Friday, October 12, 2007

Blogger Interviews: Awful Announcing

We're running a segment here at The Big Picture where we'll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What's the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger's version of a reach-around or something.

Joining us today is Brian from the always on-point Awful Announcing. AA's been at it for a long time, as he's kept announcers on notice since 2006. Be careful what you say or you might just end up the subject of a post over at AA. So go easy on him in the comments. Aw, who are we kidding? Rip in to him!

1. The rundown:

Brian Powell, BP, AA
Age: 29
Location: Metro DC/Baltimore Area
Occupation: Does anyone ever answer this question?
Favorite team: Redskins, Terps Basketball, Wolverines Football, Orioles
Links to your favorite all-time posts you've written. (3-5)

The one that really put me on the map...

The one actual piece of journalism that I attempted...

And I’m extremely proud of the work that I and the Channel 4 News Team did Live-blogging just about every First Round NCAA Tournament game last year which we dubbed “Liveblogapocalypse.”

Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere: 4-8 hours a day

2. Take us through a typical day of blogging.

This is probably the hardest question on the list for me. I don’t want to reveal all of my secrets, but it’s TBP, so I’ll spill the beans. The thing is...I don’t ever have a plan. Some may view this as cocky and/or ill-prepared, but unless I’m doing a review of a MNF game the next day, I have no idea what I’m posting that day.

With that said, I have the sites I go to first in the morning (don’t believe in RSS Readers), and from there I plan out my day. Here’s how it goes...Get the first post (something substantial) down around 9/10 a.m. Usually when I find the first post I instantly find the second to throw up, but I have real work for my “real” job in between. I’ll post the second story at around 11...I’ll do some more real work, and then look for a third story around noon. Here’s where it gets tricky...

If I have a story at noon...I go with it...if I don’t you get the “Create the Caption” bit a little early, and then it’s a free for all the rest of the day. Whatever and whenever I find it. If I’m watching games that night and anything grabs a hold of me I’ll put it up around midnight or 1 a.m., so it’s the first thing people see when they head to AA in the morning.

3. What made you start a blog focused on announcers and media figures? Did Chris Berman touch you the wrong way when you were a kid or something?

Fuck if I know really. One (Playoff NBA) day, Hubie Brown used the word “Wideopenshotability”, and I lost it. From there it’s been a cluster fuck (I can curse here, right?) of nonsense, announcing, and bad writing (mostly from me).

I always wanted to do something in sports (hence working for the WUSA), but blogging was nothing that I planned for. I’d love to give you some Steve Jobs type vision that I once had, but I was just an idiot with a computer and Google. Blogger came up as a sponsored link and the rest is Cheerleader Ass and History.4. Awful Announcing is full of rare videos and transcripts of what announcers said during a certain broadcast. How do you get all of that material? Are you TIVOing games, then breaking down all the fucked up things these guys say?

One day when I write my memoirs everyone will see the notes that I take for each game. They’re pretty off the wall and scary actually. It would be a great read.

As far as videos...I’d like to have a fancy answer for this question too (something along the lines of 40 minions with laptops and a network of TVs), but you hit the nail on the head. I watch any and every sporting event that’s on television. It’s not an easy thing to do, The Awful Girlfriend hates me during Football Season, and I get about four hours of sleep a night. No offense to the love of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

On a side note: I’ve had one YouTube account closed because of “legal issues”, so I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to get away with what I do. It sucks to have a video, that was viewed over 300,000 times like “Ty Thomas twisting his ankle after proclaiming he’s only entering the Dunk Contest for the Money”, removed forever...but such is life. Until the lawyers come knocking I think I’m good...although that could be any day now.

5. Dream job? Go.

Going back through the transcripts of previous interviews you either got “I love what I’m doing now” or “I want to sexually assault a female actress for a living,” so I’m going with something different. I’m going with what I wanted to be as a kid. As a kid I wanted to be Eddie Murray. Eddie Murray was the best switch-hitter that ever lived (fuck you Mickey Mantle) and hated the bastards in the media. There was something that I loved about him just ignoring the lemmings that were hounding him after verbally fellating Cal Ripken.

So when I grow up, TBP...I want to be Eddie Murray. Wait...what was the question?

6. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you'd recommend?

First of all let me say that this question is the easiest to answer. Why? I love every blog. I love everyone who takes the time to write/type their thoughts down to express their feelings (90% for little or no money). Doesn’t matter if the writing is good, if it’s satire, or it’s just recapping the day. Having options is not a bad thing, and with the monopoly that is “The Leader” trying to shove shit down your throat everyday...blogs are amazing and a necessity for any sports fan.

With that said I’m breaking this into two parts...

