By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — This time of year, there’s just too much happening in sports! You have playoffs in the NHL and NBA, the pro football draft and mini-camps, baseball season in full swing, not to mention numerous golf and tennis tourneys. Often three or more events are scheduled the same night. What’s a sports talker to do?
Obviously you can’t watch every minute of every game. And, oh by the way, you do have a life apart from the job. There are family and friends who deserve attention and other cultural aspects of life that should be acknowledged lest you become too narrowly focused. So, how can you juggle all these priorities and stay current with your demanding job?
In the beginning, an important key is to confess to your audience that you are only human. Admit that you didn’t see the third period of that West Coast hockey game when a donnybrook broke out. A family wedding took your attention away from a rain-delayed baseball game. As long as you are upfront about your omissions and don’t get defensive about it, most will accept and understand.
However, there are events that you can’t miss, regardless of what’s going in your life. Clearly, markets are different – one North Carolina sportscast recently led with a college football spring scrimmage – a note that even the most thorough Northeast media outlet would be loath to even mention unless a deadly melee broke out. It should be obvious – if you know your market – which game your listeners will want to talk about the next day. The tricky part is when there are two or more equally notable things going on at once, or when the top story involves a sport you personally don’t care about. For example, if you are a big time baseball fan, the NFL draft may not light your fire but it may be of more interest to your audience than an early season Mets- Reds series.
There are several essential tools that you must incorporate. A DVR, maybe even two – or a whole-house system, is a necessity. If you have a family, their needs must be taken into account. If the kids want a “Hunger Games” pay-per-view at the same time as an NBA playoff tiff, you probably need to have that covered. (It’s a legit tax write-off). I’ve found that DirecTV trumps most local cable companies for selection and versatility when it comes to sports.
Newspapers and magazines are a must, either in print form or online. You should have several go-to sites bookmarked, with your favorite columnists and writers highlighted. Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” is a must read, and there are many others that warrant your attention on a daily basis. CBS Sports provides not only box scores but full play-by-play for most games – very handy for occasions when walking the dog or a dinner break results in missing an inning or two. It can also be helpful if there’s a game you didn’t prioritize but turns into a hot topic due to unusual circumstances.
MLB Online gives you access to just about every game played with excellent video quality. It’s still inexpensive, and its mini-feature allows you to view a game while saving the majority of your screen for other data.
In the end, there’s nothing like actually watching the games as they unfold. The immediate reactions, the nuances – these still can’t be captured fully even with all the modern technology in our arsenal. But with judicious use of these incredible tools, there’s no excuse for not being on top of any event that piques your listeners’ interest.
Richard Neer is a sports talk host at WFAN, New York, an anchor on A Touch of Grey, and sports editor of TALKERS magazine. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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