How To Become a Sportscaster: Insight from Gina Miller

how to become a sportscaster gina miller

Want to learn how to become a sportscaster? Listen up Gina Miller is going to teach you.

Becoming a sportscaster is a journey you are meant to struggle on.

As society has become more and more dependent on just add water solutions and quick fixes, the fact remains there is no fast pass to sportscaster stardom. Ask any seasoned sportscaster for advice and expect to hear phrases like: start small, work hard, make mistakes and grow.

“I hear so many young people say they want to start their on-camera career in a market like Dallas or Houston.  No you don’t!” says Gina Miller, 17-year sportscaster and founder of That Sports Girl Media.

“The talent in top markets have years of experience, are polished and understand nuanced ways of storytelling that most 22-year-olds just can’t command.  The expectation level in those markets is also much higher and there is little room for error.

“Small market experiences and mistakes are your friend.”

After almost 15 years working on camera in Dallas, a top five market, Miller recently decided to leave CBS11 & TXA21 to focus primarily on her multimedia business. We caught her at just the right time, ready to share her knowledge with truth as her only goal.

Miller’s ideas about getting started on camera, what skills you need to learn, who to appreciate and what it’s like to be a female sportscaster are better than any Masters class you could take. So read on and learn from a true pro how to become a sportscaster:

How to Become a Sportscaster: Insight from @TheGinaMiller #sportsbiz Click To Tweet

Most people take for granted how hard it is to become a sportscaster – to launch your on camera career you traveled far – can you describe the early parts of your on camera journey?

Miller: While I was working as a production assistant in the sports department at KHOU-TV my senior year at University of Houston, I made it a point to send out five resume tapes a week.  These were the pre-YouTube and pre-DVD days.

Each tape cost $3.76 to send so it cost me about $75 bucks a month.  Unfortunately, most of what I received in return was simply rejection letters.  Except for a few stations.

The intriguing offer came from Guam.  Yes, the small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

how to become a sportscaster gina miller

17 years as a sportscaster, and it all started in Guam

KUAM-TV made me an offer to be its Sports Director, a position for which I was way in over my head. I leapt at the chance rationalizing that I would likely never get the opportunity to work halfway around the world in a tropical paradise.

At the time, it was hard.  I went from one of the most technically advanced stations in the country to a small-market station on a remote island that didn’t have nearly the bells and whistles.  In hindsight it was the perfect opportunity.  I was on air for about 24 minutes a day, making mistakes, refining my craft, learning how to shoot and edit with sub-par equipment (which they have since completely overhauled, btw.  KUAM is a fabulous station).

It was the ultimate on the job training experience.

If someone, maybe an intern, came up to you today and said, “Can you teach me how to become a sportscaster?” what’s the best advice you could give them?

Three things:

1 – Learn what goes on OFF-CAMERA, as well.  So many interns I meet feel like all they need to do is step in front of camera and POOF magic happens.  Hardly.  Doing a great job on-camera is a collaborative effort.  You must work in conjunction with your photographer to ensure the overall product is successful.  (more on that in a bit)

If you are in studio there is an entire team of individuals working behind the scenes to make sure things run smoothly. I learned how to shoot in the field, run tape, run a teleprompter, run camera, even direct with a basic board.  It’s important to have an understanding of what others do so that you empathize when things go wrong (and they will).  Also, if things do go wrong, you can help find a solution.

2 – Practice. Practice. Practice.  Stand in front of a mirror, holding a brush or can of hair spray to mimic a microphone.  Record yourself on your computer or iPad doing a standup.  Get in the habit of turning a quick 7-8 second standup.  You need to learn how to talk, breathe and gesture on-camera so that it all looks natural.  It’s not as easy as it looks and it takes practice.

3 – Take care of your photographer.  Without him or her, you are not on-camera.  Make sure they have water, carry the tripod and communicate with them on story ideas.  It’s a team effort and your photog is an essential part of the team.

You’ve covered the Cowboys for some time now, and will continue to host “Cowboys Special Edition”, take us through what a “normal” game day is like for you.

Miller: The days can be routine but the stories rarely are.

how to become a sportscaster gina miller gives advice

Early in her career Gina Miller may have been known as a “female sportscaster” now she’s just known as a great sportscaster.

