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:
    4,410
    This is the thing: basically, my goal is to get as high up the commentary ladder as I can, but really there are many different paths I might take to get there. If I were a one-sport guy, it'd be pretty easy to chart my path, both in terms of jobs to pursue and sporting knowledge to acquire. But I'm more of a 10-sport guy, which can be rather dizzying at times. I'd love to do more basketball, and I'd very happily commentate on just basketball for a living if that meant getting back to the States and working an NBA or major NCAA job...but to be good at basketball means watching lots of basketball and reading about basketball and listening to basketball podcasts. Which is also fine, but at the moment I'm trying to squeeze in as much Australian Open tennis as I can and will soon start listening to tennis podcasts again ahead of my Indian Wells gig in March, and I've got final-round LPGA and European PGA Tour highlights on my DVR waiting to be watched as I envisage potential golf work down the line, and of course I'm keeping up with the NFL playoffs and my podcasts thereof, and there's hockey prep to be done, and I'm not watching enough soccer, and, and...whew. Where am I, again? And in trying to be a jack-and-master-of-all-trades, inevitably someone is going to see my resume and decide he wants a one-sport specialist or doesn't believe that I'm as good as I think I am (or can be) across all disciplines.

    Anyway, yes, the FIBA gig is potentially a fantastic opportunity - if I'm offered it. But every fantastic opportunity comes with its own opportunity cost. So nothing is straightforward.
     
  2. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    nm
     
    #702 ConigliarosPotential, Jan 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
  3. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    The Champions Hockey League Final is next Tuesday, at 7 p.m. CET (1 p.m. Eastern), and I've been busy preparing for it this week. The production team emailed me the other day to ask me to pick out a couple of players we should interview in the build-up to the game, as world-feed content for any host broadcaster that wants to take it, and also give a bunch of facts about the players in question as background. Slightly strange...I provided the information and then offered to conduct the interview myself, as I've never done that sort of thing before and would have enjoyed the challenge, but apparently someone from the host broadcaster in Sweden is already lined up for that. I was also asked to give my five top players for each team so their jerseys can be filmed hanging up in the locker rooms before the game, again as pregame content for other broadcasters to use.

    I subscribe to the CHL's YouTube feed, and it's been fun getting alerts for several videos this week that feature my commentary. For example:



    I was curious to hear the commentary on the winning goal in the 2015 Final, as that's the only Final I didn't call myself (I think my young colleague Francis did it out of our Vienna studio, rather than from the venue itself)...but that's the only goal in the video that doesn't have any commentary. Which perhaps tells its own story?

    One thing I've done this week that I've never done before is visit EliteProspects.com and look up the all-time scoring records for the CHL, rather than just looking at stats from this season. And my main takeaway from that exercise is that Frolunda Gothenburg's Ryan Lasch - a 5-foot-7 winger from Lake Forest, California - is the CHL's Wayne Gretzky. I mean, I more or less knew that already, but it's pretty amazing: Joel Lundqvist, Lasch's Frolunda teammate and the brother of the NY Rangers goalie Henrik, is second in career CHL points with 41; Lasch has 68. This year Lasch has 21 points in 12 games, six points clear of the field. Three of the top nine points tallies in a CHL season are Lasch's - including last year, when Frolunda lost in the Round of 16 and he played only seven games (but still posted a cool 4-11-15 line). How he didn't make Tony Granato's Olympic team last year, I'm really not quite sure...anyway, I spoke to Lasch ahead of the 2016 Final in Finland, and I hope to chat with him on either side of the morning skate on Monday.

    Speaking of Frolunda - which ought to have an umlaut over the "o", but I'm so tired of fixing that in my notes at every stage - I've realized that whereas in the past they've always been "Frolunda Gothenburg" to me, this year they are now being rather more formally called the "Frolunda Indians", with that nickname having been informal in the past. I haven't called a Frolunda game this season, amazingly, so I need to check on that...and then decide whether I want to reference the "Indians" at all, which I've never done in the past in large part on account of the club logo, pictured below. What do you think: racist, completely unproblematic, or somewhere in between?

    [​IMG]
     
  4. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    It snowed heavily in Gothenburg all day today, including as my airplane came into land - more than an hour later than scheduled. Should be interesting getting around town tomorrow - not least because I couldn't find my snow boots in my attic when looking for them this morning! At least I shouldn't have too far to walk, for the most part.

    (Really wish I didn't stay up watching the Super Bowl until 3 a.m. last night...at least I could get back into bed for a while after my kids left for school this morning.)
     
