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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beau Spencer- Great Announcer & Super Tweeter

Beau Spencer did not work long at WAIK but he sure made a positive impression with his work in covering sports. He made all of the high school athletes feel important. Beau was able to cover the games without focusing on the refs or second guessing strategy.

Since I have gotten onto twitter, Beau is definitely one of the top to follow. I enjoy following his observations.

You went to Annawan High School. What sports did you play?

I played baseball all the way up to high school.  We didn't have a high school team, so I "retired" from the game after 8th grade.  Played football and basketball my freshman and sophomore years.

 Great basketball players coming out of Annawan- Tanner Carlson and Val Wancken. Where do you fit into the basketball tradition? 

Actually, Tanner grew up right behind me and he would mix it up with us neighborhood guys.  I can say that I beat him.  He was about 8-years old, and I was in high school, and then he ended up with the better stats, so on paper he may be better...but I proved it on the court, LOL.

(It should be noted that Tanner Carlson is student teaching with me this fall. I think probably it was actually Beau in college and Tanner as a 6 year old if Beau won!)

What did you do between Annawan and working at WAIK? What led you to that job?

After I graduated from Annawan HS, I attended Black Hawk East in Kewanee.  That's where I found my start in radio, which was something I had wanted to do since I was in junior high.  It took me about 5 months to rise from 10 hours a week engineering games at the studio to becoming a full-time news/sports director at WHHK (Galva) and WGEN (Geneseo).  I worked there for about a year and a half, and broadcasted Geneseo basketball and area games, also.  I even broadcast a couple games at Thiel in my first year as a broadcaster, following the Lady Leafs to one of the girls basketball tournaments.  After I finished at Black Hawk, I moved on to Macomb where I had a full-time radio job waiting for me.  The plan was to pursue a broadcast journalism degree, but I decided to hold off.  I worked in Macomb for over 6 years before coming to Galesburg and Monmouth.

Jimmy Carr has worked with a lot of people in radio. He told me that he thought you were "too good for the Galesburg market," that you were going to eventually be big time. Do you plan to get back into sports broadcasting or not?

I pay Jimmie good money to say those nice things about me!  I am not completely out of sports broadcasting, as I have taken on the position as play-by-play announcer (or as they market it, "Voice of the Leathernecks") at Western Illinois University.  I returned to Macomb to go back to school to pursue a Marketing degree, and the broadcast position opened up, so it really worked out.  I will also continue to broadcast the IHSA Softball state finals for the IHSA Network.  So, I will still be broadcasting, just not at the pace I have been going throughout my radio career. 

(I would echo what Jimmy had to say about Beau. He was always so well prepared and professional in his approach.)

What play by play or color people do you like to listen to?

My all-time favorite would be Al Michaels, he is so smooth and polished with his delivery.  On the same note, Chicago Cubs radio man Pat Hughes is right up there.  I also enjoy Brent Musberger.  As for color commentary, Steve Stone does an amazing job.

When you had your quest for 150 games to broadcast- what was the best game you covered and what was the worst game you covered?

Probably some bias, but the Galesburg/Hillcrest Supersectional was my favorite.  I cover so many games at so many stages of the season, that it's hard to pick out the "best" games because I call a broadcast down the middle.  However, when you follow a particular team, it's hard not to become a "homer," and I did just that with the Silver Streaks (boys & girls) this past season.  I'm not too proud to admit that!  It was a special season, and that Supersectional atmosphere was what high school sports are all about, such a fun ride.  As for the "worst" game, I wouldn't classify any of the games in that category, but there were some "worst" broadcasts!  One of my worst broadcasts came during the girls basketball Class 3A state championship game, which was also my 150th broadcast.  My computer had overheated and shut down, so I missed about 5-6 minutes of one of the quarters.  When equipment problems occur, it's so difficult to keep your rhythm in the broadcast, and it just feels like a domino effect of mistakes can pile up. 

In your years at WAIK, who would be your picks for all-star team of boys and of girls you watched? 

Oh boy!  These are always the most difficult lists to fill out.  Since my score books and notes are in various boxes, I would be afraid to make a list up right now out of fear I would leave somebody out.

(Beau doesn’t have my experience dealing with questions you don’t want to answer. What I have found works best when you are asked a question you don’t want to answer you still answer. But you just don’t answer that question. Instead of refusing to answer this question, Beau should have done something like this ,”I always love all-star games. They are so exciting. I remember at Annawan we had a little league all-star game that was one of best things I have seen.”  Rule- always give an answer but don’t feel you have to answer that question. As you get older people just think you didn’t hear the question.)

When you did your afternoon talk show, you did a lot of interviews. Of all the people you interviewed- players, coaches, and others- what were your best people to interview?

I really love talking to the elder generation (even older than you, Evan!).  Lennie Merullo was a favorite, he played for the Chicago Cubs on their 1945 World Series team.  He's a Boston (or BAWSTON) guy with that accent and he's over 90, but still pretty sharp.  I've interviewed both Merullo and Andy Pafko recently, the only 2 surviving members of the 1945 Chicago Cubs team (over 40 guys in all appeared in a game that season).  Over the summer I really enjoyed talking with some of the 1971 Galesburg Post 285 players, back for their 40th reunion of that season.  I had the chance to spend about 30 minutes with several of them before their on-field ceremony at the state tournament.  Great bunch of guys, and they were all just grinning ear-to-ear talking about that championship season.

 Who have you not interviewed that you would like to interview some day?

Jim McMahon.  A strange answer, I know.  I was just a kid during the Bears Super Bowl season with the "Punky QB."  I idolized him, and wore a McMahon Bears jersey with a headband to try to look like him.  After watching President Obama interact with our very own citizens last week, I think it would be neat to sit down and talk sports with him.  That's probably a better answer than McMahon!

You are big time into twitter. If twitter said you could only follow 10 people or organizations- who would be your top ten to follow?

I would have to say...Alan Stein, BleedCubbieBlue, Jay Redfern, John Bohnenkamp, Matt Schuckman, Don O'Brien, Chicago Tribune, Dane Cook, Julie Terstriep, and Brett Myhres.  Who are they? Stein gives great quotes, BleedCubbieBlue because, admittedly, a Cubs fan, the Tribune to get updates on news/sports stories in Chicago, Cook for comedy, and with Jay, John, Matt, and Don they are all fellow members of the media that I enjoy bantering with.  Julie works at WIU and I also banter back and forth.  In fact, on my first day at WIU, I lost my cheat sheet on what rooms my classes were in and posted a tweet.  She looked it up for me, and tweeted what room I needed to be in for my next class (technology can be wonderful!).  Brett is the P.A. announcer for the Rockford minor league ice hockey team, but tweets a lot of the same things I tweet about, sports and day-to-day life.

So what are you studying now, what are your plans?     

I am studying Marketing, and so far love most of my classes.  Despite being a stats geek, I hate math, so my Calculus class is not something I am looking forward to.  However, I love challenges!  After graduating, I may continue on to grad school.  I want to stay in a sports-related environment, but on the business side.   

Thanks Beua, it was good working with you. I enjoy following you as you go through school. But please quit tweeting during classes- pay attention!!

1 comment:

  1. Neat interview. Galesburg is going to miss Beau. And he even mentioned he likes to follow me on Twitter, albeit behind BleedCubbieBlue. Good luck, Beau.