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Produced by Almaden Valley Rotary Club


Interview with Robert Braunstein in 2004 by Errol Canivel

Dedication Keeps Braunstein Coming Back to Youth Classic and Prep Sports

What does the host of the Bay Area’s top high school sports show do when prep stars are on summer vacation? One thing producer and host of "Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area" Robert Braunstein will do is the same thing he’s been doing the past 14 summers. Robert will take part in the 30th Annual Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Football Game, also known as the Silicon Valley Youth Classic, on July 21 at 7:30 p.m. at San Jose City College, sponsored by the Almaden Valley Rotary Club. Braunstein has been the public address announcer for the past 12 years and has been involved with the event for the past 14 years.

"I have always enjoyed being involved in this all-star football game," said Braunstein. "It’s great to see the players in their last game before they go off to college. Last year’s 27-25 South win was really exciting. This year’s game has some outstanding players. I am really looking forward to seeing a hard-fought, competitive battle this year."

Although coverage of one of the premier summer prep all-star events may already be on the show’s agenda, Braunstein has a personal interest in the event that goes far beyond it simply being a high school all-star game. He has been a close friend of Charlie Wedemeyer for over 20 years. Since its inception 30 years ago, the event has raised thousands of dollars for the Charlie Wedemeyer Foundation and other local charities.

In addition to being born and raised in San Jose, Braunstein is a graduate of Leland High School. This year’s event will be dedicated to the memory of national hero, Leland graduate, and friend Pat Tillman, who played in the all-star game in 10 years ago.

"Pat Tillman was the most dominant football player of his era," recalls Braunstein. "He played running back and a safety-linebacker-rover position and played it extremely well. However, the thing that stood out most about Pat was his class. He was so humble and gracious and would always stop by and say hello. He would even come back to Leland and watch the games."

One player Braunstein is interested in seeing at this year’s game is St. Francis running back/linebacker Will Taufoou. He was the 2003 West Catholic Athletic League MVP and helped St. Francis reach the Central Coast Section Division I final. Taufoou was effective on both sides of the ball, recording team-highs in tackles with 85 on defense and 1,108 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on offense. Taufoou is bound for UC Berkeley in the fall.

"Will was equally dominant on offense and defense," stated Braunstein. "He was the best player on one of the best teams in the area. He is a strong kid that can fight through any block and is a tough guy to take down."

Another player to watch is Dan Bates from Los Gatos. He was the SCVAL De Anza Division co-MVP, and a three-time Cal Hi Sports Offensive Player award winner. He earned honors on the All Mercury News First Team, the All SCVAL First Team, and the All Metro Second Team. He was an unstoppable force in 2003, gaining 2,392 yards rushing and led the CCS with 30 touchdowns on 293 carries. He will start his college career at Foothill College.

"Dan is another player that ran right through his league," said Braunstein. "He was the workhorse for Los Gatos. Number thirty-three pounded opponents, using his size and speed to bust through defenses. Teams knew where the ball was going, but they still could not stop him."

Braunstein is a San Jose State University graduate, majoring in Radio, Television, and Film, and earned a master’s degree from the prestigious University of Missouri journalism school. Shortly after graduating, Braunstein began his sports journalism career as the sports director for television station KGNS in Laredo, Texas.

Braunstein returned to the Bay Area 18 months later after he was hired by San Jose-based station KICU as a part of their nightly newscast where he spent the next 18 years. It was there where he developed the show "High School Sports Focus" for Channel 36 that combined his two passions—sports and television production. Braunstein left the station in August of 2001.

Braunstein was determined to keep his idea alive and formed Annabelle Productions Inc to produce his continuing of his passion—"Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area." He turned a room in his home into a all-digital production area for his new show, based on the same formula of "High School Sports Focus." The show was picked up by ABC affiliate KGO in San Francisco in October of 2001 and aired there for 19 weeks. The following summer, the show moved to KRON, also based in San Francisco, and airs on Fox Sports Net throughout the Bay Area.

"From my experience in Texas, high school sports was a such a big deal there. I believed that a high school sports show would work in the Bay Area, if you did it big enough," says Braunstein. "High school sports is a happening, it should be covered, and I wanted to put a show together that captured prep sports in a larger spectrum."

Braunstein is involved in every aspect of producing "Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area" the show. On the production side, he writes scripts, shoots video, edits the footage, and hosts the program. He is also the primary advertising salesman for the show and sells all commercial time aired on the show. Importantly, Braunstein is in charge of gaining and retaining sponsorship for the show, which occupies most of his time in the off season.

Fans can hear the voice of the man devoted to bringing prep sports to the forefront send these players off in their final high school game. Look for Robert Braunstein in the press box, announcing the all-stars for the final time at the 30th Annual Charlie Wedemeyer High School All Star Football Game before they enter the grand stage of college football.