If I am involved in any sort of pre-game show, like I was for the better part of decade, NFL Sundays began around 7am.  I co-hosted a Cowboys pre-game show that required me onsite and ready to roll between 8:30-9am.

Once the pre-game show ended, depending on the time of kickoff, we wait for the game to start, either noon, 3pm or a night game.

During the game, this is where a big misconception lies, we are not cheering or drinking.  We are watching with a critical eye to determine what the key plays, storylines and defining moments of the game are so that we can be prepared to ask questions and discuss them after the game.

Once the game ends, we are in the locker room or press conference room, gathering material (soundbites) for our postgame coverage.  This is usually about an hour or hour and a half.  Once that is done and our standups are recorded, we head back to the station or edit on site to produce material for a Sunday night show.

At times we do postgame shows right outside the Cowboys locker room. This involves getting players or, many times, Jerry Jones to join us live to discuss what happened during the game.

These are always long days, 12-14 hours at least.

Do you find there are still higher hurdles for women in the sports industry, especially as it relates to reporting sports, or have we finally gotten to a point where people are judged purely on their abilities?

Miller: Initially, there was a lot of “Gina is a female sportscaster” talk.  This was early in my career in the 90’s.  Now I don’t think that it is as much of an issue, although a CEO of Fortune 500 company recently asked me what it’s like being a female in my industry.

Now, I LIKE to believe that we are judged solely on our abilities but I do still get email about clothing, hair and makeup.  I have also experienced a situation where a male colleague and I went on the air making the exact same mistake.  I received a fair amount of response.  He didn’t receive any.  Sometimes I feel that when a women in this industry makes a mistake, it can be magnified.

In my situation, though, I don’t focus on the gender aspect of what I do.  I simply focus on doing the best job I can.

Like me, you began your sports television career before social media was around – how much has journalism changed since before social media? Do you think it is better now or worse?

Miller: In some ways it’s better, in others it is worse.

how to become a sportscaster gina miller

Want to be a successful sportscaster? Appreciate your camera operator, without them there is no you.

Social media has certainly led to the democratization of reporting.  Anyone can “report” a story now.  That has power and, many times, can be a good thing.  But the drawback comes when someone who doesn’t follow the best journalism practices takes to a medium like Twitter to start reporting something as fact without truly vetting out the story.

As a reporter, my duty to report a story is to get details and facts from both sides and consider the information

I love how social media allows you to engage with people in ways we never before had and connect with individuals around the world.  It’s also great insight into a person’s personality.  I love it for that.

It’s also outstanding in a breaking news environment when the right people are breaking the news.  When individuals are just irresponsibly throwing out information they do not know to be correct, it’s a detriment to our industry.

Tell us about your new venture, That Sports Girl Media:

Miller: I am thrilled about my new endeavor, That Sports Girl Media.  So many companies and brands are looking for unique and creative ways to connect with and engage their core consumers and clients.

That Sports Girl Media can help.

We provide media content ranging from blog posts to full-scale video features to help a company tell a story that resonates in a crowded digital marketplace.   We also assist with content curation, social media strategy, pitch consulting and more.

Please add your comments and questions for Gina below, remember to use a real email address – I’m known to give out free passes to our job board for good comments!

email
About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.

Comments

  1. Thoughtful questions, substanative answers… Perfect complement to a power lunch. Thanks Brian. Still, I’m scratching my head over Gina’s gender-focused media brand versus her stated belief in a gender-neutral meritocracy.

    • We think alike Hank, I wondered the same thing. I probably should have pressed her more on it, but I’m drifting out of the ‘ask the questions that make me feel like a jerk’ part of my life.

      She was giving me such good detail and thoughtful career advice nuggets so I turned into a softie. – Brian

    • Hank – ask and you shall receive! Gina Miller herself with another thoughtful answer to your question! Thanks for jumping in the fray Gina…you are officially my new most favoritest interview. – Brian

  2. Thanks for the interview, Brian, and for the feedback, Hank. That Sports Girl Media is my tongue-in-cheek ode to a nickname I had first starting out in the business.

  3. Linda fulcher says:

    I am ver much interested in being a Sportcaster, what shall I do to be one.

    • Linda thanks for writing in, truth is that’s a hard question to answer without knowing more about you. Are you in school? Have you done internships? tell me a little more about you and maybe I can help steer you towards your dream career a little easier. – Brian

  4. Allan Cepeda says:

    Brian,

    Great read and thanks for all the advice and great insight.

