Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Jim Donovan Turns Childhood Dream Into Career

Jim Donovan
Special to the Director's Cut Blog
By Matthew Florjancic

Sometimes, all a person needs to do is dream.

WKYC Sports Anchor Jim Donovan always dreamed of being a sportscaster like the ones he grew up listening to and emulating in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.

And through the nurturing of his father and an intense drive to succeed mixed with a passion for sports, Donovan has been living out his dream for more than 30 years, a career that will be honored at the 16th annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards Thursday night.


Donovan’s journey to the top of his profession started long before he ever moved to Cleveland. In fact, it started with a dream growing up in his hometown of Boston, where he and his father, Jim Donovan Jr., had season tickets to the Bruins’ hockey games, and a Christmas wish for a tape recorder.

“At first, when they gave me a tape recorder, I was doing the games off the television set and I turned the volume down, but I realized I didn’t have the crowd and I didn’t know if my timing was right,” Donovan said. “My dad was a real sport, and I lugged a big tape recorder to Section 77, Row F, Seat 13 at The Garden and I would call the Bruins’ games, and then, I would send it out, all the cassette tapes to all of the sportscasters, all the play-by-play guys, and I would ask them their opinion of what I was doing.

“I would go to Boston Garden, and I would go for Celtics games and everything, and as much as I admired the guys on the floor or on the ice, I would always look up into the broadcast booths and say, ‘God, that would be the greatest job in the world to be able to do the games at Boston Garden or in a broadcast booth.’ I just had an incredible desire to keep doing it.”

Donovan says the inspiration to get into broadcasting came from hearing the calls of legendary Boston sportscasters Johnny Most (Celtics), Fred Cusick and Bob Wilson (Bruins), Gil Santos (New England Patriots) and Curt Gowdy, Ken Coleman and Ned Martin (Red Sox), and it has driven him ever since.

“Each team had a legendary guy doing play-by-play, so I was always exposed to it, and I sound old now, but it was not the age where every game was on television,” Donovan said. “In fact, very few were on television, so you listened to the games on the radio, and these guys were just masters. They really were, and they all had different styles. When I would go to the Boston Garden, I decided that I really wanted to get the feel of what it was like to do the games.”


After graduating from Boston University, Donovan started his career as a sports director for WJON Radio in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he also did play-by-play and sports anchoring for WVMT Radio and WEZF-TV.

From there, Donovan moved onto Burlington, Vermont, where he was Satellite New Channel’s play-by-play announcer for basketball and hockey games. Also, Donovan was the play-by-play announcer for the Vermont Reds, a minor-league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

When Donovan moved to Cleveland, he thought it might be the big-city experience necessary to eventually return to Boston. However, at Channel 3, Donovan not only served as the sports anchor for the nightly newscasts, but also, was an NBC announcer for the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, and Atlanta, Georgia, respectively.

In addition, Donovan broadcasted World Cup games for ESPN in 1994, regional NFL games for NBC from 1987-1997, and was a television play-by-play announcer for 20 Cleveland Indians baseball games from 2006-2008.

After getting several opportunities to build on his accomplishments, Donovan, an Emmy-winning sportscaster who served as the national host of the Soap Box Derby and Cleveland Marathon, settled his family in Cleveland and never looked back.

“Really, as a kid growing up in Boston, I always thought that I would have to leave Boston after school and go out and kind of earn my way to get back to Boston, and to be quite honest, that was always my goal, to get back to Boston and get a job and be back home,” Donovan said.

“It was very important to me. In my early years here, I was along that road that, ‘All signs point to if there’s an opening in Boston, I can go back there.’ I don’t know what happened. I signed a couple of contracts here and got great opportunities here. Channel 3 gave me great opportunities. It opened up a road for me to get to NBC Sports and do football and the Olympics and a number of other fun events.

“Channel 3 gave me an opportunity to do Browns preseason games, and the opportunities that Cleveland gave to me were just amazing, and then, it really kind of clicked at some point. People really took me in, and leaving Cleveland really never entered my mind all that much.”


Another unforgettable opportunity came Donovan’s way in the mid-1990s when the NFL announced the Browns were returning to Cleveland as an expansion franchise in 1999 after the original team moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens in 1996.

Following several rounds of auditions, Donovan was named the Browns’ radio play-by-play voice.