First of all have to thank Deadspin before anyone else. I emailed Will with the weakest of intros ever and he linked me in Blogdome with a tagline something along the lines of “Hey, A Blog Completely Devoted to Crappy Announcers, Bill Simmons Would Be Jealous.” I couldn’t think of a better intro into the ‘Sphere. Second, I have to thank Brooks from SbB. He may not want to admit this ever happened, but for one day I wrote for his site. He was trying to find people to fill in the holes when he couldn’t and he gave me a shot. I failed miserably. I wrote a perfect piece on Michele Wie and her competition, but mistakenly named Morgan Presell, Paula Creamer, or vice versa (whatever). Brooks got probably a million emails calling him out on what was actually my mistake, and even though I completely botched that first post he gave me a second try. Well guess what? I fucked that up too....Really, really, really badly. Brooks still gave me pointers and politely gave me advice as he kicked my ass out the door. If it wasn’t for SbB, I wouldn’t even know how to write a post or what was relevant in Media.

Okay, now that my slurping is done I’m taking a page out of my boy NFL Adam’s book by not mentioning the sites that you go to everyday (my dad actually asked me about a site called Deathspin the other day), but maybe pointing out the ones you don’t go to everyday...I hope you can take this in list form...

100% Injury Rate, Babes Love Baseball, Blog of Hilarity, Bugs and Cranks, Bullets Forever, Deuce of Davenport, Digital Headbutt, Flyers Fieldhouse, Joe Sports Fan, Ladies..., Larry Brown Sports, Leave the Man Alone, Lion In Oil, Mondesi’s House, More Credible, My Brain Says Rage, NOIS, One More Dying Quail, Red Sox Monster, Run Up The Score, Signal To Noise, Strikezones and Endzones, Sons of Sam Malone, Stupid Sideline Reporters, Storming the Floor, The 700 Level, The Big Picture, The Hater Nation, The Money Shot, The Sports Hernia, The Wayne Fontes Experience, Thunder Matt’s Saloon, and With Malice.

7. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

The most rewarding part is the easiest...I love what I do. And that’s not working full time at a bullshit job and making a salary. I love blogging. I love that I’m (somewhat) respected in the “Industry.” I love making people take notice. I love my commenters. I love the people that link to me and vice versa. I love my “Friends of AA” section because every single one of those people have helped me at one point or another whether I mentioned them in the last question or not. I love run-on sentences. I love using...

The most frustrating? Three things...1.) Trying to gain and keep respect 2.) Getting people to comeback after I’ve been linked somewhere huge, and 3.) The lack of understanding from Mainstream Media...

(Without getting too preachy) Mainstream Media likes to throw around the word credible. Well what the fuck is credible?! WHO is credible? The person who touched me when I was young Chris Berman, Peter Gammons, f’ing Chris Mortensen?!?! How about Deadspin who had some stories proven to be false, or when I fuck something up?! Everyone makes mistakes, but people seem to take stock in the fact that blogs are rumor and garbage. Well you know what? (Most of) Mainstream Media is nearsighted, stubborn, and weak. Blogs aren’t your run of the mill spin that you read every f’ing day at ESPN, and I f’ing love that! I think it’s awesome that I have options. Blogs are perfect in their chaos because they are a self-regulating community. Anons told me 1,000 times over that I was wrong for praising TBS’ No. 1 MLB Playoff Team of Caray, Gwynn, and Brenly. I went back and watched them again, saw that they were right, and admitted I was wrong and that I was too quick in my judgment. When has that ever happened to Stuart Scott after he’s done his horrible poetry session on Sports Center, or Chris Mortensen when he reports incorrectly for the thousandth time? It doesn’t. Well it didn’t until sports blogs came along.

8. This might be a loaded question, but, in your opinion, what's the future of sports blogs? Enlighten us.

Fuck...I just blew my load on that one. I’ll make this answer short...just like any medium you have to eliminate the spin and nonsense and that’s what blogs do. Newspapers are a dying breed, but some get know what...see Dan Shanoff’s interview for this answer. He summed it up better than anyone else ever could...he’s badass and went to Harvard.

9. What's the ultimate goal of your site/your writing?

When people use the term “writing” regarding me I just have to laugh. Just read the answers above and below...grammar is thrown out and English is questionable (although I am trying to get better. I actually proofread this interview before sending it to you, and I’m even taking English classes at the local Community College...okay, that’s a lie). It might surprise you, and the AA audience, but I don’t have it out for ESPN. They just make it so much easier than any other entity. All I want is magical land where not everything a sports network does is about the bottom line. There is someone always better and faster out there than you and I think ESPN is losing sight of what made them the great destination they once were.

It’s a double-edged sword (obviously) because if ESPN cleans up its act then I’m out of the job, but alas...I don’t see that happening. The main goal is and always has been to just have fun, make a few people laugh, and never take myself too seriously (something which I can’t say for most of the announcers out there today).