    I currently hold a masters in Sport Management and am doing play by play for my university’s baseball ad softball teams and also working as a PA announcer for volleyball and Men and Women’s basketball.

    I have also spent the summer working for a minor league team doing play by play as an internship.

    I still want to take another year of seasoning to get better.

    what should my next steps be?

  5. Allison Zigich says:

    Thank you for sharing your insight! This is all great information, especially to myself as a female in the industry. THANK YOU!

    • Allison – I’m really glad you liked the interview with Gina – she is a pro with tons of great advice to share. Tell us more about you, what work are you doing in the industry? – Brian

  6. Robert Carberry says:

    Hello Gina,
    I loved your story on how you got started and how it is very practical to start out small, so you can make those mistakes that everyone will and learn from them. I also, really loved the advice on looking at it as a team member because without the people around you where and how far do you really expect to grow and expand. Interacting with people I always thought as top priority. Gina, I have always loved sports since I was growing up in the north Bronx, and I followed every New York player from just about the birth of the N.Y. Mets and their lean years to their miracle season and that was just one team. I would listen on my tiny transistor A.M. radio to any game I could pick up and at the same time pretending to do the play -by-play. It has always been a dream to be apart of a sport organization and I think it is time to go after my dream. I am a very confident person, but not to the point of being cocky, I love being around sports period. I am in my fifties and even though I know I did not need to disclose that info I just wanted to let people know that it has no bearing on my drive or my love of sports. I recently graduated from Indian River State College in Business Administration and Marketing . I did it in reverse, what I mean is I have plenty of experience interacting with people and the public which I always find interesting you meet all kinds of interesting people if your outgoing like I am. So I then decided to get the education that was a void in my life which I found how learning opened my eyes to realize to always follow your dreams no matter what anyone says. I am hoping you can stay in touch now and then and possibly drop some advice that you think would be helpful in my pursuit of starting towards my goal of a career in sports relations, media, production or anyplace to get my foot in and wet. Thanks again for your story it was very interesting. If you have time and have any advice at all no matter how small it might seem don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail – robcar908@hotmail.com Thanks,

  7. Kelly Grant says:

    Gina and Brian:
    Thank you for the great insight. Out of most articles , this has been the most beneficial to me as I am a high school junior from NJ desiring to pursue a career in the sports communication field.
    Currently, I work for my school’s radio and TV station as well as being the only female who broadcasts football play by play and color commentating every week. I also write for my school newspaper on occasion.
    You inspire me to continue to chase my dream of some day becoming the next “Joe Buck” (a bit far fetched, I know).
    One theory that I would like your opinion on is the idea that this field is “dying” or a lost cause. I strongly disagree but would love to hear what you professionals have to say about it.
    Also- what colleges and universities are the best for sports broadcasting. I am looking into Marist College and Ithaca College but are there any others I should take a look at that you know of?
    On an unrelated note, due to this article the top things on my Christmas list include a portable tape recoreder and a camera to practice with.
    Thanks!
    Kelly Grant

    • Kelly thanks for the wonderful response! I have some many thoughts that I’d like to respond to so here goes
      1: Since you enjoyed this article please read more on our site and continue to make comments – here are a few I think you would find inspirational while having really positive advice for you on your journey:
      http://www.workinsports.com/blog/becoming-a-sports-reporter-laura-okmins-path-to-the-nfl-on-fox/
      http://www.workinsports.com/blog/vicki-michaelis-shaping-the-future-of-sports-journalism/
      http://www.workinsports.com/blog/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-sports-internships/

      2: Best colleges or universities – I’ll be honest, I think it’s more about you than it is about program – if you get involved in all your school has to offer and go a step further by interning at local stations and national networks you will be in good shape. With that said, I really like the program at Ball State University – it’s all about immersive learning, where you actually do practical jobs as part of your education. YOu’d graduate with real experience in front of the camera, producing etc. Here is an article I wrote up on one aspect of their program: http://www.workinsports.com/blog/want-to-work-in-digital-sports-production-heres-the-way/

      I also really like what Vicki Michaelis is accomplishing at the University of Georgia and the programs at Syracuse, Missouri and Indiana are some of the most respected in the country.

