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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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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    5,920
    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

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    4,193
  10. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,193
  11. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    Thanks for the look at the inside of broadcasting!
     
  17. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    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

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    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

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    101
    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

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    Then my work here is done. :)
     

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