10. AA gets a great readership now. The content speaks for itself, but it needs to get out there somehow -- especially at first. How'd the initial promotion of the site go? Message boards? Email strings? And a piece of advice, if you will, for some smaller sites how to build a steady, interactive readership?

I can’t stress hard work enough. You’re not just going to gain respect overnight, and you have to put the time in. Hell, that’s something I’m still struggggggling with. Everyone knows who works hard and who doesn’t in the world of blogging so if you post something one day, and then wait three days and post’re going to lose readership. You don’t have to be FanHouse, but you need a few items/opinions each day. Another thing is to network and make friends. Email people, ask questions, ask for everything. It’s grass roots marketing at its finest, and people will almost always help you out.

A term I hate is “finding your voice”, but it’s really what will set you apart from millions of websites out there. Having a niche was a blessing for me because people say stupid stuff year round, so it’s easy for me. What I find amazing is when football blogs keep their readership up year round. KSK and EDSBS are f’ing genius at what they do to keep people constantly checking in the offseason, but that’s a hard thing to do. I’d never tell anyone what to cover or not to cover, but make sure you think about it ahead of time.

Lastly, (and I learned this from MJD’s interview) don’t ever let anyone discourage you from doing what you want to do. Do you know how many “Industry” people have emailed me asking me what business I have in judging them? A ton. And you know what I tell them...I’m a fucking fan and I have an opinion. You don’t have to read it, but I know you will.

11. There are a lot of awful, awful announcers out there. But there are some damn fine ones too. Personally, who makes you grateful for the MUTE button? Who would you want calling any game? And who's been the most fun to poke fun at since you started the blog?

I’ll give you a top 10 of who I can’t stand and then a list for the good ones...

10. Chris Spielman
9. Andre Ware
8. Paul Maguire
7. Charles Davis
6. Emmitt Smith
5. Pam Ward
4. Tim McCarver
3. Chris Berman
2. Joe Buck
1. Joe Morgan

Good Announcers/Analysts/Hosts: Gus Johnson, Pam Oliver, Matt Vasgersian, Troy Aikman, Sean McDonough, Kirk Herbstreit, Craig Bollerjack, Rece Davis, Brad Nessler, Marv Albert, Erin Andrews, Steve Kerr, Steve “Snapper” Jones, Ernie Johnson, Ron Pitts, JC Pearson, Ian Eagle, Chris Fowler, and Petros Papadakis (I’m probably missing a few, so sorry if I left anyone off).

The most fun to poke at is a three-way tie with Joe Buck, Pam Ward, and Joe Morgan. (Honorable Mention: Chris Berman). And If I had to choose one a team for one game...Marv Albert would be on the call, Gus Johnson would be the analyst, and Erin Andrews would be on the sideline (for journalistic purposes of course).


insomniac said...

Nice job as always. It almost inspires me to post more than once every three or four days. Almost

I know there's no accounting for taste, but Petros was on the good list? Really?? I find it astounding that a) anyone on the east coast would know who he is and b) anyone would enjoy the work of the white Steven A Smith. (Stop yelling at me, Petros!)

Kevin Hayward said...

Nice interview. Always nice to get the perspective of other bloggers who have made it "big", but a little scary to see what it requires to get there.

Anonymous said...

Great interview.

Brian, I'm sorry to hear that Chris Berman touched you when you were a child.

With Malice said...

Kinda honored to be on your list BP...
AA's a testament to what's good about blogging.

Great interview too guys...

TJX said...

Thanks for the shout out AA. Great interview guys!

GMoney said...

TBP and AA together at last!!! Great stuff.

Brian, thanks for the shout-out, at least I know one person checks out my material.

Anonymous said...

Well boys, that's a wrap for the week ("The Big Picture" don't work weekends dawg). We've reached our post quota for the day, so have a good weekend and we'll see you bright and early on Monday for a full day of posts...errr.. post. Later.

wjackalope said...

matt, you make a lot of really great points. You must have a fantastic blog. Can I read it sometime?

Anonymous said...

You forgot to put Cris Collinsworth on the top of that worst announcers list =).

Eric (Extra P.) said...

I find it astounding that someone would do a job as public as announcing and then email people to stop judging them. Um, be a Librarian if you don't want anyone to judge the words that come out of your mouth, bozo.

Ray said...

Zach, as always, thanks for the interview.

Brian, HUGE thanks for the shoutout. You are unquestionably the man.

twins15 said...

As always fantastic work... AA is definitely one of the best and most entertaining blogs out there.

Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan said...

Thanks for giving us props AA. Good interview.

THN said...

Well done, once again.

THN said...

And thanks for the shout outs.

Neil Joshi said...

Great interview, guys. It's great to see two great sports bloggers conversate on what it takes to "make it in the industry."

I enjoy reading both of your blogs, and hope that I can join the fraternity of great sites on the blogosphere.

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