NFL defensive end Michael Bennett and his wife Pele are not only life partners, they’re also co-hosts. The Bennetts are collaborating on a new podcast called Mouthpeace. It’s from Lemonada Media, in partnership with Westwood One. The conversation below is aimed at getting a better sense of who they are as a couple and individuals, while focusing on the challenges they face in fine-tuning a brand new podcast.
Michael has played 11 seasons in the NFL. He would love to end his career with the Seattle Seahawks, but time will tell if that ends up happening or not. In the meantime, I asked Pele what life has been like as an NFL wife. Michael also touches on the toughest part about being an NFL player in relation to his marriage. It isn’t surprising that this conversation is filled with insight, humor, and interesting views, including why Michael refers to himself as a feminist. Enjoy.
Brian Noe: How would you describe each other?
Pele Bennett: I would say Michael is an amazing husband, a wonderful father, and tremendous athlete. He is a life partner, also my housewife, domesticated househusband — (laughs) — all of that.
Michael Bennett: Pele is very intuitive as far as being able to work with people and knowing how other people are feeling. She’s also spiritual. I think she’s very spiritual, being able to connect with people emotionally. People always come up to her and tell her their story. I’ll be like, ‘Damn, you just took all that in? I would have left.’ She’s compassionate too because I would just be like okay I got to go. She’s definitely somebody who listens. Sophisticated, and she’s emotional too.
I think she’s very passionate about things that she really cares about in a different way; she just has so much information about stuff that she’s passionate about. Especially when it comes to food. Sometimes I get really annoyed. I just want to be eating some sugar, eat a donut, and she wants to tell me about the calories and what it does. I’m just really like I don’t care at this point. I just really want this donut. I think she’s very passionate about things that she really cares about and I enjoy that. I enjoy the passion. It keeps me going.
BN: You guys seem like you’re best friends. Have you always had a close connection once you got together?
MB: Yeah, I think we’ve been together so long that I feel like we kind of became friends by accident at this point.
PB: But we weren’t friends before though when we were dating. We became friends while we were dating.
MB: Yeah, but I just feel like people become friends — like good friends — you can be friends with somebody, but then you’re not really good friends with them. I feel like most people sleep with people and they don’t be their friend. I guess they just have a sexual friendship, but not really an emotional friendship. I think we have an emotional friendship. That’s good.
BN: When did you meet each other?
PB: We met back in high school.
MB: But we didn’t have sex until we were married.
BN: Is that true?
MB: Nah, man.
MB: We’d be like Ciara and Russell Wilson.
BN: I understand, Mike, that you’re a self-described feminist. What’s your definition of that?
MB: I have daughters. I have sisters. I have a mother. I feel it’s just caring about what’s going on with women and trying to be respectful to what women’s emotions are — not trying to control the narrative, but just being a listener. I think that’s important. To me that’s kind of what a male who respects women is; it’s just giving them their space and giving them their platform enough to say what they want to say and not directing what they’re saying or trying to be like, ‘You shouldn’t feel like this. You shouldn’t do that.’ That’s my perspective on it.
Also being a male that’s in the position of power and understanding that you have influence to be able to help a woman have a stronger message and being able to uplift. I think the most important thing with that is practicing at home — as my wife will say — practice what you preach; also uplifting your family, your wife, your kids, your daughters, your sister, your mother. So trying to do both.
BN: What would you both say is the subject where your opinions differ the most?
MB: I don’t know — movies. I feel like her movie selection is not as good as mine. She likes foreign films. I don’t really like foreign films that much. I can’t really sit through a foreign film.
PB: But you like foreign films with subtitles.
MB: I like sports shows.
PB: You just are like a TV junkie though. I don’t like TV like that.
MB: But you like foreign movies though. I don’t like foreign movies. I don’t like the subtitles too much — unless it’s a sports theme and you’re watching something on Amazon about the soccer team or something in another country. I get interested in it because I just want to see how other athletes do things and how their world is different. And maybe books — probably just books and movies.PB: I’m sure there are a lot more. We just can’t think of anything right now. Now you just started an argument. (Laughs)
BN: What would you say is the number one non-sports subject that each of you are interested in the most?
