Broadcast internship helps students turn passion into profession
Kerry Crowley said growing up without cable television in his Bay-area home did have an upside – it left him with a vivid imagination. He often entertained himself by portraying Jon Miller, the San Francisco Giants’ Hall of Fame broadcaster, calling the play-by-play in his backyard to an audience of one: himself.
“I re-enacted every San Francisco Giants baseball game I could. I played every position, ran all the bases, hit home runs and caught fly balls. I announced every part of the game and re-created and imagined things as they happened,” said Crowley, a 20-year-old student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“I don’t want to label myself as a geek or a nerd because I have compared notes with a lot of other people who have told me they did the same things growing up. Let’s just say I have always been a student of the game.”
Crowley’s fertile imagination was matched by his love for the game.
“I started attending baseball games at the age of 5, and I’d buy the programs and keep the stats and knew everyone’s numbers,” Crowley said. “My parents could never leave the game early even if it was a blowout because I had to see every pitch, every swing, every play as it unfolded.”
His childhood dreams are slowly becoming a reality: Crowley will head to the Massachusetts coastline in early June for his second summer as a play-by-play announcer for the Cape Cod Baseball League. The summer league, called “the best amateur league in the world” by 60 Minutes, consists of 10 teams that play 44 regular-season games, including postseason playoffs that will end in August.
Crowley won’t be going alone – he’ll be joined by fellow Arizona State University Cronkite School students Troy Lynch, Dominic Cotroneo, Jacob Garcia and Ryan Bafaloukos. The five students will do play calling for online radio, highlighting several national prospects, including Sun Devil baseball players Brian Serven, Ryan Lillard and Colby Woodmansee.
Though Crowley is an experienced hand in Cape Cod, 18-year-old Lynch, who will be a sophomore in August, said he’s looking forward to experiencing the New England culture, living a hundred yards from the ocean and getting vital on-air experience as a field reporter for the first time.
“I’ve always loved sports and have made it my mission to have a fun career. Many people think what broadcasters do is easy, but it’s not,” Lynch said. “A lot of hours go into developing an easygoing style and making it all look and sound natural. Preparation is the real key to success.”
The preparation is serious and takes place several hours before each game, Crowley and Lynch said. Before each game they study team histories, player bios, statistics, records, streaks, slumps, strengths and errors. They also watch batting and on-field practice and conduct one-on-one interviews with the players and coaches to develop a rapport and gain valuable insight on the game.
“It’s all about repetition and getting live air-time to the point where it’s comfortable being in front of a camera or microphone,” Crowley said. “You have to make it sound familiar and exciting at the same time, and each play must stand on its own. It’s a field where the older you get, the better you become.”
The games usually start at sunset and end three hours later. In between, that’s when instincts kick in and take over for the students. Crowley and Lynch estimate they’ll put in close to 70 hours a week during the season but have a shared belief their hard work will eventually turn their passion into a profession.
“It’s a big gamble, but to get somewhere you have to put yourself out there. I have met a lot of people in my very position who go on and get jobs with professional sports teams and networks,” Crowley said. “That’s when you know you’re headed in the right direction.”