I really enjoy speaking in front of crowds.
As a somewhat accomplished high school speech nerd, I liked the different crowds that enjoyed (or at least smiled politely) my orations during my tenure at Calvert Hall in Towson, Maryland. It’s not an easy gig. You get up at 5 AM on a Saturday morning, travel to the land of overcoats and enormous ego (Philadelphia) and see if you can fit in with such an upper crust it reminds you of a crouton.
I’ve continued to give speeches under fun circumstances (career days at both my elementary school and high school) and the worst you can possibly imagine (my grandfather’s eulogy). I’m not new to the game.
That’s why, on a cloudy Thursday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium, I found it very odd to find my knees shake as I was on the other side of the camera for an interview.
Let’s go back to the start. On Monday morning, I received an e-mail from a friend at NBC Sports Network. He asked me if I wanted to do a “talkback” (meaning that I’m looking at a camera and answering questions) for his show on Thursday. In case you guys haven’t noticed, I don’t do TV. I haven’t been on-air in 11 years – since my time doing college television in Columbia, South Carolina. He was obviously mistaken. Or so I thought.
Turns out, they wanted me to do the report. I spent the next few days gathering as many tips and pointers from the legends that work in the WBAL building. Think about it. We have the best journalists in one of the better news cities in the country. It’s incredibly cool to me, a kid who grew up watching these giants, to have them go out of their way to offer advice.
All of that treasured advice promptly flew out the door when the guy in my ear said my name and time stopped at the stadium. You will never experience a combination of nerves and adrenaline in your entire life. I didn’t even do a talkback in college. This was my maiden voyage — on national television. Truth be told, we had to do two takes since I flat-out blew the first one. I had no idea what I was saying and just lost my train of thought. Luckily, we weren’t live, so I got a take two.
It was very cool to receive a round of applause when I cam back to the station on Thursday from my co-workers. I found out a number of them gathered to watch my work in our news director’s office. The texts came pouring in. My Mom sent me a clip from her home in Massachusetts. My sister told me I rocked it from California. My brother went out of his way to find a TV in South Carolina to catch my two-minute report. A bunch of old and new friends chimed in as well. It was all very, very overwhelming.
Television is an incredible experience. It’s rewarding and humbling at the same time. Two hours after I did quick network hit, I had to produce my pre-game show for the Ravens-Browns game. I left the on-camera talking for other folks to handle.
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