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The Wrong DVD Launched Ashley Adamson’s Career

“I just kept thinking so many people have worked so hard for so long for this moment, I can’t let them down.”

Jack Ferris

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It’s 3:00 pm.  At least that’s what the digital clock on her aunt’s 2000 Buick LeSabre tells her. 

It’s February of 2008 and 25-year-old Ashley Adamson spends about as much time staring at her gas gauge as she does the road.  Such is life when you’re barely living paycheck to paycheck.

“The gas station attendant around the corner from my place knew my name from all the trips I’d have to make with my little portable tank,” Adamson recalls.  Her expression stuck somewhere between humor and horror.

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Relief is the emotion that would best describe Ashley on this winter day nearly 12 years ago.  The Denver native had just spent the last 13 months working as an overnight Associate Producer for a television station in Albany, but her days of re-writing stories off the AP wire appeared to be numbered.  She had just spent the afternoon interviewing for a reporter position in Syracuse and she was sure she’d get the job, her first on-air role.

The lifelong athlete and Notre Dame football fan had aspirations to work in sports, but a full-time on air gig doing news would be just fine.  She was tired, almost defeated.  She was ready to settle for just about anything.  Sports was always a bit of a pipe dream.  Besides, why would any sports director hire her?

A second ring from her phone in a matter of 30 seconds brings Ashley back to 2019 and downtown San Francisco.

“I’m sorry, I have to grab this,” the 37-year-old answers the phone while shooting me an apologetic glance.  Her half-eaten peach berry scone laying neglected on our table.  

“Hi, this is Ashley.”

In a matter of hours Adamson will be on a plane to Denver.  She won’t be visiting home, in fact the Mile High City hasn’t been her home for a while.  Rather, she’ll head straight to Boulder to prepare for her pre-game show Saturday at Folsom Field.  For the next 9 months, Ashley will always be a few days removed from a flight.  Such is life for the face of the PAC-12 Networks.  

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“Yeah, he did.  That’s right.  Ok, yeah I think there was some spinach in there as well.”

Ashley didn’t interrupt our conversation for a production call or an inquiry from an Athletic Director.  It was much more important than that.

“Sorry, that was Collins’ school,” she takes a deep breath as she places her phone back face down on the table.

“I guess he vomited and they saw some peanut butter in there.  They wanted to know what else he had for breakfast because the whole school is peanut-free.” explained the mother of two, not hesitating to give herself a quick bite of scone.

“This is my life now,” she smiles, shrugging as if to admit defeat.

Ashley Adamson is a lot of things.  Defeated, she is not.

The long road that lead her through Upstate New York and ultimately to her current position in the Bay Area started at Denver’s Mullen High School.  Even today, it doesn’t take more than a handshake and an introduction to believe she was a multi-sport athlete in her high school days.  She loved basketball, but it was track and field that she could continue at the next level.  As for that next level, that was pretty much pre-determined.

“It was always Notre Dame.  My dad is an alum, I’ve been a fan from birth, my older brother went there.  I always knew I would end up in South Bend.”

That is, until it actually became time to make the decision.  With hours to go before she had to accept her admittance to Notre Dame – Ashley had second thoughts.

“I guess I just wanted to carve my own path,” Ashley explained.  “I wanted to do my own thing.  I loved Notre Dame but that wasn’t mine, it was the path my dad and brother took.”  

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Ashley communicated her dilemma to her father, who didn’t try to sway her in either direction, but made sure she was confident in her choice.

“He told me wherever I go, it was going to be the decision that had the greatest impact on my life.  I didn’t fully understand in the moment, but he was so right.”

In the 11th hour, Ashley decided on Boston College, much to the disappointment of her brother Alex, who was entering his Junior year in South Bend.

“I was really bummed,” admits Alex today.  “I tried to remind myself that on the bright side of things she’d be further away from my sketchy college friends and I figured I’d probably have a better and more interesting job than her.  The first part really worked out.”

Ashley was still a long way from landing any job, let alone one you could classify as cool.  For the first time in her life, she moved to a strange city intent on forging a place for herself.  It wouldn’t be the last.

“I knew within a couple weeks I made the right choice.  I loved the campus, the city, it felt like home almost immediately.”

