Biko Skalla and the rise of the Savannah Bananas Biko Skalla and the rise of the Savannah Bananas

NATS: Biko Skalla Broadcast Sample

Alex Remoll: Biko Skalla is not your everyday Baseball broadcaster. Most broadcasters either do play-by-play or color, but Skalla does neither. He’s something called a broadcast entertainer.

Biko: “As far as I know, I’m the only broadcast entertainer in the country because no one else has thought to create a bizarre sounding position like that.”

Alex Remoll: Such a unique job could only be given out by a unique employer. Skalla works for the Savannah Bananas, which started out as a normal college summer baseball team. But now, they blur the lines between sport and circus.

Biko: “If I were to, like, throw percentages around, I mean, I would give it, like, sixty-five point two percent sport and thirty-four point eight percent entertainment.”

Alex Remoll: The Savannah Bananas are unlike any baseball team the World has ever seen. While a traditional baseball game is a relaxing, slow-paced experience, the Bananas throw all of that away to create an engaging fan-first environment.

Alex Remoll: Whether it’s dancing grandmothers, lighting bats on fire, or pitchers on stilts, the Bananas never seem to run out of new and creative ways to get the fans excited to be in such an electric atmosphere.

With such an interesting in-person experience, why should people tune into a broadcast?

Biko “It is two-fold, one, it is really hard to get tickets.So this is the next best thing, and two, we do add some value here and there in that you are going to learn a bajillion more things about all the players than you ever would being there in person. Um, you know there is some broadcast exclusive content we are talking about players of the night, and highlighting some guys backstories as well for video content.”

Andrew Welliver: Skalla graduated from Syracuse University in 2018 with a degree in broadcast journalism and a desire to be an announcer. After graduation, he started on the production side with MLB Network, but he felt like something was missing.

Biko: “Loved it, but really wanted to get back in the stadium you know? I was getting paid to watch 150 Yankee games a year but really wanted to be at the games in person, so I started shopping around a little bit through the sportscasters talent agency of America. I saw the opening for the Bananas, which was unlike anything I had seen in the other 100 of openings for broadcasting”

Andrew Welliver: Little did Skalla know that his return to the stadium would bring a unique set of challenges. The Savannah Bananas demanded a different skill set than any job he’d done before.

Biko: “What they wanted was a play-by-play broadcaster with traditional skill and experience like I had going to Syracuse, and doing a couple summers in the Collegiate Baseball league for the Saugertie Stallions, and they also wanted kinda the ultimate fan. So you also have to be able to throw away some of the big J journalistic tendencies that you may have acquired throughout school and the World of broadcasting and be the ultimate fan. It’s like they want the most knowledgeable, skilled broadcasting fan of all time to kinda give the audience the feel like they are watching the game with me right on the couch next to them, and I just happen to know every minute detail of these players and yada yada.”

Andrew Welliver: Biko has worked with the Bananas for three years now. Skalla loves being involved with an organization that means so much to future generations of baseball fans.

Biko:”The coolest thing everywhere we go, is the kids. Like the kids love this thing, they eat,breathe and sleep it. They are so excited, it’s like the Beatles come to town when we see the way they react to our players.”

Jared Marcus: Now it’s Central New York’s turn to enjoy Bananaball. The Bananas come to NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse in September, the second to last destination of their 70 game tour. It ends in Cooperstown, not far from Skalla’s native Saugerties. Skalla believes that the Bananas trip to Syracuse can boost baseball interest in CNY.

Biko: “But I feel like there’s a hunger for that baseball in Central New York. And, um, I mean, you’ve got the AAA team feeding the New York Mets right there and, and like you said, the ballpark is beautiful and, and there’s so many cool things in Syracuse. So, like, the region is amazing. I feel like um you know, NBT Bank will be big ‘ol sold out. So it’s, it’s gonna be an, uh, an insane atmosphere there. Uh I hope that that can kind of, you know, inject a little juice into the baseball scene um in of, of Onondaga County.”

Jared Marcus: Skalla is excited to bring such a unique experience back to the area of the country where he grew up and learned to love the sport of Baseball.

Biko: “I’m so fired up to be back in the Salt City and to be bringing the joy and fun of the bananas with me. Um and, and to get to see so many familiar faces and, and then finish up at Cooperstown. It’s pretty wild.”

Jared Marcus: For Alex Remoll and Andrew Welliver, I’m Jared Marcus, NCC News.

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