WAERs Adam Chez 02, left, Adam Kuperstein 02,
Andy Jones 02, and Howard Chen 02 broadcast
an SU basketball game from courtside in the Carrier Dome.
upon a time, “sportscasting” referred to not much more than coverage
of the hometown teams, a “big game” on the weekend, and the daily
roundups that came with the local news. Over the last two decades,
however, the proliferation of cable television, along with the rebirth
of AM radio as a “talk” medium, has transformed sports broadcasting
into a 24/7 communications business whose audience just can’t get
enough. Media companies of every size—from national TV networks
to small-town radio stations—are caught up in the sports infotainment
boom, putting them on the lookout for play-by-play announcers, color
commentators, sports anchors, talkjocks, and production personnel.
To a remarkable degree they’re finding that talent at Syracuse University.
Syracuse has gained a unique national reputation for the quality—and
quantity—of outstanding sportscasters it has educated over the years.
For decades the University has attracted students who are passionately
driven to the vocation, despite the fact that no major or special
program in “sports journalism” is offered. “We think the training
we provide in broadcast journalism is precisely what any would-be
professional sportscaster needs,” says Dean David Rubin of the S.I.
Newhouse School of Public Communications. “If you are a good reporter,
you can be a good sports reporter. Our outstanding broadcast journalism
curriculum, arguably the best in the nation,
and several elective courses we offer in sports journalism have
produced results that speak for themselves.”
of athletic communications
Some of SUs most prominent alumni sportscasters gathered
at Lubin House in New York City in 1999. Among those in
attendance were (front row, from left): Len Berman 68,
G70, Sean McDonough 84, Mike Tirico 88,
Ian Eagle 90, (back row, from left) Marty Glickman
39 (now deceased), Hank Greenwald 57, Dave Pasch
94, Andy Musser 59, and Marv Albert 63.
supporting Rubin’s position is, quite literally, all over the dial.
An informal—and certainly incomplete—survey yielded a list of approximately
100 Syracuse alumni occupying positions in every aspect of the profession
on both radio and TV. They include play-by-play announcers in the
professional leagues (e.g. Ian Eagle ’90, New Jersey Nets) and the
colleges (Bill Roth ’87, Virginia Tech), station sports directors
(Len Berman ’68, G’70, WNBC-New York), desk anchors (Brent Skarky
’97, KOCO-Oklahoma City) and call-up radio hosts (Mitch Levy ’89,
KJR-Seattle). Some have stayed close to campus (Kevin Maher ’97
of WTVH-Syracuse); others have gone far afield (Steve Moore ’89,
Sports News TV-Singapore). Jeff Neubarth ’97 produces events for
the USA cable TV network; Seth Everett ’96 does baseball via satellite
subscription radio for Major League Baseball.
Hank Greenwald 57 spent many years in the broadcast
booth calling games for the San Francisco Giants.
Bolt ’89, G’95, news director at WAER, has been with the campus
radio station since 1995. Each fall he is swamped with student applications
for a limited number of openings in the sports department. “I see
three factors that have made Syracuse an important breeding ground
for sports broadcasting,” he says. “First, there’s lineage. No other
school has produced as many greats in the field, and all those famous
names bring people here from all over the country. Then there’s
the program itself. While students get top-flight academic training
at the Newhouse School, they receive a realistic, hands-on, industry-oriented
experience at WAER. Both Newhouse and WAER have become ‘brands’
that employers know they can depend on. Finally, there are the unequaled
opportunities to cover big-time college sports.”
Rubin agrees. “We have been particularly fortunate that the athletics
department has permitted WAER the right to broadcast SU’s football,
basketball, and lacrosse games in competition with the commercial
stations that carry them. They didn’t have to do that; most schools
don’t. But as a result, our students get chances to broadcast college
athletics at the highest level. No Ivy League school can give you
the opportunity to broadcast a Final Four NCAA basketball game or
a major football bowl game. We can, and we do.”
ESPN sportscaster Mike Tirico 88 meets with a Newhouse
class last semester.
on the Radio? Impossible!
Marty Glickman 39
Award- winning broadcaster Bob Costas ’74 credits the late
Marty Glickman ’39 with “laying out the geography of the basketball
court” for succeeding generations of sportscasters. Indeed,
Glickman was at the mike for the very first basketball game
ever to be broadcast, a 1943 all-star benefit for the Red
Cross war effort.
In a 1998 interview at Lubin House for the Newhouse School’s
oral history collections, which are housed at Bird Library,
Glickman explained that it had previously been believed that
basketball was too quick and complicated a sport to be broadcast.
