC East game between two sub-.500 teams.)
     
  4. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Yesterday in Leeds started a bit strangely, insofar as the control room to be used by my NFL colleagues was occupied by an Italian-speaking crew producing a Serie A broadcast for Italian-speaking commentators in the booth next to mine. No idea what that was all about, but the fact that we didn't start our rehearsal until nearly 5:30 p.m. GMT (ahead of a 6:00 start) when normally we've begun rehearsing by 5:00 or 5:10 at the latest might have been related, particularly given that the Graphics guys were slower out of the blocks than normal - the last GFX of my rehearsal hadn't been completed yet. But although I wasn't at my best during the rehearsal, I found another gear during the broadcast and did pretty well...and hey, my game got Mike McCarthy fired!

    The coolest part of the broadcast, as now seems to be almost standard, was right at the end. Mason Crosby missed his kick, and then I talked over some game highlights and stats, and as we came to the scores I saw that three early games were still underway, and as I started talking about the Giants-Bears game, suddenly we cut to the RedZone Channel with the Bears getting their Pass Interference call and getting one last play from the one yard-line. I kicked it over to "the announcing crew of Kevin Burkhardt and"...and I blanked on Charles Davis' name (and couldn't find it in time on my prep sheet for the game I had in front of me!), but I think the cut was seamless enough. Then the Giants called timeout, of course, so we came back to me, and then RedZone switched to the Josh Allen heave at the end of Bills-Dolphins, which I got to narrate. And then RedZone was late coming back to Giants-Bears, and suddenly I was calling the touchdown throw myself, thinking it was by Chase Daniel - RedZone missed the start of the play! - and not Tarik Cohen. But I clarified that, and I got to commentate on the replays and the all-important extra point. A very nice moment on which to finish before signing off.

    And now I'm in Vienna again, having had a couple of rather turbulent flights - my first flight, from Edinburgh to Frankfurt, was borderline scary until I realized we weren't falling, but rather descending to land (I'd not adjusted my watch and thought we still had well over an hour left before landing). I'm calling Red Bull Salzburg vs. Kärpät Oulu tomorrow in the CHL quarterfinals - I commentated on both teams in November, so it shouldn't be too challenging.
     
  5. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    I got another great finish in my CHL game tonight - Salzburg led 1-0 going into the third period, scored a shorthanded goal early on to make it 2-0, and should have gone up 3-0 moments before Kärpät finally scored. That was a turning point: Kärpät tied things up, and it looked like it would finish 2-2 until John Hughes scored for Salzburg with 23 seconds left to win it 3-2:



    That's my voiceover on the highlights package, of course - the celebration reminded me of a Hillary Clinton moment in the 2016 election campaign, not that I was ever going to say that on the air! Anyway, that's yet another win I've called for Steve Michalek, the former Harvard goalie; I think tonight was the first time I've ever said on the air in any broadcast for any sport that I went to Harvard myself, but only in the context that I also used to play as a goalie in Bright Hockey Center. I was down interviewing coach Ronn Tomassoni at the arena one day in my capacity as the Harvard hockey beat reporter for the Crimson, I think during my sophomore year, when I noticed that the JV team was practicing with only one goalie and a target draped over the net at the other end of the ice. I offered my services as a live target and wound up training for several seasons with the JV team, which was a blast - not to mention very hard work, for someone as unfit as I've always been. I never saw any action in a game, and I only dressed as a backup once for an away game at Merrimack, but as someone who never played hockey growing up in Atlanta as a kid, I loved every minute of my time on the ice at Bright...except for the suicide sprints, of course. (I did daydream from time to time during road trips as a writer and then commentator about what might happen if both goalies in the squad got food poisoning or something right before a game - the Scott Foster scenario - but decided the coaches would probably rather stick one of the defensemen in goal before they had me dress for a game.)
     
  6. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Incidentally, I'm absolutely rooting for Salzburg to win every game from this point forward - not so much for Michalek, but because a) it would be a great story (no Austrian team has ever reached the quarterfinals of the CHL before), and b) Salzburg is one of my favorite cities in Europe, and I'd be over the moon if I got to travel there again. I went to Salzburg on my first trip to Europe with my father as a 12-year-old, and I spent a lot of time at the huge chessboard with three-foot-tall pieces in one of the city squares beneath the old castle, playing a couple of matches and watching the old-timers go at it against one another quite a bit as well. Then I went back to Salzburg quite a few years later, went to the chessboard again, played a quick match (and got creamed)...and then saw one of the old masters I remembered from that previous trip, introduced myself to him, and was shocked to discover that he remembered me. I absolutely keep that rooting loyalty secret - you wouldn't know my preference at all from listening to my commentary - but both Red Bull Salzburg and Red Bull Munich won the first legs of their quarterfinals as underdogs tonight, and if they both win or tie next week they'd face each other in the semifinals...and that really would be something.
     
  7. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    I'm presenting Texans-Colts on Sunday. Which is a legitmately decent game, although it'd be more exciting if the Colts hadn't put up that goose egg last week against the Jags. I should probably go back and watch the 40-minute version of the Jags-Colts game on NFL Game Pass to see what the heck went wrong with the Colts offense...
     