  5. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    I went to the morning skate for both Red Bull Munich (in the main, 12,044-seat Scandinavium arena) and Frolunda Gothenburg (in the zero-seat practice rink next door) and interviewed both coaches as well as a star player from each team. Danny aus den Birken, Germany's Olympic hero last year - goalie of the tournament in PyeongChang - was much in demand; below is a picture I took of him being interviewed by Swedish television, just before I talked to him myself. I'm getting to the point where I'm just as happy commentating on a game off of a TV monitor than being at the arena in person, but it's so much better being in the arena myself on game day, being able to talk with coaches and players and media reps for both teams and really getting a feel for the event.

    I met with my production colleagues this morning to go through today's schedule, and in fact I now need to be back at the rink in just under half an hour for a "dress rehearsal" - in which I won't have much to do, but still, we had a few production hitches two years ago in Gothenburg (the biggest of which was that I couldn't hear the interview audio during the post-game celebrations and didn't know if it was an issue with the mics or an issue on my end), so it'll be good to be on top of that. I might just stay at the arena until game time, looking over names and numbers and facts and figures...we'll see.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    Not a classic final: Frolunda scored power play goals on their first three 5-on-4 chances to lead 3-0 after two periods, and that was pretty much that. Ryan Lasch, the "Wayne Gretzky of the CHL" as I called him (he was really embarrassed when I called him that to his face earlier today, but he does have 69 CHL points now in his career, 26 more than anyone else), scored the second of those goals and continued to make me wonder why he wasn't picked for Team USA at the Olympics last year. Red Bull Munich did pull a goal back in the third period when, with 9 minutes left, they pulled their goalie to go 6-on-4 and promptly scored their first PPG of the game on what I think was their seventh chance, but that was that, and it finished 3-1.

    The most interesting part of the production involved setting up my broadcast position. I was basically in the last row of seats, in front of the press box, and with a small, angled surface in front of me on which my sound box, monitor and laptop had to sit. I had three seats to myself, but I had no leg room to speak of, and getting in and out of my position was basically impossible once press row filled up. I pretty much knew my place in the pecking order: Swedish and German TV and radio took all the good spots in the actual press box above me, and they had plenty of space, but whenever someone in the media to my left had to exit press row, they had to somehow get around me, which was not easy with all of the stuff I had around me. At the end of the second period, someone had to pass me just before I was to go back on air; and at the end of the game, during the trophy presentation I knew I was basically keeping four or five people from leaving the arena while I was talking (and eventually stood up and leaned forward to let them out even before I finished talking). Going to the bathroom was out of the question; I went once about 15 minutes before the start of pregame, and I managed to survive until the end of the game without too much bother.

    Anyway, the monitor I was assigned - unlike all of the other monitors I could see on press row - was upright and on a stand, in such a way that I basically had to crouch and lean to my left to get any good view of it at all. (It was also fastened in place with some straps so as to not topple over on the angle of the desk!) That wasn't really acceptable, particularly given that all of the other monitors for the journalists around me laid pretty flat but with a nice angle for easy viewing. I called down to the truck and asked if someone could send an engineer up to me, which duly happened; I helped the engineer remove the stand of my monitor so it could also lie flat, but we couldn't safely strap it in place lying on its side (or reorientate its picture so I could use it upside-down with the stand in, which would have been safe), and in trying to MacGyver a solution together we managed to bend and break the HDMI cable sticking in its back. So eventually the engineer went away and commandeered a different monitor which still wasn't perfect - still quite a steep and upright angle - but just about did the job for me and could be safely strapped in place (and no longer needed an HDMI cable). That pretty much worked fine, although it wasn't optimal...and it really does go to show how commentary conditions in an arena can often be less than perfect.

    As for my own commentary, the arena was really rocking and loud - it was a complete sellout (12,044 fans), and at times I could barely hear myself think. But overall I think I did well; my only real mistake was thinking that a penalty with six-and-a-half minutes left in the third period had been called against Frolunda when it had been called against Munich, and going into the equivalent of an ad break having set the scene that Munich could maybe pull another goal back and make it a great finish, when in fact the reverse was true and I couldn't clear up my mistake for at least a minute. Otherwise, I think my goal calls were all pretty good if not super-memorable; I was incredibly well prepared (and in fact had way, way more material than I could possibly use); and despite the cramped quarters I managed to keep my wits throughout. As always, I look forward to hearing the playback in due course...

    ...and so now, I'm basically unemployed for the next month, or quite possibly the next six months not counting the tennis broadcasts I have lined up. Which is sad for me, but hopefully I can pull a few irons out of the fire - I have a few ideas, but let's see where they lead me. (I might be going a bit dark in this thread for a while, though...we'll see.)
     
