Al Michaels

Sportscaster


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly three-hour Archive interview, Al Michaels speaks about his early years as a sports enthusiast who, as a child, wanted to become an announcer. He talks about the practical experience he gained announcing college games before becoming a professional. He also discusses one of his first jobs, as a contestant interviewer for Chuck Barris Productions. He then chronicles his illustrious sportscasting career, which began as a three-year stint in Hawaii for minor league baseball. He speaks about his long tenure at ABC Sports featuring Wide World of Sports and Monday Night Football. He relates his approach to announcing and how he prepares for broadcasts. He discusses some of his announcing highlights including the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympic hockey game and the 1989 World Series where a major earthquake disrupted the game. He also speaks in detail about working with his broadcast colleagues: Howard Cosell, Dan Dierdorf, Frank Gifford, Chick Hearn and Jim McKay. Jennifer Howard conducted the interview in Brentwood, CA on August 31, 2005. 

"The announcer's role is to enhance your enjoyment of the game by bringing you things you don't have access to. The game is a melody and you're going to provide the lyrics.. I want the viewer to look at me and say 'We can trust this guy.'

Highlights
Al Michaels on the role of a good sportscaster "the game is a melody and you're going to provide the lyrics"
02:09
Al Michaels on the legacy of Monday Night Football
Al Michaels on covering the 1980 Olympics "Miracle on Ice", when the US team beat the Soviet team, considered to be the best in the world
11:38
Al Michaels on how he wanted to be perceived as a sporstcaster "as someone you can trust"
01:55
Al Michaels on reporting the earthquake during the 1989 World Series; on sports reporting being the same as news "you don't have to get it first, you have to get it right"
06:37
Al Michaels on how he came up with "Do you believe in miracles?" when covering the 1980 Olympics
04:41
Al Michaels' advice he would give to aspiring sportscasters; finding your own voice; know a little bit about everything
01:14
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early interest in sports
On his family's move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles (mirroring the Brooklyn Dodgers) how he pursued starting a career in sports broadcasting
On one of his first jobs on The Dating Game; on Chuck Barris
On his work with the  L.A. Lakers; on being a "color man" in sports; being fired from that job; on Chick Hearn and how he found him inspirational; on going to Hawaii to cover minor leage baseball

Chapter 2

On sportscasting partners he's had over the years; on his camera on Hawaii Five-O; on working for the Cinncinnati Reds
On covering the 1972 World Series on NBC; on going to work for the Giants
On going to work for ABC's Wide World of Sports along with Howard Cosell, Jim McKay in the mid 1970s; on Roone Arledge's influence in shaping sports television

Chapter 3

On covering the 1980 Olympics, when the US team beat the favored Soviet team, one of the "greatest sports moments of the 20th century"; on coming up with the line "Do you believe in Miracles"?
On how the 1980 Olympics changed his career
On working with Howard Cosell
On the key to good sportscasting; the role of an announcer

Chapter 4

On covering horse racing, figure skating; ice hockey; track and field for the Summer Olympics
On on becoming the play-by-play sportscaster on Monday Night Football on ESPN with Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf. He calls it "the greatest thing that ever happened to me"
On changes at ABC Sports when Don Ohlmeyer came back to Monday Night Football; on how he wanted to be perceived as a sportscaster

Chapter 5

On the production schedule on Monday Night Football;  on how they decide how much to talk about specific topics and how duties are shared; on the production team
On celebrities appearing on Monday Night Football over the years: David Letterman, Arnold Schwarzenneger
On Monday Night Football moving from ABC to ESPN; on the legacy of the show
On reporting the earthquake during the 1989 World Series Game 3 in San Francisco; on the similarities between sports and news

Chapter 6

On how he balances news and entertainment with his sportcasting by putting himself in the role of the viewer
On the details of reporting on auto-racing; golf; basketball
On loving his job
On advice he would give to aspiring sportscasters; finding your own voice; know a little bit about everything
On sports during national tragedies; 9/11; on keeping sports in perspective
On his career highlights and achievements; on his legacy
Shows

ABC's Wide World of Sports

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Al Michaels on ABC's role as the pre-eminent sports network by the mid-1970s
03:47

