Broadcaster brings big league approach to McNair
Along with the crack of the bat and the pop of the mitt, if you listen closely, you will hear another sound synonymous with the East Rutherford Easter Tournament, the booming voice of Watauga broadcaster Mike Kelly. 2013 marks the third year Kelly and color analyst Steve Behr have made the trip from Boone to Forest City to cover the Pioneers.
“I love coming to Forest City,” said Kelly. “People are so welcoming and hospitable and the facility itself is outstanding. When I first came here I thought the field was Astroturf. It’s that well-maintained. It is absolutely beautiful and the best facility we play at all year.”
Kelly has certainly seen a lot of fields in his 14 years of covering Pioneer athletics and he tries to bring a big league approach to each game.
“I treat these games like they are a Saturday matinee Yankees game,” said Kelly. “We treat these kids like they are big city athletes. They deserve and the parents who can’t make to the game do too along with fans just love baseball I look at it as a service to our community and I’m proud of that.”
Kelly’s professional approach is no surprise considering he models his call after legendary broadcasters Vin Scully and Jack Buck.
“I’ve always followed their advice because they were so articulate,” Kelly said. “I try to make each broadcast entertaining to the listeners, make easy for them to understand what’s going on, and stay focused on the call. The whole idea is to put the listener first. The broadcaster has to be the eyes and ears of the listener. Most importantly, make the broadcast as enjoyable as possible so win or lose, people will tune in again.”
As a sport, baseball lends itself to that philosophy.
“I think baseball is perfect for radio,” said Kelly. It gives you time to paint a word picture more so than basketball or football. I want the listener to feel like they’re in the booth with me.”
Kelly has certainly had opportunity to hone his broadcasting skills. The Chicago native has covered a wide variety of
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sports in his thirty-two year career from the CBA to the NHL.
“I’ve done a little bit of everything, including some journalism and TV,” said Kelly. I have enjoyed doing all three because all you’re doing is reporting what you see just in a little different way. In the end, I’m just a storyteller.”
Even though he has covered professional sports, Kelly says he prefers preps to the pros.
“High school kids a just so approachable,” said Kelly. “By the time people get to the pros, sometimes they don’t want to have anything to do with you. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many pro athletes that are great and very approachable, especially hockey players, but there is something special about kids playing in high school. I think it’s because the game is still new and fresh to them. They haven’t gotten tired of answering the same old questions all the time.”
Kelly admits calling games nearly year round can become tiresome.
“Sure, there are days when I want to get away from it, but then I think about how much God has blessed me. I feel like Lou Gehrig. I truly am the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”