  8. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

    Messages:
    6,712
    The Colts were recently touted as a playoff dark horse, with the resurgence of Luck supposedly making them a contender in the AFC, as evidenced by 5 straight wins. But of course, the best team they beat in that stretch was the Titans. I'd look a lot more closely at the overtime loss to the Texans earlier in the season, which was statistically a pretty dead heat, turnovers excepted (2:1 for HOU).
     
  9. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
  10. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
  11. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    I'm down in Leeds plenty early today ahead of my Colts-Texans broadcast, and I've had the chance to record the end of our show from last week, featuring the passage cited above. This really gives a sense of how tricky presenting can be at times - I'm seeing exactly what you're seeing and having to improvise on the fly. Very different to what you face when doing play-by-play!

     
  12. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Oh my - I just got to commentate on the final play of the Dolphins-Patriots game, immediately after my Colts-Texans game was finished. More on that later...
     
  13. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Here's the end of the Pats-Dolphins game, as described by yours truly immediately after the end of the Colts-Texans game (and apologies for the poor quality of this video - I recorded it on my laptop last night as it was running out of RAM):



    I should note that this isn't how I would call a play like this as a play-by-play commentator - this is me as a presenter, in the Scott Hanson-type role as narrator of everything happening across the league, and giving context to this play in the context of everything happening across NFL Week 14 and the rest of the season as a whole. But in that context, I'm pretty happy with this call, and how I segued out of it to the scoreboard thereafter; my only regret is referencing Dolphins-Chargers in 1982 as a Wildcard game and not a Divisional game (which I knew but just couldn't get the words out of my brain quickly enough).
     
    #663 ConigliarosPotential, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  14. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    If any Pats fans are hesitant to watch that play again, I should remind you that I've rewatched the whole of Super Bowl LI, including all of the fourth quarter and overtime. (It did take me a few months to get there, but still...everything is relative, right?) ;)

    That aside, my broadcast yesterday had a few quirks. One of them came at halftime, where I'd done a nearly flawless highlights recap, nailed the first page of the scoreboard, and then as we went to the second page and I started talking about the forthcoming Niners-Broncos game, I got something in my throat and my voice just disappeared for a few seconds. I had to apologize and was rather lucky my voice didn't disappear for longer, as I was still at least a minute away from the safety of a promo (during which I could be silent); I wish I'd made a self-deprecating crack like the one I heard Scott Hanson make later on the RedZone Channel - he was stuttering over something and said, "Spit it out, Hanson!" - so I'll file that away for future reference. No real harm done on that one...but then later on, at the first ad break in the forth quarter I was supposed to voice over another set of highlights of late third-quarter and early fourth-quarter action when the guys in the control room accidentally rolled the first set of first-quarter highlights we'd done earlier in the day. The James Develin TD from the start of the Pats game came on, and I nervously noted that these were the first quarter highlights, then the first Bucs TD against the Saints aired, and then another one, and even as I was trying to re-describe every incident, I said something like "I think our control room has played the wrong video" to try and more bluntly get their attention. And then finally they segued into the correct video, albeit too late to get all of the highlights shown before our live game was to resume. I think my lesson learned there isn't that I broke the fourth wall and tried to speak to our director - I've heard that done quite a few times by more savvy presenters/anchors than me down the years - but rather that I should have tried to find a spot in which to compliment everyone's normally great work in the control room, because a) they do generally do a spiffy job, b) it's good for morale to have everyone feel like I'm pulling with them rather than pushing against them, and c) it's good for our audience to have confidence that everyone involved in the broadcast is on the same team as well. I would hope that everyone already knows b) and c) are both true anyway, but if you have the chance to turn a negative into a positive, I think you ought to try.
     
  15. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Meanwhile, after getting back home in Scotland after 12:30 a.m. last night, I was up again after five hours' sleep for my flight to Vienna this morning. And I've just used my night off to see a production of Grieg's "Peer Gynt" ballet at the Vienna State Opera House, queuing up three-and-a-half hours in advance to make sure I could get an optimal space in the front row of the downstairs standing section (cost: €4). I mention it because while I was waiting in the queue, a guy arrived across from me with two women and said to one his companions - in his best WFAN caller accent - "This better not f---ing suck." His name was Tommy, he was from East Meadow on Long Island, he was there with his Georgian girlfriend (as in, the ex-Soviet republic) and her cousin, and he's a big Eli Manning (and Islanders) fan. He enjoyed my call of yesterday's play, anyway, and couldn't believe he was in a queue at the ballet alongside an NFL and hockey commentator; I'd like to think I talked him off as far off the cultural ledge as was humanly possible, but there's no way in hell he enjoyed the avant-garde spectacle that I just witnessed.
     
  16. Winger 03

    Winger 03 Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,257
    Thanks for the look at the inside of broadcasting!
     
