Tripp carving niche as Penn State voice

If you want to see the Blue-White Game, you’ll have to be at Beaver Stadium in person at 1:30 p.m Saturday or tune in for the delayed broadcast at 6 p.m. Saturday on the Big Ten Network.

Or, you could attend, come home and watch – getting a sense of the team yourself, making Penn State athletic marketers happy by boosting attendance and then watching an up-and-coming broadcaster do his job.

Granted, sideline reporter Brian Tripp will not get the most airtime of anyone on the BTN broadcast, but he might make the most of it.

In the past couple of years, Tripp has built a solid role covering Penn State. He’s earned some big assignments and, in the small and fairly talented broadcasting community around Penn State, he’s also earned a reputation for being prepared and working hard.

With Steve Jones on radio for men’s basketball and football as he has been for the lifetime of many Penn Staters, high-profile jobs for other broadcasters are limited. There are other important gigs, but Jeff Byers has the wrestling job pinned down, and most blue-and-white fans correctly associate Jerry Fisher with women’s basketball.

So, what’s a young broadcaster to do? Keep working, and that’s just what Tripp did after he graduated from Penn State.

He took whatever assignments he could get, worked a variety of sports and got better. He’s been doing Penn State baseball with Loren Crispell for the past five seasons. He’s worked women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. He’s done a little bit of everything.

When the play-by-play job for men’s ice hockey came open last year, Tripp applied and got it.

He deserved the shot, too. Not because of loyalty or time spent, but because he could do the job. His emotion and preparation came through well on radio broadcasts this past season. Veteran Penn State hockey analyst and experienced radio pro Tim King helped Tripp succeed, but the 25-year-old proved he was ready for prime time.

It also gave him a niche and some security.

“Every broadcaster wants have a role that’s theirs,” he said. “Hockey gave me that, and I still get to do a lot of other things.”

For the Blue-White Game, he’ll handle sideline reporting – the toughest job in sports broadcasting – while working with play-by-play man Scott Graham and analyst and former Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Tripp said of his first BTN football assignment. “I’m not really sure what to expect, but it should be fun.”

It’s that enthusiasm that helped shape Tripp’s approach, and carries over well to listeners and viewers. It also sometimes masks his determination, because as soon as he found out about this gig he started preparing.

Again, Tripp’s moments on screen and reporting time might be brief, but he’ll be closer to the action than anyone else and, depending on how well the director and producer coordinate things, Tripp could be in position for some fun and interesting insights as well as some timely updates.

It should be worth watching.

Football for Franklin

Despite the confidence he puts in his public persona and his willingness to step in front of any and every microphone, Penn State football coach James Franklin plans a football focus for the Blue-White Game.

Unlike the late Joe Paterno, there will not be a guest spot on the radio broadcast during the game.

And, despite the potentially untrue perception that Franklin has more media savvy than his immediate predecessor, there will not be any microphone hookup inside Beaver Stadium so fans can hear Franklin call plays from the field as Bill O’Brien did last April.

Franklin has made his media rounds during the spring, and will do so again with the Coaches Caravan during 17 stops over three weeks in May along with an appearance in Altoona at the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame dinner on April 26.

On this gameday, though, with numerous in-game logistics to iron out, he seems content to focus on the game itself and his job on the sideline.

Dial deal

A 90-minute pre-game tailgate show starts at noon today on radio. It’ll be hosted by Byers, Jeff Brown and Mark Snyder and originate from a stage outside the Bryce Jordan Center.

The game can on the Penn State Sports Network be heard on ESPN Radio 1430 in Altoona, ESPN Radio 1450 in State College and 93.7 The Bus in State College. As usual, Jones will handle play-by-play duties with Jack Ham as analyst.

Byers and Snyder will host the post-game show from the Penn State Bookstore at Beaver Stadium.

Scoreboard stuff

Updated HD scoreboards in either end zone at Beaver Stadium remain under construction and will not make their debut until the regular season.

The LED systems will use less energy than previous models and the display will take up the entire face of the boards in order to show the game clock, down and distance, score and in-game video. Along with that upgrade, the stadium is getting an overdue and welcome upgrade to its sound system as well.

Steve Sampsell covers the broadcast side of sports. He’s on Twitter @stevesampsell, writes at, and may be contacted at