Deke: How does the Voice of the Saints prepare for broadcast?
by Deke Bellavia,posted Aug 6 2014 10:54AM
He’s adjusted his method somewhat over the years, but his dedication to preparing as hard as possible for each broadcast has never wavered. Jim Henderson will begin his 36th season Friday night when the Saints play at the St. Louis Rams.
“Things have changed some over the years. The information that can be gathered all the way up to kickoff is much more extensive than it was before the internet and social media. Being able to use those tools certainly does help.”
I spoke with Jim earlier in the week and asked him to take me through game week and how he prepares to call a game for the New Orleans Saints Radio Network. Jim said that this time of year (training camp) allows him to build a knowledge bank of information that he uses throughout the entire season.
“Training camp is the most access we have with the players and as much practice as we (media) will be able to watch. So some of the things that I see the players do now I use to get more familiar with the players and I use the information throughout the season.”
Jim uses each day of the week to prepare different elements; for example, I spoke with Jim on Tuesday of this week and by that time he had all of his flip charts filled out and he was rounding out his depth charts for the broadcast.
Flip charts are used to place the starting line-ups on offense, defense and special teams and Jim uses them during each game. In the final days leading up to his first broadcast of the season, Jim will talk to Steve Savard, the voice of the Rams, and he will comb websites and read various newspapers and magazines that focus on St. Louis.
“I’ve found that talking to other play-by-play people and members of opposing radio networks has helped greatly. Like myself, many of the people I talk to watch practice and they can give you a take that only someone that has seen practice in person can give.”
Jim said that he starts out broadly investigating opposing teams and then narrows his search. Jim has learned that the more information he gathers, the more he knows, and the more he’s prepared for a game broadcast.
Henderson said that once all the hay is in the barn and he’s gotten all of the information he needs to set up an outline for his broadcast, he then works on his opening monologue. Jim Henderson’s monologue has become trademarked, as has his crystal-clear voice and dialect that so many in the business envy.
Jim said his 90 second monologue is completed by Thursdays at noon for a Sunday game. “I try and start with the big story about the game. Depending on who the Saints are playing and what’s going on, sometimes the big story is about the opposing team, or a player on the opposing team.”
Just like the NFL players, it’s also pre-season for the Jim. How is that different? “Certainly you want every broadcast to be your best. But it’s preseason for the broadcast team too. There are things that we will learn and iron out before the season begins.”
Some of the goals that Jim sets for himself each week include having a set deadline on when he expects to have his flip charts and depth charts completed, his notes from attending weekly press conferences, stats on both teams, his opening monologue and more. And Jim memorizes the skilled players for each offense, the entire starting defense, and all the defensive backs that play in nickel and dime passing situations.
So there is a brief inside look at how the Voice of the Saints plans each of his broadcasts. Jim hits the air opening yet another season of Saints football Friday night at 6:45PM right here on Saints Radio.