  17. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    So, my aforementioned hockey commentating colleague failed to show up on time for his CHL game today. He thought it started at 5:30 p.m. CET, instead of 5:00, and he showed up just in time to breathlessly rush to the booth about 30 seconds after the opening faceoff. Never mind that he got the start time wrong, which should never happen (but people make mistakes)...maybe you should aim to arrive more than 30 minutes before the opening faceoff anyway? I mean, I got to the studio about 2 hours and 15 minutes ahead of time today, and I always want to leave myself at least an hour to settle in, check the starting lineups, etc.; I can't fathom that sort of casual attitude.
     
  18. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Huh. The former Harvard goalie done good tonight - Steve Michalek stopped 44 shots, and even though his teammates only registered 15 shots between them, Red Bull Salzburg hung on to tie Kärpät Oulu 1-1 in Oulu and advanced to the CHL semifinals 4-3 on aggregate. And there they will face Red Bull Munich, whose game against Malmö finished 5-5 after overtime (and 7-6 to Munich on aggregate), which means I face the daunting task of potentially calling Red Bull vs. Red Bull. A bit like calling Newcastle United vs. Manchester United or Leicester City vs. Manchester City, and not being able to say "United" or "City". It's all very weird because we're now five years into the CHL's existence, and this is the first time an Austrian club or a German club has reached the semifinals...and now they're facing each other. Unfortunately, Red Bull's Brant Harris missed an empty netter he probably should have buried seconds before the end of the game, which means Salzburg only got 1 point for a tie on the night instead of 3 points for a win, which means their odds of hosting the final have fallen significantly; if I had to guess, I'll probably be going to Gothenburg for the Final, which is a lovely city but one I've been to twice before already.

    Meanwhile, my next NFL assignment this weekend is Packers-Bears, which was definitely on the shortlist of games I wanted to get. Pretty happy about that one!
     
  19. tmracht

    tmracht lurker

    Messages:
    103
    So fun to watch this thread i even forced myself to rewatch the Drake play :(
     
  20. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Then my work here is done. :)
     
  21. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Two noteworthy moments bookended the pregame portion of my Packers-Bears broadcast last night:

    --I had written my opening paragraph-and-a-half to introduce the broadcast a few days ago, and we did it that way during rehearsal, and it worked fine. But for the opening visual of the show, whereas we normally take a wide shot of the stadium we capture 10-20 minutes before the start of the game (when Fox or CBS gives us at least 20-30 seconds on their feed we can record), yesterday we also got some archival footage of Vince Lombardi and the Bears-Packers rivalry down the years, and Producer James decided to cut some of that and use it, in such a way that I was asked if I could perhaps rewrite the opening of my intro to make my words match those sorts of pictures. So I started dabbling and shuffling words around...and before I knew it, our one-minute opening sequence had begun, and I still hadn't finished polishing the text exactly as I'd wanted it. I think I sorted it out with 20 seconds to go, but it was a rather more nervy start than I'd wanted!

    --It turns out that one of the reasons I almost ran out of time on the rewrite was that Director Jay started the broadcast a minute or two before he should have! I knew something was amiss when I was talking about each game on yesterday's schedule, having edited some content out of that segment because it was running long, and suddenly heard Jay's voice in my ear saying, "Slow down - take your time." I almost never hear him speak during our NFL shows like that...anyway, I kept going through the pregame running order as normal, but as I got to the end, just at the point I was about to kick it across to Chris Myers and Daryl Johnston at Fox, I again heard Jay say something along the lines of, "We're a minute short - fill as much as you can." I hadn't prepared as much filler material yesterday as I've sometimes done in the past, simply because we've never needed it and have always been on time, so I had to think pretty fast - but I managed to pivot back to what the game meant for both teams, mentioning in greater detail that the Bears could win the NFC North even with a loss should the Dolphins defeat the Vikings, and that let me talk more about the Vikings, and although Jay's voice was never in my ears again while I was vamping, I think I probably filled maybe 50-55 seconds and linked everything together just well enough as to appear pretty seamless.

    Apart from that stuff, it was a pretty humdrum broadcast - and by the time our game was done, there were no other interesting early games remaining to be completed, so we didn't even end on a live RedZone look-in as we've done every week in the recent past. After we'd finished Jay told me that he was just about to pull the lever to cut to the RedZone channel when I started to say, "We will now sign off from NFL Week 15 here on DA-ZONE..." - my RedZone feed had the Vikings in victory formation, which certainly didn't seem cut-worthy! - and he decided not to, which I think was sound editorial policy.
     
