what does a sports producer do?

Chris Dachille is an executive sports producer at WBAL-TV in Baltimore. He’s more than happy to give you career advice and not fantasy football advice.

If you could possibly wish for a job, mine must rank in the top five. What if I told you that, as your job, you have to keep tabs on all sports while making your own schedule and get to go to pretty much any game you want to attend? I tell people all the time that I watch sports for a living. That’s only half true. I also plan for coverage, deal with massive egos, coordinate with a mass of people and try to make sure the fictional train stays on track.

I’m a referee. Don’t know who the referee is after the game? He or she likely did a good job. That’s my goal.

I’ve had the great fortune of having one job in my professional television career that’s now in its second decade. I work at WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Maryland and I absolutely love my job. It’s the only job where colorful language is required and you go through all 12 stages of grief all day long. My hair will turn grey earlier than most. The total of my checking account doesn’t compare with all of my friends (I make less) and my social life is a royal mess.

I have something that most people don’t have in their mid 30’s: I love my job.

My job has taken me to cover a Super Bowl (that may be a blog in itself down the road), an ALCS, the Winter Classic, playing a U.S. Open golf course, riding in a NASCAR pace car on race day, seeing a Triple Crown winning horse and voting in the Associated Press Top 25 basketball poll. It’s my fourth of doing that. I’m officially a senior.

That previous paragraph isn’t a “name drop.” It’s the bonuses we received in this line of work. Bond traders may receive Christmas bonuses. I get to go to whatever local event I want and eat for free in (usually) the best seat possible. It’s one hell of a perk.

There is actual work to my job. I have a dry erase board that lists all the events of the week right next to my tack board of local schedules. I constantly monitor the AP wires for news, am a Twitter-holic, and scan all of our news feeds for missed stories. I stack & write special sports shows that our station produces. And if anyone tells you that local sports is dead, I would love to speak with them. I’ve done more and more in the last 4-5 years.

During football season, I average 55-60 hours per week at work that includes a 14 hour workday on Sunday. My only off day is Saturday and I spend that all day watching college football. I almost always feel that I’m missing a story when in my downtime.

This isn’t a job that you can leave at 5:00 every day and go to happy hour. That’s not saying that you can’t carve out time and enjoy life. You can. You just also have to understand that when breaking news occurs, your life changes – and you have to prepare for that. Do you want to stay on the date with the attractive young man or lady? That’s great. Maybe this profession isn’t for you.

Then again, if you have gotten this far, maybe it is. There’s no feeling like going into a television control room as you glance over an overload of monitors and work in sync with reporters, anchors, directors, technical directors and everyone else to produce something that makes you immensely proud.

I encourage you to tweet me @WBALDash if you have any questions.

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