Earl Austin puts the ‘prep’ in prep sports

If writing and preparation are the foundations of a media career, Earl Austin has built on bedrock.

Photo by Brett McMillan
St. Louis University men’s basketball broadcaster Earl Austin speaks to students at Lindenwood Nov. 12. Austin graduated from LU in 1986. He is the school’s all-time men’s basketball leading scorer.

Austin, a 25 year member of the St. Louis sports media, graduated from Lindenwood University in 1986. He was involved with student media at LU, but has been writing about sports since grade school. It began with writing the line-ups of his favorite teams in notebooks during class.

His teachers would sometimes take the notebook away. He would start a new one.

Today Austin still passes spare time by writing line-ups in a spare notebook. Although, free time has become scarce. Austin, is a writer making his way in the age of new media.

“There are so many things you can do,” Austin said. “You don’t have to be radio, you don’t have to be newspaper, you don’t have to be television [or] blog. You can be all of them.”

After graduating college, Austin began stringing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He covered mostly high school sports, and impressed other media members with his St. Louis prep sports knowledge.

He earned respect with his ability to preview a cross country meet the same way he could break down the state football championship.

He covers more than high school sports now, but he still runs a website dedicated to St. Louis basketball, specifically high school basketball. Earlaustinjr.com has a few advertisers, but Austin said it is a labor of love.

Covering high school sports provided Austin with his favorite memory as a media member, covering Chaminade [St. Louis, Mo.] College Prep boy’s basketball star Bradley Beal.

Beal played one year at the University of Florida, and then, in June 2012, was drafted by the NBA’s Washington Wizards.

“The Brad Beal phenomenon was something else, because Brad took it to an international level,” Austin said. “He brought ESPN to Lindenwood for a national television game against McCluer North [High School], my alma matter. Amazing, ESPN coming to St. Louis for basketball, unheard of.”

For the past 22 years, Austin has been participating in another labor of love, serving as the radio color commentator for St. Louis University men’s basketball.

All 22 years he has been working with play-by-play man, and fellow Lindenwood alumnus, Bob Ramsey.

“We’re not just two guys showing up on the microphone to collect a paycheck,” Austin said. “We love the Billikens, and we want to see the Billikens perform, and get their just due, and win games and everything.”

In addition to his duties with SLU, Austin also does a weekly high school sports television show, and is the sports editor for the St. Louis American.

The American has not been Austin’s only outlet as a writer. He has written three books. His most famous,You Might Need A Jacket was born from post-game dinner conversations Austin had with other members of the high school sports community.

“We would get to talking, not so much about the games themselves, but some of the behavior,” Austin said. “We got to talking about, ‘Did you hear what Mrs. so-and-so said, or Mr. so-and-so, how he acted? He went after the referee after the game, or so-and-so went after the coach.’ The stories just kept mounting up.”

After collecting 200 stories, Austin was encouraged to put them together.

Those stories are a sample of all Austin’s experiences in St. Louis. He said he has never given serious consideration to working elsewhere.

“I’ve always enjoyed St. Louis. I didn’t move here until I was 15. It is home to me, and I just have my roots here,” Austin said.

“Now, I’ve got young relatives coming through the ranks here getting into the high school sports scene. Following them and working with them is a lot of fun. It has been fun for 25 years.”

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About brettmcmillan

Believer. Broadcaster. Story Teller.

Posted on November 14, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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