  22. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Meanwhile, instead of driving back to Scotland last night, I stayed over in Bradford with my wife's aunt and uncle, and this morning I set out for Salford (on the outskirts of Manchester) to meet with a golf producer at the BBC. I had sort of viewed this as a fool's errand - I mean, I'd absolutely love to use my golfing knowledge and background as a commentator, but the BBC doesn't show that much golf, and I didn't really think I had much of a chance of worming my way into commentary contention there. However, following my meeting, I think I may actually have a shot. For one thing, the BBC often sends a reporter to key European Tour events in the UK - specifically the European PGA Championship at Wentworth, the British Masters, and the Alfred Dunhill Links Challenge in St. Andrews - but can struggle to recruit qualified people to show up for four days, so I may be able to do some of that next year. Secondly, the Solheim Cup is at Gleneagles next year, and the BBC will likely be trying to do an online radio commentary on a tight-ish budget - for which my skills, American accent and price point might be suitable. We also talked about me perhaps doing a live audition during one of the pro-am days at Wentworth, or perhaps even try rigging up some sort of TV commentary setup in a Salford studio during The Masters for an hour or two, as well as perhaps trying to get involved with BBC World and their sports bulletins (the sort of show you might catch in hotel rooms around the world). The real prize for me here is the definite possibility down the road, once I've done enough other stuff in-house to justify my inclusion, of me getting involved with BBC Radio's coverage from Augusta at The Masters, as the producer said he could definitely use another American voice who knows the Masters and the area. And if I ever get to commentate at The Masters...I mean, in my eyes that would pretty much justify my entire commentary career, no matter where else it might go from here. :)
     
  23. tmracht

    tmracht lurker

    Messages:
    103
    Holy bananas that's quite a carrot to dangle for you! Best of luck hope they can sneak into a few European Tour events!
     
  24. StupendousMan

    StupendousMan Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,016
  25. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Thanks, guys. I have to be careful about getting my hopes up with this sort of thing...but at the same time, having hope and believing I really can push on to the next level(s) absolutely helps keep me going when I may not feel like slogging through, e.g., another round of NFL rosters research.

    Meanwhile, I've spent a fair amount of time over the past two days updating my commentary website, which now is very much up-to-date with all of my best clips and summaries of what I've done on a sport-by-sport basis. I assume that it can't hurt to have a site like this as a reference I can send to other people, unless perhaps I wind up showcasing old games in which my commentary skills hadn't yet reached my current level...and that often feels like quite a problem, in that my skills are probably trending upward at a rate which exceeds my capacity to record and publicize those improvements. (I guess that's a nicer problem to have than the alternative of not actually improving, mind you.)
     
  26. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    My NFL game tomorrow is Rams at Cardinals. Which I first thought was pretty awful - particularly given the 9:05 p.m. UK start time, which means my Christmas Eve will start with me on the road until three in the morning. But then I saw Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis are calling the game for Fox, and then I looked at the schedule again...and really, there aren't many good games tomorrow at all. And certainly none we likely could have taken, given that we only ever get the seventh or eighth choice of games at best after Bell Canada is done picking and choosing. So a chance to look closely at the Rams and to see if their offense can get back on track (with a play-by-play guy I like very much in my ear) maybe isn't the worst thing in the world.

    I do find that a late game means more work for me on the day. Perhaps it means slightly less prep up front, in that I'll be running through live scores rather than a long list of games starting soon that I can prepare to introduce. But the running order for tomorrow involves showing highlights of the two Saturday games during the first two ad breaks in the first half, and then for the next nine ad breaks after that (running into the second half), I'll be voicing over highlights of one of the early games. That means I never really get to take a break, and my attention is that much more divided between live action (from our featured game and the RedZone Channel) and the need to look at box scores and running orders of each of the early games and their highlights in succession. On the plus side, I get to be heard a lot more in this format, so I'm getting to practice my craft that much more. And really, if Scott Hanson can work for seven hours without stopping, surely I can cope with three-and-a-half hours, right? (Even if I'm sure he has much more direct support from his studio team than I do...and quite possibly a pot to piss in under his desk.)
     
  27. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Well, for the first time ever, last night a timeout called to ice a kicker at the end of the game was unambiguously a good thing, at least from my perspective. We were going into the second ad break of the Rams-Cardinals game, and Bill O'Brien's timeout to try and ice Jake Elliott at the end of Texans-Eagles delayed the kick just long enough to fit perfectly into our break as a live look-in - I had enough time to set up the situation and then hand off to Ian Eagle for his call, then take back control to quickly sum things up and quickly talk through the playoff standings that popped upon the screen before we went back to our game. All very serendipitous.

    That said...I learned before the game that we'd basically had the choice of two viable games this week, and our other choice would have been Giants-Colts, which I certainly would have chose beforehand for many reasons (likely to be more competitive, Colts needing to win to stay in playoff contention, Giants as a ratings draw, Saquon Barkley, early window of games, me getting home at 2:45 a.m.) even independent of the way the two games worked out. Instead, I was actually waving people away from our game toward Saints-Steelers by the final two-minute warning, and if anyone still had our broadcast on by the end, he or she was probably asleep. I wonder what our final viewing figures will be...
     
  28. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    My final NFL game of the year: Ravens-Browns. Awesome...exactly the game I was hoping for (among those I thought we might realistically get), even if it means another late night next Sunday. Merry Christmas to me!
     
  29. jungleboy

    jungleboy lurker

    Messages:
    121
    Completely random question. Do you know, or know of, James Fielden? He is a young British football (soccer) commentator for talkSport, BT Sport and Aston Villa TV, and is a good friend of mine.
     