As for the track and field career?  Adamson successfully walked on her Freshman year, but things got a bit complicated.

“My dad was also right when he told me that between academics, athletics and a social life, I could only pick two to be successful with in college,” Ashley smirked.  “So, obviously my grades suffered.”

And with that, the track and field career was over with the start of her Sophomore year.  Proving dad prophetic, Ashley went on to thrive in the classroom and on the social scene.  Among her new network of friends was Kate Coakley, a fellow Colorado native with whom Ashley grew especially close.

“I spent so much time with Kate that I actually fell in love with her parents.  We would joke that I would marry her little brother Chris just so I could join the family and be their daughter-in-law.”

Smelling an opportunity, Chris worked up the nerve to “propose” to Ashley towards the end of her senior year at BC.  In lieu of a ring, the quick thinking Freshman ripped the plastic top off a Busch Light can and offered it as a symbol of his commitment.  It would be roughly a decade before that seemingly empty gesture developed into one of Ashley’s favorite stories.  
With a well established life in Boston, complete with her 2nd family, Ashley opted to spend two more years in her adopted city.  She enrolled in grad school at Boston University and finished up in January of 2007 with her degree in journalism.  

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Ask Ashley to tell you her story, and this is where you feel a seismic shift in tone and expression.  Like any new aspiring journalist, she was ready and willing to take any job that came her way.  This is what lead her to Cable News 9 in Albany.  As an overnight AP, Ashley wouldn’t spend much time out during daylight hours – and when she was it was to shoot stand ups for her reel.  The days were melting into weeks.  The ever optimistic Ashley was reaching her breaking point.

“One day I was driving home, it must’ve been noon, and my dad asked me how my day was,” Ashley remembered with a stoic face.  “I just lost it.  I broke down and cried.  Those were some dark days”

“There I was,” she continued “a college grad with a graduate degree making $20,000 a year writing copy all night.  It didn’t feel like there was a way out.”

Ashley wasn’t getting the best professional feedback at the time either.  When she showed an Albany producer a stand up, she was told her chin was too pointy for TV.  All this negativity nearly drove Ashley to abandon hopes of an on air career entirely.

“I was close.  I had connections at NESN, I could’ve gone back to Boston and figured something out there.  A job producing, a marketing job, something.  Anything was better than what I was doing.  It just felt like there were no opportunities to be on air.”  

She had chosen a path with no paved road to success.  There was no playbook to guide her one direction or the other and there certainly weren’t any guarantees she’d even make it out of Albany if she kept pushing forward.  But she did.

“What’s known is always known.  I knew Boston.  I also could probably map my life out if I went that route.  That was the safe choice.  To do what I really wanted to do, I knew I had to keep pushing into that unknown.”

Ashley narrowed her focus.  She started building her news reel.  She knew for every one sports position there were five news opportunities.  Soon, she got a bite from the CBS affiliate in Syracuse – and she couldn’t pop into her LeSabre fast enough to interview.  

Ashley walked out of WTVH-5 after a couple hours on that February 2008 afternoon confident she’d receive an offer within a day.  Her on air career would begin in a matter of weeks.  It was a good day.  She had no idea it was about to be an incredible day.

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“My friend called me when I was still in Syracuse to tell me there was an opening at WSYR-9, the market’s number 1 station.  So then she’s trying to feed me directions through the phone as I’m driving through town, and I just had to end the conversation.  I appreciated the call, but I knew I was gonna get the other job,” Ashley reasoned.  “Plus it’s the number one station in the market, they’re not gonna hire someone who has never been on TV.  All that and I wanted to beat traffic,” she offered with a smile.

“Then, out of nowhere from the freeway I see the station’s call letters.  I remember that moment so vividly. I realized in that moment, I had to pull off.  I’d at least walk in.  If nothing comes from this, fine, but this would be a great story if it worked out.”

Ashley couldn’t have scripted the next 45 minutes better.

“I parked, grabbed a hard copy of my resume and a DVD of my reel from the trunk and just handed both to the receptionist.  I told her I heard about an opening, feel free to have someone call if they want to chat.”