  7. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    As a postscript to the CHL Final, I've now listened to the entire broadcast and cut some highlights reels which I'll post below. I'm embarrassed to have overused the phrase "tickled the twine" after several goal calls here - which is the sort of thing that can happen in the heat of the moment - but apart from that I really like how my voice sounds in the live and loud arena. Even my introductory voiceover has an added edge to it, I think, not just the goal and save calls (although my call of Johan Gustafsson's save at around the 6:30 mark of the video, at the end of Munich's 5-on-3 power play chance, is a personal favorite). So yeah, it was a successful trip.

     
  8. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    Actually, here's just my call of that Gustafsson save I mentioned above (and the 5-on-3 sequence leading up to it), clipped separately:

     
  9. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

    Messages:
    6,470
    No angst about the appropriateness of the team moniker for the Frolunda Indians, huh?

    That team logo is barely a half-step above Chief Wahoo.
     
  10. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    Angst from me (see post #703); no angst from anyone else here, it seemed. I called them the "Indians" two or three times on Tuesday, but I tried to stay away from that topic; if this were a game in North America, I would have felt more sure of my footing in terms of commenting on the logo, but for a European/worldwide audience, I played it safe and silent.
     
  11. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    Well, I was officially offered the FIBA World Cup basketball gig...and I've now turned it down. This is mainly because the fee I was offered was less than three-fourths of what I'm in line to earn calling the first two weeks of the Champions Hockey League, which clashes almost perfectly with the World Cup. (And the first NFL Sunday of the season also would have clashed with the World Cup.) When I've got as little commentary work on the cards this year as I currently do, I can't turn down that much money - and as such I much as I'd have loved going to China for the first time, I'm also fairly sure I would have been assigned to the least exciting venue with the least exciting teams. I also decided that working the World Cup wasn't likely to guarantee me more basketball work going forward...and even if it did, most of that work would be low-paying work down in London.

    I think I need to face up to the fact that I can't do everything. I think I have the skills and enough knowledge to be a great basketball commentator, but sometimes I have to understand it's OK for me not to try to keep all of my options open all of the time.
     
  12. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

    Messages:
    6,470
    Did you try to haggle them on the fees, was it presented as a take-it-or-leave-it, or is that sort of thing just not done in the business?
     
  13. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    I wouldn't say it's "not done in the business", but this was the sort of job for which commentating is mostly commoditized - when there are other guys willing and (more or less) able to do the job for the fee that is offered, you don't have a lot of leverage. I responded in the first instance by pointing out that I'd love to do the job but had other potential work that would pay rather more, hoping that might entice a higher offer or a willingness to be flexible...but nope, that clearly wasn't going to happen.
     
  14. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,410
    A few quick odds and ends:

    --Agent Tim emailed me and another one of his commentators today to ask if I could go to London on Sunday to call a pair of FIBA World Cup qualifying games. The other guy got in first and said he was available, which was totally fine by me as I didn't fancy a mad 36 hours of prep followed by the longest day trip in the history of day trips...but I do think the games in question would have been Finland vs. Russia (winner goes to the finals, loser is done) and France vs. Czech Republic, and having called FIN-CZE last year I probably wouldn't have needed to do as much prep work as I'd thought. Oh well...

    --I went into my 11-year-old son's school yesterday for a "World of Work" presentation on what it was like to be a sports commentator. I spoke in front of around 100 kids, and I got a lot of engagement from both students and teachers - I'd set up a bespoke webpage for the day, featuring my main multi-sport demo reel and also used the recent CHL Final as a case study. (If you want to see all the notes I prepared for that game in image form, they're all there in a manner which is easy to digest.) In the Q&A session at the end, one of the kids asked me what my most embarrassing moment was as a commentator, and I discussed my Asian Games baseball call of the Taiwanese third-base coach getting hit in the nuts by a grounder...which of course everyone wanted to see, so right at the end of the session I Googled my baseball demo reel on YouTube (which prompted several kids to exclaim, "You're on YouTube???", which was hilarious) and found the clip pretty quickly, which was much appreciated.

    --I called a few US-based commentary agents this past week, trying to pitch myself as being worthy of representation. It's been harder than I'd expected to even get agents to look at my stuff, let alone actually represent me, but I have found one NYC-based firm willing to receive my CV and demo reels (i.e., link to my website), which I'm told are now circulating round the company with a view to deciding whether I'm good enough to take on. This really is the next big leap I need to move forward, so my fingers and toes are all crossed...and if it's not to be with this firm, hopefully another will step up to the plate for me, and I won't have to face *too* much more rejection.

    --I started listening to my first tennis podcast of the year today. (ATP 1000 Indian Wells coming up in two weeks!)
     

Share This Page