Tara August MA '04 manages Cal Ripken Jr. and Shaquille O'Neal for Turner Sports. (Photo courtesy of Turner Broadcasting)
Coffee with Cal Ripken Jr., a quick call with Charles Barkley, and a meeting with Shaquille O’Neal—that’s all in a day’s work for Tara August MA ’04.
As vice president of talent relations for Turner Sports—one of the largest broadcasters of televised and online sports programming—August recruits and oversees all on-air announcers and commentators. Her lineup includes NBA, MLB, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball, NASCAR, and professional golf broadcasts for TNT, TBS, and TruTV.
August manages a roster of 50 on-air personalities, including sports superstars like O’Neal, former MLB All-Star pitcher Pedro Martinez, and outfielder Gary Sheffield. She juggles everything from their contract negotiations to their show placements and special appearances. And she often coaches them through broadcasts, both on set and at some to the highest profile sports events in the U.S. and abroad.
“I’ve been to the British Open twice. I’ve been to a few Super Bowls and the World Series,” says August, who studied sport management at USF. “I love it. There’s nothing like it—that energy, that excitement.”
It also means long hours and many seven-day workweeks.
“The days can get really grueling and long,” she says. “But If I’m stressed out and I’m tired, it’s still fun. These guys have such great personalities. We’re always cracking jokes. It’s hanging out with friends.”
Wanted: more women sportscasters
That’s exactly how August wants viewers to feel when they tune in to a Turner broadcast—like they’re watching a game with their friends. She’s always on the lookout for the next great announcer or commentator. During her time at Turner, she’s developed an eye for spotting talent. “You have to give people a real hard look. You have to pay attention to chemistry and attitudes, whether they’re comfortable or whether they’re holding back,” she says.
One of her goals is to diversify Turner’s all-male talent pool. “We’re always trying to grow female talent. They offer a different perspective than the men.”
USF laid the foundation for her future
The sports industry is just as male-dominated behind the camera as it is in front of it. Turner’s production team is also mostly staffed by men.
“Before I got my graduate degree at USF, I felt I had to prove I was knowledgeable and serious about sports,” says August.
Studying sport management at USF enabled her to build that knowledge base and to land the job at Turner. “I liked being educated about the industry,” she says. “It’s like any industry. You have to know your craft. Whether you’re a woman or a man, you have to be credible.”