The whole errand took less than five minutes, and within the hour she was well on her way back to Albany when she received a call from a Syracuse number.  The man on the other end introduced himself as Steve Infanti, Sports Director at News Channel 9.  

Ashley was immediately confused as to why she was speaking with the sports director – and in an instant she realized she made the greatest mistake of her life.  In her trunk was an unlabeled sports reel she made specifically for her dad back in Denver.  She had no intention of handing it over professionally, she cut it just for him.

“Like a great daughter, I still hadn’t mailed it.  It was back there for weeks,” claimed Ashley, still having a tough time recalling the beautifully strange day.

Ashley handed over the wrong DVD, but she wasn’t about to explain herself in the moment.

“Steve told me they were looking for a number 3 in the sports department and asked how far out of town I was.  It was crazy.”

Within a month Ashley was a full time member of the top sports department in market 81.  Her luck didn’t stop there.  A few weeks into her role with WSYR, the weekend sports anchor decided to leave the business, giving Ashley an outside shot at his position.

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“I probably didn’t deserve it, and the news director went out of his way to tell me he wasn’t going to hire me for it,” she laughed.

“Eventually, after a couple interviews they realized they could save money by continuing to pay me what I was making and just move me over to weekends without training someone else.  So then the job was mine”

Ashley shutters to recall her early anchor days.  

“I was terrible for a while, obviously, but Steve Infanti never gave up on me,” remembered Ashley with more than a touch of reverence in her voice.  She earned her position in Syracuse by doing the work few in her position would do, but she’s quick to assign the credit to the people who helped her along the way – none more than Steve Infanti.

“He taught me how to do sports after I had pretty much given up on sports.  No shot I’d be here today without Steve Infanti.”

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With a full time gig and her confidence growing, Ashley could begin to see her hard work paying off.  Opportunities were beginning to present themselves.  In February of 2010 she was packing up the car again, this time the destination was Indianapolis.

“I’ve never had more fun covering sports than I did when I was working in Indianapolis,” professed Ashley.

Coming from a PAC-12 Networks Anchor who just started her 8th year as one of the conference’s most recognizable faces, this is hard to imagine.  Her time in Indiana, though, was a pretty exciting stretch.

Just over a year in her new city, Ashley had followed Butler to two national championships, witnessed Peyton Manning’s last season with the Colts, and covered the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl at Lucas-Oil Stadium.  She couldn’t have been happier with her career, but just like her dad told her back in Denver, sometimes the social life has to take a backseat in order to succeed in other parts of life.  

In the Spring of 2012, Ashley was all set to attend her friend Brittany Diehl’s bachelorette party in Las Vegas.  She had the time off requested – no small task for a local sports reporter – and was simply waiting on a little help from Uncle Sam in the form of a tax refund.  Much to her disappointment, it turned out her taxes went the other way, and Ashley’s savings dried up in a second.

“I called Brittany and apologized.  She worked for the Fox affiliate in Indy and kind of understood my situation.  I had the time off and the flight booked but I just couldn’t go.  Vegas sucks when you’re broke.”

With a long weekend off and no where to go, it was Ashley’s brother Alex, now in San Francisco, who came to the rescue.

“He told me to come out, we’d head up to wine country, and I didn’t hesitate.”

At this point in her career, Ashley was beginning to long for family.  She had been out of Denver for over a decade and it had been years since she left Boston and her Busch Light in-laws.  By 2012, her best friend Kate and husband Geoff had also moved to San Francisco, making the City by the Bay an attractive destination for her next adopted city.  An added incentive was the PAC-12 Networks, which would launch that summer.

Ashley’s representation had already reached out to the conference, as did countless other candidates.  Fortunately for the Indianapolis anchor, Ashley’s impromptu trip to the Bay Area afforded her the opportunity to get in front of the decision makers – and they happened to be expecting her.

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“I watched thousands of broadcast reel submissions,” recalled Kristin Bredes LaFemina, the PAC-12 Networks’ first Director of Talent.  

“When I watched Ashley’s, I remember rewinding and re-watching quite a few times.  She was likable, relatable, witty, intelligent and drew me in.  I remember thinking; ‘Ha, I bet we’d be friends.  I think I want to know her.'”

