Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Marc Zumoff: "Is It a Cool Gig? You're Damn Skippy."

"I'm 58-years-old and I'm bald," Marc Zumoff, the voice of the Sixers, said when he visited class.

What does that mean, he asked?

"I'm old and I've made a lot of mistakes," he offered.

He went from being an unpopular kid with little athletic skill in high school in Northeast Philadelphia to being one of only 30 play-by-play announcers working in the NBA.

"Is it a cool gig?" he asked. "You're damn skippy."

He gets paid to watch the world's best athletes compete at least 82 times per year. He travels across the country in style. And he gets five months of vacation during the off-season.

His path took him through Temple University to a radio station in Trenton, back to Philadelphia where he reported and anchored for KYW Newsradio, to Prism, which eventually became part of the Comcast family, where he works today covering the Sixers. This will be his 21st season as the team's voice.

He offered a few suggestions for folks hoping to reach their dream jobs, just as he has:

• Believe in yourself.
• Do internships and get experience. While you are interning, Marc suggested that you "keep your eyes open and your mouths closed." The idea is to learn, be open to criticism and don't complain.
• Schmooze. Kiss ass. And make notes for yourself about everyone you meet.
• Network with folks while you are interning, working or just studying in college. When jobs open up and applications come flooding in, you want to stand out. "If you don't have a connection, you're just something in sombody's inbox," Marc said. "But if you know the right people, they can help you in the application process. Every job that I ever got, I knew someone."

Here are a few other things that he said that stood out to me:

• Broadcast, newspapers, magazines, radio, online? "It's literally all one thing now," he said, and then mentioned newspaper beat reporters videotaping post-game interviews for their publication's online site.
• "If you want to be a sportscaster, get ready to do news," Marc said. You may have to begin on the news side but that can be beneficial. You can develop great skills in news, like gathering information quickly, working on deadline, substantiating your information, understanding journalistic ethics and interacting with an audience.
• He wants everything to be as perfect as it can be while he is on air. "Pay attention to the things viewers would never perceive," he stated, paraphrasing Steve Jobs. That means Marc does copious amounts of research before games, learning as much as possible and verifying all information so that as the game progresses, he can drop knowledge and it feels natural and seamless.
• It can be difficult for women covering sports because of the inherent sexism that pervades. "Women have to work twice as hard," Marc said. "It's not fair but that's the way it is."
• He recently wrote a book about how to be a sportscaster.

What stood out for you?

23 comments:

Vince Bellino said...

Zumoff's presentation was awesome for a lot of reasons. I felt like what he said was relevant to me because I want to be a Rolling Stone writer, which is probably one of, if not *the*, most high-tiered positions in music journalism, equivalent to being the play-by-play announcer for a sports team in a major city- he's one of 30.
His point about making connections definitely reinforces what every adult, teacher, parent, advisor, friend, band manager, professor, writer, photographer, and musician has ever told me: connections mean a lot. Like, a lot a lot. It seemed like bullshit to me at first, like stupid mafia-type "owed favors" nonsense, but I can definitely see that it's true. That spreadsheet thing is a great idea; I'm going to work on compiling a list of people I know from writing music stuff already.

Vince Bellino said...

I couldn't finish that comment because my phone was being a pain, but I just wanted to finish by saying I really dug how he wanted to hear about why we wanted to do it — it really forced me to examine why I want to write what I do and I am more sure than ever now that I can achieve success. Great presentation.

Meghan McFerran said...

I thought Zumoff's presentation was very inspiring and informative. I connected with him as soon as he said that the key word that one student had brought up is passion. I wrote my high school graduation speech on passion because I found my passion for writing and dancing early on in life, while so many of my peers had no idea what they wanted to do with their life. Zumoff was explaining about how some people won't discover their passion until after college, but in order to find it, they need to try new things, explore and dip their toes into every opportunity. This is similar to what I wrote in my speech. I also loved the fact that Zumoff stressed the fun aspect of working. It is okay to have fun and still be in a work setting! He seems like an awesome guy who gets it and holds all of the tools to success in this field.