Glickman, however, said he overcame those problems with a
combination of schoolyard slang and his own original terms.
football and baseball, basketball is a fluid game and there’s
constant change. I spread the terminology of the city game
to the radio: the top of the key, the elbow of the foul line,
one-handed jump, two-handed set, and so on. I spoke in the
vox populi. I developed a technique—the style known as ‘following
the ball.’ I could always speak rapidly and I knew the game.
It was easy for me and I enjoyed doing it. Later on, other
broadcasters would request tapes to see how I did it.”
For an account of Glickman’s pioneering career in sports broadcasting
see his autobiography, The Fastest Kid on the Block
(Syracuse University Press, 1996).
Great Chain of Sportscasting
The story of sports broadcasting at Syracuse University really begins
in the radio age with Marty Glickman ’39. After scoring two touchdowns
in a 1937 victory over nationally ranked Cornell, the star tailback
(and member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic track team) accepted an offer
of $15 per show to host a weekly sports review on WSYR in Syracuse.
Returning home to New York City after graduation, Glickman became
the voice of Big Apple sports for 60 years, calling every kind of
contest from the city’s major league teams to track meets, harness
racing, and even the rodeo (from Madison Square Garden, of course).
Syracuse has been training the voices of the big-time broadcast
booth ever since. Major league baseball announcers include Hank
Greenwald ’57 (San Francisco Giants) and Andy Musser ’59 (Philadelphia
Phillies), both of whom recently retired. Marv Albert ’63 caught
his proverbial “big break” when his mentor, Marty Glickman, got
stuck in a snowstorm and asked him to sit in at the mike for a Knicks
game. Dick Stockton ’64 is among the deans of the profession, holding
the rare distinction of having covered all four major professional
sports on network television, as well as the Masters golf tournament
and dozens of other blue-chip events. Bob Costas ’74 got his first
radio experience as a freshman at WAER. Like many before and after
him, he turned professional in the Syracuse market while still an
undergraduate, in his case to call Syracuse Blazers American Hockey
League action on WSYR. More recently, he anchored the 2002 Winter
Olympic Games for NBC Sports.
In a 1984 article, Sports Illustrated characterized SU as
the “incubator” of American sportscasters, lauding the University’s
“dazzling record” of turning out not only the most, but the best
in the business. Among the readers of that article was a high school
senior named Mike Tirico ’88. Did it influence his choice of colleges?
“Not really,” says Tirico. “I’d already decided. My reasoning for
wanting to go to Syracuse was Marv Albert, who was the voice of
my favorite teams while I was growing up. In his book Yesss!!!
(1979), Albert pointed out that he went to Syracuse because he wanted
to follow his idol, Marty Glickman. That got the bug in me, and
I was determined to do the same.”
It worked out well. Tirico’s career path took him from WAER to a
student internship at Syracuse’s CBS television affiliate, WTVH.
After graduating with a dual degree in broadcast journalism and
political science, he became WTVH’s sports director for several
years. This opened the door to ESPN, where he blossomed into one
of the sports network’s most popular and knowledgeable on-air personalities.
Tirico has also done his part to keep up the tradition that brought
him to the Hill. Like Costas, Albert, and other SU alumni, he makes
no secret, on the air or off, of his ties to Syracuse. That message
got through to Newhouse student Marty Greenstein ’05 of Carson City,
Nevada, who describes sportscasting as his “dream job.” When asked
about his choice of SU, Greenstein replied, “I especially admire
Mike Tirico because he does such a great job for ESPN. I think coming
from his school will help me establish credibility right off the
On a trip to campus in February to cover Big East basketball, Tirico
gave most of his day to visiting classes and talking to students
before heading for work at the Dome. “I love coming back to this
place,” Tirico said, gesturing down a hallway of the Newhouse School.
“The people I found at WAER were particularly driven: no pay, no
course credit. I especially remember those Friday nights. You’d
see other people going out on M Street, but we’d all be up there—fourth
floor, Newhouse II—working on the Saturday pregame show.”
That February night, no fewer than seven Orange voices described
the Syracuse-West Virginia game to fans around the country: Tirico
on ESPN television; Dave Pasch ’94 and Dave Ryan ’89 on WAQX-FM
and the 22-station SU commercial radio network; Tony Caridi ’84,
the voice of Mountaineer basketball on WVU’s 46-station radio network;
and last but not least, Kelly O’Donnell ’02 and Dave Friedman ’03
on WAER. Friedman, incidentally, was not only competing for listeners
against Pasch, but taking a sports broadcasting course with him
as well. “Face it,” says Friedman, “this is the Mecca of sports
Dan Hoard ’85, like Tirico, credits Marv Albert’s book for bringing
him to the Hill. While still in school, Hoard called Syracuse Chiefs
baseball on WSYR, and has since gone on to become the radio voice
of University of Cincinnati sports on WLW-AM as well as television
host of pregame shows for Reds baseball on FOX Sports. “A Syracuse
education gives you the building blocks—especially the writing courses—necessary
to become a journalist of any kind,” he says. “Meanwhile, if you
really are dedicated to becoming a sportscaster, you get out there
and use WAER, WJPZ [the newer campus FM station], or UUTV [SU’s
closed-circuit television station] to get practical experience.