  30. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Huh - I can't say that I do. I don't watch that much footbal on BT Sport these days, and I rarely listen to talkSport if I can help it. (And for obvious reasons, I don't have any reason to watch Aston Villa TV!) But I'm always keen to meet other commentators...I'll maybe take this offline and send you a PM.
     
  31. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    I've just been told that our Browns-Ravens broadcast is pulling in three times as many viewers as any of our other featured games on DAZN this season. This is great fun.
     
  32. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

    Messages:
    6,712
    yeah you got yourself the most exciting game of the day, frankly. hope you got some good calls out of it.
     
  33. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    That was quite a hectic broadcast, just as I might have expected. Actually, that started on Saturday when I was preparing for the game and, while looking at Lamar Jackson's game-by-game rushing totals, realized that our stats team had gotten Jackson's passing and rushing numbers completely wrong in the context of a pregame graphic they were preparing. I calculated the figures myself and sent back a somewhat pointed email to Producer James and the stats crew, then five minutes later realized that it wasn't really my job to alienate people just for the sake of being right and sent a second email apologizing for being overly harsh and thanking the stats team for their support throughout the season. (The stats guy said not to worry, that he only wanted to get everything right and that he was glad I was switched on...but sometimes I need to remember I'm not actually a producer myself.)

    As for last night, I made a few mistakes particularly early on - e.g., at the end of one segment in an ad break I accidentally referenced Baltimore as being in the AFC South, and in another I got mixed up about whether Baltimore would be the #3 or #4 seed in the playoffs with a win before correcting myself at the last moment. (I had printed off and studied the NFL's official clinching scenarios document, but until our broadcast started I hadn't really noticed that the document didn't cover seeding positions, which was really frustrating.) But certainly by halftime I was locked in, even though every RedZone highlights script I was given seemed to have at least one or two errors that I had to identify and fix on the fly - e.g., including a play that wasn't in the highlights, failing to include one that was, misreported scores, and/or omitted yardage or player information. And as the game hotted up in the second half I was locked in and just loving how I'd kinda managed to be at the center of the sporting universe for one day. How Bell Canada managed to leave us Browns-Ravens to broadcast is still a mystery - that was my first Nantz/Romo featured game, although we did have the one Buck/Aikman game last year.

    Anyway, that ends a pretty amazing year for me which started, in commentary terms, with Spartak Moscow vs. Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL on the 6th of January. In 2018 I called a total of 57 hockey games, 6 basketball games, 1 soccer match, 10 tennis matches, 17 softball games (in 6 days) and 12 baseball games (in 7 days), and of course I also presented 16 NFL games. I got to commentate on my first Olympics, travel to Jakarta and Copenhagen and of course Vienna, almost by accident provide my own commentary on the most exciting play of the NFL season (the end of the Pats-Dolphins game in Miami), and get trapped by snow in Leeds while calling pretty much the entire KHL playoffs. There's a scene at the end of season one of 30 Rock in which Jack Donaghy is lying in a hospital bed after a heart attack and laments, "I only wished I could have worked more", and in my case that's actually true: I work really hard at what I do, but I absolutely love what I do, and I want to do what I do more and more and more.

    Alas, I'm not sure how much work I'm going to get in 2019. For now I'm frozen out of the KHL; I'm not likely to get many (if any) soccer matches to call; the FIBA basketball producers in London like my work but tend to stick to their regular rotation of commentators based down south; Agent Tim seems to be spending half his time in Ukraine at the moment, and hasn't been terribly responsive of late; and there are no special events like the Olympics or Asian Games on the horizon, at least at the moment. Maybe I'll get some golf work, but in general, I'm quite apprehensive and even a bit frightened about the year to come - which I know is the nature of freelance work, but driving back up the road last night while listening to Michaels/Collinsworth call the Colts-Titans game, I felt quite sad. It was the end of my NFL season, and the end of another chapter in my commentary journey; I guess I just need to keep digging and looking under every rock, and trust that more opportunities will in fact come my way. Happy New Year, everyone!
     
  34. jungleboy

    jungleboy lurker

    Messages:
    121
    A couple that I'm potentially looking at are the European Games in Minsk in June and the men's basketball world cup in China in Aug-Sep. Minsk is the more likely one for me at the moment.
     
  35. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Yeah, those are both on my horizon - I'd love to go to China in particular, and there is a chance I could get selected for that, but I'm not really sure of my place in the FIBA production team's pecking order. (I know one of Agent Tim's other commentators went to Rumania for EuroBasket last year, but although FIBA may be more willing to go outside their normal stable of voices for big events like the World Cup, I may be too far on the outside looking in at the moment.)
     
  36. bernardsamuel

    bernardsamuel Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    169
    CP, I was looking at your post #683 upthread, and for whatever it may be worth, it struck me that you communicate as well in the written word as in the spoken word. Perhaps if the incoming year is not as filled with commentating assignments as you'd like, some of the slack could be utilized for you to write your first book. In essence, you've serialized (one possibility for) that opus already through your posting history, and I hope that you've become aware that you have engendered your own informal fan club among us. This achievement is perhaps more remarkable, given your Falcons partiality a couple of years ago. I would hope that your Agent Tim has connections that would be helpful to you in authorship/screenwriting. Have a successful 2019, in whatever ways you will be measuring success!
     
