The newest host of Hockey Night in Canada, David Amber, did a Reddit AMA recently and spent a few hours answering questions from fans across the internet. He got a lot of broadcasting questions so I decided to pick out the ones I figured would benefit the SMG community. Can you guess which question was mine? (Hint: I put it first!)
Q: In your opinion what makes a great on-air broadcaster? What can young broadcasters do to stand out from the crowd when applying for on-air jobs?
A: Great question. Develop your own style and be confident with it. Don’t try to copy a broadcaster you like or respect….do your own thing and run with it. As far as landing a job goes – don’t just send out tapes – get as many face to face meetings as you can…always can sell yourself better in that setting.
Q: What was your biggest challenge in the early stages of your career? At what point did you think to yourself “I’ve made it”?
A: Out of college I faced a lot of rejection. Sent tapes to many small markets in the US and Canada. It took a year of handing out tapes and driving to meet sports directors before I finally got an on air job…so that was the hardest part. Wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get a chance.
I don’t really think “I’ve made it”- the industry is very unpredictable, fickle and always evolving- so there’s never a guarantee for job security. Have to roll with the changes and hope viewers/management like what you’re doing.
Q: As a seasoned vet, do you have any words of encouragement or wisdom to share? All the best with HNIC this season.
A: Hang in there. Yes rejection is part of the journey for sure. I sent many, many tapes out before landing my first TV job in Sault Ste Marie. Be persistent and get as many face to face meetings with news/sports directors as possible. Be prepared to relocate to a small town if needed. Hang in there and kick that door down.
Q: When do you feel the most nervous hosting HNIC?
A: Right before the show you get some butterflies, because hockey fans are passionate and aren’t afraid to let you know when you mess up. I take my career very seriously so I try to be as prepared as always- but sometimes things go wrong…. you have to shake it off. I tell myself its just TV- were not saving lives here… so that helps keep me calm.
Q: What’s it like to be able to be on Hockey Night in Canada? And how much did you watch it as a little kid?
A: I LOVED HNIC as a kid. I grew up watching every Saturday night. Darryl Sittler was my favorite player. Its very cool to be a part of it now. Its a Canadian broadcasting institution. Our viewers are very passionate about hockey and we hope to deliver entertainment and analysis when you let us into your homes each week.
Q: What inspired you to get into sports broadcasting?
A: Love sports. Love TV. Seemed like a good marriage :) My father worked in TV so I was around the business and it seemed like a great career path. I have been incredibly lucky to get the opportunities I have.
Q: Did you ever envision yourself hosting such a significant show for a hockey enriched nation? Was it a quick decision for you when the opportunity came about?
A: Honestly I never imagined I would be hosting HNIC- because I didn’t think their was an opportunity. When I was offered the position it didn’t take long to say yes. This show means a lot to me and im grateful to be a part of it.
Q: What’s a “game day” like for you? Do you just show up and go? Research? Routines?
A: I research all the game day matchups- key storlines etc. We have a production meeting a few hours before we go to air- to discuss topics and get a sense of how the show will look. Its a long day and everyone is pretty exhausted by the end.
Q: How often do people recognize you in the street but can’t put there finger on where from?
A: I get mistaken for other broadcasters and sometimes athletes all the time. Its really funny to me. Just this past weekend this guy came up and said “James Duthie I love your work” That was hilarious- in case you haven’t noticed James and I don’t look much alike.
Q: Any analysts or sportscasters from other networks that you would love to work with? Or any that you’ve interacted with and really enjoyed?
A: Would love to work with Charles Barkley and Terry Bradshaw as analysts. As far as other hosts? Scott Van Pelt at ESPN is a real pro as is Mike Tirico from NBC.
Q: What’s the next big thing in the presentation of hockey and whats coming down the pipeline for the future of broadcasting. What are networks doing to stay innovative in a more globalized world?
A: That’s a great question and I wish I had more information for you. I think we as broadcasters continually search for more innovative and better ways to present the game. Ref cams, eventually a puck cam, more players and coaches mic’d etc will be part of the broadcast I’m guessing. Anything to bring the viewer closer to the game and all the personalities.
You can find David on Twitter @DavidAmber
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