Q&A with broadcaster and KidsCast reporter, Zoe Alter
Wednesday night, a quartet of campers from the Bruce Beck Sports Broadcasting camp were on the call for ESPN’s first-ever KidsCast, a live broadcast of the Little League World Series with young broadcasters commentating and reporting.
Zoe Alter, 15, was one of two reporters covering the game from field level. Alter chatted with Fan Source Network via email following her appearance on national television.
Before we get into the Little League World Series, can you take me through how you got your start in the broadcasting industry and share some of the highlights of your career?
I’ve always been a huge sports fan. I grew up watching baseball and football for the most part. I also grew up playing almost every sport. Eventually, I found out that talking about sports is something that you can actually do as a job and since that day I’ve had that idea in my head and it seems like I’m never going to let it go. I have never been on live TV before, so that was a first for me. However, I’m starting a podcast at school that does play-by-play for our varsity sports.
You have been a member of the Bruce Beck Sports Broadcasting Camp for a couple years now. What is that camp like, who have you worked with, and how has it impacted your career?
Two years ago, I signed up for Bruce Beck’s camp and it was a dream come true. Although I was the only girl serious about the subject, I got to be in a room filled with people who love sports, just like me. After my first interview, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. This year, I came back as a returning camper, and under the guidance of Mike Quick and Bruce Beck, I learned so much! This camp has been the highlight of my summer every year.
How did you find out you were going to be a part of the KidsCast team covering the LLWS on ESPN? What was that moment like for you when you found out?
About a week or so after camp ended, I got a text from Bruce telling me he wanted to talk to me and my parents. I assumed it was just going to be about how I did at camp or something like that. But, when we called him, he offered me this gig — to be a sideline announcer at the World Series. I jumped up and down and ran around in circles around my dad who was holding the phone. I jumped into my mom’s arms and we were both smiling so brightly. That moment was insane and it’s something I’ll remember forever.
How long have you been in Williamsport? Take me through what you’ve been able to do both in preparation for the broadcast, and also just how you have enjoyed the LLWS.
I got to Williamsport on Monday, never having been there before. Aiden, one of the broadcasters I worked with who is also a fellow friend, showed me the ropes and gave me a tour. On Tuesday, we had a rehearsal and covered the Venezuela-Curaçao game, which was awesome! I talked to the parents of both sides before the game and did a couple off-camera interviews to prepare. However, I did lose my voice during preparation and didn’t really have it back for the broadcast which was a drag. But I persevered and made it through. ESPN gave us passes to pretty much go anywhere and get anything we wanted which was incredible. I was in the booth a lot watching the game.
And then Wednesday, of course! Just talk to me about some of the things you did behind the scenes with stats, data, interviews, production, etc. to produce a great broadcast. I am really curious about how you brainstormed the topics you covered, and how you set them up.
[On] the morning of the broadcast, I wanted to go to the stadium early to talk to some fans and families of the teams I would be covering. However, I woke up with no voice. So, I ended up going to urgent care and getting a steroid shot to lessen the swelling of my vocal cords. Along with lots of tea, I was able to croak out the words I needed for the broadcast. It was weird, though, because I usually have a very strong and commanding voice, and here I didn’t have that so I really had to focus on my hand signals and face expressions more to express my points.
A couple hours before the broadcast, our team prerecorded segments for SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight, which was so surreal because those are both shows I watch all the time! After that, I talked to my producer to get some storylines to work on. From there, I went over to the Hawaii families and interviewed and talked to them for a while. They were so nice and welcoming and I actually got a beaded necklace from them! As the game started, I pieced together the stories I wanted to use and then talked to the producer to decide which stories I would do and when. The whole experience was amazing, and I had an earpiece in the whole time with my producer in my ear, which was really helpful. This opportunity was incredible and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
What are the next steps in your broadcasting career and where do you think this career could take you?
This business is where I want my future to be. My mindset is that if I can talk about sports and get paid for it, why not do it, right? I’m setting up broadcasting at my high school and I’m going to try to get an internship this summer!
Cover image: Zoe Alter-Twitter