  37. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
  38. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    My wife and kids went south yesterday for a two-day trip to Harry Potter World - the studio tour, etc., just north of London - so I've been living the bachelor's life. I haven't shaved or left the house, really, and I've eaten leftover duck meat for lunch, dinner and lunch again (with more to come shortly for dinner). But I'm not exactly lounging around being unproductive: I did about five hours of communications consultancy work yesterday to help pay the bills, and believe it or not today I've just about finished my 2018 US tax return. Which I wouldn't have done so soon, except my daughter is applying to a private school next year, and I needed to finish the return in conjunction with the financial aid application I'll be moving along to shortly. I'm glad to have it out of the way already, if nothing else...although I'll still have my UK tax return for 2017-18 to complete by the 31 January deadline. (I've certainly had a LOT of classical music on the radio and on Spotify in the background over the past 36 hours!)

    In between the above tasks, I worked until 3 a.m. last night preparing for my CHL semifinal first leg on Tuesday between Red Bull Salzburg and Red Bull Munich. I don't think two "Red Bull" teams have played a competitive match against each other in any sport as such, so I did some research on Red Bull's corporate sponsorship history; as noted above, I'm sure that at some point I'm going to call one of the teams "Red Bull" and then apologize for my imprecision. The main thing that took me so long last night, though, apart from the normal prep work I typically undertake, involved taking the roster sheets I normally prepare - chock full of as many player and team facts as I can fit onto a single sheet of A4 paper per club - and distill their essence into a single page that has a few team facts, the rosters and coaches for both teams, the tournament stats for each player (goals/assists/points or GAA/Sv%), and two small fact boxes per player. That's it. One of the issues I have at times is that I prepare so much material, I often can't find exactly the perfect nugget for any given situation in the heat of battle; what I've hopefully done last night is come up with a new system whereby my full fact pack remains available to me as a background resource, but now I can just hold one piece of paper in my hand that gives me 90% of what I need. It's a lot easier to just dump data onto a piece of paper than it is to go through all of that data and make it accessible and relevant, but if I've done this right, the quality of my commentary should improve noticeably - particularly at the CHL Final in February, when I'm in the arena myself and will benefit from only needing to hold the one piece of paper when I don't have loads of wall space available to which I can stick my research sheets. The problem is that it took much more time and effort to do this than I normally expend...but it's possible that if this new system helps wean me off of my dependency on excessive research, I might be able to just start with this new system in the future and actually save time relative to normal. We'll see.

    Meanwhile, my final trip to Vienna of the season - from 15-17 January - will involve me catching a very late direct flight back to Scotland from Bratislava, the day after the second leg of the Red Bull semifinal. So I've got a rare day in which I can treat myself to an excursion from Vienna: I've done Bratislava itself a few times before, so I'm looking for alternatives. Salzburg (which I love) is tempting, but there's a non-zero chance I'll wind up there for the Final, in which case I'd rather go somewhere else; I'm also looking at Passau in Germany, two hours away by train, which is where I did an exchange trip with my high school German class in my teens, but if anyone has any other great ideas for day excursions from Vienna, I'd love to hear them!
     
  39. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

    Messages:
    6,712
    An in-depth tour of Schonbrunn Palace wouldn't suffice? That's out of town but still reachable by the subway.
     
  40. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    It might - thanks for the idea! - but I was hoping for something more "out in the country". I mean, I might just take the two-and-a-half hour train to Halstatt (pictured below), have lunch and hang out for a few hours, and then go back, just because who wouldn't want to enjoy this view?

    [​IMG]
     
  41. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Well, I'm definitely not going to Salzburg for the CHL final - the first leg of the all-Red Bull semifinal finished 0-0. Pretty sure that's my first hockey game at any level (college, CHL, KHL or Olympics) that finished goalless; both sides hit the post, and the atmosphere was great, and the Salzburg/ex-Harvard goalie Steve Michalek had a skate blade come clean out on him when it hit the post as he was trying to shift laterally (and he had to sit on the bench for a few minutes while they fixed everything), but that was about it. Meanwhile, my commentary colleague got to call nine goals in the other semifinal first leg, which finished 6-3 to Frolunda Gothenburg over HC Plzen and included a couple of shorthanded goals, a hat-trick and all sorts of other fun stuff. Oh well.

    My new system, mentioned a few posts above, was partially successful. I think it would have worked better if I'd stuck the one-page sheet to the bottom of my monitor between the two-page sheets, rather than holding it on a clipboard...but I think the latter will work well enough for the final, when I'm standing up and my field of vision is 360 degrees. I'll try to refine the concept for next week's second leg on Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, I was just about to start voicing over the highlight package for my game, and the new cutter on the other side of the glass from me (working on maybe his third-ever highlights package, he told me) asked me if I wanted to watch the highlight package before I voiced it over. I'd watched literally two seconds when I said, "Cut!" - he hadn't included any introduction, but went straight to the first scene. Sigh...
     
