Storytelling “The Moment” in Live Sports with Broadcaster Leigh Diffey

Episode Transcript

Julia Landauer 0:04 Hello, everybody and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. If you have ever watched motorsports or the Olympics, you have probably heard Leigh Diffey as a broadcaster or a commentator on those events. And let me tell you, I am pretty pumped to share that he is our guest on this week's episode of if I'm honest, so Leigh Diffey has been in TV sports broadcasting for over 25 years. He's originally from Australia got his start in motorcycles and Supercross and and that discipline. He's worked in network TV sports on three different continents, the in Australia in the UK and Europe and in North America. He has called more categories of high level motorsport on network TV than anyone else in the world. Paris will be his six Olympic Games with three Winter Games and Paris being the third summer game. He's the first foreign voice play by play person to call the Indy 500, to the US audience to call a NASCAR cup race to US audience and to call the Olympics for NBC Sports. He is someone who I have seen on TV for decades now. And something that is always so cool to listen to is that he brings this incredible enthusiasm to his commentating and he is naturally very curious and disciplined and thorough in his preparation. And he appreciates the art of sport and capturing the intensity of that that moment where you're either winning or you're failing, or whatever it is. And this conversation was really cool, partially because I felt like I was fangirling a little bit. And it was kind of like getting to chat with someone you've always looked up to and admired. And I think he does so much for the sport of auto racing, that it was really cool to be able to have this one on one. And we talk about everything from his roots and how he got into commentating. He was originally a PE teacher, we get into what brought him to the UK and the leaps of faith that he took throughout his career. We talk about what innate traits he has to his personality that have helped him we talk about the adrenaline of telling a story in front of a live audience, the adrenaline of being able to watch sports live. And we get into some nitty gritty stuff about how you put on a broadcast and what goes into the preparation and how he's learned, really intimate details about different sports that he may not have known much about before. So it was really exciting. It was really interesting as one performer to another in a sense, we found a lot of similarities between broadcasting and this, you know, live audience storytelling, and actually being in the car and racing. It was a really interesting discussion. I am so grateful that Leigh took the time out of his busy traveling schedule to sit down with me and to chat. And he kept it really honest. And I really appreciate that. So I hope that you enjoy this episode. Leigh, thank you so much for joining me on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. Leigh Diffey 3:06 It's good to be on here. Finally, Julia Landauer 3:09 finally, no, this is so cool, because for our listeners, we've been following each other on Twitter. I'm a big fan. I've been watching you for years. And so this is just really cool, especially as to people who do different types of storytelling, I would say, I'm really excited to get into some of your techniques, and just some of your background. And thank you again for joining me. So to get started, I learned this recently, so you actually got started as a competitor in motorsports on motorcycles. Is that correct? Leigh Diffey 3:39 Yeah, just as a kid, you know, I had my first motorcycle when I was six years old. And my dad was really into motorcycle racing. For whatever reason, my grandfather raced and rode bikes and so so race, off road, rode motorcycles on the road, but wouldn't let my father do it. I figure so kind of my dad lived vicariously through my brother and myself. And so motorcycles were our life. You know, like, for other kids in the neighborhood, they played football or cricket or tennis or something like that. Well, the defeats were the motorsport people, the motorbike people. So and you know, growing up in the 70s and 80s That was pretty weird like that. We definitely stood it out. That wasn't the norm. You know, people didn't understand it. And and certainly motorcycles weren't in the mainstream like now where you see with X Games or Monster Energy Supercross pro motocross, SM X World Championships, the exposure that the sport gets Now it didn't have back then. So to say that you did motorcycle racing as your sport was really quite odd at the time. Yeah, no, that makes sense. So then I have to ask because of what I read and tell me it's this is wrong, but that when you were a late teenager you got kinda got started in your commentating career with motorcycles. So is that accurate? Also, pretty close. I was I was, When he, I was at university and I had stopped riding, focused on school, tried to do a little bit better. And I ended up going to university to study education to be a PE teacher, and the local motorcycle club that my brother was still riding out and a lot of my mates were still racing out. I had made speeches on behalf of my brother, and the local motorcycle club, they said, Hey, you're pretty confident for a young guy behind them behind a microphone, we need a public address announcer and we'll give you $60 And I sat in the Queensland sun all day, and, but for me, it came naturally because I knew that competitors, and it was at a track that I used to race at. And so it was a nice, easy way of getting into it. I didn't grow up wanting to be a sports broadcaster or a motorsport announcer or whatever, that it was one of those stories where I literally fell into it. Julia Landauer 5:57 Well, it's also pretty cool that you got paid on your first gig. I feel like so many creatives have to volunteer their time for their first stuff to prove themselves. So that's, I mean, that's pretty great. That's a great deal. Leigh Diffey 6:08 When you're at university, your college 60 bucks is 60 bucks. I took it Julia Landauer 6:12 Yeah, it's something to work as well. I mean, like I, when I gave my first paid keynote address, and it was right out of college. And, you know, they had given a TEDx talk. So I knew I had this polished video that somewhat, you know, gave me some credibility. But they asked me, okay, cool, we'd love to hire you, what's your fee, and that was something where I had to do so much research. And I totally undervalued myself, but it was so cool to just have that baseline to then build off of, and get smarter about that. So that was a Yeah, it's an interesting way to start. So that's great. So then, so then, did you did you go into any kind of training? Or do you really just test the waters and how you delivered your broadcasting? And you obviously, you said that you have this relationship with the competitors, which brings so much