The Media Learning Curve: Larry Burnett, con’t

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A few more things about Larry Burnett, the featured story in today’s Daily News linked to the final Top 10/Bottom 5 list of the L.A. market’s play-by-play men (linked here):

== Yup, he wears a hairpiece.
He tried for awhile to go without it while calling games for the WNBA Sparks. He grew a beard, went clean on the top, kept the hair on the sides. It was a nice look, but one he says came about only because he had neck surgery at the time.

“The older you get, the more difficult it is to get a job especially if you’re new at it. I just remember that the bald guy wasn’t getting a lot of work, not that the hair guy is getting a lot either.
“It’s a very psychological thing. It’s all in your head. Sometimes it’s less hassle to just go natural, but I do look younger. And when you look better, you feel better, so I do (the hairpiece) for a business standpoint.
“It’s a very subjective thing, wondering, ‘Am I doing it for me? Or for the audience?’
“I guess this business is so cosmetic, sometimes you gotta play that game.”

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== While he grew up on the East Coast, soaking in the call of Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner and Lindsay Nelson on Mets’ games, and Curt Gowdy on the AFL games (and his team, the Jets), Burnett says he learned a lot by listening to Chick Hearn’s Laker calls after moving to Agoura Hills some 20 years ago to start working at Prime Ticket “Press Box.”

“I never tried to imitate him, but the way he influenced me was that whenever I was there at a game early (to do the Lakers’ pre-game show on the radio), Chick was already there prepping, ready to go. I might have had a headache or didn’t feel like working but when you were around him, it went away. He could make a meaning less game early in the season sound like a playoff game. He had so much fun with it.
“When I did more work with the Sparks, we had a few simulcasts (on TV and radio), and I wondered whether it was best do to a radio call and talk a lot, or just do a TV call and pull back. Chick always did it like radio. So I did that. That’s what you’ve got to do. If you’re going to err one direction on a broadcast, give ‘em too much rather than too little.”

== As seemingly all media jobs have tried up in town, Burnett found himself working at the Tommy Bahama store in Camarillo selling clothes to help make ends meet for about nine months last year.

“I’d never done sales before and turned out to be a top salesman. It’s amazing what you can do when you have to do it. I didn’t make a lot (of money) but I sure upgraded my wardrobe.”

== On his company called TB4US (Think Before You Speak), accessable through his website, Burnett has been a media consultant to teams that need to instruct their players how to deal with situations like damage control, better interviews, having the reporters hear their side of the story, etc. He has worked in the past with track and field athletes, as well as the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and UCLA’s baseball team.

“It’s just part of trying to reinvent yourself.
“Here, we’re trying to give the players the lay of the land with the media, showing them clips, giving them different opions on handling an interview, getting out in front of things. Last November, I had a meeting with the Mavericks, and what I noticed was that the guys who were already good with the media really listened and asked questions. Guys like Dirk Nowitski. Then there were those who could have cared less.”

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