Connect with us

BSM Writers

Pauly Howard Does Gambling Content Right

“I think people are sick and tired of when they turn on these ESPN shows, it’s the same thing. It’s fluff pieces. Every pregame show is unwatchable. It’s terrible. They’re still afraid to get into gambling.”

Brian Noe

Published

on

The phrase “only in Vegas” gets thrown around too often. It shouldn’t be used to describe common occurrences like a $50 win at the craps table or a kiss from a stranger at a club. “Only in Vegas” should be saved for huge events like a future fiancée winning 12 million bucks or a Vegas sports betting show picking up major steam while adding popular TV affiliates around the country. Mammoth occurrences like this are part of the reason why Pauly Howard says he’s living the dream.

Pauly teams up with Mitch Moss to broadcast the sports betting show Follow the Money on VSiN. The show airs weekdays from 7am-10am ET (replayed 9am-noon PT) on SiriusXM channel 204. VSiN has established itself as the sports betting authority — the first network ever dedicated to sports gambling — and Pauly Howard is a big part of that success. He’s a great storyteller and very relatable. Well, except for the $12 million part.

Image result for vsin pauly howard

Pauly touches on several interesting stories and stances in the interview below. He isn’t shy about voicing his displeasure with several major networks that are falling short with their sports betting coverage. Pauly also talks about the sports radio host that has helped him the most. His views on the sports talk industry are strong, his career path is interesting, and Pauly’s stories are outstanding.

Enjoy.

Brian Noe: Can you start off by telling the epic story of being late to work and winning thousands of dollars on a machine?

Pauly Howard: We work crazy hours. We get up at 1:30. We were saying it’s amazing that no one has been late or overslept. Then the next day for whatever reason the alarm didn’t go off and I woke up at like 3:30 and we’re on the air at 4. Mitch locked me out of the studio for the first segment. It goes 15 minutes so I figure well, okay I’ve got 15 minutes to kill.

There was a machine that had been pretty lucky in the past. I went and got a Mountain Dew at the gift shop and like on the third hand I got a royal flush for $4,000. Then I hit a straight flush after that. In less than five minutes I had won $5,000. So then I go in after the commercial break is over. Mitch thought I was joking. We had the pictures all ready to go and the graphics. I flashed the money in front of him and he was so pissed. He wanted a percentage too for kicking me out or at least buy him dinner.

Noe: How many times have you thrown that in his face since it happened?

Pauly: He brings it up more than I do. (laughs) I think he wanted a couple of dinners out of it. I don’t blame him, but it worked out for everybody. That’s one that he brings up more than I do.

Noe: Who’s the person that taught you the most about being a sports radio host?

Pauly: I would say JT The Brick. Other than that I really didn’t get a whole lot of advice. I think I was in a bad situation at ESPN Las Vegas where I got my start. I didn’t think I had much of a chance to succeed early on with who I was working with. There wasn’t really anyone in the building who could tell you what you’re doing wrong and what you should do. It was baptism by fire, which was strange. I came in contact with JT The Brick later when he moved to Vegas. I think he really helped.

Noe: What were some of the valuable things that JT taught you?

Pauly: Interviewing techniques, how the business works, how to market yourself, people to know, things to avoid, pointing out bad habits, ways to get better, and don’t be lazy.

Noe: How did you feel as a broadcaster before JT told you all of those things?

Pauly: I think I was above average, but I was getting into bad habits. I was frustrated because I didn’t think I was utilized properly. I find the whole thing ironic that once I quit where I was at and went on my own and got in touch with JT, I was then doing national fill-ins on FOX. It was fill-ins, but still I was by myself for four hours on the overnight, which is tough to do so at least somebody thought I was good.

Noe: What do you enjoy most about being a radio host?

Pauly: I’ve never worked a day in my life. I think this is the toy department especially now that we’re at VSiN. I think 95% of the country would change places with us. We work three hours a day and even though we have crazy hours your job is basically to watch games and research games, game previews, and betting trends. I guess it’s a cliché but it’s living the dream.

Noe: Do you think you’ve learned more over the years about sports broadcasting or sports betting?