color to any kind of broadcast or announcing, but it was it kind of just figure it out? Leigh Diffey 7:07 Yeah, I just figured it out and listen to the feed that feedback that my parents gave me and some other friends and, you know, friends, parents who were at the racetrack, or wherever that may have come from, but the best form of feedback was that the way that it grew was other clubs. So one of my favorite stories that I didn't know until many years later, was that the first place I ever did it was that the Ipswich motorcycle club at a racetrack called Tivoli. And about an hour from where that was hour, hour and a half from where that was was Toowoomba. And there was a track called Echo Valley. Well, the most famous racer from Toowoomba is the Indy 500 Winner Will Power team. Okay, time to time IndyCar champion. Well, lo and behold, the promoter that I worked for way back then, at Echo Valley, will will powers mum used to be his bookkeeper. And, yeah, just the small world story. So, you know, I first did it at at Tivoli, then I did it at Echo Valley and the people from another club in northern New South Wales in Ballina. They heard me and so it kind of grew bit by bit by people saying, Hey, we heard you at Tivoli, or we heard you in Ballena. And we heard you and so to me, that was pretty good feedback that I must have been doing an okay job if they if they then asked me to travel to wherever they Club was to again, and this is not radio, this is not Television, this is very, you know, this is very basic, rudimentary public address, sitting in a wooden tower, one microphone, you know, a transistor radio for as the as the break entertainment, you just stick the microphone up against the Speaker of the radio and, and it was fairly bare bones stuff, you know? Julia Landauer 8:58 Yeah, but but I feel like every, every discipline like that has unique styles and you know, unique ways that you engage the audience and engage the crowd. And so to be able to take such such bare bones tools, and do it well, and clearly make a name for yourself. And I feel like it also emphasizes the point that, especially when you're getting started, if you're passionate about something curious about something like forget about the audience, because it might be small steps to start, but you never know who might be there or how it can catch on and that's clearly worked out for you. So that's really cool. Leigh Diffey 9:32 I think the thing I think the thing that I discovered very early on, maybe even on the first day, I can't remember but I know, I know, it was very early on that I displayed genuine enthusiasm for what I was seeing in front of me. So if there was a pass, if somebody was going to make a position or lose a position or it was the last lap, and my voice, you know, went to you know, went into an excited mode and tone. And then at the same moment, because I'm sitting on the edge of the grandstand, etc, I can see people's reaction. And so that was the first time I remember I remember, not necessarily cause and effect, but maybe action reaction, you know, you know, where the tone and the the heightened sense of my voice actually impacted the crowd. And so it was the first time I ever realized that you could, like talk about having the crowd in the palm of your hand. Now, sure, it was I don't want to exaggerate. I'm not sure it was that great. But it was it was you could you can understand how you could influence the crowd with your excitement level. And that was quite intoxicating. Julia Landauer 10:43 Yeah, I mean, and that's, that's such a good point. It's an interesting that like, you got to like really, very clearly visibly see that, because I feel like, you know, as a viewer of any sport, or any complex, any broadcast, you do feed off of people's energy. And it reminds me of the Winston Churchill quote, where he says success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm, and just that, that, that key that being enthusiastic will give you motivation, confidence, it'll make other people excited about what you're doing, and can confirm that you continue to deliver that in your broadcast. And I would assume, especially for any kind of viewer who maybe is a more casual fan of any given sport, they can be hard to jump into. And so kind of taking cues from the commentators as to when something really exciting is happening helps the viewer in their own learning journey. So that's really cool. Leigh Diffey 11:40 Yeah, very much. So. I agree. Julia Landauer 11:42 Yeah. So I'm always interested. And when people make really big moves, and obviously you're from Australia, and you move to the UK first and then to the US. So can you walk through a little bit how that happened? If it was an intentional decision on your part, if it somewhat kind of fell into your lap, and what it was, like, moving so far away from home? Leigh Diffey 12:04 I wish I wish a lot more things fell into my lap, that's for sure. But maybe I wouldn't have you got the big one. You got the big one, right. Maybe Yeah, I wouldn't have the story that I have. But I have a I have, I have kind of a recurring story with different parts. But this the part is, you know, work really hard, make great contacts, cherish those contacts, and be in the right place at the right time. And so I got into television in Australia, not at the local level. Not at the regional level, I started straight at the network level, which is highly unusual. But it was again, right time, right place, and they had a need for me. I got in through my commentary, not as a journalist, I don't have a degree in journalism or communications. So I, I openly admit, I kind of got into the network through the back door for my commentary. And I, the head of sport at the time at network 10 in Australia said, Look, you're going to fill the commentary role, great, but you need to learn more about TV and sports television in general. So I'm going to get you a job on the nightly Sports Show where you can be a freelance reporter. So it's kind of like ESPN Sports Center. It's a show that's no longer around, sadly, in Australia, called sports tonight, and it was a really epic show. It was fantastic. And it taught me a lot taught me that the nuts and bolts of television and it exposed me to even though I was a PE teacher played all kinds of sport as a kid. It taught me a lot about I mean, you could go in for an eight hour shift and sit there and watch or have to log you know, CNN World Sports, and you could be going everything from baseball, to basketball, to Premier League Soccer to whatever it might be, you know, wacky, weird, wacky sports, or you might sit there for an eight hour shift and cover a cricket match and be logging, you know, at this time code, such and such hitter for this time code such and such was caught out, you know, and so it really just there was a lot of long, long shifts. But I was working with these legendary television, people who don't ever seen on TV, and I'm like, What the hell am I doing in