Yang Qiu said...

The presentation was really unbelievable. Marc Zumoff is really fun and very logical. He always know what’s the next point he will talk. He can easily grasp the attention of the whole class and warmed up the atmosphere. I learned a lot from him. First of all, he emphasized the importance of passion. He said that we need to find something that really turn on ourselves and make us feel fun and excited. We need to follow our heart. Secondly, he also concluded that connections are very crucial to our future career. He took himself as an instance: every time he goes to the next job, there is always someone he knows. Taking internships is a good opportunity for us to build up our connections because you can easily meet other cool guys during internships. Connections may open a door for you when you are in need. Thirdly, as Brian Williams, Zumoff also emphasized writing. You suggested us to write as much as we can. We definitely need to work in this craft. It is the basic skill. It is our foundation. However, he concluded that we not only are able to write but also know multiple skills. “They are all one thing.” The reason is we are “media person” not just a writer.
Zumoff inspired me a lot. It is my honor to listen to him.

Erin Marhefka said...

Even though I'm not interested in sports, I really liked what he had to say about becoming a journalist. I admired his true-to-himself mentality, and that he said that 'passion' was the most important thing to have as an aspiring journalist. I took in his advice for how to become successful and I'll definitely use that in the future and think back on it when I'm in certain situations. Overall it was a great experience to have him talk to our class! I'm glad I was able to take in that experience.

Dalton Balthaser said...

I really was glad to have Marc Zumoff in class. His motivational speech was truly incredible and it really made me think about where I am in the process. From being a kid being left off of recreational teams to the head broadcaster for the 76ers that is one great transition. It was a pleasure to hear him speak and take the time to come to class.

Clarissa Ford said...

I absolutely loved this presentation. The past few weeks have been pretty rough between school and family problems. Feeling lousy, I began to self-doubt and lose confidence in myself. However, Zumoff reminded me of the importance of passion and doing what you love in life. Just because I am a female, doesn't mean I won't be able to be successful in the sports journalism industry. Through my passion, hard work, and dedication, I will be as successful as I prepare myself to be. Zumoff also inspired me to buy the Steve Jobs biography, which is already in the mail. Also, Zumoff accepted my invitation on LinkedIn! :)

Janesha Bull said...


I really enjoyed his presentation, it makes you realize you can really make your dreams come true. When he was talking about how he was really just 10 years old acting like he was a 76ers announcer and today he is made me realize when i was a little kid. I was in the 3rd grade and i tried to start my own magazine, he was really inspiring and I'm glad he came to speak with the class. I love hearing about how much people love their job, and how much FUN it can be. One day i hope to be waking up and being excited to go to my job and do what I love. He was a great guest!

Faissal Darwish said...

Despite the fact that I genuinely enjoyed Marc Zumoff's presentation -and I do believe that he is indeed an influential personality- nothing really stood out to me.

I mean, most of the advice he gave us wasn't different from what George gave us, or from what Dyana Williams and other panelists at the career fair gave us, or from what Brian Williams gave us, or from what the professors at the freshman seminars that most of us take gave us.

Believe in myself? Check. Have passion? Check. Network? Check. Gain lots of experience through internships and the like? Check. Writing? Check. Is there anything else, though?!

I'm sorry. I honestly don't mean to be a party-pooper, or to sound like an asshole about the whole thing -I mean don't get me wrong, he was cool and all- but it just didn't stand out too much to me.

Just throwing my opinion out there.

Nydja Hood said...

Marc Zumoff had a lot of really great advice on how to succeed in the journalism world and I really took it all in. Everyone always says that it's important to network and get internships, etc. etc., but Marc emphasized how believing in yourself was the most important thing, and that is something crucial to keep in mind, that not many people will tell you about. In order to succeed in this business, you have to believe in yourself before expecting others to believe in you. I have been told that journalism is "basically like not having a job", and I've been questioned about my ability to succeed in broadcast because it is known as the most competitive field in journalism. However, by believing in myself, I know that I will be prepared to compete to achieve my dream job in this business. I applaud Marc for emphasizing this, because even though it may sound cliche`,it really is the most helpful piece of advice he could have given to a young, aspiring journalist with big dreams.

