I like Joe Buck. A lot. I rated him one of the best baseball play-by-play broadcasters earlier this year and would put him near the top in football as well (he’s the head man for both on FOX). Buck comes to town for Vikings games from time to time and I’m always bothering him on Twitter to see if he’d like to grab a beer and talk broadcasting. He never responds, so I wrote up some questions I would ask him (along with my two cents) if we sat down for a drink.
Do you think growing up in the TV era has changed the way play-by-play callers learn their craft?
I believe it has. For many of today’s announcers sports have always been consumed in a visual medium where broadcasting is often less descriptive, and it means they’re less descriptive as broadcasters. You can really discern this when listening to younger radio announcers call baseball games.
Does a broadcaster have to be old to be “beloved?”
I read a great article on Verne Lundquist the other night and this question came to mind. I think you have to be a sweet old man before we can really feel like friends.
How much do you call looking at the field vs the monitors in your booth?
I wonder this most about baseball. Football seems like it could be called on the view from the booth, but pitches seem like they’re more easily seen on a monitor than up high where you can’t always discern their break.
By the same token, in football, how much can you see and what do you have to rely on spotters for?
It seems like it would be very difficult to be glancing away from the field to see what a spotter is telling you but they always get it right who made a tackle or who was the intended receiver.
What kind of work goes into your preparation? How does it differ than what your color commentators do for prep?
Do you think baseball broadcasts will ever move away from traditional stats?
I think if TV started showing more of the alt stats more fans would accept them. It would require broadcasts commit to giving time for explaining them. Personally I’d like to see more of these stats but I need to know what they mean and what’s a good number vs a bad number. An .850 OPS doesn’t tell me anything if you don’t also explain what a good OPS is.
You’re doing golf now, where traditional play-by-play doesn’t really exist. How is that different for you in terms of your style and how you have to prepare?
How has replay changed the way you call close or questionable plays?
Watching, I feel like sometimes an announcer is hesitant to make a full-blown call on a play if there’s a chance the play will go to a review. Baseball and football.
Are there any sports you haven’t called that you’d like to? Either because you like the sport or you think they would be fun?
Is doing play-by-play in a national broadcast different than local?
I think some color commentators, Ron Darling comes to mind, are much better locally than nationally and wonder if there is any difference from a play-by-play perspective.
How often is someone talking in your ear? Conversely, how often do you have to talk to them while your partner is talking?
In football you reference when you met with players and coaches the night before a game. What do you ask about in those meetings and how do we see it on the broadcast?
How much of what you plan to talk about in a broadcast never makes it on air?
I’m thinking about games when there’s too much happening to really get into a lot of conversations outside of what’s happening on the field.
When FOX put that score box on a football game for the first time, how much did that alone change how games are broadcast (considering that now it’s in every sport)?