Play-by-play sports announcers broadcast live sporting events on radio and television. They provide detailed descriptions of the action of a sport as it unfolds. In some sports, they work with colour commentators, who give viewers or listeners more in-depth analysis of a sport. They work for cable companies, sports franchises, radio stations and television networks. They specialise in a particular sport or team. A pleasant voice, calm attitude, descriptive ability, good vision and unbiased perspective are key traits in this broadcasting profession.
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Play-by-play sports announcers usually specialise in a particular sport, such as basketball, baseball, car racing, American football, golf, hockey and soccer. They cover live games from press boxes or designated media areas. They narrate game events, provide statistics and inform the audience from a neutral viewpoint. They sometimes provide commentary for specific teams or a variety of clubs.
A bachelor's degree with a concentration in broadcasting, mass communications or sports journalism is a usual requirement. College internships at radio and television stations are prime entry points into the profession. Courses in creative writing, foreign languages, public speaking, and technical writing are helpful.
Play-by-play sports announcers need comprehensive understanding of their chosen speciality area either by previous sport participation or acquired knowledge. Their game commentaries need to be interesting, informative and entertaining. They need a pleasant voice to communicate clearly and concisely and must work well under intense live broadcasting pressure.
Announcers require a calm and pleasant demeanour, clear voice, good people skills, and exceptional research and preparation skills. They interact with athletes, camera operators, coaches, directors, expert commentators, producers, sound technicians and statisticians.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the mean hourly wage for announcers was £12.60 as of May 2008. The mean annual salary was £26,266. Announcers earned yearly salaries from a low of £10,075 to a high of £49,237.
Future employment opportunities, according to BLS, are not favourable for announcers. In a projection made in 2010, there is a 6 per cent reduction from 2008 to 2018. This figure represents a much slower-than-average rate compared to other occupations. Factors that influenced this negative projection are changes in station ownership and increases in media consolidation.
Andres Cantor is an Emmy winning play-by-play announcer and the voice of soccer for the Telemundo Network. In 1994, he became famous in the United States for his cries of "goal." In an interview with a UK-based publication, Soccerlens, Cantor discussed how he approached radio versus television commentary. "On TV I know people are watching and I don't need to be as descriptive as I need to be on radio. Furthermore, the speed of my play-by-play in radio is faster than on TV. Not only do I need to describe more of everything that is going on, but I take my delivery to a sixth gear."
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- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2008: Radio and Television Announcers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010 - 2011 Edition: Announcers
- Soccerlens.com: "Interview with Andrés Cantor, Founding Partner of Fútbol de Primera, and the Voice of Soccer for the Telemundo Network"; Jan. 28, 2008