Kyle Tait is an audiobook narrator in Atlanta with over 50 books to his credit, as well as a sports broadcaster for Texas Christian University football and basketball. The Snellville native got his start in voice performance calling baseball games as a student at Georgia Tech. He went on to spend six seasons calling games in the Atlanta Braves minor league system before transitioning to audiobooks full-time.
In this installment of “Getting to Know…”, Tait talks to staff correspondent Sammy Clough about his origins in voice performance, his broadcasting heroes and his thoughts on analytics in baseball.
SC: Have you always been into baseball?
KT: Yeah. I was a huge fan growing up. My grandpa and my dad were both huge baseball fans. I grew up here in Atlanta, moved here when I was 11. So I obviously watched the Braves a lot in their heyday in the ’90s
I went to Georgia Tech and called their baseball games for four years and then I did six years in the Braves organization right after I graduated.
SC: When did you start doing voice performance?
KT: Radio for me started when I was a sophomore in college. I started working at the student radio station at Georgia Tech. The student radio station at Tech, WREK, covers all the baseball games and students do the play-by-play. So it was a huge opportunity for someone like me, even though Tech doesn’t have a broadcasting program, to hop in and get a ton of experience.
I had no idea that I wanted to get into radio, but started doing the games at Georgia Tech and thought, “This is fun!” I really enjoyed doing it and I loved the travel and it was just a new avenue that I had never explored before.
I started focusing my sophomore year on trying to get into minor league baseball. I ended up getting really lucky and knowing the right people and got the job in the Braves organization right after I graduated.
I started with the Braves in 2011, and the job was a seasonal position, so in the offseason I was kind of on my own to fend for myself and figure out how to make ends meet until the next Opening Day.
In 2014, I started recording audiobooks. I started working with some independent authors and eventually set up a little home studio and it really started taking off for me, and in 2016 is when I decided to leave baseball and get into voiceover full-time and just do some sports stuff on the side.
SC: When did you find out you had a good voice?
KT: I don’t know. I guess people told me through college as I was calling games for radio. I don’t really know, it’s a hard question to answer.
As I started doing voice over, the first couple of books that I did, they all told me that I had a natural delivery and so I guess I kind of believed them. I was getting hired to do the job so obviously they liked something about it. I guess after I did 15 to 20 books and kept getting hired to do audiobooks by various publishers and different authors, it just kind of made sense and I thought, “Oh, I guess this could be a lucrative path for me.”
It’s so much more than just a good voice, too. In both broadcasting and in audiobooks. There’s a ton of research.
SC: What would you say your favorite sport to call is?
KT: Baseball has always been my first love and it still is my favorite. There is just something about the game. It lends itself well to telling stories. That is what I love to do, both in radio play-by-play and in audiobooks, I love telling stories.
I’ve really enjoyed doing the college football and the college basketball work that I still do right now. I do the pre, post and halftime shows for TCU football and basketball on their radio network.
I actually do that remotely from my house. I pipe into our national studios from my home studio here in Atlanta and hook up with the guys that are in Fort Worth. They do the play-by-play and toss it back to me for scoreboard updates and highlights.
SC: Who are some broadcasters that you admire?
KT: Obviously being from Atlanta, Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren. I listened to those guys growing up. I think anybody who goes into broadcasting from this area will say the same thing.
On top of that, I listened to a lot of Vin Scully when he was still working for the (Los Angeles) Dodgers.
Another one was Jon Miller for the (San Francisco) Giants. A lot of the times when I was in minor league baseball, we would wrap up our games in Mississippi at 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. and the Giants would be in the fourth or fifth inning. So I would flip on the game and listen to Jon Miller and Dave Flemming. I think those two are the best broadcasting team in baseball today.
SC: Do you have a dream game to broadcast or book to voice over?
KT: Even though my life has taken a left turn out of sports broadcasting full-time, I still would love to call a Major League Baseball game.
In terms of books, it seems like every month I get sent a new book that is an incredible opportunity and I think, “Oh my gosh, this book is right up my alley!”
SC: You just narrated a book about shifting in baseball?
KT: Yeah I did, it is called “The Shift: The Next Evolution in Baseball Thinking” by a guy that is local here to Atlanta named Russell Carlton. It wasn’t just about the defensive shift on the infield, it was a double-entendre where it was also about the shift in thinking about baseball toward a statistically driven game. He went really in-depth, but put it in layman’s terms on how the game of baseball is changing and becoming sabermetrically driven.
SC: How do you feel about baseball being driven by analytics?
KT: Being as young as I am (31 years old), and being a Georgia Tech graduate, I am definitely a statistics driven guy. So I love it. That book was another dream book of mine, and I thought it was right up my alley when they sent it to me.
I’m a stats geek. I started out as a math major at Georgia Tech and ultimately got my degree in business management, so numbers have always made sense to me. I have loved being able to intertwine those numbers into whatever story it is that I am telling.
I think it’s amazing and I love seeing how teams are on the cutting edge, diving in and trying to find new ways to combine stats and scouting, the new way with the old way, to create a winner.
I think the Braves have done a great job with that over the last couple of years.
SC: What’s the hardest thing you have had to pronounce?
KT: There are certain words in books where every time they come up I kind of groan. They just do not seem to fit. One of them is “linoleum.” I can say it perfectly fine to you right now. I can say “linoleum” left and right in a conversation. But for whatever reason, when it comes up in an audiobook, I cannot say the word “linoleum” to save my teeth. That word drives me crazy.SC: If you were the commissioner over all the major North American sports, what would you change?
KT: I would go with a robotic strike zone.
KT: Yeah, I know that blows a lot of people’s minds because I consider myself a baseball purist. But I would definitely go with a robotic strike zone in baseball.
Nowadays, with how home run happy Major League Baseball is, the strike zone continues to shrink and shrink. There are a lot of pitches that now are called balls that are very hittable for someone who goes up to the plate and knows how to hit. But because the game is so home run happy, they only call strikes that somebody can jack out of the yard.
SC: That is a pretty big change.
KT: Let me clarify, that is not to say I want to get rid of umpires. I think umpires have a necessary part of the game. I think there should still be someone behind the plate that is making the calls, but maybe they have a Bluetooth piece in their ear that relays if the robotic strike zone thinks it is a strike or a ball.