Needless to say Kristin – who now works as a talent agent for ICM Partners – had no problem opening the doors of the Walnut Creek headquarters for their first meeting, a meeting Ashley remembers quite well.

“We just talked about everything.  It started off with the vision of the Networks but from there we just talked about life, where we both came from.  When it was time to wrap up, I remember we hugged at the elevator,” Ashley paused, submitting to the smile that was fighting to take over. 

“Who hugs at the end of an interview?  I’m a big hugger and I had never done that.  I walked out thinking it went pretty well.”

Ashley’s intuition was correct.  In fact, Bredes LaFemina was so impressed, she had just about made up her mind.

“I told Lydia Murphy-Stephans, my boss, that I wanted to hire Ashley without an audition.  I felt it in my gut that she’d be the perfect fit.  Lydia agreed with my assessment, supported my decision and we took a leap of faith.”

It was late May when Ashley received the news back in Indianapolis that she would be the female face of the PAC-12 opposite ESPN’s Mike Yam.  When asked about the day she got the news, Ashley’s humility takes over.

“If I had to audition, I’m not sure I would’ve gotten the job.  This is a subjective business and it takes finding your Steve Infanti or Kristin Bredes to see something and take a chance on you.”

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While Ashley handled the news about as well as possible, her older brother Alex had a tougher time containing himself.

“I’ll never forget when I found out.  I was at a casino in Georgia for a ‘work event.’  I went bonkers and was telling everyone in the place and at one point a very nice dealer told me ‘we know you’re excited about your sister but you need to tone it down.’”

August 15, 2012 was launch night for the PAC-12 Networks, and the scariest evening of Ashley’s life.  A reasonable person would be nervous for any number of reasons, but Ashley’s nerves were inspired by something else entirely.

“I just kept thinking so many people have worked so hard for so long for this moment, I can’t let them down.”

Since that August night 7 years ago, Ashley’s sense of responsibility has only grown – both professionally and personally.

“I can’t say enough about who I work with here, on air and off.  I honestly think of Mike Yam as a brother.  What I’ve experienced with people like JB Long, Yogi Roth, Kate Scott and Guy Haberman?  Those people are much more than my coworkers.”

As for the family life, Ashley and then LA-based Chris began dating shortly after she accepted the PAC-12 position, finally making Pam and Peter Coakley her in-laws in 2015.  Their first born, Collins, turns 3 this November and enjoys starting his day with a peanut butter smoothie. Their daughter Cora was born earlier this year with JB Long and Boston College Kate chosen as her god parents.

As for older brother Alex, he lives down the street from Ashley and Chris with his family.  Nearly 20 years after the fact, he’s come to terms with his younger sister choosing Boston College over his beloved Notre Dame.

“If she went to Notre Dame she’d probably be a catholic school teacher with a weird YouTube channel or something so I think it worked out for the best.”

Ashley finds the question “would you do it all over again,” difficult to answer.  She’s torn.  She can’t imagine her life any different than it is, but she refuses to discount how hard her journey was at times.

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“I can just say I’m so grateful to my younger self who rose up through local television, who grinded through the unknown.  I uprooted my life three times and started over three times.  When you do that you feel like you can do anything.”

BSM Writers

In Defense Of Colin Cowherd

“How did we get to this place where there are sites and Twitter accounts going through The Herd with a fine-toothed comb to create content out of ‘oh my god, look at this!’?”

Demetri Ravanos

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I don’t understand what it is about Colin Cowherd that gets under some people’s skin to the point that they feel everything the guy says is worth being mocked. I don’t always agree with a lot of his opinions myself, but rarely do I hear one of his takes and think I need to build content around how stupid the guy is.

Cowherd has certainly had his share of misses. There were some highlights to his constant harping on Baker Mayfield but personally, I thought the bit got boring quickly and that the host was only shooting about 25% on those segments.

Cowherd has said some objectionable things. I thought Danny O’Neil was dead on in pointing out that the FOX Sports Radio host sounded like LIV Golf’s PR department last month. It doesn’t matter if he claims he used the wrong words or if his language was clunky, he deserved all of the criticism he got in 2015 when he said that baseball couldn’t be that hard of a sport to understand because a third of the league is from the Dominican Republic.

