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view of what cameron sees from where he broadcasts from

The View from My Broadcast Box

I’ve been told that the key to a successful live sports radio broadcast is painting a picture of the scene for your audience. This summer, I have been practicing just that during my internship as an Internet radio broadcaster with the San Luis Obispo Blues. The Blues are a summer collegiate baseball team in San Luis Obispo, California. The players come from all over the country to play for the Blues and the other teams in the California Collegiate League.

Before I explain why my internship is a dream come true for aspiring sports broadcasters, let me introduce myself.

My name is Cameron Songer and I’m a rising sophomore Journalism and Economics major. I’m from San Diego.

Around February, some of the other student broadcasters with WNUR Sports on campus began discussing plans to broadcast summer baseball. I found the Blues, who were hiring a play-by-play broadcaster. I applied for that spot and talked intermittently with the team’s general manager. Although that spot went to a more experienced broadcaster named David, I was offered a spot as a color commentator for home games. When the general manager offered me this role, he cited my perseverance, effort, and presentation of my application.

The next step for me was finding a place to live and a way to pay for my expenses during my unpaid internship. This is where I owe a huge “thank you” to the Medill School and the generosity of Christine Brennan. I received a grant that helped pay for my housing and transportation costs, which meant that I didn’t need to hold a second job during my internship.

As for my day-to-day responsibilities with the Blues, it’s a pretty laid-back atmosphere. I arrive at the stadium between 3 and 4 p.m., depending on how much I have to research the other team. If it’s a team the Blues have played before, then my research takes about 40 minutes and consists of finding up-to-date stats and news about the teams. Depending on how early I get to the stadium, I usually help set up tables and hang banners for our sponsors. By 5:15, the lineups come in to the press box. The last 40 minutes before game time are a scramble to gather notes and interesting stories about the players. I’ll often use this time to go to the visiting team’s dugout to gather extra notes and make sure I can pronounce everyone’s name.

We go on the air at 6 p.m. and the first pitch is a few minutes after 6. David handles most of the intro and play-by-play duties, and I add the “color:” stats and background for each player, winning or losing streaks for each team, and (especially near the end of the season), league standings.

I really like that each game is different. The game of baseball is all about adapting to your opponent; our broadcasts have to be equally flexible. We never know when the pace of the game might slow down and we need to fill the air with some conversation that is only tangentially related to the ballgame.

(Shameless plug: you can listen to any of the broadcasts at http://www.ustream.tv/user/sloblues . We have a webcam that we point toward the action, but it doesn’t pick up a lot of action. I pretend it’s not there and treat each broadcast as if it were on radio.)

At the end of the 5th inning, I move three seats over in the press box and do PA announcements for an inning. It’s a fun change of pace that allows me to rest my voice a little bit.

I grab a quick snack in the top of the 7th, then David signs off and I do a solo broadcast for the last 2 innings. Usually, the Blues are winning at this point and the game moves quickly, but I’ve also had to do extra innings. Broadcasting solo is way more difficult than I imagined: I have to do play-by-play and a little bit of color at the same time to avoid “dead air.”

After the game, I help with clean up of the stadium before driving home. The apartment I’m renting is about 10 minutes away from the stadium; I get home between 9 and 10 p.m.

My advice to other students seeking a similar internship is to be outgoing! If you show a passion for what you’re doing by doing the little things, it will be noticed. Work hard and be honest, and most importantly, never turn down an opportunity to try something new.

About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.