here? You know, it was really, it was really quite a trip. And then things happened very fast. For me, I was given a lot of great opportunities and maximized on those. And one of those opportunities was to travel overseas and do some Formula One launches. And I met some terrific people kept their contacts and stayed in touch. And then through one of the producers that I was working with in Australia had the opportunity to go to the 24 hours of law and to do a documentary. And that was in the late 1990s and 98 and 99. And it was in the second year that we went back to the mall to do to do the same documentary of a dear friend of mine now who back then was a colleague, an older gentleman, who I had worked with in television for a little bit and he was also Another reporter on this documentary and he just said to me, he said, What do you think of it over here? What do you think about all this? And I thought he was talking about more in the event. We were standing in the pit lane. And I just said, it's fantastic. And he said, No, I'm not talking about the race. I'm talking about you over here in the northern hemisphere. And I said, What do you mean? And he said, you could make it over here. You could do it. Julia Landauer 15:19 Oh, so you just visiting for that? Leigh Diffey 15:21 I was just that. Yeah. Yeah. I was still living in Australia. And he said, You could do it. And he said, he said, live my dream for me. And he said, You could do it. And that was in the June of 1999. And in January of 2000, I was living in London. Julia Landauer 15:35 Oh, my goodness, Leigh Diffey 15:36 I left I left. You know, I was only in my 20s and I left an amazing job at network 10. I was doing V8 Supercars. I was doing Indycar, I was doing MotoGP. I was working on sports tonight. And you know, for somebody still in their 20s. It was an amazing job. And I left and the network couldn't believe that I left and I didn't have a job to go to in the UK. I really just swung for the fences and through some really great friends and contacts. I had a little bit of voiceover work. But within a month, within a month of being in the UK, I was interviewing with the BBC and got a job to commentate the World Superbike. So before I, before my head could stop spinning. I was back on a plane to Australia covering World superbikes at Phillip Island that was in South Africa, then I was in Japan. And it was an amazing whirlwind journey for sure, yeah, um, Julia Landauer 16:28 yeah, that's impressive. So then, so digging into kind of your mindset a little bit more like when you you know, you have this great setup at home, and you obviously, really impactful trips over to the UK. But what would you say you are naturally curious and wanting to expand your world? And you know what, when you were little Did you think you might want to get out of Australia? Or is it just, let's see. Leigh Diffey 16:53 Yeah, not at all. I just, I grew up in suburban Brisbane, in a, in a very blue collar family. And, you know, mom and dad, were just regular people. And my dad was a painter and a signwriter, my mum was a teacher's aide, and, you know, living the life we did, in pretty humble surrounds and having the motorbikes that was, that was pretty good. We thought life was great. We thought life was great at that. And then when this commentary thing came along, and that started opening my eyes to different opportunities, and then I just, I don't know why. Because my mum and dad were quite shy people. And so I don't know why but I was always, I was gifted with, I don't want to say an abundance, but enough self belief that I believed I could do as good as or better than that next person. And so maybe sometimes falsely believing that I don't know, but I backed myself, I always backed myself and, and maybe sometimes embarrassed myself, I don't know, but I didn't care because I was gonna, I was gonna have a go. And my dad, particularly my dad, my mom and my dad, always, but my dad, that was one of his sayings. And it's a very easy thing to say is have a go, which means just try, right? And have a go mate, is what people say. And I was determined just to have a go. And whatever that was, or whatever it looked like, I was going to have a go. So I left my my childhood home with mom and dad and went to Sydney to swing for the fences to have a go. And I didn't have anything to go to, and had some great people supporting me. But I was doing substitute school teaching and baking carrot cakes and selling them to the local cafe for my gas money. I was doing whatever I needed to do to be in the number one spot in Australian media to get that opportunity. And so once I once I made that commitment to myself, I was going to do whatever it took. I absolutely love that. Julia Landauer 19:00 And I feel like you know, the more that every person can kind of embrace that, like, what's the worst that can happen or more proactively, like, I will figure this out. I can do this. I think there's a lot of undervaluing ourselves or you know, other people undervaluing themselves in a way that, you know, usually we're getting in our own way. So that is just so uplifting and inspiring. I was getting goosebumps, thank you. We're gonna take a quick break but we'll be right back with Leigh Diffey on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. We are back on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer with our guest Leigh Diffey. So I get a lot of adrenaline when I get on stage. And like I'm sure you can appreciate like the high of engaging in audience as you talked about and you know, making people have these reactions that you know are a direct result of what what you have done. Can I assume that you still get some kind of adrenaline like that when you're in the broadcast booth? Leigh Diffey 20:02 Oh, yeah, for sure. For sure. Because it's it's everything all into the, into the pot. It's, you know, we, we are armed with being good storytellers. You know, delivering the facts, doing people's athletic performance, justice, and then having fun, right with each other, enjoying it yourself but enjoying being with your teammates. And that could be whether I'm doing the the Olympics, the track and field World Championships, or it could be doing IndyCar, whatever I'm working on, you know, I make sure that all of the teams that I'm a part of is that we get on off air. So we get on on air. And when you're all on the same level, and you're all you all feel like, the show's going great. And everybody's everybody's right at that level. It's, it's, it's, it's terrific because you hope, man, we get more immediate feedback now on social media. You know, the old yardstick was, was the ratings, which it still is, but you know, your superiors what they tell you, but you know, you get feedback, whether it be positive or negative on social media, and we know with pretty much immediacy whether the the audience is enjoying it or not. And so we try and not try, we do enjoy what we're doing. And we try to make it so