Those missteps and eyebrow-raising moments have never been the majority of his content though. How did we get to this place where there are sites and Twitter accounts going through The Herd with a fine-toothed comb to create content out of “oh my god, look at this!”?

A few years ago, Dan Le Batard said something to the effect of the best thing he can say about Colin Cowherd is that he is never boring and if you are not in this business, you do not get what a compliment that is.

That’s the truth, man. It is so hard to talk into the ether for three hours and keep people engaged, but Cowherd finds a way to do it with consistency.

The creativity that requires is what has created a really strange environment where you have sites trying to pass off pointing and laughing at Cowherd as content. This jumped out to me with a piece that Awful Announcing published on Thursday about Cowherd’s take that Aaron Rodgers needs a wife.

Look, I don’t think every single one of Cowherd’s analogies or societal observations is dead on, but to point this one out as absurd is, frankly, absurd!

This isn’t Cowherd saying that John Wall coming out and doing the Dougie is proof that he is a loser. This isn’t him saying that adults in backward hats look like doofuses (although, to be fair to Colin, where is the lie in that one?).

“Behind every successful man is a strong woman” is a take as old as success itself. It may not be a particularly original observation, but it hardly deserves the scrutiny of a 450-word think piece.

On top of that, he is right about Aaron Rodgers. The guy has zero personality and is merely trying on quirks to hold our attention. Saying that the league MVP would benefit from someone in his life holding a mirror up to him and pointing that out is hardly controversial.

Colin Cowherd is brash. He has strong opinions. He will acknowledge when there is a scoreboard or a record to show that he got a game or record pick wrong, but he will rarely say his opinion about a person or situation is wrong. That can piss people off. I get it.

You know that Twitter account Funhouse? The handle is @BackAftaThis?

It was created to spotlight the truly insane moments Mike Francesa delivered on air. There was a time when the standard was ‘The Sports Pop’e giving the proverbial finger to a recently deceased Stan Lee, falling asleep on air, or vehemently denying that a microphone captured his fart.

Now the feed is turning to “Hey Colin Cowherd doesn’t take phone calls!”. Whatever the motivation is for turning on Cowherd like that, it really shows a dip in the ability to entertain. How is it even content to point out that Colin Cowherd doesn’t indulge in the single most boring part of sports radio?

I will be the first to admit that I am not the world’s biggest fan of The Herd. Solo hosts will almost never be my thing. No matter their energy level, a single person talking for a 10-12 minute stretch feels more like a lecture than entertainment to me. I got scolded enough as a kid by parents and teachers.

School is a good analogy here because that is sort of what this feels like. The self-appointed cool kids identified their target long ago and are going to mock him for anything he does. It doesn’t matter if they carry lunch boxes too, Colin looks like a baby because he has a lunch box.

Colin Cowherd doesn’t need me to defend him. He can point to his FOX paycheck, his followers, or the backing for The Volume as evidence that he is doing something right. I am merely doing what these sites think they are doing when Colin is in their crosshairs – pointing out a lame excuse for content that has no real value.

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BSM Writers

Even After Radio Hall of Fame Honor, Suzyn Waldman Looks Forward

WFAN recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, but that’s not something that Waldman spends too much time reflecting on.

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Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman was at Citi Field on July 26th getting ready to broadcast a Subway Series game between the Yankees and Mets. A day earlier, Waldman was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame and sometimes that type of attention can, admittedly, make her feel a bit uncomfortable.

“At first, I was really embarrassed because I’m not good at this,” said Waldman. “I don’t take compliments well and I don’t take awards well. I just don’t. The first time it got to me…that I actually thought it was pretty cool, there were two little boys at Citi Field…

Those two little boys, with photos of Waldman in hand, saw her on the field and asked her a question.

“They asked me to sign “Suzyn Waldman Radio Hall of Fame 2022” and I did,” said Waldman.  “I just smiled and then more little boys asked me to do that.”  

Waldman, along with “Broadway” Bill Lee, Carol Miller, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Ellen K, Jeff Smulyan, Lon Helton, Marv Dyson, and Walt “Baby” Love, make up the Class of 2022 for the Radio Hall of Fame and will be inducted at a ceremony on November 1st at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.