Pauly: I would say broadcasting. I interned at KFAN when I was a senior in college. I had no idea what I was doing. They threw me on the air; I was 24, 25. I had no idea what I was really doing. There was a lot of room to grow and improve. Basic stuff I didn’t really know. I would say it’d be broadcasting.

Some of the stuff with sports betting is pretty straightforward. You know the spread. You know what the over/under is. You know what a moneyline is. You know what a teaser is. I think most people can understand that the minuses and the pluses and all that.

Noe: What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned over the years about being a good sports bettor?

Pauly: I’m only good at college football and college basketball. I think this other stuff is very difficult. I’ve been a coin flip in the NFL my whole life. I don’t think that will ever change. The numbers are too good. We had the historic run in hockey with first period overs. It was great for the show and got national attention. That was a dream scenario and hopefully it’ll continue. It hit like 82% for a season. It was crazy with these teams we were highlighting.

I would just say you have to learn from your mistakes. You can’t chase. I also would say formulate your own opinion. Don’t ask people what they think because you’re going to get 10 different answers. If you like a game don’t talk yourself off of it. The more people you talk to I think the worse off you’ll be.

Noe: There are a couple of Twitter accounts — Pauly Howard’s Thoughts and Pauly Howard Paulyism’s — have you ever checked out either of those accounts?

Pauly: Yeah, I met the one guy that runs Pauly Howard’s Thoughts. He’s a nice guy.

Noe: Do you take those accounts as a compliment?

Pauly: Yeah. They have that and they have a drinking game. I know during NBA if I said Luka a certain amount of times it was take a drink, or if I said lunacy or buffoon. They have all the stuff — drinking games and Paulyisms and other stuff. I can’t believe there are parody accounts for both of us. People show up wearing our t-shirts and merchandise.

I was just some dumb kid from Minnesota. When people tell you they stopped listening to Howard Stern and they listen to you every day, I can’t believe it.

Noe: Is what you said about Howard Stern the best compliment you’ve gotten?

Image result for howard stern

Pauly: That or people come in from all over the country. They say they listen every day. It gets them through their commute. They’ll be staying on the strip, but they’ll still get in the cab or Uber and go 20 minutes just to come down at 6 in the morning to get a picture and say hello. That’s the stuff I can’t believe.

Noe: What was the biggest bet you won and what was the worst beat of your betting career?

Pauly: Well I wanted to bet $100,000 on Mayweather against Canelo Álvarez, but the guy from Morgan Stanley wouldn’t wire the money because he said I like the other side. He liked Alvarez. I couldn’t believe it.

My ex had a lot of money. We were going to put $100,000 on the bet. He wouldn’t wire the money and he talked her out of it. It was two against one. She goes okay you’re on your own, so I put $30,000 on it.

Dan Rafael had it 12-0, a shutout for Mayweather and the female judge had it a draw. They’re reading the scores; I’m like what the hell’s going on? He won but the female judge had it a draw. I couldn’t believe it. I just felt that you were never going to see him at that price again. I think I laid 220 or something on that fight. The worst beat is the live-in girlfriend of five years asking to get married and three months later she won 12 million dollars.

Noe: What happened from that point on?

Pauly: Well we gave it the college try. No one was going to tell me what to do. I don’t blame her for resenting me and saying, “I asked you to get married. You said no and now I have all this money.” Then she was the boss. Then she was doing her own thing. She was making all of the decisions and wouldn’t even run stuff by me.

I still proposed. I was in a tough spot after that too. I’m like well I can’t propose right away. I’ll look like a total idiot. It’s like so I have to wait. To my surprise she actually got mad that I took so long about proposing and everything. She said yes, but we never got there. I think once that happens I was drawing dead.

Noe: I didn’t know that story. So she won all that money after asking you to marry her?

Pauly: She asked me to get married and I said no. Then three months later she went to the casino. She went to go gamble. There’s a machine she liked there. I like the chicken fingers that they have. So she was going to get me lunch. She had some free food and some free comps. I fell asleep on the couch. It was a Friday. I woke up and had like a hundred missed calls. It was her saying she had just won 12 million dollars. I told her, I go, “Quit f***in’ around. You’re wasting my time.”

