Demo Video No. 01–ePortfolios and Personal Websites

Sportscaster Central’s first demo video is up! I talk about ePortfolios, or personal websites that professionals make to showcase their work online, and use some examples to provide ideas and tips and what to do (and not to do) when making yours. In the current sportscasting job market, creating your own website is a must. It serves as a one-stop shop for potential employers who want to see the diverse things you do: play-by-play, writing, social media, and everything in between.

In the video, I examine the ePortfolio of Alex Rawnsley, a Canadian minor-league hockey broadcaster. His website is a near-perfect model for what a sportscaster’s own site should look like, with all the right content and info contained in it. I also take a look through the ePortfolio of Kekai Kotaki, a concept artist who’s done work for many popular video games. I use Kekai’s site as an alternate example, and I point out some things that he does differently–for better or worse–than Alex. Check out the video for my 5 favorite aspects of Alex’s site, some things Kekai’s website does very well, and great tips to keep in mind when making your ePortfolio.

Also, for those curious, I made the demo video (as I’ll make all of my videos) using Screencast-o-Matic, a freemium software that enables users to record video of their screens and through their webcam. The free version allows for up to 15 minutes of recording at a time, and the video quality is pretty solid. I also used Adobe Premiere, an industry-standard video editor, to edit the different segments of the video together. If–or, should I say, when–you create your own personal website, you can use it as a platform to create your own content! Whether it’s blogging about hot topics or creating videos about the sportscasting business like I do here, creating unique content on your site is a good way to add an extra touch and try to get a leg up in a crowded job market.

I hope you enjoy this first demo video, and I’m certain there’s some great tips in there that’ll help you make or improve your own ePortfolio. If you have any additional ideas about website-making, drop a comment below, and thanks for visiting Sportscaster Central!

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Creating My Header Image and a Note on Technical Skills

To me, it’s the perfect image. It’s a snapshot of life in the baseball broadcast booth, blessed with its breathtaking perch above the stadium and cluttered by papers and wires and pens strewn all about. It’s two of the most loved MLB broadcasters—seriously, the most loved—doing their enviable jobs, Mike Krukow flipping a ball to himself as Jon Miller points out something of importance to his partner. If a picture tells 1,000 words, this one talks about the long-standing relationship every baseball fan has with their broadcasters as they transport the fan to the ballpark and have intimate, 1-on-1 conversations with millions of people all at once.

And that’s why I chose it as the featured photo in the Sportscaster Central header image. Every sportscaster who grew up in love with a baseball team can tell stories about their team’s broadcasters. Now, all those young boys and girls have grown up and want to be those sportscasters. This blog was created with those people in mind, and (much like the blog’s name and theme) its header image sets the tone for that ultimate objective.

Don’t get me wrong, though, mashing up a header image without a basic knowledge of photo editing is quite a challenge. I had never done as much as open up Photoshop prior to constructing that image, so I was going in blind. Thankfully the free, online photo editor Pixlr offers many of the same tools that Photoshop includes, and the website also features an easy-to-use interface that assists beginners learning on the fly.

Pixlr and Penguins
Pixlr’s easy-to-use interface, plus some happy penguins. Credit: LiveDrive

While I was still a novice with no previous experience, Pixlr’s clear layout allowed me to overcome my early struggles applying the right tools so that I could end up with a quality header.

Pair that photo of Krukow and Miller with a clipart image of a headset, add a branding touch with the “SC” lettering, include some cool filters, and there you go! A guy with no photo editing skills creates a quality product and learns some valuable basic skills in the process. Now that I have learned how to use Pixlr, I’m confident I can tell an employer that I have a very basic grasp of how to edit a photo for broadcast or social media distribution.

And that’s not a fact I take lightly, either. Amassing as much technical and editing skill as possible is invaluable for media talent at all levels and all disciplines. Look no further than every small-market TV sportscaster. I’m sure they’d all be willing to tell you just how many hats they’ve been forced to wear due to budget cuts. Your sports anchor may serve as the broadcaster, videographer, editor, and graphic designer for his department all at once. At minor league and college play-by-play gigs, too, broadcasters are now commonly called upon to bring some web design or editing prowess to the table, adding more to the job description than just on-air responsibilities.

So I encourage you, learn as much about as many editing programs as possible. I had no idea how to edit a photo before I created this header, and now Pixlr has given me a basic understanding of photo editing. Who knows, your editing skills might just help you land a job one day!

Have your job prospects gotten a boost from the editing and technical skills you can offer an employer? Let me know in the comments below!

What It’s like to Make a Blog, and Why You Need to, Too

I think it’s safe to say that we’re a few years separated from that time in the early 2000s when the coolest thing to say was “Hey man, check out my blog!” Seemingly everybody had one at that time, and blogs are seen as a model of online sharing that predates modern social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

But while the blog boom has passed, one important component of its rise still remains: anybody can make a website for absolutely nothing. It cost me exactly 0 cents to create Sportscaster Central through WordPress. It would cost you the same amount. Why should you make one though? I’ll get to that. Just remember it could make or break your sportscasting career…But anyway, about making a site!