Waldman, born in the Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts, was the first voice heard on WFAN in New York when the station launched on July 1st, 1987. She started as an update anchor before becoming a beat reporter for the Yankees and Knicks and the co-host of WFAN’s
mid-day talk show. In the mid 1990s, Waldman did some television play-by-play for Yankees games on WPIX and in 2002 she became the clubhouse reporter for Yankees telecasts when the YES Network launched.

This is Waldman’s 36th season covering the Yankees and her 18th in the radio booth, a run that started in 2005 when she became the first female full-time Major League Baseball broadcaster.

She decided to take a look at the names that are currently in the Hall of Fame, specifically individuals that she will forever be listed next to.

“Some of the W’s are Orson Wells and Walter Winchell…people that changed the industry,” said Waldman. “I get a little embarrassed…I’m not good at this but I’m really happy.”

Waldman has also changed the industry.

She may have smiled when those two little boys asked her to sign those photos, but Waldman can also take a lot of pride in the fact that she has been a trailblazer in the broadcasting business and an inspiration to a lot of young girls who aspire, not only to be sportscasters but those who want to have a career in broadcasting.

Like the young woman who just started working at a New York television station who approached Waldman at the Subway Series and just wanted to meet her.

“She stopped me and was shaking,” said Waldman. “The greatest thing is that all of these young women that are out there.”

Waldman pointed out that there are seven women that she can think of off the top of her head that are currently doing minor league baseball play-by-play and that there have been young female sports writers that have come up to her to share their stories about how she inspired them.

For many years, young boys were inspired to be sportscasters by watching and listening to the likes of Marv Albert, Al Michaels, Vin Scully, Bob Costas, and Joe Buck but now there are female sportscasters, like Waldman, who have broken down barriers and are giving young girls a good reason to follow their dreams.

“When I’ve met them, they’ve said to me I was in my car with my Mom and Dad when I was a very little girl and they were listening to Yankee games and there you were,” said Waldman. “These young women never knew this was something that they couldn’t do because I was there and we’re in the third generation of that now. It’s taken longer than I thought.”

There have certainly been some challenges along the way in terms of women getting opportunities in sports broadcasting.

Waldman thinks back to 1994 when she became the first woman to do a national television baseball broadcast when she did a game for The Baseball Network. With that milestone came a ton of interviews that she had to do with media outlets around the country including Philadelphia.

It was during an interview with a former Philadelphia Eagle on a radio talk show when Waldman received a unique backhanded compliment that she will always remember.

“I’ve listened to you a lot and I don’t like you,” Waldman recalls the former Eagle said. “I don’t like women in sports…I don’t like to listen to you but I was watching the game with my 8-year-old daughter and she was watching and I looked at her and thought this is something she’s never going to know that she cannot do because there you are.”

Throughout her career, Waldman has experienced the highest of highs in broadcasting but has also been on the receiving end of insults and cruel intentions from people who then tend to have a short memory.

And many of these people were co-workers.

“First people laugh at you, then they make your life miserable and then they go ‘oh yeah that’s the way it is’ like it’s always been like that but it’s not always been like this,” said Waldman. 

It hasn’t always been easy for women in broadcasting and as Waldman — along with many others — can attest to nothing is perfect today. But it’s mind-boggling to think about what Waldman had to endure when WFAN went on the air in 1987.

She remembers how badly she was treated by some of her colleagues.

“I think about those first terrible days at ‘FAN,” said Waldman. “I had been in theatre all my life and it was either you get the part or you don’t. They either like you or they don’t.  You don’t have people at your own station backstabbing you and people at your own station changing your tapes to make you look like an idiot.”

There was also this feeling that some players were not all that comfortable with Waldman being in the clubhouse and locker room. That was nothing compared to some of the other nonsense that Waldman had to endure.

“The stuff with players is very overblown,” said Waldman. “It’s much worse when you know that somebody out there is trying to kill you because you have a Boston accent and you’re trying to talk about the New York Yankees. That’s worse and it’s also worse when the people
that you work with don’t talk to you and think that you’re a joke and the people at your own station put you down for years and years and years.”

While all of this was happening, Waldman had one very important person in her corner: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away in 2010.

The two had a special relationship and he certainly would have relished the moment when Suzyn was elected to the Hall of Fame.