      3: Is this industry dying – well I may be biased but I think it’s the complete opposite – it is growing and thriving when other sources of entertainment are contracting. Here’s why I believe that is so – the DVR. The DVR has halted the revenue generation of many traditional broadcast avenues…think about it, you record primetime shows and fast forward through commercials right? Sports are different, we watch them live so we can be part of the reality unfolding, be part of the social media conversation and stay up on exactly what happened so we can talk about it with peers the next day. I think we are in the golden era of sports broadcasting – there are more stations than ever before, all are paying huge rights fees for live events, there is more online and more of an appetite than ever before. Teams are creating their own content through magazines, podcasts, websites and their hiring new staffs to do it.

      That’s not to say there isn’t the chance of a bubble, it could contract in time, especially if something like the SEC network, or Fox Sports 1 becomes an utter failure…but overall I don’t see it, the economics of sports broadcasting pencil and will continue to.

      4: The tape recorder and camera are a smart purchase – also consider using your laptops webcam and recording you in action…another great way technology can benefit you!

      I hope thi shelps Kelly – keep reading and commenting I want to hear more from you!!

      Brian

  8. Rachelle Jackson says:

    My story is a little different, I didn’t go to college after graduating high school, I was quiet not involved in high school to say the least, it was then 10 years later I decided to get some more schooling in which I wasn’t sure what I wanted to get a degree in as I am working at the prosecutor’s office as a paralegal (the job was a lateral move since I’ve been with my job for 15 years now). I went to a community college in my city received my associate degree in office administration just so I could feel like I accomplished something. I never a played a sport but I was connected in some way to sports because my family participated in just about any sport and I was always there to support, I have a genuine love for sports I don’t know a lot, but I do know that I love sports particularly basketball and football, I just recently got married and my husband is into soccer and I’m slowly getting into it as well. I sat back one day and said this job is not a career for me it’s just a job, I want a career and I want it in sports and I did think because I’m older (34) it was far-fetched and I have no experience at all that it’s not obtainable, but I’m looking into schools to get some more schooling and looking up articles like these gives me hope…

  9. Rachael Mercado says:

    Wow, this article is amazing and the fact that you respond to your readers comments is even better. I just stumbled across this searching for inspiration on a term paper I am working on right now (finals are next week, OUCH) about why I chose to pursue a career in sports broadcasting for my COMM 1307 class. I live in Houston Texas and go to Houston Community College right now doing my core classes, but just like Gina, I am enrolling at the University of Houston (GO COOGS!) in the future. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate all of the insight and I feel like I have learned so much just from reading this. My passion for football has led me to chasing this dream as an in-depth football analyst… but I know that I am in for some hard times. People automatically judge you as a female – especially in south Texas where football is king – because “She can’t know what she’s talking about, she’s never played.” But I know that it can be done.
    It’s very hard to get clues on where to begin and what to do, most of the people in my communications classes want to be on the E! Network covering celebrities, and my teacher was an anchor for a news station and then moved on to work for the Pentagon… so cheers to you both for being so enthusiastic and informative to us newbies.
    Cheers to you both!
    \\n/ “WHOOSE HOUSE?! COOGS HOUSE!”

    • Rachel that is awesome! Thanks so much for letting us know how we have positively affected your outlook! Good luck on finals and just know, we have about 160 articles on working in the sports industry including a bunch on being a sports reporter so keep reading! – Brian

    • Rachel, Let me echo Brian’s thoughts! Loved reading your story!

  10. Colia Burton-Smith says:

    Good afternoon. I’m looking for some advise. I have an 11 year old daughter who has declared since she was 8 that she will be a sports announcer. She has a passion for all sports including football and basketball her to favorites. During games she puts all the men to shame by her knowledge of the sports, penalties and players. My daughter also plays sports and is tall for her age already 5’6 and still growing. She plays basketball, football and loves track. I’m trying to find resources for her to show her that yes she can be a sportscaster and lover of sports without compromising being an INTELLIGENT and beautiful young lady. Every article we pull up talks about the sexy or hot newscaster. I don’t want her to fell like she has to downplay her intelligence to follow her dream. Any suggestions for a young fanatic?

  11. A great example that everything is possible. Thanks for sharing.

Speak Your Mind

*

fb_ol_standout