easy to consume for the viewer to have fun as well. Because if we're having fun, we hope that they're having fun. Julia Landauer 21:35 Yeah, no, that makes total sense. And you had mentioned that you naturally bring an engaged, enthusiastic kind of tone to your to your broadcasting, do you find that you are naturally a fan of most sports? Or is it that the competition that just you can figure out what's exciting? Because you commented on, you know, as you said, track and field, the Olympics racing, like all kinds of racing, that you just love all the sports? Leigh Diffey 22:01 Yeah, I love I love sports, and I love them. I love the competitive angle, but I love the moment. Right? So what is the moment? What what what is it about that moment that defines winning or losing, scoring that touchdown, making the pot, whatever it might be, you know, making that perfect run down the down the mountain in the ball sled? What is it it to me, it's that I see a lot of what we do in live television, in the athlete. And when athletes come off whatever field it is, and come into my world and into our world. They conquer. And they they agree with that. And they they sometimes I don't even ask them that I just can tell by the way they speak. And what that is, is split second decisions, with no do overs. Mm hmm. And that's what we have, we can't delete the paragraph, we can't we can't erase it and go over. I didn't really like the sound of that got that. And when people give us a hard time sometimes on the broadcast, you know, I would almost beg that they think about that. Because in life, we're human, we're going to make mistakes. I'm not going to say every word that correctly that I want to say to you on this podcast, and that's okay, because we're human but in the in the height and heat of a live sports broadcast. You know, we don't have any do overs and it's split second decision making and the in the connection between this and this has to be has to be really good. And and I see that in athletes, whether it's drivers, you know, do I make a move to I break a little bit deeper here. Do I go in? Do I hit him just a little bit? Do I do this? Or track and field? Do I kick you know, I might it's on the last lap. I'm on the last lap. I've got 300 meters to go do I kick now. But why wait till 150 to kick that split second decision making to me is fascinating. And that's what really gets me going. And it's the competition as a as a trained PE teacher and a kid who wanted to play and do everything when I was younger. I just love that element. Now not a crazed competitor, like my good mates Ricky Carmichael, Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe who, you know, fight to the death over anything. I'm not that bad, but I love the competition. Right? Julia Landauer 24:13 I had never thought about that parallel specifically of you know, in the moment, you have to make a split second decision as an athlete or broadcaster and then have that immediate reaction or adjustment or, Oh, I got chills. That was really, really cool. Do you think that when you're talking about that moment, do you feel that there's a different way to build up that excitement or to that that moment is experienced if it's a short sprint type of sport versus a longer endurance? Leigh Diffey 24:47 Well, that's a really good question. And if it's okay, there's two answers and two legitimate answers with a with a sprint race. So say for instance, during this football season, and you heard a lot of my voice NBC used a lot of my voice on promos for Sha'Carri Richardson, the 100 meter World Women's World Champion. You know I work with Ato Bolden the Olympic legend Sonya Richards Ross our track and field team is amazing. But on the on the short Sprint's I work with that I Bolden who's a two, four time Olympic medalist to Silver's to bronze. And so what will happen is before the race out, oh, and I do a lot of like back and forth given go here's Julia Landauer, here's Leigh Diffey here. And you give a little background as you're going through the lane IDs like that. But once the gun goes off, you know, always pause, we want to hear the gun, and then I'm into it. And it's you know, 10 seconds, 11 seconds, man less than 10 seconds, it's over and done with boom. And so you've done a bit of that story set up there. And then it comes to that to that peak. And that natural crescendo of course at the finish with a NASCAR race or an IndyCar race or 24 hours. That's a ton of the Rolex 24 at daytona. It's more like a golf tournament where you've got that rolling story for a lot longer. But you've got to take the pieces of that story, retell it remind people, maybe people weren't with you, for the first half of the broadcast, or whatever people tune in and tune out, you got to go back and you got to gather up all those pieces, which there are more pieces than there were in the women's 100 meter World Final. Gotta gather all those pieces up and bring it back and still bring it to a crescendo. But it might not be as as crazy as calling a 100 meter final but too great, too exciting finishes two ways to tell a story, but just two different ways. Julia Landauer 26:36 Yeah, no, thank you for walking through that. Because having absolutely no broadcast experience a question that I had was, in longer races or events? Do you instinctively know when to talk and when to let it be silent? And is that different in different sports? Or is just kind of gut feeling? Or do you have someone telling you all right, is there any like producer in the booth who's guiding as well? Leigh Diffey 27:00 Well, we don't have a producer in the booth per se, our producer so on out when our sets on, right? You can talk to that you talk to the truck. And then these days, there's quite a bit of and it's not just on NBC, it's across all networks. There's quite a bit of remote production. So say for instance, when we did the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship is a NASCAR owned property, and the production comes out even though airs on NBC. It is produced out of NASCAR productions in Charlotte, North Carolina or Concord, North Carolina. And so our entire so the collaboration of NBC people and NASCAR production stuff, they're in North Carolina, myself Calvin fish Townsend Bell. James Hinchcliffe Well, Hinch was driving but you know, everybody, Jeff Bird, Steve Letarte weather there this year, everybody is on site at Daytona. So when we're talking when we're hitting the button and talking to our producer, they're, they're up in North Carolina, but to your point, we it's a blend, everybody has the job to do. And then everybody it has to come together. It's like a symphony, you know, the producer is the conductor and everybody's got to come together all those musical instruments got to come together. So it sounds good. Sometimes they'll say layout. Layout means Zip-it, right, let's have a listen to the cars. Or they'll say although they'll say layout, Marty Snyder's coming in or whatever that it's