A Day in the Life of a Radio Broadcaster
During the game against Baylor, I was able to take an in-depth look at the Texas Tech Sports Network to see up close and personal just how they put together a broadcast. This group of highly professional men and women work very hard for the program that they put on each game day and I will endeavor to take you through a little of their work.
The morning started at around 9:00 when Brian Jensen, John Harris, Sonny Cumbie, Steve Pitts, and Mark Finkner arrived in the booth to begin preparations for the upcoming game. They sat down over breakfast and discussed what ads would be where, who their special guests were, and got themselves generally prepped for the broadcast that would take place later that day. At around 9:30, Mark Finkner, the sideline reporter, left the press box to head down to the field and check his equipment. The rest of the booth broadcast crew began performing their microphone checks and getting themselves ready for the long, and I do mean long, day that was ahead of them. An interesting side note; the staffers in the booth give Sonny Cumbie tons of grief over his ridiculously slow foot speed on a consistent basis. Around 9:50, more serious actions started to take place and the booth went from light-hearted to professional.
The on air personalities (Finkner, Harris, Jensen, and Cumbie) all began getting their stats and individual pre-game thoughts ready and went through more complete sound checks. At 10:00 sharp, the pre-game show kicked off with a discussion of the previous week's heartbreaking loss to Texas. While the booth crew did manage to avoid the touchy subject of officiating for a time, it did rear its ugly head briefly, but was eventually "put in the ground" as the broadcast wore on. Then, they hit several pre-recorded player interviews including one with Paul Williams, in which Paul invented a new word, "simular." At this time we are assuming that is the same as similar, but we have been unable to verify this with Mr. Williams.
As game time approached, the show concentrated on the individual match-ups between Baylor and the Red Raiders along with hitting a few of the similarities that the two programs have now that Baylor is running the "Bear Raid". The game started without incident and the broadcast went exactly as planned, or as close to perfect as I was able to discern. Mike Leach's father, Frank Leach, came into the booth for a little interview and showed all of us why Mike could have been a lawyer with several cryptic answers. The broadcast proceeded much as one would expect until we arrived at one of the more memorable plays during the game. On a 1st down, quarterback Graham Harrell faked a handoff to Shannon Woods and then inexplicably ran down the field with the ball, almost as if he had just run the zone read play. No one in the booth knew what to expect as this occurred and once everyone had digested the play, the ribbing of Sonny Cumbie and his slow foot-speed commenced anew, this time on the air.
As the game wound down and ended, the broadcasters' day was not over. Statistician Tim Chambers updated all of the Raider faithful that had been listening over the radio as to what had gone on during the day, and then the show went to Mark Finkner for his locker-room interviews. Another one of the lighter moments ensued while Finkner was interviewing sophomore running back Shannon Woods and talking about the tackle made at the 1 yard line. Finkner said that he could feel for Shannon since he had "Picked up a fumble once and run until being tackled by the punter." This on air story was followed by a moment of silence and then a hearty laugh by both the broadcast crew and the young running back at Finkner's expense. The show was wrapped up on the sideline by Mark Finkner and ended without further incident.
All in all, it was a very interesting experience to see what the members of the Texas Tech Sports Network do on a game day basis and the professionalism with which they do their respective jobs. While there are certainly moments of levity during the game, the folks in that booth have one and only one goal; the interesting and exciting broadcast of a Red Raider football game.
(Raider Power would like to extend a special thanks to the Texas Tech Sports Network, Kirstie Sherman, David Sanderson, and Producer/Engineer Steve Pitts, the voice in the ear of the voice you hear, for their consideration and facilitation in the writing of this article.)