A fortuitous tap on the shoulder at a Mariners game leads to a career.

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Derek Jones

What do you do? I am a camera operator specializing in live-event television, mostly sports.

How did you get started in that field? Believe it or not, I got my job by tapping a camera guy on the shoulder at a Mariners game in 1996. He ended up being head of crewing at what at the time was Fox Sports NW (now Root Sports). He hooked me up with an internship, and I’ve been doing it since.

What’s a typical day like? I’ll give you a typical day at the Mariners (each is different). For the opening day of a homestand, we come in six hours early, get the cameras out of the TV truck, and set everything up (cameras, audio, etc). I run the robotic cameras in the stadium, so I get in and set up my control station, set up my cameras and make sure everything is working. We get on camera for the broadcast at 6 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game, run through rehearsals, 6:30 pregame show, then the game. Once the game is over, we shut down all equipment, weatherproof and cover everything, then go home — and do it all again the next day.

(Courtesy of Derek Jones)
(Courtesy of Derek Jones)

What’s the best part of the job? Just coming to the ballpark on a nice summer day. It’s great to work among friends I can have fun with. We have plenty of downtime, so we talk a lot of baseball. 

What surprises people about what you do?  Probably that I have personally witnessed at least 3,000 national anthems. And that’s a conservative estimate. Also, that you can actually make a good living doing what I do.

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