By Joy Sun & Matt Gwin
March Madness Pt II: Broadcasting Careers
There’s no denying that the broadcasting of every game is one of the most important aspects of March Madness’ popularity. It’s a spectacular phenomenon — with millions of Americans tuning in during the workday to root violently for schools they’ve barely heard of and bracing for wild finishes and upsets. CBS and Turner Broadcasting share broadcast rights for the tournament. Front and center, you’ll see announcers like Verne Lundquist, Jim Nance, Bill Raftery and studio hosts Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg. But arguably they might have the easiest roles of anyone who works on the broadcasts. Production crews begin working on the broadcasts up to 9 hours in advance to get everything ready.
Behind the scenes of production of a college basketball game:
Announcing is definitely the most glorified of the broadcast jobs. Most announcing teams have a “color commentator,” usually a former player and/or coach, who provides more in-depth insights, and a play-by-play announcer, who narrates and comments on the action as a happens. While color commentators usually need some pedigree, anyone with determination, a good voice, and a way with words could become a play-by-play announcer. Legendary March Madness announcer Gus Johnson has a degree in Political Science, but got involved with broadcasting with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 90s and has made himself one of the most recognizable voices in sports, with some of the most memorable college basketball calls ever (it helps that he can make describing the weather sound awesome).
Producers are responsible for all aspects of the broadcast — directing where the cameras and microphones go to make us feel as close to the action as possible to the action, facilitating communication between various people during the broadcast, controlling timing, crowd shots, transitions to commercials and everything else.
All those great replay angles and close ups of the action wouldn’t be possible without a number of alert, skilled camera operators (usually 10 or more for big nationally televised games) following the action in synch, zooming at the right times, and keeping everything steady and in focus.
Replay & Graphics Coordinators
Graphics coordinators set up and implement all the fancy graphics and info bars you see on a typical sports broadcast, including transition shots, screen wipes, and picture-in-picture infographics. Replay coordinators work alongside them to cut replays in real time and package them for playback as instant replays or in game highlight recaps.
NEXT: Check out March Madness Careers Part III: NCAA Careers and Part I: College Athletic Department Careers