The Mike Costello way to talk a good fight: BBC broadcaster’s advice for budding commentators

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Mike Costello is BBC Radio’s athletics and boxing correspondent and a judge for the BBC’s Young Commentator Of The Year. That contest is open to budding sports broadcasters aged between 11 and 15, and the winner will get a chance to commentate on a live Radio 5 programme.

Costello, in the opinion of this writer, is as good as it gets in sports broadcasting, so here are the tips from the top.

Costello on enthusiasm

Above all, you need passion. If you are not feeling and showing that, you cannot expect your audience to feel it.

Costello on the powers of description

On radio you are painting a picture, on TV you are supplementing a picture. Sometimes commentators stray from those two fundamentals: you’ll hear someone on telly stating the bleeding obvious, or you’ll hear someone on the radio say “look at that”… although that does tend to be pundits rather than commentators.

Costello on experience

We’re looking for young people who have passion and are great at describing action. The third vital quality? We do not expect them to have it yet. That quality is experience. The best, they have seen a lot, and they can put what they are seeing now into context. If Martin Tyler or John Motson says “that is one of the greatest saves ever made”, you know it really means something.


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