BOONE —Mackie Gallagher and Gray Salter took a step toward their goals of broadcasting games for a living this past spring.
The two Appalachian State students did the broadcasting for the High Country games that were streamed over the Internet during the season. The two got an unexpected honor when they were named the top broadcasters for the American Arena League by arena football Internet site www.fiftyyarder.com.
Gallagher is a rising senior at App State and is the assistant sports director with WASU 90.5 radio.
“I think it is very nice to have,” Gallagher said. “It’s pretty funny because I remember back in October when I was in the Grizzlies’ office, General Manager Willie Thompson told us that we were the broadcasters for the High Country Grizzlies. On my ride home, I had one of those weird thoughts. At the end of the year when they give out the awards, wouldn’t it be great if we win one for being the best broadcasters in our first year?”
Salter said Gallagher asked him if he wanted to join him with the Grizzlies. The two were friends at WASU before either agreed to do the Grizzlies’ broadcasts.
“They kind of trusted his judgment,” Salter said of the Grizzlies. “He was able and capable to handle (the play-by-play) and he reached out to me.”
The website gave Gallagher and Salter high marks for their knowledge of the arena rules and for their performance behind the mic.
“Together, they are the most polished, ready-for-the-next-level team in this space,” the website said. “With radio-level detail, their play descriptions and breakdowns make viewing unnecessary, and more than any other crew they know arena rules and clarify them the moment they are needed, a huge amenity for the numerous newbies adding to viewer ranks throughout the season.”
Salter, a rising junior and journalism major with a media studies minor, said he wasn’t terribly surprised at the review, but was honored by it.
“Maybe I was a little surprised,” Salter said. “We’re a couple of 20-year-old guys who really are trying to do our best and what we’re doing and gain some experience along the way. Obviously being in college is a stepping stone, but it is an honor and we did work really hard.”
Gallagher got is start as the spotter — the guy who identifies who makes the tackle or the catch or the players who is in on the play — for the broadcast team of Adam Whitten and Pierre Banks for the Appalachian State football games.
He would set up their pregame show for the home games, and then he would go up to the press box and watch the game with a pair of binoculars to offer help to the broadcasts by being the spotter.
While he was up in the press box, he would listen to the broadcast trying to pick up any pointers he could get from Whitten.
“Once I knew I would get the (Grizzlies) job, I started using it as a learning experience,” Gallagher said. “Some of the things that Adam did was he would have a piece of paper that had different phrases and different words, so it wouldn’t be as repetitive of a broadcast.
Gallagher said a key of broadcasting the game goes into preparation. He had to learn the rules and the players of the game to make the broadcasts sound professional.
He sought help from Carolina Panthers play-by-play announcer Mick Mixon for advice.
“One of the first things he said was know the rules,” Gallagher said. “You want to be one o the smartest people at the game besides the players and the coaches, so you’ve got to know the rules and articulate it.”
Salter said he would like to do a variety of things after graduation, including some broadcasting, podcasting and a bit of writing.
“I love to be able to tie this into some journalism, maybe a little of both,” Salter said. “Maybe freelance write some articles — I’d love to be picked up by an specific organization almost like the Grizzlies. Call for the organization, do podcasts for the organization, write little inside articles. I think that’s what I’d like to do after college.”