I made a couple of calls and the guy says it checks out. It actually bothered me because she was calm, cool, and collected over the phone. She’s like, “Hey, I just won $12 million. They might interview me on the news. Bring my makeup. We have the biggest suite they have. Go to valet. The host will meet you.” So I show up and it was all true.

Noe: Only in Vegas, right? That’s amazing.

Pauly: Yeah, she put like $20 in. I think it happened in like five minutes — the third hand or something. Ridiculous. I can’t believe it.

Noe: With that in mind — only in Vegas — how would you describe the Vegas market? Is it much different than anywhere else?

Pauly: Well it was, yeah. Doing local stuff we could talk about whatever we wanted because we didn’t have a pro team. We would do more of a national show, but we could joke around. There was always something weird happening with celebrities. Someone was at the club and there were always things going on.

Image result for las vegas strip

Now I would say it’s becoming just like every other place. We’re going to get the Raiders. We have the Knights. We have pro sports. Now we’re becoming a big-time sports city. The game changer is the new $2 billion stadium.

We’re going to get the Super Bowl. We’re going to get Pac-12 football. You’re going to get all these big events that are going to come to town now. I can’t believe that. I moved here in 2000. They always said wait another five years, we’ll get a team. Then we thought our big break was when we got All-Star Weekend for the NBA. That turned out to be a disaster. Pacman Jones — they had the shooting and a bunch of shady characters came to town. There was bad behavior. People weren’t coming out to gamble. They were causing trouble. People that work there all over the strip had horrible experiences.

I just can’t believe the NFL has decided to build a $2 billion stadium and it’s the Raiders. If you’d asked somebody for the small chance it would happen, you’d say Jacksonville or somebody like that would move. You wouldn’t say it’d be the Raiders and that brand.

Noe: Is Vegas a good sports town?

Pauly: I would say yeah. I think it’s unbelievable. They always used to say on the air that UNLV basketball didn’t draw unless they won. People would always call in and say you give us major leagues, we’ll go. I would laugh at that because you don’t even go to UNLV. But they were right.

It certainly helped they went to the Stanley Cup. The Golden Knights are selling out preseason hockey games. Tickets are expensive. I can’t believe how much the tickets are and people go every night and it’s the hottest thing. That surprised me. I didn’t think it was going to work because I thought the team would struggle for a while. Then it would go away and maybe hurt our chances of getting an NBA team. For an expansion team to almost win the whole thing is nuts.

Noe: Do you think the Raiders will work in Vegas?

Pauly: Yeah. That’s where you’re going to get people coming in from all over the country. People might be concerned about the population here and then people already have their team. I guess that’s different because the Golden Knights, it’s your team and it’s an expansion team. You already have, “I’m from Pittsburgh,” or someone’s from Chicago and they like the Bears. They’re not going to support the Raiders. But it’s only eight games. Plus with Raider Nation traveling — I’m sure everyone will just fly Southwest coming in all the time.

Then you just have to look at who the opponents are going to be too. I just think this will be like it is now with hockey. When the Red Wings are in town, when the Edmonton Oilers are in town, when the Blackhawks come here — that’s a lot of opposing fans. So I don’t think they’ll have any problems selling out.

Noe: If you look at your show with Mitch over these last two years what has been the biggest area that you guys have gotten better in?

Pauly: I think showing more personality and joking around and having a good time. People can get trends and stats anywhere. I also think it’s how you present it and if you also keep it loose. I would say we’ve done a good job of keeping it loose and being very entertaining. We’re entertaining and informative, but we’ve always had success there. We were highly recommended. We tried out. We got on. We were doing weekends. In no time we were doing afternoons. In two months they put us on morning drive after that. It was rapid fire. Everything happened so fast.

Image result for vsin follow the money

Noe: Did you know Mitch before you guys teamed up?