like there's given go, push and pull. The director has taken care of the pictures, the producer takes care of the storylines. And but for as long as all of us have been doing it, we know it as well. And if we're talking a little bit too much, we certainly hear about it from the boss. So so it's kind of the answer is all of the above. Julia Landauer 28:46 Yeah. And that makes sense. And is it tough to be talking and then hearing something in your ear getting that feedback if there is that overlap? Leigh Diffey 28:58 For me, it's not because I've been doing it for so long, but I do see when when new people come into the booth or whatever, you can tell it, it jolts them because they're like, you have to almost just let it soak in. And it's finally time that you get that gets you used to it, you know, because you can hear it. And as you're delivering it, you got to you know, you got to focus to get your words out. Meanwhile, this is coming in and somehow it's absorbing it. And then I'll finish my sentence since when will say and Julie has more. And I don't even I don't even remember half the time. They say Julie's up next, whatever. It just goes in and we spit it out, you know? Yeah. Sometimes Sometimes you forget to be honest. Sometimes you do forget, like that might be saying, you know, I'm thinking in my head. Is it Marty Snider or Kevin Lee? Can't remember. So I hit the talkback. Who isn't it? They'll be like Kevin. All right. Here's Kevin Lee, you know, yeah. And you do that because you can't take it all in but contrary to what people people think, which we get told this all the time. People think that during a an IndyCar race, or the Rolex 24, or something that goes on for hours and hours and hours, that we're reading a script. I just want to let it just want to let everybody know, there is no script for a live event. Yeah, happening. It, we're seeing it when you're seeing it. So there is no script. So we're not reading a script. And also, the producer can't speak that fast. And we can't take it in that fast that the producer is telling us what to say. So that's what we get paid for as commentators. Julia Landauer 30:30 Yeah. Which honestly brings up kind of another even parallel between racers and broadcasters is this idea that you will have someone like unprompted talking in your ear. For us, it's the spotters or you know, the team, whoever and you have, you can't let that mess you up. And I know like, you know, talking, you have to talk with your spotter to make sure like, Hey, okay, it's going to distract me. If you talk in the middle of the turn, try to keep it on the straightaways or something like that. But if you need to get information, like you have to be ready to not get distracted, so Oh, so many parallels? And how a lot of parallels. Yeah, that is so cool. We're gonna take one more quick break, but then we'll be right back with Lee. We are back with me on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. I want to dive in a little more into the prep for broadcasting and kind of twofold. One, when you get told, okay, we want you to comment on track and field. If you had not watched that sport before or been intimately familiar with it, what is that kind of research and onboarding into being knowledgeable about a sport look like? Leigh Diffey 31:43 I'm fanatical about watching tape, as they say. So I will go back and just make this up there. This they've called me in to do this particular track and field meet. And there's already been seven Track and Field meats this year, I will go back and watch all seven of those meats. And I will watch every event and I will log I will log it like note take, this is what happened in heat one of the women's 1500 heat to the 1500. It'll be like this person made this past. And so I'll have my own notes watching. going back and watching that. Or it could be simple as that event from the previous year, I'll go back and watch it and make really specific notes. Then you have our research department, which is just incredible at NBC Sports, especially the Olympic Research Department, and they gather everything possible. Now, that's great that they gather it, the hard part is we have you have to read it all you have to ingest it all you have to read it, soak it in, make your own notes off to the side. And you know, for good or for bad. It's kind of like taking in this much stuff to maybe use this much stuff. And but you have to do that. Because say for instance in in June, we have the US track and field, USA Olympic track and field team trials. There's lots of events because there's so many competitors, and you don't know who is going to make it or who isn't going to make it you've got your favorites for sure. But then there's surprises. So you have to you have to make sure that you've studied pretty much everybody. Because if somebody is a surprise winner, you better not be left short handed. Right? So you've got to have something to say on everybody. So trying to think of giving you a succinct answer. It's watching type it's reading the research department come up with it's it's additional stuff. Our team that I work with on track and field are incredible, because the majority of them are former athletes, they are Olympians, they will champions. They're incredible in the context that they have in the sport, we do have lots of production meetings. It's nobody's left behind, so to speak, like it's all in NBC makes it incredible for you to have. It's almost like Team Penske, if you wish that Roger Penske is gonna make sure his drivers have the best people and the best equipment. So you don't end the best testing and the best, you know, sim stuff and the best whatever. So that when it comes time to race, there's no excuses. You can't say, oh, I didn't have this or I didn't have that. And it's the same with NBC. They make sure you have everything you need. So it's up to you to do your homework, and then go and do your job. Julia Landauer 34:30 Yeah. So would the research department be responsible for giving you like technical elements of a sport so like, I'm thinking with track and field, I'm sure that there are technical ways that they land when they're running on their feet or like a certain I don't know well enough, that's more out. Leigh Diffey 34:49 That's more for our analysts. That's more for our experts. They will they will do certainly do rules, rules and regulations, historical statistics, and then Anything where they're really good is is controversial things and in track and field there's a lot of controversy because of athletes failing drug tests, etc. We've gone through the last few years the highly controversial topic of shoes, you know, super shoe with the carbon plates and the shoes and things like that. And so we're our research department is incredible is in the correct wording, correct phraseology and how to handle it, we have, sadly, and in the last 12 months, we've had some deaths in the sport, most notably Tori Bowie, and we all commentated on Tori. And, you