We all have stories about going to bed and listening to sports events on the radio. Even with all the great technology of today, for myself there is nothing like listening to sports on the radio. It has been a major staple of my life and will be always. For myself it was Chick Hearn, Bill King, Bob Blackburn and Hot Rod Hundley, all who worked for stations I could pick up at night in my hometown. (For people who never had the honor of listening to the above people, just google them).
I have always been fascinated about how someone can paint a picture of an athletic contest, without the people there doing it for, being able to see one single part of the action, only hearing it.
What does go into the broadcast of a basketball game? For the answers I went right to a great source. I have known Tom Hewitt for 30 years. Tom is the longtime voice of Portland State Vikings' basketball. He is not only a great broadcaster, but he is even a better person.
Unlike some radio play by play people, who have an engineer, stat person and an analyst, Tom works alone on his broadcasts and keeps some running stats himself, but does have access to a computer which updates stats continually.
For those who can listen to Tom on a regular basis, we get a real treat, but many of us never do get to realize what is takes to make the broadcast, fun, entertaining and meaningful. When your in sports broadcasting, you just don't walk up to the microphone and start talking.
For each game, Hewitt usually puts in 3-4 hours of homework on both teams playing, that time does not include watching video as well. This can be extremely challenging if the games come back to back, cutting down your time for prep work. Portland State plays in the Big Sky, which plays their league game for the most part on Thursdays-Saturdays, which Hewitt finds as an ideal situation to do his homework. He also really likes in season tournaments, as it gives him a chance to see a team he might be broadcasting play live.
Once the game begins Hewitt has some standards about how to handle a couple of delicate issues for broadcasters these days. He tries to avoid criticizing players as much as possible, but sometimes to paint that all important picture, it becomes a necessity. Hewitt is also not afraid to criticize officials, always a hot button issues. When there is an obvious call that is missed on the floor in his opinion, he will tell his listening audience, but is always careful to explain why the call was missed and what should have been called.
After the game is over Hewitt loves the post game time, when he feels he can really get into the head of players and coaches, explain the game that just took place and give his listeners some insights that help make the broadcast even better. There are lots of listeners who like the pre and post games shows equally to the game and Tom realizes fully, the responsibility there that he has to his listeners.
In conclusion, this post is not only a salute to Tom Hewitt, but a salute to all those outstanding play by play broadcasters of basketball, especially the ones who put on a great production, but do not have the amenities of the big time broadcasts. Tom Hewitt is one of those examples, he does so much on his own, but he always makes the games sound like he has a staff of 20. My hats off to all of you.
As an added note, I always think about sports broadcasts on the radio and positive impact they have for so many people who are home bound, perhaps vision impaired, not able to afford going to the games or having to work and not being able to attend. BROADCASTERS, lots of people we never think about are counting on you each and every night, so please keep up the GREAT WORK.
emails always welcome, firstname.lastname@example.org or comments as well in the comment section below the posts.