ASA Sportscaster Profile: Ian Eagle
By Zach Links, ASA Member
I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the top young sportscasters in the country, fellow ASA member and voice of the New Jersey Nets, Ian Eagle. Soon after graduating from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, Ian joined WFAN Radio in New York as a producer and host of his own show. He also does play-by-play for the NFL, NCAA, Army/Navy and has called CBS and Showtime boxing. He won a New York Sports Emmy for his play-by-play work of the Nets and has covered the NBA playoffs since 1995.
Q: Who inspired you to become a sportscaster?
A: Probably Marv Albert more than anyone else. Growing up in New York, he was "the" prominent sports voice. Other broadcasters through the years such as Bob Costas, Verne Lundquist and Al Michaels were also an influence.
Q: What are your fondest memories of Newhouse and how did it prepare you for your career?
A: It was the perfect introduction to the competitive environment that comes with this business but it also helps prepare you for life beyond college. It was a thrill to call games at the age of 19 in the Carrier Dome. To this day, it is still one of my greatest experiences as a broadcaster.
Q: You work in local and national TV. How important is it to be impartial?
A: It depends who you are working for. You have to know your audience. You can allow your passion to come across the air on local broadcasts…it's what the hometown fan expects. Fans in the New York area are very knowledgeable…they know their stuff. For the NFL on CBS you are serving a number of masters, and have to adjust your style accordingly.
Q: With experience in so many areas of the field, which is most enjoyable to you?
A: I've always felt that play-by-play is the true essence of sportscasting. There is no script to read from at a live event and you are the conduit between the viewer at home and game you are covering.
Q: How do you always stay on your toes to prepare for every unpredictable situation, while still making your color partner look their best?
A: With experience, and now in my 10th year of NBA play-by-play, there's not much that can surprise me. Also preparation is important, if you've done your homework then your confidence level on the air should be high. I've found that viewers will judge broadcasters as a team not as individuals…chemistry with your partner is important and making him look good benefits the both of us.
Q: With all your success, why was it important for you to cultivate and inspire a new generation of sportscasters with the Ian Eagle and Bruce Beck Sportscasting Camp?
A: It didn't happen for me overnight. I knew at a young age this was what I wanted to do with my life. The camp gives the kids insight on how much work actually goes into a production before you get on the air. It has been a rewarding experience for me and it will be exciting to see a number of the campers pursue a career in this field.
Zach Links is a junior at Jonathan Dayton High School, Springfield, New Jersey. He met Ian Eagle courtside 10 years ago when "Bird" first did play-by-play for the New Jersey Nets. Ian has been an inspiration for Zach to pursue a career as a sportscaster and journalist. Eagle was Zach's first guest on his talk show, "15 Minutes of Shame," and Zach looks forward to the day he can be the back-up to Ian for the two-time Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Nets.