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MHS grad who brings local sports news to residens’ homes

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Comcast Hometown Network producer Erik Alves poses in the production truck used to edit the segments that go into creating the local sports programming that fans can enjoy at home.

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POSTED November 29, 2012 12:36 a.m.

They say that those who get to do what they love as a career are the lucky ones.

And you could definitely lump Erik Alves into that category.

As a producer for Comcast Hometown Network – a community-oriented channel that focuses on local sports and stories for those in a given area – the Manteca High alum and former athlete gets the chance every day to follow games that are of a particular interest to him.

It’s not like punching a time card. It’s not like staring a clock waiting for the day to end.

For Alves, it’s the chance to follow prep sports the way that he did when he was first cutting his teeth in the business upon graduating from San Francisco State, only in a different capacity – scouting out locations and finding on-camera interviews instead of actually conducting them himself the way he once did.

The Bulletin tracked down the former Buffalo basketballer to find out what about the business drives him and what makes him tick:



What is it about sports that made you want to pursue this as a career?

“I grew up a sports fan – as somebody that played and always followed what was going on. And it’s not bad to get a job where you get to talk about sports – certainly it’s the next best thing to actually playing. Ideally we’d all like to go on and play forever, and some of us are lucky enough to get that chance to play into college or even further. But I wasn’t able to do that. And this gives me the chance to get to see a lot of the different venues that we have here locally. And whether it’s announcing games like I’ve done in the past or producing the segments like I’ve done for the last three-and-a-half years, it’s a chance to be around what I love.”



What is the most challenging thing about what you do on a daily basis?

“As a producer you’re in charge of the overall broadcast. From the smallest thing to the biggest thing, the overall logistics from whether we have enough power for the trucks to whether there are live phone lines to bringing in scissor lifts – those are all things that you’re responsible for. Having announced as long as I did, that definitely helps during a broadcast. I’m able to drop something into somebody’s ear or dig up a couple of nuggets that are going to help improve the experience for the viewer. It’s a different aspect – setup, preparation and execution of the broadcast are what you’re in charge of. And it’s an event.”



Los Angeles or New York? Where would you rather be?

“I’m definitely a West Coast guy. And even though I’m a Giants fan, I like some of the venues down there – I’ve been out to Dodger Stadium and the Rose Bowl. And then you’ve got the weather on top of that.”



What’s your favorite aspect of what you get to do?

“Finding out new info – new knowledge – be it specific teams, schools or sports. Right now we’re televising San Francisco Bulls hockey games and it’s definitely down on the list of sports that I know the most about, as it probably is for most people. But I like to be knowledgeable about what we’re covering. I like to learn as much as I can about it before hand. When I was announcing I tried to learn everything I could about a given school and took pride in getting the right pronunciation of the names – that research and preparation.”



Are there any little treats that you get as a byproduct of the job – things you get to cover or events you get to witness that most people might not realize?

“There’s a little bit of travel that goes along with it. In 2010 the San Jose Giants were in the championship of their league and were playing down in Rancho Cucamonga. I had to go down there early to scout out the site, and they ended up winning and going the distance. Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants shortstop) was on that team and ended up hitting a grand slam which was cool to see. Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels centerfielder and 2012 American League Rookie of the Year) was playing against them at the time. I also had to go down to La Jolla (San Diego) for a college sports event, and there couldn’t be a more beautiful place to be sent for work. Those are things that you don’t really expect until they happen.”



You’re ordering breakfast at a diner. What do you get?

“Sausage, eggs and potatoes. I’ve never been a big coffee guy. Bacon’s not bad, but sausage would be the way that I would go.”



Was it different to go from an on-camera announcer to a behind-the-scenes producer?

“There’s just a lot more that goes into it that people don’t realize. It’s in the details. Phone calls, editing, conference calls, tracking down previous tape that’s relevant the games that we have that week – I might come across 20 or 30 things and I have to find that perfect one. Then there’s lining up the halftime interviews – it might be a high school principal or somebody in a position like that. The majority of the job is preparation, and that’s not unlike what I did before it’s just in a different capacity. If you prepare properly you’ll have a much smoother broadcast because there likely won’t be any surprises.”



Has covering sports and preparing sports broadcasts hampered your ability to enjoy watching sports as a fan?

“It doesn’t keep me from enjoying sports, but I do watch sports differently today than I did at one time. I look at the technical aspects of the broadcast – I’m curious about what they’re doing and always trying to learn new things. I also try to have empathy when things don’t go right. I still tuning in and even getting out to watch games – we televised the last Sierra game of the season this year when they played Weston Ranch, and I went to three Sierra games in person so that I knew what it was we were looking for. You just look at things differently than you might have at one point.”



Do you prefer a night at the movies or a night in watching your favorite television shows?

“Definitely TV shows. That’s one of the shared interests of my wife and I – we have a few that we like to watch together. And with two young kids at home it’s not as easy to go out and see a movie as it once was. We’ll end up watching a couple of shows each night.”

Alves’ work can be seen on Comcast Channel 104. He lives in Manteca with his wife Heather and their two young sons – Brady, 5, and Ryan, 3.

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