Geneseo High School senior Zach Mackey has been making his mark as a broadcaster and PA announcer for Maple Leaf athletic events for the past four years. Last February he was named the runner-up for the Bob Costas High School Play-By-Play Broadcaster of the Year award and was recently the recipient of the Bob Shepard Student PA Announcer of the Year award from National Association of Public Address Announcers. Zach will attend the University of Iowa next fall and major in Sports Studies. He hopes to pursue a career in broadcasting and has already secured a spot working on BTN’s Student U, which are student-produced web broadcasts that are also rebroadcast on BTN.
Q: How did you get involved in these national organizations and what was the experience like winning these accolades?
: I first became a member of the NASPAA by searching online. Over time I took the NASPAA code of conduct to heart and was nominated for the Bob Shepard PA announcer of the Year Award. I was EXTREMELY excited when I found out I was chosen as the winner. It was nice to know that after the best PA announcers in the country looked over my tape, they thought that I stood out. Later on I also became a member of the NSSA, which was neat knowing that guys like Jim Nantz, Bob Costas, Mike Tricki, Dick Vital and Dan Shulman were all a part of. After applying (for the award), I found out in a month that I was runner-up. It would have been great to win because the winner was flown to South Carolina for the sportscasters award ceremony and a chance to meet Bob Costas. The committee gave me suggestions on what to work on, which has been very helpful and I hope to enter again this year.
Q: How did you get started and what influence did you father, Geneseo High School Athletic Director Travis Mackey, have, if any?
: At a tournament at Geneseo high school, the PA announcer did not show up, which prompted my dad to see if I would be up to announcing the game. After PA announcing that first game, I have been drawn in ever since. In Geneseo we have a local access channel and it airs Geneseo activities and I was asked to broadcast a basketball game. After doing that I have loved it more every time. My dad is a huge supporter in my broadcasting and is always trying to get myself and other students’ new opportunities to work the high school games. He and the school district have made it very easy to be a young broadcaster.
Q: Most people probably think being a successful broadcaster is only about having the voice, what kind of preparation goes into the broadcasts?
: During a normal week if we have a home basketball game on Friday, I will start to put together a spotting board, which will have all the probable starters, their averages, as well as any notes I have, which can take two to three hours. Then we usually try to get two or three pre-recorded interviews with some players that we can play during the broadcast. We load all the graphics into the computer the day before and set up all the equipment for the broadcast.
Q: What qualities make a great PxP broadcaster and PA announcer? What carries over between the two roles?
: I think a good Play-By-Play broadcaster is someone who is energetic and love what they do. They need to love the sport that they are calling, and a great Play-By-Play broadcaster is a good story teller. Your pre-game notes give you the outline for the story and then you fill in the rest as the game proceeds. As a PA announcer, you need to take yourself out of the game and remember the fans are there to see the players play, not the announcer announcing. A PA announcer should not turn in to a play-by-play broadcaster. I do think one thing that carries over between broadcasting and PA announcing is you need to be as professional as possible and let the game do the talking.
Q: What is your dream event to call, either as a broadcaster or PA announcer?
: I am the same as many other broadcasters, my dream would be the Super Bowl because of how much this game means to our society.