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Early Show: Kid Broadcasters and the Summer Camp That Produces Them

“It’s so hard to get an internship in this town,” Jake Liker said.

He was talking about Los Angeles, where he was born and raised and is now hoping to break in as a sports broadcaster.

Jake has shadowed at networks. He calls football games at Harvard Westlake, a private high school. He and several friends, also aspiring broadcasters, co-host their own online sports talk shows.

He doesn’t fit the usual on-air aesthetic—he’s gawky and, off-camera, has a habit of standing with his thumbs pressed into the small of his back, as though he’s bracing himself against an imaginary wind. But when the red light flicks on, Jake can anchor a live shot on UCLA basketball with startling smoothness. He understands timing, and knows when and how to engage his co-hosts. Then there are his transitions: a reference to a poor showing in last year’s Battle 4 Atlantis, held in the Bahamas, prompted a savvy line about how the Bruins got lost in paradise. Karl Moeglein, one of Jake’s best friends and a frequent collaborator on their radio shows, whispered, “Jake’s the pun guy.”

There’s certainly room for improvement, but there’s no reason a small-market television station would refuse to consider him for a job—or, at least, no reason besides the fact that Jake Liker is a 16-year-old high school junior.

We’re at UCLA for the Los Angeles edition of Play By Play Sports Broadcasting Camps, a series of summer camps for kids aged 10 through 18 who want dearly to talk about sports for a living. Now in its 14th year, it has ballooned from one three-day minicamp in Philadelphia to nine weeklong camps, of both the day and overnight variety, held throughout the country.

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