Commentators put heart and hard work into Texas A&M radio show [The Eagle, Bryan, Texas]
(Eagle (Bryan, TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 27--Statistics, player information, game summaries and reports are scattered around the radio equipment in Texas A&M's The Zone radio box. Seven men, six of them adorned in maroon, are squeezed into a roughly 10-by-14 room and actively worked together to be the eyes and ears for those who couldn't see the A&M-Vanderbilt game on Saturday.
Dave South, the "voice of the Aggies," was focused. The offensive spotter was feeding him information on his right and the defensive spotter on his left, and he could have five different people giving him information and two different people speaking in his ear at one time.
South has been doing play-by-play for Texas A&M games since 1985. He was joined by his color commentator, Dave Elmendorf, in 1989, and the two have been covering football as a team for more than 20 years. Elmendorf played football and baseball for the Aggies in the late '60s and played professional football for nine seasons with the Los Angeles Rams.
Their job is to "paint a picture, as clearly as you can, of what's going on down on the field," South said.
"South lays out the sticks and stones of the broadcast, while Elmendorf paints a picture of the game to give it color," said Andrew Hicks, the engineer inside the radio box.
A lot has changed since South and Elmendorf began in the '80s, though.
The radio box used to be full of people keeping track of statistics, but now a stat monitor is positioned between the two Daves. Everything is now electronic: South can look at anything going on in the game from defensive numbers to offensive plays. He can go back and look at every one of Mike Evans' catches during the course of the game, he said.
"As far as doing interviews, we used to use cassette tape in the day, and that's just archaic now," South said. "We used to record the entire game on cassette, it would take five cassettes, front and back. Well, you can imagine at the end of the season how many cassettes you'd have."
The Internet has made both being on the radio and preparing for his show easier. South still pores through rosters, statistics, game summaries and reports before every game, but also listens to each game at least three times a week as an MP3 file on his iPod. He listens while he works, bikes or runs.
The five other men in the box are spotters, an engineer and an intern, and their allegiance is apparent. At the beginning of the game, the offensive spotter urges the other men to leave the lights turned off, saying it makes the Aggies play better. When the team scores its first touchdown, the box erupts in cheers, and one of the spotters raises his fist into the air.
"People say when they tune in they can tell by the tone of my voice whether or not we're ahead or behind," South said. He did not attend A&M, but says he "feels like an Aggie."
"Dave is the consummate Aggie, he is a tremendous professional, but, on top of that, he's an even better person," said Alan Cannon, the associate athletic director of media relations at A&M. "He's always thinking of others. He's very unselfish, and I've been honored to work with him through these years. He prepares extremely well, and he works very hard at his profession."
South grew up on radio. He used to listen to baseball games as a kid and specifically remembers the Mutual Game of the Day, where he listened to Chicago Cubs games.
"So I would keep score and then when the game ended -- I was 10, 11, 12 years old -- I would sit in the window in my bedroom and look out over the backyard and act like I was at a baseball field and recreate the game," he said.
He still practices to make his play-by-play as descriptive as possible. He listens to each game to make sure he's not falling into any bad habits, he said, and his rule of thumb is to give the score, the downs and distance, and time as much as possible.
"What's neat about radio, you can walk away from it, you can go do something else, you can come back in and you can turn it up," he said, "and what I want to do is when they come back in and turn it up, I want to make sure I've given the score, because that's what they're listening for."
(c)2013 The Eagle (Bryan, Texas)
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