But there’s another, less tangible, element: the chance to just
hang out with people who you can see are already well on the way
to becoming part of the profession. We all owe each other something
and we love running into each other at the World Series, the Super
Bowl, or any of the big national sports events.”
Tradition Unbroken By Change
Andrew Siciliano ’96 belongs to the new generation of sportscasters
who entered the industry during its tumultuous boom of the 1990s.
Heard coast-to-coast daily on FOX Sports Radio’s Tony Bruno Show,
Siciliano is anything but shy in his opinions, even when recounting
fond memories of his college days. “WAER is, frankly, as cutthroat
as it gets,” he says. “There were probably 60 kids my freshman year
just trying to get writer’s shifts! But it’s that competition that
makes people succeed. Originally, I was a newspaper major and I
wrote for the D.O. But WAER made me want to be a radio guy.
Now I feel I can do both, which is becoming increasingly important
in this industry.”
process at WAER forces you to be challenged,” adds “Prime Time”
Adam Schein ’99, who was assistant sports director at the station.
Like Siciliano, he is one of the rising stars on the contemporary
sports-talk radio scene. Just weeks after receiving a bachelor’s
degree from the Newhouse School, he was hosting his own show on
WHEN, one of Syracuse’s two “all-sports” radio stations. His frank
but knowledgeable style caught on quickly, and the program was picked
up by a regional network serving several upstate cities. Last winter,
less than three years after graduation, Schein went national with
his own show on FOX Sports Radio.
Sadler on Sports
77, WAERs first female sports director (1975-76), made
a habit of being first throughout her sportscasting career. After
leaving Syracuse, she was the first woman to report or anchor sports
at television stations in New Bedford, Massachusetts; Beaumont,
Texas; Greenville, South Carolina; and Tampa, Florida. "At
my final stop, WTVT-TV in Tampa, I covered major league sports,
a Super Bowl, and achieved my goal of working for the number-one
station in a top 20 market," she says.
In 1985, she
left broadcasting, and today she works as an information coordinator
for juvenile justice programs.
known I wanted to be a sportscaster since fourth grade. When
I had to do a class report on a state, I picked New York because
I knew SU was there.”
David Friedman ’03, WAER
“In researching colleges, I found out about all the famous
sportscasters who had passed through Syracuse. It definitely
drew me east. I’m from Chicago originally, so going to Northwestern
would have been the easy thing to do. But I decided to take
the leap and follow my dreams to SU.”
Andy Demetra ’02, WAER
“I knew I wanted to be a sportscaster since I was 8. The only
school I wanted to go to was Syracuse, and I applied and was
accepted, early decision.”
Adam Schein ’99, sports radio personality, WHEN-Syracuse and
FOX Sports Radio
“In high school in Laurel, Maryland, I told my English teacher
[Jennifer Steinhouser G’87] I wanted to be a sportscaster.
She told me I should go to Syracuse, and I did.”
Pruitt ’99, sports director, WETM-TV,
Elmira, New York
“Once I hit the seventh grade I realized I wasn’t going to
attain my goal of becoming a professional athlete—as many
undersized Jewish kids realize at that age. So I decided to
be a sportscaster. I did my research and found that Syracuse
was the place to go. The reasons were simple: Costas, Albert,
Glickman, Stockton, etc.”
Jon Bloom ’97, sports radio personality, WDFN-Detroit
“It’s all there: the Newhouse curriculum, WAER for experience,
and a great local broadcast market that will open the door
for qualified newcomers. My first job was with WTVH. For sportscasting,
you’ve got to think Syracuse.”
Mike Tirico ’88, ESPN
“In high school I had aspirations of becoming a sports broadcaster.
I knew Syracuse University was one of the few schools in the
country that taught broadcasting at that time.”