“I think about George Steinbrenner a lot,” said Waldman. “This is something that when I heard that…I remember thinking George would be so proud because he wanted this since ’88.  I just wish he were here.” 

Waldman certainly endeared herself to “The Boss” with her reporting but she also was the driving force behind the reconciliation of Steinbrenner and Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. George had fired Yogi as Yankees manager 16 games into the 1985 season and the news was delivered to Berra, not by George, but by Steinbrenner advisor Clyde King.

Yogi vowed never to step foot into Yankee Stadium again, but a grudge that lasted almost 14 years ended in 1999 when Waldman facilitated a reunion between the two at the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey.

“I’m hoping that my thank you to him was the George and Yogi thing because I know he wanted that very badly,” said Waldman.

“Whatever I did to prove to him that I was serious about this…this is in ’87 and ’88…In 1988, I remember him saying to me ‘Waldman, one of these days I’m going to make a statement about women in sports.  You’re it and I hope you can take it’ (the criticism). He knew what was coming.  I didn’t know. But there was always George who said ‘if you can take it, you’re going to make it’.”

And made it she did.

And she has outlasted every single person on the original WFAN roster.

“I’m keenly aware that I was the first person they tried to fire and I’m the only one left which I think is hysterical actually that I outlived everybody,” said Waldman.

WFAN recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, but that’s not something that Waldman spends too much time reflecting on.

“I don’t think about it at all because once you start looking back, you’re not going forward,” said Waldman. 

Waldman does think about covering the 1989 World Series between the A’s and Giants and her reporting on the earthquake that was a defining moment in her career. She has always been a great reporter and a storyteller, but that’s not how her WFAN career began. She started as an update anchor and she knew that if she was going to have an impact on how WFAN was going to evolve, it was not going to be reading the news…it was going to be going out in the field and reporting the news.

“I was doing updates which I despised and wasn’t very good at,” said Waldman.

She went to the program director at the time and talked about how WFAN had newspaper writers covering the local teams for the station and that it would be a better idea for her to go out and cover games and press conferences.

“Give me a tape recorder and let me go,” is what Waldman told the program director. “I was the first electronic beat writer.  That’s how that started and they said ‘oh, this works’. The writers knew all of a sudden ‘uh oh she can put something on the air at 2 o’clock in the morning and I can’t’.”  

And the rest is history. Radio Hall of Fame history.

But along the way, there was never that moment where she felt that everything was going to be okay.

Because it can all disappear in a New York minute.

“I’ve never had that moment,” said Waldman. “I see things going backward in a lot of ways for women.  I’m very driven and I’m very aware that it can all be taken away in two seconds if some guy says that’s enough.” 

During her storied career, Waldman has covered five Yankees World Series championships and there’s certainly the hope that they can contend for another title this year. She loves her job and the impact that she continues to make on young girls who now have that dream to be the next Suzyn Waldman.

But, is there something in the business that she still hopes to accomplish?

“This is a big world,” said Waldman. “There’s always something to do. Right now I like this a lot and there’s still more to do. There are more little girls…somewhere there’s a little girl out there who is talking into a tape recorder or whatever they use now and her father is telling her or someone is telling her you can’t do that you’re a little girl. That hasn’t stopped. Somewhere out there there’s somebody that needs to hear a female voice on Yankees radio.”

To steal the spirit of a line from Yankees play-by-play voice John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman’s longtime friend, and broadcast partner…“that’s a Radio Hall of Fame career, Suzyn!”

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BSM Writers

No Winners in Pittsburgh vs Cleveland Radio War of Words

“As talk radio hosts, we often try to hold the moral high ground and if you’re going to hold that position, I can’t help but feel integrity has to outweigh popularity. “

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For nearly 18 months, we’ve known the NFL would eventually have to confront the Deshaun Watson saga in an on-the-field manner, and that day came Monday. After his March trade to the Browns, we also could more than likely deduce another item: Cleveland radio hosts would feel one way, and Pittsburgh hosts would feel another.