MB: Mine is interior design.
PB: I’ll say food. Education. Recipes. All around food.
BN: How about the sports subject that each of you finds the most interesting?
PB: It kind of goes back to food for some reason. But I think it’s how it can improve performance — that part of looking at food as fuel or food as medicine in that type of way. I don’t think that you necessarily need that but there is a science to it.
BN: What is it about injuries that you’re interested in, Mike?
MB: I think when it comes to injuries we both have empathy for other players who experience it. I feel like we both see the human side of it even though in football or sports the person gets dehumanized and people forget about the whole family. I think we both kind of like gel in that. When somebody gets hurt we both want to know, ‘Oh, how are the kids doing? How’s the wife doing? How’s the player?’
PB: The ripple effect of an injury is so harsh.
BN: What has been the biggest challenge with the podcast so far?
PB: I think talking to each other like normal but also just how your energy naturally comes off.
MB: I think also, I feel like people want to limit what we want to say. People don’t really want to hear us talk about some of the stuff that we really talk about. I think that’s going to be a roadblock I feel like.
BN: What’s a subject that you would like to talk about more?
MB: I think people really don’t want to hear about the lack of African-American coaches. Stuff like that. With race people are like, ‘Oh, the NFL is not racist, or doesn’t have racial issues with things that have happened within it.’ So when you start talking about the things like that, people just want to be like, ‘Oh, what about this stat,’ or whatever. Then you want to bring up the facts of how there hasn’t been much change at the top of the positions with GM’s — it’s full of African-American players but not enough African-Americans in authority — I think people get turned off by that type of rhetoric whenever you start mentioning that.
BN: I heard one of your podcasts and it was funny, Michael, you mentioned the NFL and then just groaned. What’s your opinion of the NFL?
MB: I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed my time in the NFL, but there are always things that you reflect on and in retrospect you’re like I wish they would change this or focus on that. I just wish they would focus on long-term health for all players and benefits and what happens to players after they finish the game. Just focusing on the mental aspect of what players are going through after they finish the game and focusing on the families. Stuff like that is important and those are the things I wish they would fix.
Also focusing on giving people true opportunities. Even in the media, say a white quarterback finishes in the NFL — Jay Cutler for example — he never really talked to the media but automatically gets a FOX job. But then a person who’s been talking to the media, he has to go through a whole boot camp and jump through all these other hoops to be seen as ready for air, where someone who has never been on air automatically gets a job. I just think there are so many barriers outside the sport, but it is what it is.
BN: Pele, how did being the wife of an NFL player impact you and your relationship together?
PB: We were so young and we were kind of being thrown into a lifestyle. Then we got married later, but we were already together, I think it really tested our relationship. It also tested me as a person because how does my role fit into this lifestyle in general? Because we’re learning the lifestyle as we go, there’s going to be ups and downs. It is like a roller coaster and it’s also learning so much at the same time. Then how do you have all this adversity and still persevere through all of it. I think there were a lot of tests for me and just my character and how I can deal with different issues and overcome them.
I think that I learned a lot through 11 years now that we’ve been going through this. Then also building a family; I feel like there are so many learning lessons that came along with it and having three children also brought into this lifestyle. I always joke and say there’s so much stress and I always go more on the negative side, but there was more good than bad. I think a lot of experiences came through this — a lot of bonding and building. Having to depend on just your husband and to depend on your kids I think is a big thing for me because we’re put in so many different situations where we literally have to make these judgments so quickly. Having to go from state to state, from different teams, from different situations; I learned a lot throughout that. I think it’s definitely something that I can pass on to the kids besides just being in the NFL. It was so much learning outside of that.
BN: What is the toughest part about life in the NFL?