“I really always wanted to be the voice of a team,” Donovan said. “When I took the TV job, I was really worried that I had taken the wrong route because I was taking myself away from what I really wanted to do. I really wanted to do play-by-play, but it was good money, it was a good job and I was hoping it would open up other opportunities, but there was no guarantee, so I was really kind of worried about that.

“When the Browns left, I was still doing a lot of games on NBC at the time, doing regional games, and then, when the announcement came that they would be back in three years’ time, I kind of said to myself, ‘I think this is the chance to live out that dream of becoming the play-by-play voice of a team,’ and imagine, to become the play-by-play voice of the Cleveland Browns.

“I just constantly, for three years, zeroed in on that. I would go to local college games and take a tape recorder and call the games. NBC would send me tapes of Notre Dame, and I would take it into a studio, put it up on a video board and call the game so that I could keep my rhythm. It was destination give it all, go all out to try and get the Browns job. It was an incredible feeling when it all fell into place.”


After wanting to be like the broadcasters he looked up to at Fenway Park and Boston Garden, Donovan will take his place among the best to have ever plied their trade in Cleveland, as he will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards Thursday night.

A 31-year veteran Cleveland sportscaster, Donovan will be presented with the award.

“When I first came to Cleveland, I would’ve never thought I would’ve been here 31 years,” Donovan said. “I was thinking 31 days to be quite honest with you because I really didn’t know a great deal about doing television at the time.

“I was doing a lot of radio. I didn’t know that I could actually do the job. I knew the stakes were very high. There was a lot of turnover at Channel 3 at the time, so I didn’t know I was going to make it 31 days, believe it or not, but it’s a real honor.

“When you come from out of town and you come into a city, sometimes, you only think you’re going to be there a couple of years at best, and so, to be here 31 years and have everything that’s happened to me here in Cleveland, it’s just really amazing.”

Follow Frank Macek on Twitter @frankmacekwkyc

Friday, January 22, 2016

WKYC Celebrates 15th Anniversary At 13th & Lakeside

By Frank Macek

WKYC is celebrating its 15th anniversary at its state of the art digital broadcast center at 13th and Lakeside in downtown Cleveland.

The building which officially opened for business in January 2001 was built just east of downtown Cleveland on the area known as Davenport Bluffs.

Construction kicked off in late 1999 and would take just over a year to finish.

During the end of December 2000, the station's technical operations first moved into the new building including master control and the main control room where all the newscasts were switched prior to the launch of the new studio on the Monday after the Super Bowl that year.

The newscasts themselves continued to originate from the studios at the old building on E. 6th Street through an fiber optic connection to 13th and Lakeside until the end of January 2001.

Since then, the technology has continued to be upgraded as the station transitioned from the standard SD format to high definition broadcasting and highly automated processes including the main control room currently running Sony ELC Live Production Automation.

The future continues to be exciting for WKYC with a big year in 2016 with the Republican National Convention in July, the 2016 Olympics from Rio in August and the eventual transition to ultra high definition formats in the coming years.

Follow Frank Macek on Twitter @frankmacekwkyc
Click to see time lapse of the first part of the building's construction at 13th and Lakeside

Thursday, January 21, 2016

WKYC First Ohio TV Station to Earn StormReady Supporter Recognition

WKYC is proud to be the first television station in the Buckeye State to earn StormReady Supporter recognition from the National Weather Service.

A StormReady Supporter is an organization that has met stringent guidelines for weather preparedness.

Businesses, schools and other non-governmental entities can earn the designation through a qualification process involving application, documentation and site inspection.

Chief Meteorologist Betsy Kling led the initiative.

From severe weather awareness to safety plans, it ensures the organization's policies and guidelines help protect employees and visitors in weather emergencies.

WKYC now has a newly drafted Severe Weather Action Plan, custom StormReady plaquards to identify each of the station's eight severe weather shelters and better communication with employees before and during weather events.

Businesses, schools, and other non-government entities can earn the designation.

Some of the other northern Ohio StormReady Supporters include the Cleveland Indians, University of Akron and Cedar Point Amusement Park.

The StormReady program is a part of the NWS Weather-Ready Nation initiative to raise awareness about weather preparedness. The Supporter program is a joint venture between the NWS and local emergency managers.

