Monday, April 23, 2012

Written By Christian Ilten - Contributor

Playing baseball was my dream, I was always ready on Saturday mornings to lace 'em up and get out on the field for Little League, because one day, I was going to be the first baseman for the Anaheim Angels... Unfortunately, injury told me that I wasn't going to get to that dream, but injury would not keep me away from the game.

Going to Angels games, I always loved hearing the broadcasters voices on the "Calling All Angels" video played before every game. One night, I decided, I am going to be a broadcaster one day. Now I have taken many steps to become a broadcaster and I have done a lot of research and such and I feel like I could one day be a Major League Broadcaster. But, for school this year, our Economics project told us to go into the field we wanted to get into, research, and shadow/intern for a day to see what a day in the life of a broadcaster looks like. So, with this, I contacted Tim Mead, V.P. of Communications for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, laying out everything I had to do for this project. On April 12th, I received a call from the Media Relations Department asking if I would be available Thursday the 19th, and obviously I said yes! This is the story of that night:

At 5:00, I pulled into the parking lot at Angel Stadium of Anaheim to embark on an experience that I would not soon forget. After getting into the park with my credential, I sat down in the first section behind the Angels dugout to just take in the sights and sounds of Angels batting practice. This, however, was a lot different than any other time I had been to the stadium, because I was dressed in a full suit, no hat, but spiked hair--- No tennis shoes, or flip-flops, but black dress shoes, as I was not here for the enjoyment of the game, but to oversee and learn from the Angels Broadcasters as to how I would be able to get into the business of broadcasting. I proceeded to the media entrance, met with Adam Chodzko from Media Relations, who first showed me the media hub, where OCRegister, LA TIMES, and other media sources find their home at Angel Stadium. From there, he took me up to the AM830 Broadcast Booth, where I first met Darren Chan, then former Angels pitcher, now broadcaster, Mark Langston, and finally, the voice of the Angels, Terry Smith. I sat down with Smith and talked to him about how he got started with broadcasting, how he used to play, and then one day just said to himself "This isn't what your going to do"... and he decided to get into broadcasting. I asked him about his favorite moment about broadcasting, and he said that obviously the World Series was huge, but also, his first MLB game, because "just as a player, you could say 'I finally made it to the Major Leagues."

After we finished a long and informational conversation, I went downstairs to Mr. Chodzko, and he walked me to the rocks in center field, onto the batter's eye, to meet Jose Mota, who was doing the Angels Live pregame show for FSW. As he finished up, I met both Jose Mota, and Michael Eaves, who was filling in for newest member of the Angels Live crew, Chris McGee. We waited for the National Anthem to finish, and as it did, Mota and I walked along the concourse, the whole time asking him questions. He told me that after he got done with his playing career, he loved the idea of doing some broadcasting, as he watched his father when he did some work, as well as being around with names such as the great Vin Scully. He also told me that Radio is a lot easier to do than Television, BUT, that he enjoys doing television over radio, because although "there is the picture, you always are able to color it in a little more"...

We got back to the radio and TV booths, and we parted ways, and I entered back into the Radio Booth, and found myself sitting next to Darin Chan observing Terry Smith and Mark Langston broadcasting a live Angels game, and I was in absolute awe. As the game prolonged, I just watched, learned, and enjoyed. The Angels ended up losing the game, but I could not care less at the time, because for once, just once, I got to sit in on the Angels broadcast, learned so much, and had a great time. As they finished up the broadcast, I said thank you to all of the gentleman and said goodbye, but snuck in a quick interview with Mr. Mark Langston himself. I asked him what it meant to be in a broadcast booth in the exact same stadium he pitched in some years ago... He told me "It brings me back to the game"... Langston went on to say that sure, getting on the radio is cool, but it is all about the game, and how much he is in love with it and never wants to be away from it. It was a great conversation I had before I had to leave for the night.

After that, I decided that I would go back over to the rock garden in center to see if there was anything else I could learn from Eaves or Mota. As I walked, ushers were directing the last few people out of the Left field pavilion exit, and I could hear them murmur "Hey look, it's Chris McGee, that's the new guy"... I just walked past, chuckling in my head, as I made my way to the  rocks. I entered the gate that allowed me into the "credentialed area only" near the rocks, and sat and watched as Eaves and Mota finished up the broadcast recapping the Angels' loss to Oakland. At that time, I asked Mr. Eaves if I could have a quick interview with him, and he said agreed. I asked him a few questions that created answers I could have only dreamed of hearing. My final question to him was "What words would you give to anyone who wants to get into broadcasting?" He answered: "Write! Because regardless if your broadcasting, or anything in media, its about story telling and communicating, and the better you can communicate, the better you can broadcast, and that includes writing. Whether it's print, or for a website, or whatever, you just need to become a better communicator, and even for like a half our show like this [Angels Live] that was all ad-lib, it is a sense of writing in your head, and the better you can write, the better you can tell stories, and that's what broadcasting is, whether its doing play-by-play, or doing a post-game show, you are telling a story." 

After I concluded the interview, I said goodbye, and made the lonely walk through the concourse out the Home Plate Gate. I had never been in the stadium when it was THAT EMPTY... not only was it cool, but it was also discomforting! I made my way back to my car, parked with others of the media in the designated parking lot, started the car and drove home...

The experience is one that I will never forget, that is for certain. Whether I actually make it to the coveted position of broadcaster or not, I learned a lot, and I will take it with me for the rest of my life. Terry even told me some stories that "not many know"... and I feel privileged to be one of the few that does know the story, that does know what goes on in his mind, and I got to see what goes on in an average day for a Sports Broadcaster.

Now I guess the only thing left is... hope I get an A on that assignment? I am actually thankful for the school project, because without it, I wouldn't have had one of the best experiences of my life. I want to thank everybody at AM830, Fox Sports West, and of course, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Organization for making all of that possible! 

Pictured with Mark Langston and Angels PBP radio announcer Terry Smith
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