Jonathan Gilbert said...

I thought Marc Zumoff had some great words of wisdom about sports broadcasting. It is very seldom where you hear someone in the field of journalism talk about how fun their job is. Granted, all people in the business love what they do, but not many of them vocalize as passionately as he did. He proved that hard work, passion, and just being a genuinely nice person will get you far in the business if you work at it enough.

Ryan Wallen said...

In hearing the words of Marc Zumoff, I personally feel even stronger about pursuing my career in sports broadcasting/announcing. He has inspired me to continue pushing forward toward my dream of working for ESPN or being a play-by-blay announcer for a professional sports franchise. Like some of my colleagues, I felt Marc's passion and love for his job and I admire that about him. He has being in the media industry thirty-seven years and he still loves every part of his job. I also liked how Marc told us about his journey to greatness; from his days of announcing pick-up basketball games to Allen Iverson and the 76ers playoff games. Mr. Zumoof also gave what I consider to be great advice about believing in yourself before others will do so, as well as focusing on the viewers' experience and being diverse in your skill set. Overall, it was an awesome experience to meet Marc hopefully we, the future journalists of the world, can all aspire to follow our dreams and passions, just as Marc did.

Brian Selavka said...

I was very excited to have Marc in class because I want to become an NBA broadcaster myself. He gave me confidence in pursuing this dream career of mine because he talked about important things to remember while going after our ideal careers like networking and learning to do the news even if you're planning on going into sports. I thought it was interesting that he started off broadcasting for soccer, and thanks to the team being dropped from Prism TV, he actually got the gig with the 76ers as a halftime reporter because they were televised by Prism as well. His description of his job made me start to daydream in class; he gets to fly first class with the Sixers and sleep in five star hotels for free. He gets to watch some of the best athletes in the world in some of the best seats in the arena at least 82 times a season and gets paid for it. Then, during the offseason, which is basically vacation time, he gets to do whatever he pleases and gets paid for it. I'm willing to work harder than everyone else to become another one out of the thirty people privileged enough to be an NBA broadcaster.

Charles J Keating said...

I very much enjoyed having Marc Zumoff in class telling us his road to becoming the sportscaster for the 76ers. He inspired me when he told us that although he was not the most athletic growing up he was still able to pursue his passion for sports even as a kid by play-by-play announcing neighborhood games.
I would have to slightly agree though with what said Faissal Darwish. Believe in myself? Have passion? Network? Gain lots of experience through internships and the like? Writing? I feel like he could have been more specific instead of listing the general suggestions to our dream job that we have heard before.
Overall I felt Zumoff’s speech was effective because he is living proof that through hard work and persistency that we can in fact have a pretty cool gig.

Jennifer Roberts said...

Marc Zumoff's presentation was really inspiring. I really like how he said that we should be pursuing what excites us. We need to try everything and anything that slightly interests us, because that's how we find out what we like and what we don't like.

I also really connected with the idea that hard work won't go unnoticed. If I always work my hardest and pursue my passions, then I'll end up doing what I am supposed to do with my life.

Zumoff also made a point to mention networking. I know networking is important, but Zumoff's advice on actually taking notes and keeping a file on the people you meet makes sense. It sounds a little creepy, but it probably is beneficial and efficient.

Overall, I thought Zumoff was a great speaker and a funny guy. I really left class feeling inspired and thankful that I am a journalism major.

Stephanie Rocha said...

Marc Zumoff's presentation left me speechless in my chair eager to get on my feet and chase my dreams.

Zumoff taught me so much about being self driven, and being able to become someone without the worries of where you come from.

While listening to each advise and joke he was saying all I could keep thinking about is my future and who I want to be and where I want to end up.

Since then, I have began getting involved with Temples TUTV and also picked up extra articles for the newspaper.

Overall, Marc Zumoff gave me an inspiration in myself and in the path I am taking. I couldn't be more passionate about being a journalist major.