Pauly: Yeah, I worked with him at ESPN Vegas. The funny thing is they never would put us together. They made us try out and it goes back to what kind of operation they were running over there. Whether it was you guys sound alike, you’re the same person, we can’t do it — they wouldn’t do it. They refused to do it. They wouldn’t put us on the same show just the two of us. Now we’re on TV in New York and Boston and hopefully adding some other markets here soon. I know the VSiN management laughs at that. You can tell right away how good the chemistry is. How couldn’t they see that? They would never put you two together? Several people in management have commented on that.

Noe: How does being on TV change your approach to doing a sports talk show?

Pauly: The only thing that changes is I can’t swear. We used to swear a lot and that’s the only thing. We’re on live television so that’s one of the stipulations.

I guess I have to look at the camera once in a while. I don’t think that’s a big deal anyway. I’m not doing the nightly news here. We’re doing a sports show. Once in a while I’ll put a sportcoat on.

The biggest thing is just watch the language. Other than that nothing’s changed. They always considered it that too. They’re on all over now, fubo, Sling, and there are a lot of radio stations that carry it. But from day one it was VSiN.com and watch online and all that. There are three or four cameras in the studio so nothing has changed for me.

Noe: How do you guys measure success at VSiN?

Pauly: For the show I think it’s just adding affiliates and getting on in other places. Getting on all over the country, which I can’t believe. We’re grateful for what NESN did as they reach I think five million homes. It’s great that Rick Jaffe believed in the show so strongly and put us on TV there and MSG followed. I think that was the first sign of this becoming big. Other than that you’d have to ask management. I don’t know what they would say.

I just think it’s people want something else. I think people are sick and tired of when they turn on these ESPN shows, it’s the same thing. It’s fluff pieces. Every pregame show is unwatchable. It’s terrible. They’re still afraid to get into gambling. You’ve got six guys that are laughing at their own stupid jokes. They do a quick thing where they make picks. They always take favorites. They’ll go with the dog of the week and they’ll always take somebody that’s catching two or three. It’s the same stuff. I just think people want something new.

Now that you see 13, 14 states, whatever it is, where it’s legal and continues to grow and who knows how many that will be, it’s just people want good information and they want to make money. They don’t care about Erin Andrews sitting down with somebody and asking mindless chitchat. The one thing they actually did that was good was they had Jillian Barberie on doing the weather. They even got rid of that. Stuff like that. I don’t know what they’re trying.

Image result for jillian barberie weather nfl

Noe: Do you think that it’s just outdated thinking with these national outlets where they still treat gambling like it’s taboo?

Pauly: Yeah, that’s stupid. The one pregame show that’s good and it’s been that way for a long time is College GameDay. They have fun. They do picks. The Bear is on there giving picks. They discuss the point spread. It’s a good atmosphere and good energy. They like to have a good time with it.

The others, I don’t know what they’re doing, if they’re afraid of Goodell or what. The person who came up with this idea where we need six guys on there all ex jocks who speak in clichés and it’s all coach speak is laughable. I don’t know who came up with that. They all continue to do it. It’s a joke.

I think that’s why these fantasy shows are doing so well and why there’s potential for that. I don’t want to give them any ideas, but I just think if you would come on to talk point spreads and give good information right before kickoff on that type of platform — I think they’re wasting the platform. I don’t know anybody who watches that shit. It’s terrible. I don’t understand these guys who come in and like give me Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, or who’s on CBS? Nate Burleson, Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason — I mean you’ve got five guys in there and they can say something for 10 seconds and they’ve got to move on. It’s all clichés and it’s all the same stuff. I don’t understand it.

That’s where you just got to give Goodell the middle finger and say you can’t say you’re opposed to gambling when you gave Las Vegas a pro team. Where would you really be without fantasy football which is gambling, fantasy sports, or sports betting? Where would you be? Would you be the NBA? I mean how popular really would you be if you eliminated that? That’s the reason you’re so successful, because of bettors! People love this.

Noe: Do the Johnny-come-latelies who are now all of a sudden embracing sports gambling annoy you, or is it the people that are still reluctant to embrace it?

Pauly: I would say the latter. There’s nothing wrong with trying. It’s a huge demographic. This is very important. More people bet sports than play the stock market. You have what — four networks whatever it is — devoted to the stock market. Think about that; that more people bet sports than play the stock market. The numbers are just staggering about how many Americans placed a bet last year.