Step one is arguably the most difficult of them all, and that’s just coming up with a name. “What’s in a name,” Shakespeare’s Juliet asks. Well, Juliet, everything is in a name.

Juliet Capulet
Juliet by Philip H. Calderon. She’s busy trying to think of a good name for that blog you’ll be making soon.

Your site’s name is the first thing that people think of when they think about your site. It has to be juuuuust right. Not too long, maybe a bit humorous, but most of all a clear indication of your site’s ultimate purpose. Take Sportscaster Central for example. I chose it not to be funny but to evoke a certain idea. It’s a blog about sportscasting, and I hope to feature many types of content within its digital walls so that it becomes a central location, a “one-stop shop” of sorts, for those in the industry. Simple enough? It took me two hours to think of, and that’s just step one.

Once you register your domain name through WordPress, you have to pick a theme. The theme of your site dictates all aspects of its layout, everything from simple colors and font styles to how big your header image can be and how many columns you can include. Much like your name, your theme sets the tone for website. It is the boundaries within which you construct your online space. I deliberated over the theme of Sportscaster Central for a few more hours before finally choosing the “Twenty Sixteen” theme on WordPress. It can do all the important stuff a content-rich blog like mine must do, like have an easy-to-use menu and afford lots of space to showcase podcasts and videos. But subtly, it also does the little stuff well, like offering a social media bar at the foot of the page and incorporating header images of any size. That shot of Mike Krukow and Jon Miller is just too good not to use!

1
Mike Krukow and Jon Miller doing what they do best. Credit: Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle

With a domain name and theme carefully selected, we’re starting to roll. The last big step is clarifying what your content will be and formatting how it’ll be shown on your site. For me, that first part was already determined. I went into this project wanting to write articles and create podcasts and videos about the sports broadcasting industry, but how I wanted them displayed was another hours-long mystery to solve. It requires some forethought during the theme-picking step so that your site can support the presentation you want, but ultimately your content must be presented in a way that’s conducive to the medium. If you want to create a photojournalism blog, you should probably first pick a theme that effectively showcases high-res pictures and, then, adjust that theme to suit your particular brand of photography.

Tribal Theme-Wordpress
The “Tribal” theme on WordPress is one of many designed to showcase great photojournalism.

I knew ahead of time I would produce various types of content, so I picked Twenty Sixteen with that in mind. From there, I arraigned all the pieces of that theme to tailor it for Sportscasting Central. The dark colors create a crisp and professional look, the header menu is easy to navigate, and the sidebar assists in locating the content featured on the left side of the page.

With all that done, I was set! My blog was fully prepared to accommodate content of all shapes and sizes. It took me hours and hours, but methodically advancing towards that end goal ensures that I won’t have to revisit the drawing board to change my themes or any other major detail. Think of it as the admittance fee for entering the blogosphere—putting in the hours to make it all look juuuuust right before showtime.

So there you have it, those are the major steps in creating a blog and some of my experiences creating this one. What was that? Why does your career hinge on a pesky blog? Oh yeah, almost forgot.

I’ll assume we’ve all applied to a sportscasting position before, so we all know the components of a complete application. Cover letter, resume, demo tape, writing samples, and on and on. Let’s say you’re applying for a lead MLB radio play-by-play job. That’s serious business—only 30 of those jobs exist!— so you’ll probably want to include all the awesome stuff you’ve produced throughout your career.

John Sterling
John Sterling, Radio Voice of the New York Yankees. In this sportscaster’s opinion, he’s got the best job in the business. Credit: Getty Images

I’m sure the team will want a lot too, like perhaps a full game tape and a full coaches’ show and a series of interviews. All of those audio files take up lots of space, even in .mp3 format, so sending them to the team won’t be easy.

That problem is just one reason why you need a website. Now. Upload all those files to your sites, display them prominently alongside your resume and other work samples, and just like that you have a detailed online resume located at yourname.wordpress.com. And that’s just one good reason! Ever feel like writing about your experiences as a broadcaster? Ever want to interview someone and need a reason why? Want to build your brand as a talent? Your website can help you do all of those things. It gives you a space and a reason to write about what’s going on in sports and tape that interview. Plus, if you use your website as your online resume when applying to jobs, employers will surely check out all that other content you’ve created to see what it’s about. Put out a quality, compelling piece of content every so often, and that’s another feather in your cap. More importantly, it could buy you some separation from the pack in an overcrowded job market.

I hope I’ve provided you with plenty of reasons to go out and bolster your career prospects by making a blog. Hopefully, sharing some of my experience creating Sportscaster Central will help you glide through the creation stages of your own blog. If you do go out and make a site, let me see it! If you already have one, let me see that too! Drop your link in the comments section so I can check it out.