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The Summer Lockout

October 11, 2011

DeJuan M. Vann (@dejuanmvann) is a Marketing & Journalism major at Macomb Community College.

DeJuanVann Headshot2 150x150 The Summer Lockout

By Dejuan Vann

Before beginning my internship I thought I knew more than enough about sports to easily help create show topics, but this past summer was not the case. I started my internship with 97.1 The Ticket, a CBS sports station in Farmington Hills, Michigan, in early June. I was absolutely thrilled that I was even given an opportunity to work at a big station like 97.1 and I was determined to absorb and understand everything I could. The first couple of days flew by – I was asking questions, learning how to operate audio recording programs and meeting all of the station’s staff. It felt like a dream come true. But I was faced with many challenges that I never saw coming.

Aside from having to catch six buses per day in summer heat, I was faced with some major challenges.

“Two of America’s most popular sports were officially locked out, leaving us (like many other sports stations) with little to nothing to interest listeners.”

First, summers are already slow because this is the off-season for the majority of sports. But that was not all, this past summer made history with not one but two major lockouts, making it one of the worst times to intern for a sports station. Two of America’s most popular sports were officially locked out, leaving us (like many other sports stations) with little to nothing to interest listeners. Normally you could discuss player transactions, training camps, trade rumors, what to expect for the up and coming season, and other in off-season topics. With the lockouts, there wasn’t anything to cover. Sure, you could talk about the status of the lockouts from time to time, but it would eventually bore fans.

I learned a few new things from these challenges. For one, how to suck a story bone dry. There were stories that I would search for emerging updates almost every hour. I would be ecstatic and relieved if anything new came about. I signed up for every possible newsletter and sports alert, so that if any kind of news came up I was the first to know. We improvised and began covering other popular topics. For example, we spent two days on the Casey Anthony trial and when the verdict was in, we devoted another day to it. The creativity level at the entire station was pushed to the limit and every reporter, radio personality and of course intern was jumping at the chance to find breaking news. This was an utter nightmare for sports fans, stations and athletes everywhere.

My last challenge was my baseball IQ. It was well below-average and once MLB news hit I didn’t know its impact or importance. It was tough to admit that I did not know any of my home-team players, so I studied not only the news but positions, stats, calls, players, etc. When I first applied for the internship I thought it would for sure be smooth sailing, especially for a sports guy like me, but I was mistaken. It was a ton of work!

“The best part – I met a lot of good people who love what they do and now mentor and guide me as I continue to achieve my goals.”

All said and done, the experience was well worth it and I would not have spent my summer anywhere else. If any one is interested in doing an internship with a sports radio station I would suggest doing it in any season but summer. If you are not a sports junky then you better get to doing your homework right away even before applying. Lockouts probably will not happen again for another 10 years, so you will not have to worry about that nightmare anytime soon. Last but not least, have fun. I can not stress that enough and even though we were under tons of pressure there were plenty of good times. I learned so much about the industry in the few months I was there and will never forget the experience. The best part – I met a lot of good people who love what they do and now mentor and guide me as I continue to achieve my goals.

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