My mom couldn’t tell you who the coach was at Duke, but every March she you would come home with a bracket to fill out for 20 bucks. That’s why it’s the biggest thing in Las Vegas every March. It’s standing room only in ballrooms and you can’t get a room. It’s bedlam. It’s because everyone likes to bet and everyone does an office pool.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying. But the problem with that is you’re going to get found out and exposed right away. If you don’t know the terminology or the jargon, you’ll be found out quick. This is something you have to be around and know it. If you get the terminology wrong they’ll shut you off. I would say it’s the latter. I don’t know what ESPN is doing. That’s strange too because Van Pelt has been talking about it and doing the Bad Beats segment for years. I think they’re missing a huge audience. But that’s good for us because they can watch us then.

Image result for svp bad beats

Noe: Can you think of any unknown oddsmakers in Vegas that might become bigger personalities with sports betting becoming more of a national thing?

Pauly: I think Matt Lindeman could have a future. He’s at Circa. That’s going to be a billion dollar casino when it opens next year. I think it’s going to be the Bellagio on steroids. I think it’s going to be a game changer. He might be one because he’s an oddsmaker. He’s young, opinionated, has very good numbers — I think he could come on the scene.

The other one I think is a slam dunk is Mike Palm. Mike Palm is the VP at The D and with Circa Sports. He’s Derek Stevens’s right hand man. Number one he’s the Head of Active Content Management. Derek calls it a travesty in America — you go to a Buffalo Wild Wings, just go to a sports bar on a Saturday, and the bartenders can’t find a game. FOX News is on, the Weather Channel is on, and they’ve got a replay on ESPNU from 1987. When you ask them to put the soccer match on — Liverpool or whatever — they look at you like you have two heads. I can’t believe that the bosses aren’t training them. It totally could be a business.

In any event, he always knows what game is coming down to the wire and what game deserve sound. I know he’s a vice president, but he’s sharp, he’s got a good opinion, he does his homework on all the sports. He’s educated; he gave out the Blues early to win the Stanley Cup. He’s good at hockey, he’s good at baseball, and I think he could become a star. He’s already front and center with his position. If he bets big, he knows what he’s talking about on all these sports and he’s entertaining. I think those two go hand in hand. They’re building a huge broadcasting studio inside the new casino. I just think that thing is going to be a monster that opens late next year.

Noe: What would you say is your proudest achievement thus far as a broadcaster?

Pauly: I don’t think it’s happened yet. Well, I thought the FOX Sports Radio thing was a big deal. You know him; I was filling in for Ben Maller so however many markets he’s on. I also didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I could do four hours by myself in the middle of the night where you can’t have a guest on and sometimes the callers are drunk. I thought it was hard to do. I guess that was a big deal. I just think there are bigger things ahead.

Noe: What’s a major goal of yours or something you want to do before your career is over?

Pauly: I think just keep getting on as many networks and as many TV stations as possible. I think the sky’s the limit because so many other states are now getting sports betting and that just leads to all these people who want to bet, like to bet, and can add you all over the country. Look at all the networks. Look at all these places that carry 24/7 sports. There are some things I don’t want [to divulge] — I’m just throwing names out there like a MASN, whatever the networks are who carry these teams.

Image result for vsin pauly howard

Noe: What do you remember most about the first time you filled in for Ben Maller on a national platform? Did anything unexpected or funny happen?

Pauly: I felt comfortable. It was strange, but I was comfortable because I was doing it from the same studio that I worked at in Las Vegas. It was just me in a room. I was always confident that I could talk college basketball and March Madness was going on. I think Kentucky was going for an undefeated season.

On air they joked that my producer that night was in Liar Liar with Jim Carrey. I’m like are they serious? It was like a 10-minute discussion. That kind of loosened me up and I said okay we can talk about different things and joke around as well. I just couldn’t believe that the guy was one of the main stars as a child actor with Jim Carrey in a big time movie and here he was. I’m talking to him about “Jim’s on in Des Moines; he wants to talk about football.”

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Published

on

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!”

Continue Reading

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. “

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.