Interview by Andy Gotlieb | Photo by David Stuck
Notice the leaves starting to change? Feel the nip in the air? Of course you do. And just as surely that you’re ready to switch into burgundy and gold, Bram Weinstein is preparing for another season of announcing Washington Commanders games. The Bethesda resident got the gig in 2020. His resume also includes seven years at ESPN, where he described himself as a “snarky anchor.” With the snark behind him, he looks ahead to the coming season, talks about how he preps for a game and everywhere waxes enthusiastic about football.
Montgomery Magazine: How do you expect the Commanders to do this year?
Bram Weinstein: I expect the Commanders to be highly competitive this year that hopefully ends in double-digit wins and a playoff berth. The team has a lot of speed at their skill positions and the acquisition of quarterback Carson Wentz should allow them the ability to have a more proficient downfield passing game. The team’s true strength should still be their defense, specifically their front so if they play together and to their potential, this team will be playing at least one game in mid-January.
Q: How do you prepare for each game?
A: Julie Donaldson, senior VP of media and content and one of my partners in the radio booth, put this really well last year: “You have to be married to it.” It’s true. Game preparation is a seven-day-a-week job. For me, it starts on Tuesday where I’ll watch the Commanders most recent game and get a sense of how they truly performed. Wednesday and Thursdays are spent studying the opposition on film and, of course, spending time at practice and talking to players and coaches. By Friday I’m putting all statistical information and newsworthy items about both teams on boards that we use to call the games. And, of course, Julie, London Fletcher (the newest addition to the booth) and I have to get together to discuss storylines and information. It’s a lot of work to get to that one three-hour broadcast, but it’s the most fulfilling assignment I’ve ever had in my career and I enjoy every second of it.
Q: How has broadcasting changed since you began in the profession?
A: I’ll be teaching an adjunct course in sports media at American University this fall, and when I do lecture or speak to young aspiring broadcasters I always tell them that the landscape is entirely different from the world I entered over 25 years ago. There used to be a clear path to achieving goals in this profession. Now, anyone can have their own Youtube channel, podcast, website etc. It doesn’t mean it’s easier to build your brand, in fact it’s harder, and the major platforms still matter most in sports. But the barrier for entry is way lower than it used to be and thus opportunity is wide open.
Q: What’s the most memorable moment you’ve experienced?
A: This is a hard question to answer. For me, professionally, calling the Commanders games is by far the pinnacle of my dreams as a child who grew up wanting to do this very job. Being on the “Sportscenter” set and in “This is Sportscenter” commercials for the first time was surreal. In terms of events, being on the court when Maryland won its lone basketball national championship stands out. The list of little moments and interactions with legendary athletes and coaches is too long to list. I’ve certainly been privileged and don’t take any of it for granted.
Q: For anyone interested in broadcasting, how would you recommend preparing for a career in the field?
A: You have to learn how to write. It’s the basis of critical thinking and essential communication. If you can write, you can do anything in the field.
Q: Where are your favorite and least favorite cities to travel to when covering an NFL game?
A: My favorite cities to travel to for games are, in no particular, order: Las Vegas, L.A. and New Orleans. I don’t know that I have a least favorite place. Green Bay is really in the middle of nowhere, but Lamebau Field is so special. It’s hard to complain about the lack of anything to do the night before!
Q: Which broadcasters do you pattern yourself after?
A: There are a lot of broadcasters I have admired through the years. Growing up in Silver Spring, I was lucky to have a ton of high-level broadcasters and writers to follow and learn by osmosis from. To have Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon as the columnists I read weekly. To have Glenn Brenner, George Michael, Steve Buckhantz on my local TV. To have Frank Herzog, John Miller, Ron Webber, Johnny Holiday and others calling games of the teams I loved was a gift. Then I worked with some of the greatest broadcasters in the world at ESPN: Steve Levy, Stuart Scott, Hannah Storm, Scott Van Pelt, Linda Cohn, John Anderson, and my partner Sara Walsh, just to name a few. Then when I got hired as the Commanders PxP, I spoke with Frank Herzog, John Walton, Steve Buckhantz and Joe Beninati and all of them could not have been more accommodating with their time and advice. I love this community, this fanbase and I realize that the platforms I have are never to be taken for granted and when I talk to my colleagues, I get the sense they feel exactly the same way.
Q: What other sports do you follow?
A: I’m a huge football fan and have been my whole life. It wasn’t hard to fall in love with the glory day Redskins of the ‘80s. But I also follow the Caps, Wizards and Terps closely. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I grew up going to O’s games and now attend at least a few Nats games a year, so I’m also paying attention. My father and I shared a love of horse racing, and in recent years I’ve been to multiple Kentucky Derby’s, Preakness Stakes and other major race days working on behalf of America’s Best Racing. I do have a bucket list dream of calling races one day.