If you crossed paths with a physician on the sidewalk, your mind likely wouldn’t conclude in an instant that the person is a physician.
The same goes for an engineer, a salesperson, a police officer and dozens of other professions. And if you came across people in
these professions in, for example, the grocery store checkout line and you struck up a brief conversation, it’s highly unlikely that such a minuscule amount of small talk would spur you to say something like, “Boy, you should be a doctor” or “You should be an engineer.”
But in the media business, specifically, the broadcast media business, sometimes first impressions can be more telling. I was at a memorial service recently, and the guy who strolled to the podium and delivered one of the scripture readings was one of the most
polished speakers I’ve witnessed in some time. He was middle-aged, tall and distinguished looking to boot. Afterward, I inquired about who the guy was, and followed up by saying he just had to be some kind of professional speaker, or maybe worked in television. Not quite, I was told. He was once a church pastor.
Maybe it’s the professional circles in which I move, but I often will hear someone speak and instantly assume, often correctly, that the person is in the broadcasting business. They enunciate so well and have such good pace and inflection, I can just tell that they get paid to communicate in some fashion. If they’re handsome or pretty, the assumption is they work in front of a camera. If their looks are nothing to write home about, they probably work in radio.
Or, like me, they write. I have a broadcast journalism degree but after a college internship at a TV news station, I was told that I
lacked a “broadcast voice” and a “TV presence.” I just didn’t “project well” through the lens and to the viewing audience, I was told.
I wonder, on the heels of watching another NFL Draft on ESPN, did anyone ever have the guts or the decency to tell Chris “Boomer” Berman that? Maybe Berman, who’s worked at ESPN since almost day one – before the network ruled the sports world and when
half of its programming schedule was filled with Australian rules football matches – simply got his foot in the door because the sports
network was basically starting from scratch.
It’s a miracle he’s lasted this long. He may have the worst broadcast voice in the history of broadcast history. And when his lungs are desperately short of precious, life-giving air and he insists on polishing off three more sentences without inhaling, it’s absolute anguish to witness. Add his annoying habit of yelling words like “What!?” or “Whoop!” and his use of touchdown and home run clichés like, “He…could…go…all…the…way!” and, well, it’s like using a belt sander on your face.
Page 2 of 2 - In all fairness, being on camera for all those hours during the NFL Draft must be tough. Between all the glitzy promos and graphics-heavy football stats on steroids put together by the ESPN production staff, there’s a lot of time to fill, and it falls on Berman’s lap, mostly, to keep things chugging along.
But why couldn’t someone else be relied on to do that? There was a moment in last week’s draft when the Jets were on the clock for their first round pick. Berman ran out of things to say, started scrambling, awkwardly brought up some mundane point, and then kicked it to his sidekicks, John “I want to be the love-child of every player in this draft” Gruden and the admittedly brilliant Mel Kiper. But the camera for some reason didn’t switch to Gruden and Kiper when they started talking; after the breathless Berman
gasped his last word, the camera stayed on him and his face slowly contorted into some kind of alien form. I thought that at that moment the screen might go black and television as the world has come to know it would from that point on simply cease to exist. It
may have been the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Or, forget all the things I’ve seen in my 43 years…it just might have been the worst
thing, period. In the history of “things” in general, this was rock bottom.
So Berman has to go, right?
Wrong! I used to think so, but no longer.
Berman must stay. The world needs people like Boomer. I need people like Boomer.
I cut off 10 inches of the best mullet in the history of hair to land that internship at WDAY, and after spending a summer saying “Dub-uh-you-D-A-Y News Center Six” on camera instead of the required “Double-you- D-A-Y” I was told I should nix my TV dreams
and stick to writing.
I see Berman gasping and yelling strange words when a running back fumbles the football on TV, and it’s a reminder of what could have happened to me. I could be awful and embarrassing on TV...and be paid millions.
Scratch that..he has to go.