Use the following link to find out more information on the StormReady Supporter program http://www.stormready.noaa.gov/supporter.htm

Thursday, January 14, 2016

TEGNA Media and NBC Announce New Affiliation Agreement

TEGNA, parent company of WKYC-TV, announced today that TEGNA Media and NBC have agreed to a renewal of the affiliation agreements of all 17 TEGNA Media NBC stations (including WKYC-TV).

TEGNA’s entire portfolio of NBC stations will now be under one common, long-term agreement. 

TEGNA Media is the largest independent NBC affiliate group.

“We are pleased to be extending our deep and longstanding partnership with NBC,” said Dave Lougee, president, TEGNA Media. “NBC’s content, from sports to news to primetime, combined with TEGNA Media’s trusted, innovative and impactful local programming is highly valued by our viewers.”

“We are happy to extend our affiliation with TEGNA, NBC’s largest affiliate station group,” said Jean Dietze, President, Affiliate Relations, NBC Broadcasting. “We’ve had a strong, successful partnership with Dave and his team for many years. We look forward to continued collaboration to provide high-quality network broadcast content to complement TEGNA’s award winning local news and programming in key markets across the country.”

Follow Frank Macek on Twitter @frankmacekwkyc

Friday, January 08, 2016

WKYC Launches New Local "Unleashed" Sports App

Cleveland sports fans, have we got an app for you!

WKYC's "Unleashed" is the first local sports app devoted to all Cleveland sports fans!

Browns! Cavaliers! Indians! Local colleges and high schools too!

Stats, scores, fantasy and more from Northeast Ohio's best television sports team.

Download the FREE app now and you can enter for a chance to win a $500 Best Buy gift card!

Just text WKYC to 25543 and we'll send you a link to the app or click here to see all available WKYC apps.

Follow Frank Macek on Twitter @frankmacekwkyc

Click to watch WKYC's Jim Donovan explain the new app below:

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

WKYC News & Notes: 1/5/16

By Frank Macek

It's time for another "behind the scenes" look at what's happening inside the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center at 13th and Lakeside.

2016 will mark the 10th year of the Director's Cut Blog that started as a little project back in 2006 by your blogger as a way to connect with those in the industry, the community and anyone else interested in what happens at Channel 3. Along the way, I have made plenty of friends, and some enemies at the other tv stations for promoting the great work we do here at WKYC - but it's all been worth it for me, now in my 22nd year at the station.

December 2015 ended on a high note for Channel 3 News with another number one sweep of adults 25-54 at 11 pm. This marks one full year now that our late newscast has been the top performing newscast at 11 p.m. in the Cleveland market. Get ready for a new feel coming to Channel 3 News at 11 very soon.

Pat Murray
We say so long to Pat Murray, long time Director of Cleveland Indians broadcasts for Fox Sportstime Ohio and Channel 3. Murray tells the Director's Cut Blog that he was hired by former WKYC VP/GM Brooke Spectorsky at WUAB-TV/43 in the early 70s as a member of the studio crew.

In 1980, he began directing baseball for the station and did so for 33 years, or approximately 2,500 major league baseball games - the bulk of that in the last 10 years here at Channel 3 where he ended his career working for who else - Brooke Spectorsky.

Your blogger wishes Pat happy retirement as we have worked together on the joint Indians sports venture between Channel 3 and STO over the last decade. Pat directed the games, while I directed several of the "Indians Live" pregame and postgame shows.

Plenty of promotions to talk about to start the New Year including the following:
  • Current Assistant News Director Denise Polverine will be stepping up to a new position as Director of Digital and Emerging Platforms. Given her background at Cleveland.com we can look forward to unique and creative programming this year. 
  • Managing Editor Jon Adkins will be moving into the role of Assistant News Director. Jon has been responsible for organizing and producing many of our largest events and news stories.  With the RNC, Olympics and Presidential Election looming this year, he will be busy coordinating our efforts on these big events.
  • In addition to helming the 11pm, Executive Producer Julie Flynn will now oversee all the evening shows including Channel 3 News at 6, 7 & 11 p.m.
  • Meg Hambach has been upped to Senior Producer. She will continue to line produce the 11 pm and work on special projects.
  • Randy Betke becomes Assistant Chief Engineer. Randy has been a key member of our technical staff for the past 31 years and has served as the Engineering Tech Supervisor for the past two years.
Here's to a great 2016!