Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. We’re speaking to Sports Broadcaster, Anne-Marie Batson!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hello! My name is Anne-Marie Batson. I am a Sports Broadcaster. I’ve worked in the sports industry since 2014 but decided to pursue my passion and dream after London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I have worked with several clients including talkSPORT, Sky Sports News, BBC 5 Live Sports Extra and Wimbledon. Before making the switch to sports journalism, I worked in PR, the transport and construction industries, voluntary sector and TV production.
What do you do in your current role?
I’m building my own media company which houses several media entities such as broadcasting, event hosting, audio, social media and producing work. Working for yourself means managing accounts, marketing, PR (handy!), social media and so on. I will inevitably wear multiple hats and fill different roles within my business. I use the hat emoji on social media sometimes because I illustrate all the work that needs doing for my business to thrive.
Everything sits on my shoulders. Sometimes, I work on ten different projects at once. Although I make sure the business moves forward and carry out all the priorities. I like wearing many hats!
What does a normal week look like for you?
I wanted a variety when I decided to make the switch. One day, I am prepping for a pre-match press conference (known as a ‘presser’). Before the coronavirus pandemic, this meant travelling to football training grounds. I take a full day to prep, which I do on my laptop with some brief hand-written notes. I love technology, although back up options are crucial.
I arrive an hour before the Head Coach or Manager walks into the presser and meet with my camera person. We grab our seats and catch up with familiar faces. I check my mobile phone is working and run-through questions. After the presser finishes, my camera person sends back the footage wirelessly, while I email top lines to the Newsdesk and digital team while listening to the recorded audio.
During Covid-19, I co-hosted podcasts and radio shows staying home. Like pressers, I take the day before for preparation. After the production team share ideas over WhatsApp, the producer sends over a rough running order. I make some extra notes or key points I want to get across. I tend to eat a snack and drink lots of water before going on-air. Nothing worse than feeling hungry when broadcasting! I set up my equipment, put on my headphones and test the line. I’m ready to go fifteen minutes before going live.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
This a long story. I loved sport since I was little. I love athletics, football and netball. I watched my Dad play on the local pitches. When I got older, my Uncle took me to games (he was a professional footballer back in the day).
First, I wanted to be an actress. Then, I changed direction. I studied media at school, college and university. After university, I gained employment in the TV Production before moving on. I worked in the voluntary sector for several years before ending up in PR/communications for the railway.
Initially, I wanted to work in sports public relations then I plumped for broadcasting. I just didn’t know how to break into the industry. No contacts, no experience and no knowledge. Remember – I was working on the railway! I couldn’t see a path. And, several people discouraged me.
London 2012 inspired me. I knew if I failed to take the opportunity, I’d regret it.
I needed a plan. I looked at the bigger picture: contacts and experience. My Uncle is part of the football industry. He passed two names suggesting I met them for coffee. After that, I knew I was on my own. I networked, networked and networked. I invested time in building professional relationships. Today some colleagues are now valuable friends.
Moreover, I studied online and carried out work experience for several years. I ended getting valuable skills from The Voice newspaper, writing football and tennis match reports. I covered Premier League/League Two matches and even, the 2017 French Open/Roland Garros. I appeared on ABN Radio, Love Sport Radio, Sports Recap show and FUBAR radio contributing to football and tennis stories.
Then, at a sports media networking event, someone from BBC Sport offered the opportunity to work as a touch-line reporter at a 5 Live Sports Extra Women’s Super League match. I loved it and became hooked. I knew broadcasting was the goal.
During the week, I worked in PR. At evening and weekends, I’d be off radio reporting, writing match reports or as a guest on radio shows. Crucially, I began building up my portfolio. I shadowed, worked crazy hours and made contacts. I was the women’s football reporter and reviewed the back pages on talkSPORT 2 former Weekend Sportsday with Adrian Clarke and Mark Webster.
talkSPORT picked me cover the Australian Open Tennis Championships 2019. I interviewed Jamie Murray and Judy Murray for BBC Sport. I started reviewing the back pages for talkSPORT Weekend Sports Breakfast with Georgie Bingham and Tony Cascarino while contributing to their weekday Kick Off show.
Most importantly, I continued building up my broadcasting portfolio, asking for shifts and doing radio & screen tests.
Fast-forward to today. I never thought I would work for several clients as an anchor, co-host, guest and reporter. Now, I have several years’ on-air experience, interviewing and reporting for BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport, talkSPORT, Sky Sports News, among others.
For the first time, Wimbledon broadcasted a live stream preview show ‘Coffee Morning’ which I co-hosted during the Championships. My role with 5 Live Sports Extra expanded to presenter/reporter for their Barclays FA WSL and Continental Cup broadcast matches. And I appear on Arsenal Nation Live show on their Facebook live stream during the Premier League season.
I lend my skills as an event host for UK Athletics, She’s Got Skills, Kick it Out and Wembley. I take part regularly on podcasts such as BT Sport Football Writers, Offside Rule WSL edition, The Beautiful Game and many others.
Finally, I won the 2019 Football Black List award from the Premier League and The Voice newspaper. A dream comes true.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
Two things. I’m a black woman working in sports. A lot of eyes have opened about the under-representation in sports media. About time, quite frankly. I’m playing my part to make sure the conversation stays front and centre. Not just in front of the screen but the sports business too.
I feel heartened seeing more action taken to tackle racism. I want to see real and lasting change. I want to see an improvement in Black and minority ethnic representation in front of the mic/camera and behind the scenes. We are out there.
Secondly, I love to work live on-air. Seeing live streaming becoming more popular is exciting.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Understand this is a marathon, not a sprint. Some students have messaged me in the past asking why they don’t have a sports job after leaving university a year ago. Trust me. I understand. There were days when I felt despair thinking nothing was happening. Just keep chipping away, however long it takes.
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Thanks for reading our latest Industry Insider feature with Sports Broadcaster, Anne-Marie Batson!