An Icon of Sports Broadcasting Passes Away

Ernie Harwell, the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years, who also spent time in Baltimore, has died at 92. Harwell spent 55 years in broadcasting, joining Mel Allen, Jack Buck, Harry Caray and others among the game’s most famous play-by-play voices.

He announced Detroit games on radio from 1960-1991, again in 1993 and from 1999-2002. He broadcast games on over-the-air and cable television from 1960-64 and 1994-98.

Harwell retired in 2002 and spent his final years in Michigan. The legendary broadcaster died after a battle with cancer.

PRODUCER HAT: The first question in breaking news– who do you want to get on-air to comment? Three places to always search:

1) Archives: Who commented on similiar stories in the past? In this case, we had some good resources from when Harry Kalas died a few years ago.
2) Media Guides: All major sports have media guides, including baseball. They have several home phone numbers for people who cover each team, including Detroit.
3) Books: Did anyone ever write a book about Ernie Harwell? Yup, Tom Keegan co-wrote his autobiography.

I have to give all the credit to my anchors. You call the play, then your guys execute it. And they did it flawlessly.

Take a listen!

WTOP’s Nathan Roberts speaks to Detroit News Sports Columnist Lynn Henning:
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WTOP’s Dimitri Sotis speaks to sports broadcasting historian Curt Smith:
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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

Are You Prepared for the Next Supreme Court Nomination?

If you aren’t ready, why not? Remember the old Boy Scouts motto: “Always be prepared”. Nothing could be more true for a producer. If you can’t be prepared for what you know is coming, then you’ll be lost when the unexpected hits. And trust me, it will happen!

If the past is any indicator, President Obama will name his nominee around mid-May, so you should begin your homework now.

Who’s on the President’s list? Here’s a list I’ve compiled from several news outlets:

1) Elena Kagan, Solicitor General

2) Judge Diane Wood ot the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

3) Judge Merrick Garland of the DC Court of Appeals.

4) Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan

Those four are considered the frontrunners.  Does that mean you prepare for only these four?  NO!  Like a Professor who provides 8 essay questions and says 4 will show up on the final exam, you could “guess” and prepare for 6.  But, what happens if you’re wrong? The A+ student is ready for all 8 options. The A+ producer is the same.

Here are the other “less likely” names on the list: Janet Napolitano, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Cass Sunstein, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE?

Very good question. There are several categories of people you can target.

1) Supreme Court Watchers: These people are often either lawyers who argue before the Court frequently. It’s up to you to do the homework, but here’s one freebie: Thomas Goldstein. He’s a Supreme Court specialist at Akin-Gump in Washington DC and he runs SCOTUSBlog.com. He’s a highly sought after guest and he’s always insightful into Supreme Court matters.

2) Constitutional Scholars: These are people who follow constitutional issues, not necessarily the Courts. They comment on the key issues and how someone reads the Constitution. Law school professors often call this “Constitutional Interpretation” and some categories include: Literalism, Normative, Original Intent.

3) Professors of Law: These people teach law, teach the Court and follow current events. Two schools with great resources are Georgetown and Stanford Universities. In fact, Stanford has it’s own Supreme Court Litigation Clinic with several great professors who follow the courts.

4) Think Tanks: Many of them have constitutional law guys. But do your research! Several think-tanks have specific political tints.

5) Journalists: There’s good news-bad news here. Journalists who follow the Court will not give you a partisan analysis, but there will not likely be much analysis either. Reporters don’t state their opinion, they just state the facts. Nonetheless, Joan Biskupic covers the Court for USA Today and Linda Greenhouse at Yale University use to cover it for the New York Times.

6) Former Clerks: Lots of these former clerks are now lawyers and Professors, but I separate them here because every one of these potential nominees have had clerks. Who knows Merrick Garlan or Diane Wood better than a former clerk who worked for them? 

WHERE CAN I FIND THESE SOURCES?

The best resources available come from newspapers, radio and TV. Go into the archives for the Washington Post, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and see who they quote in Supreme Court articles. You can similiarly go into the archives for CNN, Fox News, NBC, CBS, PBS, ABC. Go to their websites. Or consider Lexis-Nexis. It’s a paid service and it’s not cheap, but you’ll get access to more data than you can handle. If you don’t want to pay, don’t worry. Lexis-Nexis offers free access to TV Transcripts for the major news outlets. Surf around the ‘Net and you’ll find some good stuff. The same applies to radio outlets like CBS, CNN, ABC, and Fox News.   Or, go the library and do some digging. Go back to your college roots.

My home always has a huge stack of newspapers, transcripts and lists piled up. That’s how my Rolodex has 2,500 names and growing!

HOW DO I TRACK THESE PEOPLE DOWN

Three places are the best way to track down phone numbers for any topic: Google, USSearch.com, White Pages. Lets say you want to find me: Ari Ashe. Where is WTOP? Washington D.C. Google it and you find my work number is 202-895-5000. How about where I live? Go to USSearch.com and type my name in. You’ll find me. And then go to the White Pages, type in my name and city. You’ll find me. Not every source will have their number listed, but many do.

GOOD LUCK AND GET TO WORK!

Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .