Alex Burstein truly is talking the talk

The self-made broadcaster has widened the reach of three sports at Lane.

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Lane senior Alex Burstein does an online play-by-play broadcast of a Champions baseball game last week.

Allen Cunningham/Sun-Times

Alex Burstein has loved sports his whole life. But early on, the Lane senior accepted that his future wasn’t in playing them.

“Around fifth or sixth grade, I realized I wasn’t super good,” he said. “[But] I knew I wanted to stay involved.”

So, around that time, he started a podcast about all things sports in Chicago and beyond.

A few years later, he arrived at Lane as a freshman and pitched the idea of broadcasting the school’s football, boys basketball and baseball games. He got the go-ahead, and the rest is history.

While there are other local high schools with accomplished student broadcast teams, it’s probably safe to say none are as polished as Burstein. Part of it is that most student-led broadcasts are team productions with a play-by-play announcer, a color commentator and maybe an engineer.

Burstein is almost always a one-man show, broadcasting solo and running the board himself. A rare exception was during the Champions’ postseason run in baseball last year. Coach Sean Freeman assigned a pitcher not scheduled to throw that day to be a color man for Burstein.

“It’s definitely difficult, [but] I’ve done it enough that it kind of becomes natural,” Burstein said of doing solo broadcasts,

Oddly, the pandemic was a career boost. Burstein gained a bigger following when prep sports returned with attendance limited mostly to parents.

Freeman is a Burstein fan.

“He’s been a huge addition, in my eyes, to our program,” Freeman said. “He’s a once-in-a-generation guy.”

Burstein reached out to Freeman about broadcasting baseball games toward the end of basketball season his freshman year.

“I did some scouting, I listened to a couple of his basketball [broadcasts and thought], ‘Oh, yeah, we’re definitely doing this,’ ” Freeman said.

Burstein, who did just audio broadcasts as a freshman, added video for his sophomore year, and his work has helped Lane’s far-flung alumni keep up to date on the sports teams.

“It’s allowed us to have people from all over the country watch our games,” Freeman said.

Burstein gained some international experience last summer when he was selected to be part of the broadcast crew for the World Maccabiah Games, an Olympics-style event for Jewish athletes, held every four years. He was one of two high schoolers on the student media crew, which otherwise was made up of college broadcasters. He produced video and wrote stories on a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball and futsal. It was invaluable experience for someone who is heading to Syracuse’s highly regarded broadcast school this fall.

Burstein enjoys going from season to season, sport to sport. Does he like one more than the others?

“Baseball on the radio is my favorite thing,” he said. “[Cubs play-by-play man] Pat Hughes is one of my idols.”

A career goal is to get a job that allows him to call multiple sports, much as broadcaster Adam Amin does for the Bulls, MLB and the NFL. Burstein knows that will take work and maybe a little luck, but he’s willing to put in the time.

“Every single broadcast, you get a little better,” he said.

One of the happier parts of his journey has been the encouragement he has received along the way.

“It’s a very competitive industry,” Burstein said. “But it’s really supportive.”

When you’re flying solo on the air most of the time, that’s a nice feeling.

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