know, some of the ladies I worked work with, competed with her. And you know, it's devastating. I've commentated on her. And so you have to handle that in the appropriate manner. And that's where our research department come in with historical contexts. real, a real skill at being appropriately, appropriately sensitive and the right words at the right time. And now, not always, are they fed to us? Like we as adults, you have to you have to do that. I mean, I've had to do it. So many times in motorsports, sadly, you know, commentating on career ending crashes, and sometimes life ending crashes. And and that has not been fun. And, and there's nobody telling you what to say, you're on, you're on. And you have to find the right words at the right time, as you're processing everything, and you're also human. Julia Landauer 36:38 And I would assume that there's some more interpersonal relationship that you develop with a lot of these athletes. And so do you. In those moments? Do you feel like you're able to console the family? I'm sure it's case by case. But do you feel like, like, kind of job aside, you're able to kind of be with the family or send condolences that way beyond just over the broadcast? Leigh Diffey 37:03 Yeah, I think I think you have to, I think it's in the words that you choose. The styling the family of comforting the family, rather, I think the words that you choose maybe the helpful ones, but sometimes, I mean, it's just difficult. I mean, I, I was in I was in the chair, when Justin Wilson you know, I vividly remember to this day saying and Wilson into the wall, and that was that was the crash that you know, that was when Justin passed away. David Hobbs, Steve Matchett, will Buxton and myself, we were on the air when, when Jules Bianchi was, you know, ultimately, he was killed in that moment. He was kept on life support for several weeks afterwards, but he was killed in Japan in that crash with the crane. You know, there's there's been numerous crashes, I was commentating for Robert Wickens at Pocono. And we were we were, you know, waiting for it was certainly more than an hour, maybe close to two hours where we didn't know if Robbie was Yeah, was with us or not. There's been many, many in bikes and cars, and it's really tough. And you just have to. That's why you forget the job it's human to human and you just because quite often to your point. The broadcast is the family's conduit to any news. Yeah, sometimes the family's there. But often they're not an extended family. They're relying on us to give them an update and a big burden of responsibility.nAnd you were a boy, there's nothing that there's nothing that that makes you find the right words at the right time, then something like that. Julia Landauer 38:40 Yeah. And it's, it's, I mean, it's so impressive, because like a lot of times words will just escape. And obviously, you're a professional and so words are what you do. But yeah, I mean, I remember I was in my college dorm as a sophomore when Dan Wheldon passed, and like that was the first and I've been racing since I was 10. And so that was the first race that I was watching live where there was this, this fatality. And I clearly remember feeling the emotion of the broadcast, or I don't remember if you were there or not, but reporting on that one. But you need that human connectivity almost in those moments. And it's a kudos to all the broadcasters that that have to do that. Switching gears a little bit still to that preparation work. Can we get a little granular about like the week of right, so let's say you're commentating on an IndyCar race or a let's do the 24 Hours of Daytona because they have all the buildup with the roar before the 24, all of that, but when you get to the like Monday, before the Saturday start of that race, what is the week look like or the prep or is it what does that look like? Leigh Diffey 39:50 Well, Prep has changed a lot because of these things. So once upon a time, once upon a time, you would get Press releases on a fax machine. And there was no social media and there was no internet and, and then now with social media, we probably people like you and me and sports people all over the world, you don't even think about how much you're absorbing on a daily basis, simply by the accounts that you follow. So there's that. But that's fun. We follow that for fun, but it's also very informative, whether it be team based news or driver based news and, and drivers and athletes. Totally. Because it's their own, they will stay a lot more than what they will in a press release, news conference or whatever it might be. So I mean, that's, that's an easy one. So so to hit that one up, then there's interviews that maybe the Governing Body arranges, so IMSA are very good about doing driver's zooms, and they'll do it by team so it might be okay. On Monday, the such and such whatever it's Vasser Sullivan Lexus, and they'll have all six of their drivers available to the media. So the media could you can do that. And that's good one on one time. Then.Outside of that, you've got your own personal relationships, simply calling team owners or calling drivers. We then have an IMSA and IMSA research team, which also do NASCAR, it's the same group of guys out of North Carolina who do NASCAR as well. And they do IMSA also, where they will provide it's more it's more statistically based information. But then it's it's all of the team and driver buyers. So you've got that to go through to make sure. For years, Calvin fish and Brian Taylor myself, we've been making our own books. So we will have a book about that thick, I'll go down the road to the local UPS store and I get it bound. And that's kind of like my Bible for the week. In there is historical statistics, all of the the teams, the bios, it's a page two pages per team, it's got everything on there that you need. It's got just anything and everything that I need for the week scheduling, you know, meetings, this, that and the other any any historical kind of notes that I need. And then it's time on the ground, which is the so that's all of the pre stuff. But once you get on on the ground at Daytona, then you hit the ground running and the garage area, the paddock is the beast, it's like a buffet of stories, right? So you're gonna get in there and try and get something from every team. And that's where again, it won't be in a press release won't be at a news conference, you'll find something out by the front tire changer or the refueler will tell you something then you get the to the drivers or the drivers wife or girlfriend or your you'll see one of the parents or whatever it might be the engineer will tell you something. And so you've just got to make sure you get all of those down. And you might never use it might you might because that team or that driver might be doing well and you'll be like hey, I've got a pretty good little one here. He's got a hole in one at LPGA. National earlier this week playing with his grandfather