Hank Greenwald ’57, longtime radio voice of Giants
baseball, now retired
The Air: SU Alumni in TV and Radio Sports
(This list was not printed in the magazine and is only available
on our web site.)
on this link to see a list of play-by-play and color commentators,
station sports directors, reporters, analysts, personalities, talk
show hosts, interviewers, and production personnel, both current
and retired, in the professional sports communications field. Last
known affiliations are included as well.
of NBC Sports Courtesy
Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN
have been as male-dominated as sports broadcasting, but Syracuse
women have been helping to change that. Leading the way was Carol
Sadler 77, who won appointment in 1975 as WAERs first
female sports director, and continued blazing trails as the first
woman at the TV sports desk at stations in four states. Other pioneers
at the mike include Vera Jones 88, G91, Beth Mowins
G90, and C.J. Silas 90, all of whom were also college
Jones helped the Orangewomen to their first Big East basketball
title in 1984, as well as their first two invitations to the NCAA
women’s basketball tournament. Her 1,113 career points make her
the team’s 7th all-time leading scorer. In her senior year she became
the first Syracuse student ever to be named the Big East Women’s
Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year. While starring on the court
and in the classroom, she managed to find time to do radio programs
on both WAER and WJPZ. Since completing a master’s degree in television-radio-film,
she has gone on to a career in sports broadcasting that has included
such top events as the NCAA women’s basketball tournament on ESPN
and WNBA games on the MSG Network.
also a basketball player, came to the Newhouse graduate program
from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, where she was a three-time
all-conference star and still holds records in career assists and
three-point shooting percentage. Since joiningESPN in 1994, she
has done play-by-play and reported on a variety of sports, notably
NBA and WNBA basketball, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament,
and college football.
Silas, a Los Angeles native, chose Syracuse for the opportunities
it afforded her in track as well as broadcast journalism. She remembers
struggling with old prejudices in the broadcasting booth. “Things
were less than perfect at WAER,” she says. “By senior year I’d done
everything that everyone else had, but hadn’t been given a chance
to do play-by-play. I went to the general manager and he agreed.
It made some of the guys very unhappy and they even had a meeting
to try to get the decision reversed. But the g.m. stood by me and
I did the West Virginia game. It was tough, but looking back I also
know that in terms of career preparation, WAER was the best thing
that could have happened to me.” Silas was hired by ESPN before
graduation and has since hosted sports-talk radio at WQAM-Miami
and KJR-Seattle. “I’m also doing a music program,” she says. “It’s
my first since my reggae show on WAER.”
of The Beat, 95.7 FM, Seattle
Newhouse graduate C.J. Silas 90 talks on her morning
radio show in Seattle.
1997, Jamie Seh ’98 became WAER’s second woman sports director.
She is currently sports anchor with WTTI-TV in Watertown and also
handles play-by-play of SU sports events covered by Syracuse Time
Warner Cable. “I learned everything from broadcast performance to
writing skills,” she says. “Most importantly, I learned how to be
Pallilo ’87, G’88, who talks sports in Houston over KILT-AM, seemed
to echo the sentiments of many who survived the SU/Newhouse/WAER
gauntlet and now find themselves in successful sports broadcasting
careers. “Talent attracts talent, and there are times when the system
is perhaps a tad harsh or even cutthroat for a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds,”
he says. “Not everyone is going to make it; the competition yields
Darwinian results. And once you’re out of school you’ll see that
SU has no monopoly on sports broadcasting. What we do have is an
excellent curriculum, unsurpassed facilities, and the best-known
national brand name in the field. With those things, we’ve carved
out a pretty nice chunk of the market for ourselves.
the Hill to the Booth
Don McPherson 87
the majority of professional sportscasters to come out of
SU have followed the tried-and-true formula of majoring in
broadcast journalism or TV-radio-film at the Newhouse School
while battling their way to the microphone at WAER, others
have made it into the business using other campus resources.
Here are some examples:
J. Crowley ’00, a broadcast journalism major, is sports director
at KODI-AM, Cody, Wyoming, and winner of the 2001 Wyoming
Association of Broadcasters Award for Best Sports Show. He
got his student experience as sports director at WJPZ, SU’s
“other” campus station, which features SU women’s basketball
on its schedule.
Dardis ’89 majored in speech communication at the College
of Visual and Performing Arts. In 1994 he became a sports
reporter at WPHL-TV in Philadelphia and was recognized twice
by the Associated Press for the Best Sportscast in Pennsylvania.
He recently left the sports desk to become the station’s primary
Green ’86, G’94 was an English major and an All-America linebacker
for the Orangemen. Along with an NFL career with the Atlanta
Falcons, he earned a law degree from SU. Now an attorney and
novelist, he does television color commentary for the NFL
on FOX and is heard on National Public Radio.
Johnston ’89 is the partner of Dick Stockton ’64 on FOX TV’s
“all-Orange” NFL broadcast team. He played fullback for the
Orangemen while majoring in psychology and economics, and
went on to an NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys.
McPherson ’87, a psychology major, does college football commentary
for BET Sports. The former Orange quarterback, who was a Heisman
Trophy runner-up, played professional football for seven seasons.
He is an associate director of Athletes Helping Athletes,
a program that works with high school student athletes, and
lectures on the subject of combating sexual violence.
Pruitt ’99, sports director at WETM-TV, Elmira, New York,
majored in broadcast journalism and volunteered at a Fulton,
New York, radio station.
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