If you’re not in tune to the “rivalry” between the two cities, that’s understandable. Both are former industrial cities looking for an identity in a post-industrial Midwest. Each thinks the other is a horrible place to live, with no real reasoning other than “at least we’re not them”. Of course, the folks in Pittsburgh point to six Super Bowl victories as reason for superiority.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when news started to leak that a Watson decision would come down Monday. I was sure, however, that anyone who decided to focus on what the NFL’s decision would mean for Watson and the Browns on the field was in a no-win situation. As a former host on a Cleveland Browns radio affiliate, I always found the situation difficult to talk about. Balancing the very serious allegations with what it means for Watson, the Browns, and the NFL always felt like a tight-rope walk destined for failure.

So I felt for 92.3 The Fan’s Ken Carman and Anthony Lima Monday morning, knowing they were in a delicate spot. They seemed to allude to similar feelings. “You’re putting me in an awkward situation here,” Carman told a caller after that caller chanted “Super Bowl! Super Browns!” moments after the suspension length was announced.

Naturally, 93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi happened to turn on the radio just as that call happened. A nearly week-long war of words ensued between the two Audacy-owned stations.

Fillipponi used the opportunity to slam Cleveland callers and used it as justification to say the NFL was clearly in the wrong. Carman and Lima pointed out Fillipponi had tweeted three days earlier about how much love the city of Pittsburgh had for Ben Roethlisberger, a player with past sexual assault allegations in his own right.

Later in the week, the Cleveland duo defended fans from criticism they viewed as unfair from the national media. In response, Dorin Dickerson and Adam Crowley of the Pittsburgh morning show criticized Carman and Lima for taking that stance.

Keeping up?

As an impartial observer, there’s one main takeaway I couldn’t shake. Both sides are wrong. Both sides are right. No one left the week looking good.

Let’s pretend the Pittsburgh Steelers had traded for Deshaun Watson on March 19th, and not the Browns. Can you envision a scenario where Cleveland radio hosts would defend the NFL for the “fairness” of the investigation and disciplinary process if he was only suspended for six games? Of course, you can’t, because that would be preposterous. At the same time, would Fillipponi, Dickerson, and other Pittsburgh hosts be criticizing their fans for wanting Watson’s autograph? Of course, you can’t, because that would be preposterous.

When you’re discussing “my team versus your team” or “my coach versus your coach” etc…, it’s ok to throw ration and logic to the side for the sake of entertaining radio. But when you’re dealing with an incredibly serious matter, in this case, an investigation into whether an NFL quarterback is a serial sexual predator, I don’t believe there’s room to throw ration and logic to the wind. The criticism of Carman and Lima from the Pittsburgh station is fair and frankly warranted. They tried their best, in my opinion, to be sensitive to a topic that warranted it, but fell short.

On the flip side, Carman and Lima are correct. Ben Roethlisberger was credibly accused of sexual assault. Twice. And their criticism of Fillipponi and Steelers fans is valid and frankly warranted.

You will often hear me say “it can be both” because so often today people try to make every situation black and white. In reality, there’s an awful lot of gray in our world. But, in this case, it can’t be both. It can’t be Deshaun Watson, and Browns fans by proxy, are horrible, awful, no good, downright rotten people, and Ben Roethlisberger is a beloved figure.

Pot, meet kettle.

I don’t know what Andrew Fillipponi said about Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault allegations in 2010. And if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it, but I’m guessing he sounded much more like Carman and Lima did this week, rather than the person criticizing hosts in another market for their lack of moral fiber. Judging by the tweet Carman and Lima used to point out Fillipponi’s hypocrisy, I have a hard time believing the Pittsburgh host had strong outrage about the Steelers bringing back the franchise QB.

Real courage comes from saying things your listeners might find unpopular. It’s also where real connections with your listeners are built. At the current time in our hyper-polarized climate, having the ability to say something someone might disagree with is a lost art. But it’s also the key to keeping credibility and building a reputation that you’ll say whatever you truly believe that endears you to your audience.

And in this case, on a day the NFL announced they now employ a player who — in the league’s view — is a serial sexual assaulter, to hear hosts describe a six-game suspension as “reasonable” felt unreasonable. As talk radio hosts, we often try to hold the moral high ground and if you’re going to hold that position, I can’t help but feel integrity has to outweigh popularity.

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Barrett Media Writers

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