Friday, September 16, 2005

ATH: Yo, Carter Blackburn goes big time!

Carter Blackburn announces 49ers-Rams game
By Tom Kellar, The Daily Times, Published September 14, 2005

It’s probably safe to say that former resident Carter Blackburn became the first and only person from Kerrville to have worked as a TV announcer of an NFL game, when the Tivy graduate appeared on Sunday’s San Francisco 49ers-St. Louis Rams broadcast, for Fox Sports Network.

Blackburn, the son of local minister Bill Blackburn, moved with his family to the Kerrville area in 1984, and while growing up in the Hill Country attended Tivy High School. He sensed from an early age that broadcasting could serve as his entry into the world of sports.

“I started telling people when I was 9 that I wanted to be a baseball announcer,” Blackburn said. “I realized I was never going to be good enough to play professionally, so I would watch Harry Caray announce Cubs games, figuring that getting paid to talk about baseball was a good way to make a living.”

At 15, Blackburn was recruited by Steve Alex and Bill Stacey to go to work for local radio station, KRVL-KERV, and by the time he was 17, Blackburn was announcing Tivy games on KERV.

“Just like Harry Carray, I used to sing “Take Me out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch at Tivy games,” Blackburn said. “For me, Harry was it. He was awesome.”

Following in the footsteps of sports casting icon Bob Costas, Blackburn chose to attend Syracuse University. After graduation he moved to Austin in 2003, and currently works full-time for College Sports TV covering a variety of college events.

“Doing the NFL game came about as a sort of free-lance opportunity through some contacts I had made,” Blackburn said. “It turned out to be sort of a vacation because it was a lot of fun, and it felt like I was stepping out of my real life. I really enjoyed it.”

Blackburn headed out to San Francisco on Friday, but while preparing for his NFL debut, forgot about one thing.

“I realized right before kickoff that the game I was announcing was the first time I had ever actually attended a regular-season NFL game,” Blackburn laughed. “So there I am, 26 years-old, and announcing the game on Fox with Howard Griffith, and it’s the first one I’ve ever been to.”

Blackburn dealt with his butterflies by concentrating on the task at hand and trying to treat the game as if it were just another of the many he has done in his career.

“I was definitely a little nervous right before the game,” Blackburn said. “The most surreal part was when they had me toss it to James Brown in Los Angeles during the middle of the game, and it went from being just another game to, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m doing this game for network television’”

Good fortune smiled on Blackburn and Griffith when the 49ers, a team that had only won two games the previous season over an equally bad Arizona Cardinals team, pulled a major upset, taking an early 28-10 lead and then holding on down the stretch to defeat the Rams, 28-25, in a thriller.

“It ended up being a great game and a great story,” Blackburn said. “I didn’t realize until after we got off the air that when we started the broadcast it was only going to San Francisco and St. Louis, but Fox started joining us toward the end of the game, so that by the time we were done we had almost everyone in the country watching our game. I’m glad I didn’t know it at the time, I might have gotten even more nervous.”

Carter is hoping to work future NFL broadcasts, but knows that in the world of big-time sports broadcasting, nothing is for certain.

“Doing another NFL game is definitely up in the air,” Blackburn said. “It all depends on what one or two guys in L.A., who run things for Fox, think. I will continue to work with CSTV and beginning in October will be doing Conference USA football on the PAX network.”

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