10/18/2012 3:46 AM
By TAYLOR JOHNSON
Broadcaster Brian Bruce’s career started out when he was just a young boy playing baseball in the backyard with his friends. It was then that he first starting announcing games and calling balls and strikes.
“I’m talkative and have a lot of opinions about things, which is perfect for my job,” Bruce said. “I grew up calling games when I was playing baseball backyard with my friends. I did a lot of that, and somewhere around then I decided that I would love to do that for a living.”
During the season, Bruce is responsible for broadcasting every T-Bones game on radio. In the off-season, Bruce sells corporate partnerships and tickets as apart of the sales team.
Bruce’s love and knowledge of sports started long before he became a broadcaster. Playing baseball, football, basketball and soccer, Bruce had an early working knowledge of sports and gained even more from his family.
“Being around my dad (former long-time Rockhurst basketball coach Doug Bruce) and the Bruce side of my family you grow up knowing all the rules and when you’re a little kid you already know why certain players do certain things,” he said, “just all the ins and outs of the game. So that kind of lent itself to my career in sports.”
After deciding on broadcasting as a career, Bruce attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisc., and majored in broadcast and electronic communication. Even though he enjoyed all of his journalism and broadcast classes, he chose not to get involved with the student radio station to focus on school.
“It was a life changing four years and I wouldn’t change any of it,” Bruce said. “I’m really proud of that place and go back whenever I can.”
Bruce learned sports broadcasting from some of the best in the city when he interned three years in the sports department at KMBC and a summer for Royals radio. After his four years at Marquette, Bruce returned home to Kansas City and attended Kansas University for graduate school where he earned his Master’s degree in journalism.
“During those two years, it was really big for my career because I got really involved in the student radio and TV station and got to call Jayhawks games,” Bruce said. “It was big because to get a job in a radio you have to have a demo tape. I had all sorts of big time sports on that tape, which ended up getting me my first job.”
After finishing graduate school, Bruce worked on securing his first job. He worked on sending demo tapes to different radio stations around the Midwest and ended up in Grinnell, Iowa.
“I worked at their station for a little over a year calling high school games and I did a midday show,” he said. “I did commercials and a little bit of everything, at those small stations you have to learn to do a bit of everything.”
Bruce worked at the local radio station for about a year before getting the opportunity to take over the director position for two stations in Ottumwa, Iowa. Bruce stayed in Ottumwa for five years, eventually directing four stations, before looking for the next step in his career.
Hoping to get into pro sports as a career, Bruce looked into minor league baseball as a possible avenue.
“I always wanted to be on the air in Kansas City, and I thought minor league baseball might be the best way and the quickest way to get to pro-sports,” Bruce said. “So I sent tapes out to every single minor-league baseball team from independent all the way to high-A. I sent out 150 demo tapes.”
After sending out his tapes and making follow-up calls, Bruce was offered a few positions in different cities around the country. But when T-Bones general manager Chris Browne called and offered the broadcasting job in Kansas City, Bruce jumped on it.
“That was a no-brainer,” Bruce said. “I was sort of homesick and I had been gone for like seven years and then with college I had only been here two out of the last 13 years.”
After being offered the job in February 2010, Bruce started his first season with the T-Bones that fall.
Bruce’s day-to-day work during the season is all about preparing for that night’s game. He gathers information on the opponent, finds updated statistics on both teams and collecting lineups. Bruce also interviews manager Kenny Hook before each game as part of the pregame show on the field.
“I try to learn about players as much as I can so if there’s dead time on the air you can talk about players more than just their name, number and what their statistics are,” he said. “You kind of get to know our guys a little bit. And that happens when you’re around them all the time on the road.”
Once Bruce starts his live call of the game each night, broadcasted to fans across the country, he hones in on the action in front of him.
“I always thought that baseball has kind of a natural rhythm to the game where you can lock yourself into the rhythm of the game and every word you say comes out of your mouth the way you want it to,” said Bruce. “If you can join up that rhythm with that you can have a really great call that day.”
Even with his love of the game, the hours can be long for Bruce. Even though he gets to arrive later during the season, around 1 p.m., he stays at the stadium until after the game ends and leaves around 11 p.m.
“I have a pretty insane schedule; it’s really fun, but crazy. I call all 100 games during the season and the playoffs, too, if we make it,” he said. “I get paid to talk about baseball. I always wanted be on the air in my hometown. I grew up here and very proud of it. I’m living the dream.”
After working at the T-Bones for four years, Bruce continues to think about where else his career could take him.
“My lifelong dream was always to be a pro sports announcer. I don’t know if I’ll get there but I’d like to have that opportunity,” Bruce said. “It’s a tough run though, and I’m not fresh out of college anymore. So I don’t know where life will take me.”
Although he doesn’t have plans for the next step in his career just yet, Bruce does have advice for those hoping to make their living as a sports broadcaster. Gaining experience as an intern pays off for getting a job later on.
“You should get an internship in sports or sports broadcasting and get that on your resume. That’ll show that you know how to work in the environment, you just haven’t been paid for it yet but you have the experience,” Bruce said. “You want to have something on your resume that you’re capable of and save a lot of your work so people can see what you can actually do.”
Bruce’s history playing and working in baseball has taught him a few valuable lessons that he hopes to pass on one day.
“One thing that I’ll try to pass along when I have a family is to not take it so seriously. That is one of my problems — I always take things so seriously and try so hard that sometimes it’s almost not fun after a while,” Bruce said.
The love of the game, Bruce thinks, is what keeps most T-Bones here.
“I admire these players because independent ball isn’t the most glamorous deal,” he said. “They’re out there because they obviously care about their career but they also obviously love playing baseball. And they come back year after year just to play ball.”