Haley Denninger said...

I thought Marc Zumoff was super helpful and gave some inspirational advice, considering I want to do one of the magazine reporting that he mentioned (Rolling Stone). It was pretty awesome to see how successful he's been over the years and how connections, networking, and starting out at lower job helped him get into the position that he stands in now. He told us that it wasn't easy and gave us tips to help us get to our own dream jobs, which is important to me because like I stated above, I want to work for a highly competitive magazine company and I know that I won't be able to do that right out of college. Marc Zumoff definitely gave the inspiration to work hard to get to where I want to be, and to be as self driven and more self driven than he was because times are definitely harder now to get into those highly competitive job spots. Furthermore, he definitely explained how all types of media within the journalism world are related now, and you can't just specialize in one area: you must be knowledgeable of a variety of topics. This was helpful advice because at Temple, you have the opportunity (if you chose so) to study classes or majors outside of the journalism world that will help you better yourself overall for that career. Overall, I think he had a really great and inspirational conversation with us.

Allisa Peterson said...

I really enjoyed listening to Marc Zumoff discuss the principles and necessities to be a good journalist. Although Zumoff is not really a journalist, I found most of his advice more inspiring than speeches from actual journalists that I've heard. Zumoff, with an intense but approachable aura, is hardworking, intellegent, and a risk taker. These three things are three aspects to a great journalist. Mark stressed the importance of networking, especially through social media, to get into the field of broadcasting or news writing. I admired the competitiveness and motivation that Zumoff had when speaking to our class. One of the most important peices of information I took from Zumoff's lecture is to broaden your spectrum of interests and specializations. The field of media is a fast-paced, quickly changing field. In order to keep up and shine above your colleagues, you must be able to place yourself in many situations and be knowledgeable in things other than, for example, fashion journalism such as: photography, politics, religion, science, etc. Overall, I found Mark Zumoff's speech very inspiring and I held with me a lot of information that he passed down to future journalists.

Adriana Vela- Temple Student said...

I really enjoyed when Marc Zumoff came into to speak to our class aand shared his starts in the business world and hs success stores. It was very inspiring and motivational. Glad I was able to meet him.
Adriana Vela

Michelle Severino said...

What stoof to me about Marc Zumoff is that he said that to always believe in yourself. I'm a photographer and it's hard for to believe on mysef when it comes to actually going out there and standing out against the crowd. He inspired me to out and believe that I can do anything if I do it the right way. I had a chance to talk to him and tell him that I'm a photographer and ask if there is a job for photographers in the field in Sport news or broadcast. It was nice to get opinion from Marc Zumoff and hearing say stepe that he took to get where he is at know.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed listening to Marc Zurmoff because it did give me confidence as a writer. We are in a generation where everyone keeps telling us "no" because there are so many of us who want to do the same thing in life. What really stood out to me was the risk taking aspect. This is my freshman year at college and I am beginning to learn how to take smart risks that will lead me to either failure or success. Zurmoff inspired me to take good risks with my writing and although I am not going into journalism anymore as a major, I felt a connection to his passion and hard work that inspired me to keep on working hard. Having grit is a really important thing in life no matter what field you are in.
-Lizzy McNeill
Journalism and Society T&TH @11

Dan O'Neill said...

I think what stood out for the most in this presentation was how Zumoff, despite being a very wealthy and known guy, still seemed down-to-Earth. Not only did it show that hardly any of it went to his head, but that he still stayed normal, even after all of these years. So often, you hear about a certain celebrity/well-known person who grew up as a normal person, around other normal people, and lived a relatively normal life, only to then totally turn on all of it, once they became somebody. It made me optimistic for the future, if I ever get the chance to be something of a somebody. Then again though, those could just be dreams after all.

Hannah McComsey said...

Marc Zunoff told us everything that aspiring journalists need to know if they want to be successful in their careers. He gave the blunt truth, which was refreshing. I like that he told us to go out a do internships in order to gain experience, because networking and connections are two essential aspects to the career of beginner journalists. He was great!