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Students get TV experience

University students are now getting a chance to announce games for the nationally-ranked Horned Frog baseball team not only on the radio, but on television as well.

Chuck LaMendola, play-by-play announcer for the baseball team, said that because of the deal struck with The Mountain West Sports Network last fall to air student-produced sporting events, students are now getting television announcing experience for the first time. Students were able to call games on the radio in the past, he said.

Phil Mann, a senior film-TV-digital media major, worked his way up to becoming an on-air talent during the past four years – something he said he had always dreamed of.

“Baseball broadcasting, in general, is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I was a little kid,” Mann said.

Mann said he started off doing behind-the-scenes work with the team for KTCU FM 88.7 “The Choice,” the university’s radio station, in the spring of 2007. After producing pregame and postgame material, Mann was given the chance to start working as a radio color commentator, the person who provides additional game analysis to aid the play-by-play announcer, for home baseball games.

Since the new television deal came into effect, the additional medium has provided a learning experience for everyone, including LaMendola. The work with The Mtn. is also providing students with more diverse experiences to add to their résumés, he said.

Television announcing is completely different than radio announcing, LaMendola said. Radio listeners rely on the play-by-play announcer to detail every aspect of the game, while television is focused more on analysis by the color man.

The new television deal has made it possible for more students to be involved at once, Mann said. While one student works color commentary for The Mtn., another can fill in on KTCU’s radio broadcast.

Jon Wulf, a senior FTDM major, also works as a commentator for the Frogs and serves as the co-sports director for the radio station alongside Mann. Wulf said he helped to produce material for the team’s Super Regional in Austin last year, and he also got the chance to announce during the 2010 Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.

Students interested in announcing had to start producing material for radio broadcasts, as well as provide practice play-by-play recordings until they were ready to be on air, LaMendola said. The process allows students to become comfortable while proving they can handle the work load.

On-air announcing for baseball is no easy feat, said LaMendola, who has served as the Frog’s announcer for 14 seasons.

“You have to practice the craft because nobody is born with the ability to do play-by-play,” he said.

Students who are announcing are required to get to the ballpark at least two hours early on game day, Mann said. Commentators have to be able to readily find statistics and information, while keeping the audience entertained by painting a picture with their words, he said.

Mann said he fell in love with broadcasting during the excitement of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire’s chase for the single-season home run record in 1998 when he lived just north of Chicago.

Mann said that as long as he has been doing on-air broadcasting, he has never considered it work because he loves it too much.

“I never would’ve imagined that this opportunity would’ve happened four years ago when I applied to TCU,” Mann said.

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