I received a couple compliments last week that nice on the surface, but both just flat-out got me thinking.
To preface this, I am an obsessive-compulsive when it comes to my broadcasting craft. I always have and always will over-prepare for a game, a show or an event to make sure that when the mic goes hot, what people hear is well-informed and entertaining. That dates back to my first few days on the job when I had to fill hours of baseball broadcast airtime on my own. I vowed since then, like many do in any profession, if I'm going to put my name on it, I'm making sure it's the best.
But back to the compliments. One of my old bosses (I might add he's the genius who hired me in Bakersfield more than 10 years ago), recently called to compliment me on a CSUB basketball broadcast. He said he was in the area and was listening and he told me "you sounded good, better than the last time I heard you, so that's a good thing." Wait, what?
I know he meant I am continually improving, but the way my gears grind, I immediately thought; "was I bad before?" It was a compliment, leave it to me to over-think the gesture.
Of course that boss would know, I'm sure, that if I went back and listened to my first tapes under his tutelage I would cringe. He's also the one who gave me my first on-air play-by-play gig calling high school football. He asked me if I've ever done football before. Although I had not, I knew I could do it, so my answer was "it won't be a problem."
Technically that wasn't a lie, and no it wasn't a problem considering I had played, watched and listened to the sport for years. My first game was great, things opened up from there.
Then late last week I was wrapping up a Roadrunners game broadcast and one of our camera operators was rolling up cables and stopped to tell me he's been living in Bakersfield for ten years now and listening to me ever since. He said "you've really come along in the last 10 years, you're a lot smoother with your flow."
Again, obsessive alert. Was I not smooth before? Was there something wrong with my flow? Seriously, people, these are the things that I lose sleep over. I shouldn't, but I think I have a screw loose.
Both were genuine compliments, especially when someone lets you know you are continually getting better. I just have to make it more than it is I guess.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of the best pieces of professional advice came from a wise old man whose work once graced the same pages of this same paper. "You're never too old to get better."
No matter what line of work any of us are in or how long we've been doing it that's sound advice. I guess every now and again we just need a friendly reminder.
COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University, Bakersfield.