Chesterton High School graduate Laura Hoover is spending her summer interning in Connecticut, working as the director of broadcast media for the Mystic Schooners of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
Hoover got her start in broadcasting working at WDSO, Chesterton’s school radio station. She went on to major in broadcasting at Goshen College, from which she graduated in May.
She talked to The Times about her experiences working for the Schooners, her education and her hopes for the future. The interview was edited for space and clarity.
Question: When and how did you know that you wanted to be in broadcasting? What is that attracted you to the industry?
Answer: I would say it was my junior year of high school (at Chesterton) kind of set things in motion. By senior year, I was definitely wanting to do broadcasting and then went to college for it. I stuck with it.
The interaction that you can have, especially with radio, with the audience is not something that you’ll get anywhere else, honestly. You build such a great relationship with your listeners that you don’t realize and it randomly pays off. You may walk down the street and someone may recognize your voice but not know who you are. They know your voice instantaneously and that’s such a cool thing.
Question: How important was your time at WDSO?
Answer: It was of unimaginable importance to me because that really got things started. Mr. (Matthew) Waters was really the person that put me on the path of broadcasting. He really helped give me all the opportunities that I really needed and the very small toolbox that led me to college to pursue it even more. It was such a small radio station with such a small staff that you were able to do what you wanted and you were forced to do what you didn’t want to do. You got both the good and the bad, the technical experience and the broadcasting experience. It was a great opportunity that I would never have changed in a lifetime.
Question: Is baseball where you wanted to be? Do you want to work in other sports?
Answer: It’s definitely something I really want to pursue coming out of this summer. But I also want to get back into swimming because I was a swimmer in high school. I really want to see if I can, eventually, get into swimming broadcasting. That isn’t, necessarily, the most well-known of sports, so I’m still trying to see what opportunities are out there. But baseball, for sure, in the long term (is my focus).
Question: Where did the love of baseball come from?
Answer: I want to say my dad (Terry Hoover). He always want us to play baseball, which I absolutely refused to. It kind of backfired in the end. In high school, I thought I should try every sport for broadcasting. I actually hated to broadcast baseball solo. I like the sport. I knew the sport. But I didn’t know it as in-depth (as I’d like). Once I started to learn it, it grew on me. By the time I got to college, I was like “Okay, baseball. Let’s do this.”
Question: Is radio where you want to be in the future? Do you want to do TV or do anything else?
Answer: Play-by-play is the focus, for now, although I wouldn’t be opposed to audio or video production work. That was something I really focused on in college, kind of the backpack journalistic style. I can edit. I can film. I can record. I can do some technical work. I want to make myself be the whole package for somebody. I’m keeping my options open.
Question: Do you have any broadcasting idols, anybody who you look up to, like their style or admire their career?
Answer: Pat (Hughes) and Ron (Coomer), the Cubs broadcasters. They’re dynamic is something I wish I could have a partner dynamic like. It’s just so fluid and laid back. They can talk and have fun. That’s what I really want to do. And they know their stuff, so you know you’re going to get a fantastic broadcast.
Question: How did you end up with the Mystic Schooners?
Answer: I was looking for something to get me through the summer. I wasn’t getting any offers for jobs right away out of college. Broadcasters kind of have a shelf life when it comes to leaving off on a season of some sport. In college and high school, you’re pretty much guaranteed the entire collegiate season so you’re not really looking for internships to fill your summer. You know you’re going to broadcast in the fall, anyway, and then in the spring. I had to start looking for something to fill my time to keep that repetition going. The Schooners were really the people that caught my eye and they were super nice and friendly. The atmosphere that they were building was something that I really wanted to be a part of. I convinced my parents this was going to be a good thing. “Let me go to Connecticut. It will be okay.”
Question: What’s your daily routine like?
Answer: We have 45 games in 60 days, so the few days off I generally sleep through. I’m working just about 12-hour days, give or take. I arrive to the field at about 10, 10:30 (a.m.) on a home day. I make the game-day pamphlets, things that are normally handed out like updates on season stats, rosters, standings, kind of a media package to give out to fans. I remake those and send them to get printed. I go back and grab my clothes for the day. I come back to the field and set up my cameras and by that time I’ll have the lineup for our team. I’ll write that down, figure out the most important stats for each player. I immerse myself in that for the next three or four hours. How do these two pitchers match up? What are the probables for today? How is the weather and how is that going to affect the play of the game? After that, at a home game it’s just about 4:15 (p.m.) The other broadcaster will arrive. The other broadcaster is for the other team and he’s my color commentator. We kind of talk through the next two hours how their team is doing, how our team is doing. Then it’s about 6 o’clock and we go on air for pregame. From pregame, into the game. The game usually ends about 9:30, 10 o’clock on a good day. Then, hopefully food, clean up and back at my host family’s maybe around 11 o’clock, midnight, if I’m lucky.
Question: You’re the only female broadcaster in the NECBL this season. Being a woman in this industry, do you run into sexism or bias?
Answer: Yes, in a way. If you’re going to run into it, they’re pretty blatantly obvious about it. They’re not going to be shy about it. It’s most likely going to come not from broadcasters because they are early 20s, late teens. More than likely, if they’re in college, they’ve already worked with one or more women. It’s the auxiliary staff, it’s maybe the other people in the press box that you kind of have to work your way onto their nice side.
I haven't seen it too much from coaches. They don’t really care. If you do the job well, then you do the job well. But there’s always that one person. You brush him off and show him up, low-key show him up. But most people are pretty gracious about it.
But out here, because you’re working with 12 other broadcasters and each game is a different broadcaster, you’ve kind of got to feel them out. There is some hesitation at the beginning of the season, as there should be with any new person that you’re about to spend three-and-a-half, four hours talking to on a microphone.
If anything, it’s been a little passive-aggressive when it comes to broadcasters, as far as I’ve seen. I think most people have been put in their place and if not, they were quickly put in their place this summer. Then, I just kind of ignored it and went on.
Question: What are your career goals?
Answer: Besides getting a job, preferably continuing play by play for now. I kind of want to see if I can get into volleyball in the fall/winter and pick up baseball again in the spring. There’s no real sport that goes year-round.
Eventually, I’d like to do some production work where I don’t have to talk all the time. That’s probably never going to happen so I’ll have to resign myself to play-by-play forever. I don’t know where I’ll be, yet.