by Chloey Mayo ’10
Imagine that it’s game night and you can’t make it out to that season opener of your favorite Oglethorpe sports team. What do you do?
If you’re like a growing number of OU sports fans, you tune in to Petrel Sports Network, Oglethorpe Athletics’ live, online audio streaming of all the home game action—commercial free. Play-by-play and color commentary of home conference games and other home contests is delivered by OU students—athletes and non-athletes alike.
Hoyt Young, associate athletics director for media relations, founded the program in fall 2007 after observing another school’s students at an SCAC baseball tournament making calls for their online listeners.
“After talking to them I realized how easy it would be to do something similar at Oglethorpe,” recalls Hoyt. “Honestly, I was motivated by my peers in sports information and the student-athletes we promote. I saw how other small schools were taking advantage of this new technology and thought, ‘If they can do it, why not us?’ Once I realized how inexpensive it would be to start the Petrel Sports Network and how many of our fans could benefit from our content, I knew it was only a matter of time before I was able to get Oglethorpe students to get behind it and potentially use it as a career builder.”
As one of only a handful of SCAC schools to host a live audio stream of home sports matchups, the Petrel Sports Network prides itself on being not only a program that enhances the experiences of sports fans, but also that of the students behind the program.
“Ideally, the Petrel Sports Network… provides an opportunity for students to fast-track a career in sports broadcasting,” offers Young. And although it is still in its relative infancy, the Petrel Sports Network already has had alumni transition their broadcasting experience into a career. But, in addition to voice talent, there is a variety of positions in media production necessary to make the network function and both athletes and non-athletes—from a variety of majors and disciplines—participate.
“We are working with the Communication department to identify prospective talent for this program,” says Hoyt. “But, ultimately, all you need [to work with the Petrel Sports Network] is a general enthusiasm for sports.”
The Petrel Sports Network archives all of its broadcasts and makes it easy for fans to access them at any time on the Oglethorpe Athletics website, www.gopetrels.com. The network also hosts “Coach’s Corner,” a show that recaps the week and includes player interviews and more sports commentary. This fall, the Petrel Sports Network added live video feed to this season’s home basketball games, synched to the audio broadcast. This low cost, pay-per-view service is available online at the website, in addition to the free audio stream already offered on the site.
The growth of the network reflects its burgeoning number of followers, ironically, many of whom are fans of rival teams. “Even though Oglethorpe is our home team, we try to speak highly of our opponents, and make fair calls without bias,” relates Hoyt. “We get compliments quite frequently from parents of visiting schools who are impressed by the quality of [our podcasts] and the professionalism of our students.”