I recently asked sportscaster Patrick O’Neal of Fox Sports a few questions about how he got into covering sports. Mr. O’Neal also shares sound advice for aspiring sportscasters and anyone who wishes to have a career in front of the camera.
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The reason why I asked Mr. O’Neal these questions is simple. Growing up near Los Angeles and attending a wide range of sporting events, I’ve met different sports personalities who for the most part where all polite. The two times I was able to say hello to Mr. O’Neal, not only did he reciprocate but he struck up a quick conversation about the Los Angeles Kings game which had just concluded. His excitement and enthusiasm showed me how much he enjoys his career and for that matter how nice of a person he is.
Q. Where were you born and raised?
A. “I was born in Santa Monica and raised on the westside of Los Angeles.”
Q. Did you play any sports?
A. “I played football and basketball.”
Q. Where did you go to school and what types of classes did you take?
A. “I went to the University of La Verne for 2 years, and studied communications. I took a variety of classes, one being broadcast journalism and also was on the student radio station spinning records. But I also took an acting class, and decided I wanted to be an actor.”
Q. How did you begin your career?
A.” I spent the next 10+ years trying to get acting work, but also supporting myself as a production assistant and bartender. I lived in NYC from 1991-1995 doing this and that.
When I moved back to LA in 95, I continued my acting, but also began to formulate a plan if acting didn’t work.
I was always a huge sports fan, and having played sports, and having gone to hundreds of sporting events, decided that I wanted a career in sports.
My first idea was to get into sports production, but given my acting background, and comfort level with speaking and being in front of the camera, I thought I would give broadcasting a try.”
Q. How did you begin your career with FSN?
A. “My first job was as the tennis sideline reporter for FSN for the Mercedes Benz Cup in 1999. In 2000 I was hired as a national sports-update anchor for Fox Sports Radio. The station was only a couple of months old, and I was the first over-night update anchor, working 12-5Am, mon-fri. Soon I was also co-hosting and providing updates for the Saturday overnight show, so I was working 6 overnights a week. I provided sideline for FSN for the 2000 Mercedes Benz Cup, as well as the Acura Classic for Big Fox.
Eventually on radio, I co-hosted the 11-2am show mon-fri, as well as the Saturday show until the middle of 2002. That’s when I was hired by FSN to provide sports updates on their TV network. I quit working radio, and solely worked TV, hosting Totally Football, The Ultimate Fantasy Football Show, Fox Sports One, AFL Weekly among other duties.
In December of 2004 I was hired by Fox Sports West, and have been working for West and Prime Ticket ever since. I host Dodgers Live pre and post, Kings Live and primarily work sideline for Lakers and Kings home games. I also fill in as host of Clippers Live, and have covered the Bruins and Trojans over the years.”
Q. Did you grow up a sports fan? How has this affected your career?
A. “Of course being a sports fan has a huge impact on how I do my job. I grew up a fan of all the teams I cover, so it makes it easier for me and more fun of course.”
Q. What advice would you give to those who are pursuing a career in sportscasting?
A. “My advice for any aspiring broadcaster would be to practice. Work on your voice. Practice thousands and thousands of times. The only way to get better, and to get over any nerves is to it a million times.
Also take advantage of any production jobs so you can learn from the inside out. Learn how to edit and learn how to write.”
I would like to think Mr. O’Neal for taking the time for this interview and wish him luck with his career.