Broadcasting the All Stars

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At the midpoint of the baseball season, the top players come together for a short break from the usual contest of playing for championship honors to play baseball's annual All-Star game. Leading up to the game are several events, including the Home Run Derby the day before the game. Covering a baseball game from a listener's point of view sounds like an simple task with three or four announcers, but it's rather involved and requires considerable planning. ESPN Radio allowed Radio magazine to tag along for a day to observe how everything comes together.

ESPN broadcasts at the All Star Game.

My first call was to Kevin Plumb, CPBE, VP, audio technology at ESPN, whom I have known for several years. He put me in touch with Kevin Ingles, technical producer, event production, who gave me an initial rundown of everything that is covered by ESPN Radio during the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game. After working with Ingles, I was put in touch with Executive Producer John Martin to coordinate a visit to Kauffman Stadium to observe the broadcast team in action.

During the Home Run Derby, I shadowed Game Producer Ivan Sokalsky, Game Technician Al Rosenberg and Studio Technician Bob White. White puts all the equipment together for the broadcast, and has done so for several years. He built most of the IFB equipment used for the broadcast to facilitate communication between Sokalsky and the rest of the broadcast team. Rosenberg handles the final mix of all the game elements that are sent to the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT, to be uplinked.

Initial prep

About a month before the game, Ingles and Martin visited Kauffman Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals and site of the 2012 All-Star Game, to conduct a site survey. By meeting with representatives from Major League Baseball, ESPN was given the specifics of the game schedule. By meeting with representatives from the stadium , ESPN determined what was available on-site and see the physical space that would be used for the broadcast. ESPN used the home radio booth at the stadium. This booth is about three stories above the field level and almost directly behind home plate.

Sokalsky, Kestecher and Rosenberg in the broadcast booth.

Sokalsky, Kestecher and Rosenberg in the broadcast booth.

There are two levels in the booth itself. The announcers sit on the lower and more forward portion, while Rosenberg and Studio Host Marc Kestecher sit on the upper. Sokalsky stands and is able to move between the two levels as needed, although his IFB control box and computer are on the end of the second level table top. White used a counter top in the back for equipment staging and last-minute repairs or modifications as needed.

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