Newhouse alum Bill Roth transforms sports media learning at Virginia Tech

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ The Daily Orange is a nonprofit newsroom that receives no funding from Syracuse University. Consider donating today to support our mission.An 11-year-old Bill Roth knew he was in trouble when fastball after fastball blew by him. It was the late 1970s, and after playing in Pennsylvania’s Mt. Lebanon Little League games, Roth figured his big league dream would come in the broadcast booth rather than on the field.“Once that fastball was blown by me, I thought to myself ‘man I suck,’” Roth said with a laugh. “When I was a kid, all of my heroes were sportscasters. Sportscasting was all I ever wanted to do.”From that point, Roth embarked on a path that began in 1987 with a degree from Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and continued at Virginia Tech and UCLA. He now teaches the next wave of sportscasters and sportswriters as a professor of practice at Virginia Tech — helping create its Sports Media and Analytics program — and travels to call college football and basketball games for ESPN, Westwood One and CBS. “He cares about everyone succeeding,” said Jake Lyman, a sophomore in Virginia Tech’s Sports Media and Analytics program. “He’s put a lot of passion and energy into this program.”Roth graduated from SU a year after calling the 1987 College Basketball National Championship Game between Syracuse and Indiana for WAER, one of Syracuse’s radio stations. Using the title game as his demo reel, Virginia Tech hired Roth, giving him $18,000 and an apartment to become the radio voice of the Hokies’ football and basketball teams.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe remained the play-by-play voice for Virginia Tech for 27 seasons and worked with color analyst Mike Burnop for the entirety of his tenure in Blacksburg, Virginia. He was the voice of the football program’s rise, as an independent, to the Big East and then to the 2000 BCS Championship Game against Florida State that ended in a blowout loss for the Michael Vick-led Hokies.Roth won state Sportscaster of the Year 11 times and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. A year later, he was inducted into Syracuse’s WAER Hall of Fame. But in 2015, Roth left to become the voice of UCLA football, the winningest program in all of college sports and one of the top sports commentating jobs in the country, Roth said. For a year, he reached about 20 million listeners per game, a market much larger than the small rural town of Blacksburg. A year later, Roth returned to Virginia. “(UCLA football) wasn’t the right fit,” he said. Roth was welcomed back to Virginia Tech with open arms, but this time in a much different role.“The UCLA job paid a lot,” Roth said, “but what matters to me at 50 (years-old) is much different than what mattered when I was 20 or 30.”Roth was named a professor of practice at Virginia Tech. During his first stint at the university, Roth occasionally appeared as a guest lecturer for communication classes. Now in the midst of his second go-around, Roth is expected to balance teaching in the classroom full-time and appearing on-air to call games during the weekends.“We (professors of practice) don’t hold advanced degrees but schools (like Virginia Tech) bring us in so we can help their students get jobs in sports,” Roth said. He helped create a Sports Media and Analytics major for students who want to pursue careers in sports communication, modeling his program after those at SU, Clemson University and the University of Georgia. The major focuses on broadcasting talent and writing skills, and Roth’s mission is to build a ‘toolbox skill set’ so his students have writing, broadcasting and producing skills attractive to future employers.“Bill hasn’t been just the key part in starting the SMA program, but also gives every student the individual attention and feedback needed to best themselves,” said Davis Carbaugh, sports editor for the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s student-run newspaper. “With so much experience in the field, we know we’re getting the best advice.”Roth also helped establish 3304 Sports, which covers Virginia Tech athletics through recorded broadcasts, pre-and-post-game stand-ups, post-game articles, podcasts and photography. The organization is modeled after Roth’s college station, WAER, and sent a group of six students in 2020 to report with complete access on the ACC Men’s and Women’s Tournament — the largest group Virginia Tech’s communication department has sent to an ACC sporting event. Along the way, it was Roth who helped organize the trip to Greensboro, North Carolina before the men’s side was cut short due to coronavirus concerns.“I’m not sure where Sports Media and Analytics is headed in the future,” Roth said. “But I’m having more fun than ever now.” Commentscenter_img Published on May 8, 2020 at 5:42 pm Contact Chris: cjhirons@syr.edulast_img

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