who'd never been to the Rolex 24 at Daytona you know, all those kind of a crazy little side stories. So the long way around the roundabout to question Julie is everything and anything at all goes into the hopper, and you got to know when to pull it out. So that's the granular is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, it's every bloody day. Yeah, it's it's as much as you can file into this. Julia Landauer 43:37 Yeah. Takes a lot of endurance and stamina. I'm sure. So do you have any pre broadcast rituals? Leigh Diffey 43:45 I will always wear the same clean but the same kind of socks. I was gonna I was gonna say I was gonna say I always wear the same kind of socks. I will always wear makes you feel better. I didn't think that you didn't wash your socks because I was dressing for anyone. My favorite I'll always wear black socks. I always and I always have to have like a Friday Saturday Sunday like my race weekend socks. And that goes for track and field or if I was doing golf it'd be Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday but always wear black socks and the socks does your at the moment are FootJoy SOCKS Okay with joy anklet socks because they're so comfortable. And so I think maybe that might be the only free broadcast routine or or significant yeah takes that takes planning that sucks I don't know No I don't I mean you know I make sure I make sure always before we go on air like always give give the guys like a fist pump or pat on the back and we always like get each other pumped up. Just we always wish wish each other a good show it's like a driver wishing you know the crew or the driver sign of the crew chief of the team. It was a good one. Like we always pump each other up. There's no here there's no there's no food, or meal or any any fun anything funny like that. That's I always I always wear the same always wear the same wrist things I have two things on my wrist and one of them is a is a hard like a hard bracelet and it says dream believe achieve. So I always have that on love that. I have I have a I do have one rebroadcast ritual or a broadcast ritual when I do the Indy 500. My dad passed away a long time ago and never got to see me call the Olympics or the Indy 500. And so I my dad had a favorite ring on his right hand. So I always wear if you have a if you ever take a close look at maybe the Indy 500, if I'm wearing if I'm holding the microphone in my right hand, I'll wear it and I never wear a ring on my right hand. I'll have a silver ring on my right hand. That's my dad's. I only wear it at the Indy 500. Julia Landauer 45:53 I gonna go back and look for that, because that's a really beautiful tribute. That's really nice. So last question, or no second last question before we get into if you're honest, but do you still get at all nervous or butterflies or certain genetic why in your gut before a broadcast, d Leigh Diffey 46:12 I don't get nervous at all, it's more performance based. You want to do a good job like you want to. So it's more getting revved up. It's not nervous. I love my job. So therefore that you know, I think you get on edge. And that that being on edge is different than nervous. I think if you don't have if you if you don't have a good comfort level in what you're doing, that would be nerves. Probably the last time probably the last time I can ever experience having some kind of nerves was a couple of years ago when we were doing the Winter Olympics. And we came straight off the back of the Super Bowl. And it was a new category of bobsled it was called mono Bob for women only. So it's the two person bobsled but one female athlete in there. And we were doing the final run. It was the fourth and final run. And Mike Tirico had finished NBC Sports had finished the Super Bowl. And Mike threw to me and we took it from there for the final 10 athletes. And And thank goodness, Team USA got gold and silver. And it was the only metals at the sliding center in the Beijing Games for team USA. And we had we knew it was going to be a big audience and attended turned out there was 30 million people for that half an hour commercial free. And I knew it was going to be a big audience. And so again, it wasn't nerves. But it was anxiousness to say, we've got to like, gotta do a good job for the network just got to do a job from the network. So that was the last time I can ever really remember like feeling a little bit anxious. But yeah, just to make sure it was good. And especially when it was funneling down to the team yet last team to Team USA sleds, and then the women ended up getting golden silver, which is just an awesome story. Julia Landauer 48:08 Totally. That's an interesting distinction, though that nervousness would imply feeling not like, quite there from a craft perspective or a training perspective. Whereas like the edge or, I think anxiety like a little bit of anxiousness or anxiety is one but I hadn't really thought about that distinction. Cuz I've always said if you're not a little nervous and you don't, or being a little nervous shows that you care, but I do like that specificity in that distinction. Well, yeah, I might, I might adopt that and moving forward. So last question for you before the rapid fire. Is there a sport that you have not yet been able to comment on that you would like to Leigh Diffey 48:50 as a kid I played this doesn't mean anything to the North American audience. Okay, maybe maybe maybe some of your viewers or is is AFL which is Aussi rules football. And so when the grand final happens, which is like the Super Bowl for Australian football, it's at the MCG, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. There's 110,000 people there It's massive. And I played AFL or played Aussi rules football as a kid. And no people involved love it still follow my favorite team, which is Carlton and I, it's a fast flowing game and I never ever I've had the opportunity to come and take that and it's probably a bit the opportunity or the the moment has moved on by. It's probably too late for that. But I always thought that I may have made a pretty decent 40 Commentator just because of the fast flowing nature of it. You know? I love it. I love the variety that I've had in my career. You know everything from golf to sailing to to all the motorsports stuff to track and play Well to rowing at the Rio Olympics, you know, NBC has been amazing to me to, to throw the range of, of, of opportunities my way. And to rugby you know, I've commentated collegiate rugby that world sevens too, you know, everything. So it's been a it's been a, it's been a really fun ride. Julia Landauer 50:19 Well, they know what they're doing. Because as we've talked about, you carry that natural enthusiasm and like are so so engaging to listen to. And I've, like, you know, from the whole, as long as I've seen you on TV, I have appreciated that. And so thank you, and you're clearly phenomenal at what you do. So keep it up because we love it. Leigh Diffey 50:38 Thank you. Julia Landauer 