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You don’t need to be a household name to be a great sports broadcaster

A former award-winning radio news reporter, Ken Fang is a respected sports media blogger for his own as well as Awful Announcing. What I enjoy most about him as well as many others that report about media, he has never shied away from sharing what might be considered controversial when it comes to his community, sports and media.

Today he shares what he thinks makes good sports broadcasters, namely, play-by-play announcers and color analysts. Like a few we asked before him, Fang said that he enjoys schooled sports voices that center on events and not themselves.

“A good play-by-play announcer focuses on the action,” Fang said. “He or she sets up his or her partner, doesn’t make the game about himself/herself and challenges the analyst when it’s necessary.

“Dan Shulman is very good at this whether he does baseball or basketball. He sets up his partners and gets out of the way.”

Fang likes sports analysts to be on top of trends, show a little humor and be a teacher.

“The analyst is supposed to have insight into the game and provide knowledge that the play-by-play announcer does not. A good analyst can first-guess as well as second-guess,” Fang said. “Cris Collinsworth is one of the better analysts, and when he was doing baseball, Tony Kubek was very good too.”

Fang emphasized that good announcers study their craft and their games.

“They do their homework and bring viewers into the game.”

He went on to mention talent that put individual stamps on the sports broadcast business.

“John Madden, Pat Summerall, Al Michaels, Mike Emrick, John Davidson, Tony Kubek, Bob Cole broke or redefined the roles,” Fang said.

While Fang emphasized game study as a key to good broadcasts, he said that playing careers are not prerequisites for sports broadcasting success.

“Mike Mayock and Charles Davis didn’t have stellar playing careers, but both are very good analysts,” Fang said. “The best analysts are those who do their homework and don’t depend on their names to get by. Joe Montana had a great playing career, but was an awful analyst in NBC’s NFL studio.”

He also noted Bill Walsh who had a great coaching career, but never clicked with Dick Enberg as an analyst because the former coach didn’t say much.

“Sometimes it’s the analysts that don’t have a big name like a David Diehl or Solomon Wilcots who can provide very good analysis because they weren’t glamor players, but studied the game whether they were in the trenches or on the bench, and saw things that players like quarterbacks or running backs did not,” Fang said.


I want to extend many thanks to all of the sports media reporters that contributed to this series. According to feedback from young and established sports broadcasters, the opinions from our experts in my last several posts were appreciated and while subjective, pointed out things they think they may want to change in their own deliveries. We still want to hear from you, though. What do you like most from your favorite on-air talent? We’d like to share your opinions, too.


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