3, 2, 1 ... live! Aspiring broadcasters learn craft at De La Salle summer camp
Jul 11, 2019
WARREN — Perhaps one day in the future we will listen to Owen Turner’s play-by-play of University of Michigan baseball. Or watch Ben Wehrmann do a between-period recap at a Detroit Red Wings game.
Although they’re not yet in high school, Owen and Ben are already preparing for those dream jobs by attending the summer broadcasting camp at Warren De La Salle Collegiate High School.
And by all accounts, the future media stars are picking things up quickly.
“I’ve learned how to use some of the equipment like the headsets, how to use a camera and hold the microphone and stuff,” said Turner, who will be an eighth grader at Holy Family Regional School in Rochester Hills. “The funnest thing is probably doing our news stories, but I also liked getting to hear stories from all our guests we’ve had.”
Wehrmann, a rising seventh grader at Pierce Middle School in Grosse Pointe Park, now knows all about conducting interviews.
“You want to stand at an angle to the camera so you don’t have to reach across your body to give the microphone to the other person,” he said. “You want to talk clearly, and you also want to hold the microphone right to here (chest height), so you’re not blocking your mouth and your chin.”
Those were just a few of the topics covered in the fast-paced camp, which meets for four-and-a-half hours each day.
“They’ll learn about what play-by-play is, what a color analyst is, what a news anchor is, what reporters are, how to do an interview on camera, how to do a talk show, how to do a podcast, how to hold the camera and frame up the shot, how to give a cue, things like that,” said Brendan Johnson, De La Salle’s associate director of alumni relations and the school’s Broadcast Club moderator.
Johnson said the camp’s structure allows kids to take a “hands-on” approach.
“They’ve been doing some news reports; they had to go home and write a little script, almost like they’ve been writing for a (tele-)prompter,” he said. “Today we had kids doing the weather, we had politics, entertainment and sports, so they’re talking about a variety of things and a variety of topics. The kids could all come in and say, ‘The Tigers are below .500 at the All-Star Break,’ but to go out and look at different topics, analyze them, and come in with a full prompter report; it was good.”
In past years, campers have been able to develop their skills by doing play-by-play of the other sports camps taking place around the De La Salle campus at the same time. While this week’s campers were still able to conduct interviews with Pilot coaches and varsity players, the camp devoted more time to learning about podcasting — a growing segment of the industry.
Johnson was an original member of De La Salle’s Broadcast Club as a freshman in 2012 and hasn’t slowed down since. He does the “Palace of Pistons” podcast, has done play-by-play for Madonna University athletics for three years, and hosts “The Drive Home” post-game prep football show following the “Catholic High School Game of the Week” on WDTK (“The Patriot” 101.5/1400).
As a result, Johnson was able to draw upon some of his industry contacts to come in and talk with campers about their roles in the industry. This week’s guests included Red Wings play-by-play announcer Ken Daniels, University of Detroit-Mercy basketball announcer Jeremy Otto, and Detroit Sports Podcasts’ Vito Chirco (like Johnson, a De La Salle graduate).
Past camps’ guests are a who’s-who of Detroit sports media: Trevor Thompson of Fox Sports Detroit; Kyle Bogey and Jeff Riger from WXYT-FM (97.1 The Ticket); Sean Baligian, now with the Michigan Media Network; Matt Dery, formerly of Detroit Sports 105.1 WMGC-FM and WDFN; and Sky Kerstein of Fox 2 Detroit.
“We’ve been pretty lucky to get some quality people to come in and speak to the kids each year,” Johnson said. “We’ve had a lot of well-respected Detroit media names come through the halls of De La Salle the last couple of years to this broadcast camp. It’s good exposure for the kids, it’s good exposure for the school, it’s good exposure for the Catholic League.”
What does Johnson hope the youngsters will take back from the broadcasting camp?
“Just a greater passion,” he said. “I hope they can walk away knowing a little bit more of a well-rounded idea of what broadcasting is and the depths of what it goes to. It’s not just the one guy you hear calling the game, it’s the podcasters, it’s the talk show hosts, it’s the sideline reporters, it’s the news anchors. To just have a better idea of the full picture is definitely the goal — we want this camp to educate and to grow that passion.”