Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ATH: Carter Blackburn

So midweek last week i noticed a monster jump in my counter stats for this blog. In fact over double the usual rate for a couple of days. Usually i can attribute this to something goofy i wrote that someone passed along, and i could identify it by the source from which people were clicking through. No such clue last week, so, intrigued, i checked out the recent search terms for google and yahoo and quickly figured out that people were searching for Carter Blackburn and ending up here. That's because i have tried to keep up with Carter amd have written about him a few times over the years. Carter was already into his future career as a sportscaster while he was at Tivy High School in Kerrville. I was coching there then, soccer, and Carter was buds with most of my team, though he was focused on basketball and baseball for his broadcasting forays. In any case, he's big news now because he's anchoring some NCAA Tournament broadcasts, and suddenly the sports world is anxious to know who he is.

Today, the local paper finally caught on . . . here's the lede and a link:


Kerrville native making way as sportscaster
The Daily Times, Published March 26, 2008

Carter Blackburn figured he was destined for greatness when he was 9 years old and playing in the Kerrville Little League. He wanted to be the next Don Mattingly — until he learned he had “zero athletic ability.”

No worries. He decided he would become the next Bob Costas, instead.

Twenty years later, that prediction is right on track.

Blackburn recently broadcast his first NCAA Tournament game, the youngest person to do so in more than 20 years. Even with all of the success starting to come his way, Blackburn still remembers where he came from.

“I started broadcasting Tivy baseball games when I was in the 10th grade,” Blackburn said. “Jessie Hinton asked me to be the public announcer when Bill Stacy was on KERV radio. Bill asked me to do some announcing with him and he and Steve Alex trained me on setting up the equipment, how to do coaches’ interviews and broadcast the games. They pretty much let me take over, and I owe a lot to those guys.”

After graduating from Tivy in 1997, Blackburn went to Syracuse University and its legendary journalism school. He worked for WAER, a student radio station where he broadcast Syracuse football, basketball and lacrosse games.

“Everybody from Marv Albert to Mike Tirico got their start broadcasting on that network,” Blackburn said.

After graduation, Blackburn got a job in Winston-Salem, N.C., working for ISP Sports. He was a jack-of-all trades at the network, producing college radio stations throughout the area and filling in on Fox Sports South.

His first big break came when College Sports Television kicked off in August, 2003. Blackburn was one of their first broadcasters and was assigned to the 1-AA college football game of the week.

“The first game we got to do was the Maine vs. Montana football game in Orono, Maine. There was 7,600 people there and it was the largest crowd to ever watch a football game in Maine,” Blackburn said with a laugh.

From that first game, Blackburn has built up an impressive resume including broadcasting NFL Europe, NCAA football, baseball, basketball and even an NFL game between the St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers in 2005.

However, the highlight for Blackburn came last week when he broadcast his first tournament game. Dick Enberg was having throat problems, and Blackburn got the call to fill in for the first two games of a four-game slate.

“I felt like I was pinch hitting for a hall of famer,” Blackburn said. “Dick Enberg is one of the classiest people you’ll ever meet — very welcoming. I felt like I had won a contest sitting next to Enberg and Jay Bilas talking basketball.”

“It’s stunning,” Enberg said in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News. “He reminds me of (Bob) Costas. I was at NBC when Costas first came aboard and he’d start rattling off these factoids ... and you’d be like, ‘How do you know that?’”

For now, Blackburn will return to his regular gig with CBS College Sports Network (formerly CSTV) but he looks upon his time at the “big dance” as a glimpse of what is to come.

“It was like getting called up to the major leagues at the end of the year,” Blackburn said. “You take what you’ve learned, continue to work hard and wait for the next chance to be called up.”

Although he loves what he is doing, Blackburn admitted there are a few drawbacks to being a sports broadcaster.

“Traveling is definitely the most challenging part of the job, especially during basketball season. As soon as I get home, I’m thinking about leaving again. Luckily, I have a very understanding wife who has some flexibility in her job, so we get to spend quality time with each other when I’m home — and I manage to bring her to some of the more interesting places I get to go like New York or Malibu.”

When asked what his dream job would be, Blackburn said he has three lifetime goals, one of which was accomplished last week. The three include calling a World Series game, calling an NCAA tournament game and making piñatas on a beach when he’s done with broadcasting.

Look out, South Padre, Carter Blackburn usually accomplishes what he sets his mind to.


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