Dating Game, The

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Al Michaels on one of his first jobs as talent coordinator on The Dating Game; working for Chuck Barris; on what they looked for in contestants

Hawaii Five-O

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Al Michaels on a cameo he made on Hawaii Five-O 
01:56

Monday Night Football

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Al Michales on becoming the play-by-play sportscaster on Monday Night Football on ESPN with Frank Gifford. He calls it "the greatest thing that ever happened to me"
03:08
Al Michaels on how the transition worked for Frank Gifford when he took over as the play-by-play commentator, and Gifford has a new role
02:25
Al Michaels on the production schedule on Monday Night Football; the research involved; how they are able to balance spontaneity and planned topics
Al Michaels on how the production team makes Monday Night Football look so easy
01:09
Al Michaels on why he chooses to stand not sit on Monday Night Football
Al Michaels on Monday Night Football being a "mini" superbowl every week
Al Michaels on the legacy of Monday Night Football
Al Michaels on reporting the earthquake during the 1989 World Series Game 3 in San Francisco
06:37

Olympics

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Al Michaels on covering the 1980 Olympics "Miracle on Ice", when the US team beat the Soviet team, considered to be the best in the world
11:38
Al Michaels on the details surrounding the 1980 Olympics "Miracle on Ice", when the US team beat the Soviet team
Al Michaels on how he came up with "Do you believe in miracles?" when covering the 1980 Olympics
04:41

World Series

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Al Michaels on covering the 1972 World Series on NBC between the Oakland A's and the Cincinnati Reds
Topics

9/11

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Al Michaels on sports reporting during national tragedies; 9/11
05:14

Historic Events and Social Change

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Al Michaels on sports reporting during national tragedies; 9/11
05:14

Olympic Games

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Al Michaels on covering the 1980 Olympics "Miracle on Ice", when the US team beat the Soviet team, considered to be the best in the world
04:21
Al Michaels on how he came up with "Do you believe in miracles?" when covering the 1980 Olympics
04:41

We Cried

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Al Michaels on reporting the earthquake during the 1989 World Series Game 3 in San Francisco
06:37
Professions

Sportscaster

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Al Michaels on how he came up with "Do you believe in miracles?" when covering the 1980 Olympics
04:41
Al Michaels on the role of a good sportscaster "the game is a melody and you're going to provide the lyrics"
Al Michaels on how the audience reacted to his taking over Frank Gifford's role on Monday Night Football.
01:49
Al Michaels on the challenge of describing a play and how Dan Dierdorf did it successfully
00:37
Al Michaels on wanting the viewers to trust him
01:55
Al Michaels on advice he would give to aspiring sportscasters; finding your own voice; know a little bit about everything
01:14
Genres

News and Documentary

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Al Michaels on reporting the earthquake during the 1989 World Series Game 3 in San Francisco; turning from a sportscaster to a news reporter
03:37

Sports

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Al Michaels on how he came up with "Do you believe in miracles?" when covering the 1980 Olympics
04:41
Al Michaels on how the audience reacted to his taking over Frank Gifford's role on Monday Night Football
People

Roone Arledge

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Al Michaels on Roone Arledge's influence in shaping ABC"s Wide World of Sports
03:08

Red Barber

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Al Michaels on being influenced by Red Barber ("the Voice of the Dodgers") and Vin Scully
01:27

Chuck Barris

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Al Michaels on one of his first jobs as talent coordinator on The Dating Game; working for Chuck Barris
Al Michaels on Chuck Barris, who he worked for on The Dating Game

Howard Cosell

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Al Michaels on working with sportscaster Howard Cosell

Dan Dierdorf

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Al Michaels on his Monday Night Football colleague Dan Dierdorf

Frank Gifford

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Al Michaels on his Monday Night Football colleague Frank Gifford; on his leaving the show
03:54

Chick Hearn

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Al Michaels on losing a job to Chick Hearn, and later becoming looking up to him
04:07

Jim McKay

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Al Michaels on Jim McKay, his colleague at ABC's Wide World of Sports
02:30

Don Ohlmeyer

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Al Michaels on Don Ohlmeyer returning to Monday Night Football

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