PB: I think mentally because obviously there are physical issues, but I think mentally; how do you mentally stay sane going through all these different challenges and then how do you stay sane going through your partnership with your husband because you’re both going through things individually, but then you also have to deal with all this shit together. So I think mentally you’re trying to just stay on top of that and stay ahead of that. That was really difficult for me.
BN: What was the most difficult part for you in your relationship being an NFL player, Michael?
MB: The time away. I think that’s the thing that makes it hard. When you really love someone and you’ve been with somebody for so long, you kind f grasp the concept of time, and you kind of grasp the concept of death; you realize that every day is one less day that you have with them on Earth. I feel like that’s the hardest thing for me. Every time I think about that, I’m like, ‘Does something really matter enough for me to spend a day away from my family?’ I just struggle with that a lot like every single day honestly, but I’m getting over it.
BN: If you could pick any guest to appear on your podcast going forward who would you choose?
MB: Michelle Obama.
PB: No I swear I was about to say Michelle Obama. Okay then I’ll say Oprah.
MB: Michelle and Barack. We’re not famous enough to get them now. Give us a couple of years.
John Mamola Didn’t Overthink New WDAE Lineup
“I don’t go book-to-book my talent, I just don’t. I think the more and more you dive into ratings, the more and more you overthink things.”
Just over one month ago, WDAE in Tampa Bay reshuffled its daily line-up. The iHeartMedia station, programmed by John Mamola, moved the Ronnie and TKras program from mornings to afternoons and moved the midday Pat and Aaron show into mornings, while creating a new midday show centered around Jay Recher and producer-turned-host Zac Blobner.
The station let previous host Ian Beckles go as part of the reshuffling.
Barrett Sports Media caught up with Mamola this week to talk about the new line-up, the Tampa Bay market, the importance of developing from within and much more.
(Some of the answers have been edited for brevity and clarity)
BSM: It’s been just over a month since these changes took hold, what would you say is the overall response to them?
JM: Overall, really positive. We lost a really important piece and a pillar of the station in Ian Beckles, but with the moves that we did make, it was overall a pretty positive response from the listeners.
BSM: This wasn’t just creating one new show and calling it a day, this was moving multiple shows into new dayparts. How do you as a programmer get multiple hosts on board with re-arranging their schedules in that manner?
JM: My morning show went into afternoons so they didn’t have to wake up early, so they were very open and welcome to that. As for the original midday show, I knew they were early risers, so moving to mornings didn’t really affect their sleep schedules. And then my midday show, which is the new one, putting those two together is just a combination of some very young, hungry guys that always want new opportunity and are always looking to capitalize on opportunity.
So I wouldn’t say necessarily the convincing was the hard part because it just made a lot of sense for the people involved. The guys in the morning didn’t have to wake up early. The guys in the mornings are early risers anyway, and you get two young, hungry guys to take care of that opportunity so the convincing part was quite easy.
BSM: I got to know Zac Blobner a little bit on the Producers Podcast. He was highlighted a few episodes back and I thought really highly of him. Why was this the right time to get him into a full-time on-air role?
JM: Zac’s been doing some on-air stuff for on the weekends for a number of years. He had his own show and then we tried him out with a couple people on staff on Saturday mornings. That just didn’t necessarily work out but he has hosted a fantasy football show, which we actually air Orlando and in Miami as well as Tampa, live for the last five years.
So his on-air persona – he was a huge part of the morning show and the success of the Ronnie and TKras Show for their run in mornings. So if we were to elevate someone from inside, it just seemed like he was the right guy to elevate, and to pair with Jay Recher. It’s two young, hungry guys and they play well off each other. Some of the best highlights of my day are just sitting in their pre-show meetings with them and their producer Jon Dugas and just listening to how they collaborate together as a threesome on how to attack content, what sound to use, and what guests to book.
Really, it’s three producers in one room all talking about how to collaborate and do a show. Zac has earned the opportunity, just like Pat Donovan who was a producer first. Aaron Jacobson was a producer at first. It was Zac’s time and he’s done a tremendous job with it so far, albeit it’s only a month, but I totally expect it to be a very high ceiling for that show and for Zac in particular.