  42. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    I had a fairly depressing call with Agent Tim today - my first chat with him in a while. I learned that he's actually heavily involved in a new project to combat Russian propaganda and disinformation across the EU and has spent a fair amount of time in Brussels recently, which is one of the better excuses I've heard for going dark (and a very worthy cause.).

    That aside, the news is generally not very good. It looks like DAZN is expanding its Miami operation, and it seems highly unlikely that I'll be getting any KHL work this season. (Such a shame to take all of my institutional knowledge and piss it away like that...) Same goes for soccer - Tim's hardly been getting any games from DAZN to spread amongst his stable of commentators, and while that might change next season when the English Premiership comes to DAZN in a way that might knock on other matches to me, that wouldn't be until August at the earliest, and I'm not holding my breath. Basketball...I actually wrote a letter directly to my contact at FIBA, bypassing Tim, after our call to see if there's anything I can do to improve my chances of climbing the ladder. (Going to the World Cup in China this summer seems like an impossibility.) I do have six confirmed ATP 1000 tennis dates down in London in March - three for Indian Wells, three for Miami - so rather strangely, it looks like the sports I need to start following most closely for professional reasons are tennis and golf, even though this time last year golf wasn't on my radar and tennis was maybe fourth or fifth on my list.

    All is not hopeless, of course, but after the CHL Final in early February, I'm probably going to have a lot of time on my hands unless I can dig up some more work myself.
     
  43. Lose Remerswaal

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

    Messages:
    33,134
    We're all hoping it works out for you
     
  44. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Thanks, Lose.

    So, I'm currently on a train to Salzburg, where the hockey game I'm commentating on tonight (Red Bull Salzburg vs. Red Bull Munich). And after visiting the city - and possibly the rink - for maybe three hours or so, I'll hop back on a train to Vienna, where I'll actually call the game from my normal studio. What a world. I decided I had more time today to get to and from Salzburg than I would tomorrow, and having found some pretty cheap train tickets (€36 return), if nothing else it would beat sitting in my hotel room all day, and probably be more productive. I emailed the Red Bull Salzburg media coordinator yesterday to see if he'd be around, and when the two teams would be practicing, but unfortunately that's not going to work out...and my train actually had technical difficulties (we were diverted to a different station and had to switch trains) and we're now 40 minutes late, so my stay is going to be briefer than I'd like. But hey, I should be able to add some first-person color that I might not otherwise have been able to add.
     
  45. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    I did go to the rink in Salzburg after all - very small (just over 3,000 capacity), feels very modern even though it opened in 1960, seats set back a little bit from the rink, and behind one net is a club level sort of setup with few seats and a hospitality area behind it.

    It was a very nice trip - I rewatched the second and third periods of last week's game on the train back to Vienna as part of my prep, and I enjoyed the views from the train and the snow around Salzburg in addition to maybe two hours of walking and sightseeing in the city itself (and stops at a wurst stand for lunch and a Konditorei for apple strudel and cream for dessert). I went to Salzburg on my first-ever trip to Europe with my dad, more than 30 years ago now, and it remains as charming as ever; I think that was my fourth time in the city, and there remains a small chance I might go back there next month if Frolunda Gothenburg's arena fails to tick all the boxes regarding the technical requirements set out by the CHL. (I don't see why it would - I was there for the final two years ago - but it's definitely not the CHL's favorite venue.)

    Anyway, tonight's game starts at 8:20 p.m. CET - which I think makes it the latest start time in CHL history. If this game goes to overtime and penalty shots, there's a real chance I won't catch the last train back to my hotel even though I only have one highlights package to voice over after the game. I wouldn't mind that result, actually; I'm all in favor of drama and tension, even if it means working for free (sort of) and being inconvenienced (to take the night bus).
     
  46. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Hey...this is more like it! 2-1 to Munich at the end of one period, with all three goals coming in the final 7 minutes. Anyone who is bored out there and has a VPN capability might want to pull up a chair and watch the game - I think the link is:

    http://www.championshockeyleague.co...t-stats=team-statistics&tab_event=live-stream

    (It's geo-blocked in the USA, unfortunately, as someone there has the rights - not sure if my commentary is being used on that feed or not!)
     
  47. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Well, anyone who tuned in from the start of the second period only got to see one more goal - Red Bull Munich is through to the final to play Frolunda Gothenburg on February 5. And so I'm off to Sweden again, on my third trip to Gothenburg...but this time, it's been confirmed that the game will be at the Scandinavium, the larger and better and more central of the two arenas in Gothenburg, instead of at the Frolundaborg arena on the outskirts of the city where my other two games there (including the 2017 Final) took place. So that's exciting, and should make this trip feel fresher than it otherwise might have.

