June 21, 2013
While the first day of the Broadcast Boot Camp concentrated on “The Studio Show,” Day Two featured a “local focus” to broadcasting—live field reporting, writing a teleprompter script, and presenting that script as a studio anchor. Dick Maxwell, former NFL Senior Director of Broadcasting, mentioned that traditionally the Day Two exercises have been the most difficult for the camp’s participants.
The day began with a panel discussion hosted by sportscaster James Brown, who appears every Sunday on CBS’s The NFL Today. Talent management executives from NFL Network, ESPN, and the Big Ten Network provided insights and advice for the “next steps” of participants’ broadcasting careers. Many aspiring broadcasters dream of working for big-time networks, but panelists encouraged campers to look for opportunities at their local stations.
“Local stations are a great place to ‘get your reps in,’ said Brown. “They provide a terrific training ground to gain experience and learn as much about the industry as possible.”
The panelists echoed Brown, noting that no matter where our participants find themselves, only with a relentless work ethic and strong desire to continually improve will they advance in the industry.
As the panel ended, Boot Camp participants split into two groups—one remained at NFL Films Headquarters for a script writing and teleprompter exercise while the other headed to a local Sports Authority for a live field reporting activity. Upon arrival at Sports Authority, the participants learned of their assignment—they would have to give a live, one minute-and-thirty second interview with an NFL player about the league’s new mandatory pad policy.
The assignment provided a fun role reversal for many current and former players. Used to answering questions, they now experienced the other side of an interview. Though the questioning took some getting used to, with on-site coaching from broadcasting professionals, our current and former players quickly demonstrated the comfort, confidence, and charisma necessary for a successful live interview.
Meanwhile, the other half of the athletes completed a script-writing and teleprompter exercise. Assisted by Jason Romano of ESPN and Jacob Ullman from Fox, our athletes had to write a short script on a current NFL issue, which they would then present from a teleprompter. All-Pro wide receiver Torry Holt predicted the San Francisco 49ers defense would lead them to another Super Bowl appearance. Former running back Doug Chapman spoke passionately about the Redskins naming controversy. And Super Bowl champion Anthony McFarland advised the NFL against re-locating a team to London. Though this exercise is traditionally the most difficult aspect of the Broadcast Boot Camp, talent executives and producers were impressed by the writing and presentation skills.
Finally, after a long day of filming, participants broke into small groups with network producers to review their performance and receive feedback. The intimate atmosphere provided an ideal setting for assessment. Victor Frank of CBS was extremely impressed by the group he reviewed.
“They all did really well,” Frank said. “They are comfortable in front of the camera and will get more comfortable as they gain more experience.”
Each player walks away from Broadcast Boot Camp with a demo reel to show possible employers. Because of the intense learning atmosphere, we can certainly expect to see these current and former players in a broadcasting role sometime in the near future.
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