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Making all the right calls

by Archives January 15, 2008

He started his career calling games for the Stingers sports teams for several years. Now former Concordia Stingers game announcer Olivier Sedra mans the mic for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, with a post at the 2008 Beijing Olympics on the horizon.
Sedra’s road to the Cavs’ announcer’s booth began in the comparatively minuscule confines of the Concordia basketball gym. Enrolled in the radio/TV program at Concordia, Sedra later joined CJAD News as an intern.
“Radio and TV is more of a passion for me than anything else,” he said. “I got my break with CJAD reporting on sports, covering the Habs postgame, that kind of thing.”
Sedra emphasized the importance of internships towards achieving his career goals: “It’s really important for getting your foot in the door,” he said. “Once you are in the door and working hard, pay or no pay, then you can really do well and others will notice your effort.”
Before joining the Cavaliers, Sedra first cut his teeth with the American Basketball Association’s Montreal Royal. Aside from basketball, Sedra had also garnered experience announcing at Stingers hockey games and wrestling matches, as well as a few boxing matches. The Saint-Laurent native first heard of the Cleveland job opening through a news article announcement, and decided to go for broke and sent them some demos of his work.
“I thought it was kind of odd that they would bring me down since I’m Canadian, but I went down anyway with the assumption that even if I didn’t get the job I’d learn from the experience,” he said.
Sedra’s audition consisted of calling a pickup game between employees of the Cavaliers’ Quicken Loans Arena. Aside from announcing the scorers, he also read Public Address announcements, game introductions and ran soundchecks for certain key game phrases. Everything Sedra said was recorded and examined along with other applicants.
“I was called back down there two weeks later for the final auditions, then came back to Canada, and another couple of weeks later I was calling my first NBA game,” he said.
Sedra’s first game went like most people’s first day at a new job. Driving to Cleveland on the day of the game he ran into bad weather, arriving at Quicken Loans Arena 15 minutes before tip-off. His first NBA game was a pre-season match between the Cavs and Maccabi Tel Aviv, an Israeli basketball club.
“The names were definitely a little bit different that I was accustomed to, but I did well with them and grew into the job very quickly,” he said.
In his first year as an NBA announcer Sedra had a fair amount of games in which to grow into his role, as the Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals in his first year as a PA announcer. Sedra’s first real trial by fire occurred in the same year during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final. After the first quarter ended, the arena’s scoreboard, game clock, and 24-second shot clock stopped working. This left Sedra as the only medium through which the players, coaches and fans could understand what was going on in the game.
“Everything just fell on my hands,” he said. “There was a 21-minute delay and the producer came up and told me that I would have to announce everything that went on in the game.”
One of Sedra’s added responsibilities for the rest of the match included counting down in five-second intervals from ten during each possession, so that the players knew how much time they had left to shoot.
“It brought me back to my roots,” he said. ” Growing up calling youth basketball you call the time, you call the score, and everything in between. You never picture yourself doing it on national TV, but we had to adapt ourselves and it became a production within a production.”
Despite the malfunction Sedra didn’t miss a call. “It ran so smoothly, I kid you not. Everyone on the production team made sure I had all the info I needed and it went well. It definitely put me in a position where I was tested and I came through.”
With a full NBA season under his belt, Sedra now has been given the opportunity to make his calls on the international stage.
“After the finals I met with my senior marketing director and my game director,” he said. “They both told me that the NBA was recommending me to FIBA to announce the Olympics, which is just such an honor.”
Looking back on his start at Concordia and how he has turned his passion into a successful career, Sedra sees himself remaining an announcer for a long time yet.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal, second to none. I have the best seat in the house, doing something that I love doing.”

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