ESPN play-by-play commentator Anish Shroff ’04 is a reputable voice for college sports like baseball, basketball, football and lacrosse. Shroff graduated from the Newhouse School with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism and spoke at the Newhouse School in October.
Shroff, a native of Bloomfield, N.J., said he’s no stranger to hard work and sacrifice. Shroff landed his first job in television as a solo sports director at KNDO-TV in Yakima, Washington.
While many students fear the possibility of starting their career in a small news market, Shroff credits his time at KNDO-TV for his skill in sports coverage today.
“I would do it one hundred and ten times out of one hundred, if I could do it again,” Shroff said, noting that there is a lot to be learned working in a smaller, regional market before going to a larger or national market.
“If you’re thinking, ‘How can I invest in myself long-term for the future?’ you go to a small market; you’re cutting your teeth everywhere. You’re shooting your own footage, you’re logging your own footage, you’re producing your own segments, you’re cutting your own highlights, you’re anchoring.” Shroff said. “The biggest thing, you’re going live, that was the biggest thing I got!” Shroff said, adding the benefit of going live early in your career, an opportunity you’re likely to get earlier in a smaller market.
Now, due to the intense hands-on training he got in Yakima, Shroff said has the ability to make the job appear effortless, which helped him in landing his dream job at ESPN.
“I really pushed hard. I was [a one-man department],” Shroff said. “It wasn’t even a Monday through Friday [job]. It was—depending on the time of the year—Monday through Saturday, Monday through Sunday.”
While starting a career in the digital realm of sports may be enticing to some, Shroff says there is a significant difference in day-to-day responsibilities that set broadcast play-by-play announcers apart from digital analysts.
“When you’re in the digital space, everything is so structured,” Shroff said. “You screw up, guess what? You can do another take, you can edit it, you’ve got time. The deadline pressure isn’t the same as working in a newsroom.”
Discipline and the ability to meet critical broadcast deadlines in Yakima helped Shroff move on ESPN in 2008.
Since establishing a career at ESPN, Shroff has had time to reflect on all of his experiences and give students some perspective on competition in sports broadcasting, especially for journalists of color. Despite being qualified or even overqualified for a position, a news station may not consider you the right fit. Shroff told a story about applying for a job in another market shortly after his sports director job had been cut at KNDO-TV.
“I had the backing of the sports director [and] the sports producer there, [but the station said,] ‘You’ve got the best tape, we love your stuff, but we already have a guy in our sports department with an ethnic name. We don’t think we can fit two of you guys.’
Despite the setback, Shroff went on to become an anchor and studio host for ESPN News, ESPN’s 24-hour sports news network, and host “College Football Live.”
Darcie Ortique is a graduate student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.