    It wasn't the best of games to call after the bright start, but certainly better than the first leg, and I felt really in control of my voice tonight in a way I don't often do. I consciously tried to keep the pitch of my voice lower when more intensity of feeling was called for, and having gone back and listened to my goal calls and a few other passages of play besides, I sounded exactly how I wanted to sound. I wasn't flawless or anything, and I could sense my intensity flagging late in the game (which finished not long before 11 p.m., not helped by two delays near the start of of the game to sweep piles of confetti off the ice thrown during the pregame festivities that fell down off the mesh above the glass at one end of the ice); I think I was at my best in the first period, which makes sense given the fatigue I inflicted upon myself from all of my travel to, within and from Salzburg. But I had plenty of moments to savor, including:

    --Getting plenty of mileage out of my trip to Salzburg, talking about my walk around the Altstadt during the day and all sorts of other first-hand impressions that would really cause anyone thinking I was commentating off a monitor from Vienna to do a double-take.

    --Calling Patrick Hager's goal that put Munich 3-1 up with less than 10 minutes to play "the dagger", realizing the play on words between "Hager" (pronounced HAH-ger) and "dagger", and coming back to it by sort of pronouncing "dagger" halfway toward a rhyme with "Hager".

    --Noting that when Munich goalie Danny aus den Birken had possession at the end of the game when the Salzburg goalie had been pulled for an extra attacker, he might be tempted to "try a Ron Hextall" and try to score down the ice - a reference that came really, really deep out of my sphincter.

    There's a riff in the double episode at the start of Season 2 of The West Wing, told in flashback, in which Jed Bartlet is acting up and acting out at his subordinates, and his wife points out that he's not ready to be president yet, and then by the end of the second episode, Jed turns to Leo and says, "I'm ready":



    That's exactly where I am as of tonight regarding my hockey commentary: I'm ready. For an NHL job, or for whatever else might come my way. I've always felt like I was good at this, and that I have potential...but now, I know I'm ready. I just have to find someone to hire me! (Or maybe I'll wind up doing something else; I'm certainly not going to stop working to get better, both at hockey and anything else.)
     
  48. StupendousMan

    StupendousMan Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,016
    Wow. Now there's a fact I had no idea was stored deep inside my brain ... until I read this. Thanks! I'll bet your listeners appreciated it, too.
     
  49. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,488
    Last week I wrote an email to the manager of the FIBA media unit in London for whom I'd been calling my basketball games - the World Cup qualifiers and the Americas League. I feel like I've proven myself as a capable basketball commentator, and certainly relative to some of the voices I've heard when I've been on FIBA duty, I think I'm right up there with the best I've heard...and also, for a worldwide audience, surely it sounds more natural to hear basketball called in an American accent than a British accent, no? (That argument goes against me when it comes to soccer, so I feel it ought to work in my favor when it comes to basketball...)

    But as the World Cup qualifying process has continued and there have been fewer games to call, I've been frozen out in favor of FIBA's regular group of commentators who, presumably, live nearer to London and probably cost a bit less as well. So I basically wrote the FIBA media manager to ask if there was anything I could do in the future to improve my chances of getting more gigs, whether in World Cup qualifiers or other FIBA-run competitions like the Basketball Champions League (the second or third tier European club competition). In doing this, I bypassed Agent Tim, who has normally served as my go-between with FIBA; I'd asked Tim a few weeks ago if he thought I had any chance of being picked to call games at the forthcoming FIBA World Cup in China, and he said no, there wasn't.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, FIBA media manager got back in touch the other day to thank me for my note and to ask, without much explanation, if I'd be interested and available to go to China for this summer's World Cup. They are sending eight two-man commentary teams to China, one for each of the eight venues there, and it seems that I might well be in the running for one of those eight play-by-play jobs, probably calling games in both the first and second group stages (i.e., everything before the quarterfinals). Which would be awesome...except for a few factors:

    --The timing is really terrible. I would fly over to China on August 30 and return on September 10, which would mean missing most of not all of the first 8 CHL dates of the new season as well as the first weekend of the NFL season. It's like the old UK saying about London buses: you wait forever for one bus (or gig, etc.), and then suddenly two or three appear at once. I'd still want to go to China, but the pay on offer will have to justify the trip.

    --I've now inadvertently gone behind Agent Tim's back, sort of. I'm not sure how my agent-client relationship is developing at the moment; in theory, he should be the guy fighting my corner in situations like this, right? But I seem to be doing all of my own heavy lifting at the moment.

    So...very mixed feelings about all this.
     
  50. jungleboy

    jungleboy lurker

    Messages:
    121
    Sounds like great news overall, well done. As I mentioned upthread somewhere, I'm interested in going to the FIBA World Cup for the news service, but it doesn't look likely that I'll be there for a few different reasons.

    Regarding your two points, I would say that for the first one, it depends on how you view the FIBA job. Is basketball something you really want to get into more? Did your Asian Games experience want to get you more into events as opposed to week-by-week work? Is this likely to open other doors for you in the future? If yes to any/all, then it's probably more important than your regular gigs and therefore worthwhile doing, assuming you are able to resume the other jobs when you get back. For the second one, it sounds like Tim didn't really do his job in being unable to get you a gig for China in the first place. So to go and get this job by yourself when he was unable to do so seems perfectly legitimate to me.
     
    #700 jungleboy, Jan 22, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019

Share This Page