How did you get your start in broadcasting?I started doing internships during my college years to get experience. I would wait tables in the summer to make money, and then work for free at the local TV station. At Notre Dame, I worked as a stage manager for Notre Dame telecasts, did feature reports for the local station, and had a sports talk radio show. I also was a deejay on the campus radio station. When I got out of college I actually landed my first two jobs by answering want ads in the back of trade magazines.
Describe a typical broadcast day?I do a lot of different events, so there isn't one typical day...but I can tell you that for the morning "SportsCenter,” I get up around four o’clock in the morning even though the show doesn't begin until nine a.m. We are responsible for all the writing on the show, as well as planning out our interviews and segments. And of course, we have to look at the highlights beforehand. Then there's the practical matter of hair and makeup. Plus we read websites, papers and listen to sports radio to get prepared...so it's quite a long day before we even hit the air...and then it's three hours of live TV!
What do you think are the most important skills needed to be successful in broadcasting?The biggest key is to really be yourself and be confident in that. Trying to imitate someone and be something that you are not just doesn't work. Obviously you have to be a genuine fan and knowledgeable about a variety of sports...it has to be something you are passionate about. You have to really do your homework and be prepared. And you have to be a skilled writer, as well as a good listener.
What are some important lessons that you have learned from the media business?It's important to always understand that you are part of a team. It takes a lot of people to put any successful show on the air and you have to respect others and their roles. The same goes for anyone you work with on the air. Your job is to make them look good...that way the whole show is successful. It's just like learning to be part of a baseball or basketball team. You wait for your opportunities and are always prepared when you get them. You are happy for your teammates and you set them up for success. And when you get the chance to show your stuff, you do your best, always...and understand that you won't always hit it out of the park. Never stop learning from your mistakes because that is how you grow.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an "on air" personality, whether in sports or general broadcasting?It’s really important to get a good liberal arts education. Writing is a critical skill, and the ability to process a lot of information in an organized manner is also very important. Internships are invaluable because they offer practical experience. You also need to be willing to start in a very small market if need be...and understand that jobs are stepping stones...you're not going to get your dream job right off the bat. You need to be humble along the way and really work hard, but also make sure that you have fun doing it.