Hockey Interviews – Stepping stones for broadcasters and players

First off I will take a minute to introduce myself – my name is Nate Lull and I am
the play-by-play broadcaster for the NCAA Division-1 Men’s Hockey program at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. The Golden Griffins play in the Atlantic Hockey Conference with other schools such as RIT, Air Force, and Holy Cross (to name a few).

I have a little experience in the American League from an internship I had with
the Syracuse Crunch organization while I was working on my master’s degree. One
of my main responsibilities was to conduct interviews with players and coaches
and then use the sound for our pre-game and intermission reports. Most of the
players I worked with had plenty of media experience and it made interviewing
relatively easy. Lob up a softball question and they would give you a full
answer – life was great!

After my time in Syracuse I entered my first full-time broadcasting job with
Canisius. Early in my first season I realized that one of the hardest parts of
my job is interviewing young college players. Most of them have little
experience with having a microphone in their face. Their answers are short and
they are beyond nervous. On top of that we often have players from other
countries that are not only nervous but also struggle with the English
language. All of these factors led me to compile a list of key areas I like to
focus on when working with college players. I often tell players that if they
can get used to interviews now it will only get easier for them down the road
in their pro careers. I believe this list works well for broadcasters at any
level – but especially for those of us calling games at the college level or in

Environment: If possible I try to take the player to a private area (even if it is just around the corner away from the other players) If you can get them one-on-one and their teammates aren’t making faces at them they can focus and the nerves melt away.

Set them at ease: Some guys see a microphone and think they are live on the air – I try to reassure them that I am just recording it and I can most likely clean up any fumbles before it hits the air. After they do a few of these interviews – doing a live one seems easier.

More Questions: I never bring a list of questions to an interview – but I always try to have back-up questions in mind – that way if the player gives short answers – there isn’t an abrupt end to the interview because I wasn’t prepared ahead of time.

Listen: Always listen carefully during the interview – broadcasters are
always so worried about the next question they want to ask – they forget to
listen to what the player is saying. Something they say might take the
conversation in a whole other direction – that’s the beauty of it.

I have worked with several players over my time at Canisius on their interview
skills and several of them have told me after they left that the first
“pro” interview they did seemed easy – just because they weren’t as
nervous as the first time I put a mic in their face.

I am glad I was able to help these players out and that they were able to help
me too. Conducting an interview is different every time – so I am always
learning and working on my skills. Wherever this hockey journey takes me after
my time at Canisius – I plan on continuing to put a little extra effort into my
interviews – learning more with each one.

Nate Lull is the play-by-play broadcaster for the NCAA Division-1 Men’s Hockey program at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.