(Editor’s note: Tyson and I have been friends for a long time. Really long! When he came up to me and asked me if he could post on my blog - I didn’t even hesitate to say yes. You see, Tyson auditioned for the “You Make The Call” contest the Astros held and is currently waiting out the process to see if he goes on to the next level of voting. …and, you bet your britches, he should advance! I think Tyson is talented dude. He’s smart. He’s funny. He has a lot of real-world experience and stories that would make him an excellent radio personality. He even has a silky voice that commands authority like DMX but is also soft and soothing like my elementary school gym teacher. Point is - he’ll be great! I’ll make sure to keep everyone up to date on his progress and when it comes time to vote - we’re going to rig this mofo like a Columbian election. - Andy)
THE ASTROS “YOU MAKE THE CALL” AUDITIONS or How I Almost Suffocated In Front of Larry Dierker
To paraphrase Ray Liotta at the beginning of Goodfellas,” Ever since I can remember I always wanted to be on the radio.” I’d sit in my room for hours recording myself doing Stephens and Pruett style jokes, and talking about whatever stream of consciousness came out of my mouth. I’d do “Uncle Waldo” scripts and intro songs by MC Hammer and The Beach Boys while my sister sat by and did fake traffic reports during “commercial” breaks. When the NFL Experience came to Houston with the Super Bowl my best friend and I called play by play on the “Music City Miracle,” and when the chance to do a podcast that would give me access to a real radio station and their equipment came up, I leapt at the chance. All the while hoping against hope that someone would hear me and say “That guy needs to be on the radio!” So what do my dreams of a career in radio have to do with The Houston Sports Counterplot? Well, our very own Houston Astros are holding a contest where one lucky fan will be given a job, with a salary and everything, as a roving reporter on Astros broadcasts next season, and I jumped at the chance to compete for an on-air role with the team I’ve loved since birth.
The YOU MAKE THE CALL radio apprenticeship contest was announced in an email blast to Astros fans on July 27th. A short questionnaire, printed confirmation, and a headshot later and I was ready for the auditions that took place this morning, August 13. I arrived at the park a few minutes early and found I was number 27 out of 150 people scheduled for the morning auditions with another 150 scheduled for afternoon. I took my seat and waited while the room filled with other hopefuls. Some chatted about baseball, others practiced the 20-second promo spot we’d been given to read as part of the audition, all waited patiently for instructions on what we would be doing. The contestants represented a cross section of Houston and of Astros fandom with a varied mixture of races, ages, and sexes.
Each contestant would have sixty seconds to make an impression on the panel of judges. Twenty seconds each to introduce themselves, read a promo spot, and improve about one of three topics given to them just before walking into the room. The group deciding the winners includes Astros Legend Larry Dierker, Chronicle Columnist Ken Hoffman, and Fox Sports Houston’s Patti Smith who will be tasked with narrowing a field of 200 that showed up at Minute Maid Park today down to 10 who will conduct interviews with players during the August 17-19 home stand. Videos will be posted online and judges and fans will decide on four semi-finalists to advance. Those contestants will appear on-air sometime between August 30 and September 2nd. Further voting will choose 2 finalists to battle it out on the September 13-14 broadcasts where they will serve in a variety of roles on-air. Final voting will take place from September 16-24 and a winner will be announced at the final home game of the season on September 26th.
YOU MAKE THE CALL is, according to The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron, the brainchild of new Astros owner Jim Crane and will be a season long experiment to try and integrate the concept of what amounts to a “sideline” reporter into a baseball radio broadcast. Barron is critical of the idea in his FOUR DVR’s blog on Chron.com* saying, “I think it flies in the face of everything that makes baseball on the radio valuable to listeners and adds practically nothing of value.” At first blush it might seem that way, but I believe that there are enough breaks in play for a person doing short features to be accommodated on a broadcast. There will be a lot of firsts for this club next year with the switch to the American League (cue obligatory gnashing of teeth and fist shaking in the general direction of Allen H Selig) so it comes as no surprise that Crane and Co. are willing to take a shot with a program like this to add some color to radio broadcasts that sometimes fall a little flat. Barron goes on to muse that Vin Scully never would’ve been asked to throw it to Joe Schmoe on the concourse while calling a game, but unless my ears have been deceiving me for the last few years (and I’m pretty sure they haven’t), Milo and friends in our broadcast booth have not been quite up to Vin Scully’s standards. Barron does admit that he could be wrong, but you get the feeling he is already writing a draft of his “I told you so” piece if the position is terminated after next year.
The top 10 will be announced on Astros.com on Wednesday the 15th. I have my fingers crossed that my name will be among them, but I have to admit that the improvisational piece at the end tripped me up a bit. Walking in front of the panel and seeing Larry Freaking Dierker sitting there made me lose my breath. I was pretty sure that I was going to suffocate half-way through my audition, but my voice didn’t waver. With any luck I’ll be on the payroll next year and I’ll get to hang out with Andy when the Astros visit Anaheim.