50:39 So jumping into the if you're honest, rapid fire, what is your favorite place that you've ever lived? Leigh Diffey 50:45 Favorite place I've ever lived, was on the beach in Sydney. Queenscliff Sydney lived on the head land. And instead of looking at the ocean coming towards you, my wife and I lived on the headlands on the rocky headland. So the waves came around this peninsula. So we would sit out on our balcony and watch the waves go left to right, so we'd sit out on the balcony, have a gin and have a gin and tonic on Sunset and have some little cheese and crackers between us and, and watch the waves go this way and the beach went all the way down that way down south to Manly. So that was on Sydney's Northern Beaches. It was spectacular. Julia Landauer 51:21 That sounds absolutely divine. And I don't think I've ever watched the waves go left to right. Leigh Diffey 51:27 Yeah, it's pretty. It's pretty different than you ever thought about the Julia Landauer 51:30 Yeah, that is so cool. What Summer Olympic sport are you most looking forward to watching this year? Leigh Diffey 51:36 The one that I'm working on track and field? Julia Landauer 51:38 There we go. There we go. Silly question. When you're watching sports for fun, do you note to yourself how the commentators are doing or not? Leigh Diffey 51:50 No, I don't I That, to me is not. It's not fair on them. If I if I, if I'm watching, I'm watching for the sport. I'm not listening to them. Because, you know, I know plenty of people do that to me. And, you know, I don't enjoy it. You know, like, there's enough critics out there, they don't care. They don't need me to be a critic as well. I love and I when I do any kind of media training or anything like that, and or I get asked by young broadcasters or young journalists or whatever, I encourage them to do what I do. And I want try and watch as many different sports as I can. Even if I don't really I'm not really into that sport. I like to watch it to hear how hear and see how they present it, and how they storytel. And there's something out there for all of us. Because, you know, if you get stuck in your groove, or stuck in a rut, that's not very appealing. Being inflexible, is not very appealing, we can learn, we can all learn from others about how you speak how you present how you you know, the rise and fall in your voice, the humor, the interaction with your on air colleagues, the interaction with the athletes, interviewing techniques, sending receiving, there's so much to be learned. And I just think everybody, you know, there's a there's an old song from a British band called Groove Armada. And one of the lyrics says if everybody looked the same, we'd be tired of looking at each other. Right? So differences, the key. And so just to see what people are doing on NBA at the moment to see what golf the golf teams are doing, whether it's on NBC Sports on the Golf Channel, or it's on CBS, you know, watch the Masters couple of weekends ago to watching you know, football, we will watch football, whatever it might be. I just love listening to see how they're doing it. You know, it's not up to me to grade them. Julia Landauer 53:47 That's a really fantastic perspective. Last if you're honest, what is something that you're grateful for right now? Leigh Diffey 53:55 My family. My wife and I have two terrific boys. They're 15 and 13. They have they've always been very open minded with everything from travel to food to meeting people. And we just took them they had their spring break and they came to Foxborough in Massachusetts to Monster Energy Supercross with me and then we took them straight out to the West Coast for Long Beach for the MC IndyCar doubleheader. And, you know, they got to meet everybody. One weekend. They're hanging out with Ricky Carmichael. The next weekend. They're meeting Mario Andretti. And they met a bunch of different people. They went into the Ganassi hole or met Scott Dixon on the weekend that he had that most improbable victory. So I'm most thankful, most grateful for my family because as a dad and a husband, I'm away a lot. And there's they're super understanding my wife and kids are super understanding to, for me to be a traveling working dad. And you know, I just make sure that when I'm home, I'm present. I'm here, because I know that I'm going to be gone, you know, in the next few days to come Wherever it is next, so I'm very grateful for my family. Julia Landauer 55:03 Yeah, that's great. And I'm sure that they see your enthusiasm for what you're doing and what I assume would be enthusiasm for life as well. And that's got to be infectious and inspiring and kind of makes it all worthwhile. So, yeah, thank you for sharing that. Also. I got to meet Scott Dixon at the ESPYs one year, just like oh my gosh, look for meeting racing royalty. That is so cool. So humble hero, he is a goodness Yeah, so much sounds like people you realize who is sitting right there like it was incredible. I know that racing is not the most watched sport everywhere compared to like NBA and stuff. But ya know, it was really incredible just to see his presence in that moment. And now that we have manifested you commentating on the AFL, I hope that that's in your future. That's amazing. So Leigh, where can people find you online? If they would like to follow you and you're more from Leigh Diffey 55:58 just simply on Twitter and on Instagram @LeighDiffey. And it's spelt like a girl L E I G H. At L e IG H di FF E Y, Julia Landauer 56:09 I had never thought about the gendered spelling of Leigh but you know what? I know I went to middle school with a girl who spelled her name Lee. Leigh Diffey 56:21 Yeah, I asked my parents the same and they said, well, it didn't matter if you were gonna be a boy or girl. It's you can use it both ways. And I'm like, Yeah, okay, no worries. Well, I'm still when I check in the hotels or whatever it says welcome is lead if I get I get mail, get mail it says Miss or Mrs. Leigh Diffey. So I'm used to it by now, when I was a kid. Here's a story that Dario Franchitti and Allan McNish, and those guys just love isn't that and I think Calvin fish told them this. So they always bring it up when I was a kid. I think it was 10 years old and out in Australia and I want to I want to competition I want to bicycle and based on the spelling of my name, they sent me a girl's bike. Julia Landauer 57:05 No way Hey, character building, right? Leigh Diffey 57:07 Hey, this is called if it's if I'm honest. So I was just honest and told you that story. Julia Landauer 57:11 I love that you leaned into the theme of this podcast. Thank you so much. Leigh spelled l e IG H but not girls Lee. This was incredible. Thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate your insights into everything that we discussed. Everyone. That is our show. Thank you so much. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend. And as always, thank you for letting us be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.