BSM: Some programmers believe on developing and promoting from within and some programmers believe in always looking for a splashy hire from the outside. Why is developing talent and promoting from within important to you and WDAE?
JM: I think it’s vital for every brand to have a good bench and to continue to find different ways to utilize that bench. Maybe not on the Monday through Friday, but definitely on the weekends in some capacity. And if not there, then on the digital product. You bring in certain guys to push everyone else. Zac was one of those guys. Jay Recher was one of those guys. Pat Donovan was one of those guys. Ronnie and TKras were two of those guys. I like to bring in guys that have a goal and want to push everyone to be better, not just themselves, but push everyone to be better. We have a tremendous team atmosphere on WDAE and we’ve had it for a number of years.
And when you do a lot of change, like we did about a month ago, you don’t want to keep it too foreign. You want to keep it with somebody that the audience knows and the audience has grown to know. Because the minute you start bringing in out of town people that nobody’s ever heard of or you start going to syndication instead of staying live and local, you start to lose your cume, and you start to lose that branding.
We like to put out as much as we can with whatever we have and I think having good, driven people in the hiring process, albeit I’ve hired a little young over my time here, it’s continued to push the narrative that we are continually growing from within and this was just the latest step of that. I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.
BSM: When you have new shows and shows in different dayparts, are you mentioning things like ratings and revenue to them? Or do you just tell them to build the shows and worry about it later?
JM: I don’t go book-to-book my talent, I just don’t. I think the more and more you dive into ratings, the more and more you overthink things. It’s important, but it’s not the biggest thing. For me, it’s the sound of the show. If the show sounds like it’s got energy, if it sounds like it’s progressing, if it sounds like we’re creating more attention by what we’re saying and we’re developing as talents and as a station, you feel it. You don’t need to see the numbers. The numbers are the numbers.
The system is great when it’s great but when it’s terrible, it’s still flawed. You know? I mean, Neilson ratings only get you so far but If I start seeing stream numbers go up, which I’ve seen, that’s a positive. If I see digital traffic or social media growth or something like that, that’s a metric I can track. Today I went to the gas station and they had our sports station on. If I can hear that, that means we’re doing something right. I don’t look book-to-book. I think PDs that dive into numbers and analytics and, and clocks…. Look, if you put out entertaining stuff, they’ll stick with you. And it starts with giving that confidence to your talent. And that’s how I program.
Brady Farkas is a sports radio professional with 5+ years of experience as a Program Director, On-Air Personality, Assistant Program Director and Producer in Burlington, VT and Albany, NY. He’s well versed in content creation, developing ideas to generate ratings and revenue, working in a team environment, and improving and growing digital content thru the use of social media, audio/video, and station websites. His primary goal is to host a daily sports talk program for a company/station that is dedicated to serving sports fans. You can find him on Twitter @WDEVRadioBrady and reach him by email at email@example.com.
Brock Huard Believes The Third Time’s The Charm For Brock and Salk
“If I was a radio consultant, there’s two muscles you have to build constantly. A is listening and B is curiosity.”
It just felt right for Brock Huard when he stepped back behind the mic at Seattle Sports 710. On September 6th, he returned to the airwaves with longtime partner Mike Salk in morning drive. It’s been almost three months since Huard returned to radio, but it still feels as right as it did that early September morning. That’s because the business is in his blood.
“Once radio is in your blood, it doesn’t leave,” said Huard.
If you talk sports radio with Huard for any length of time, you won’t question his love or intelligence about the industry. He truly loves and understands the business. When you have a former player that has an incredible amount of passion for sports radio, you really have something. Seattle Sports 710 really has something with Huard and his return to the airwaves made locals in the Pacific Northwest very happy.
Brock & Salk haven’t had to deal with the challenges that new shows experience in the first few months. They’re not trying to establish a chemistry and flow together. They’ve had it after doing a show together twice before, plus a podcast the two hosted together.
“He and I had still done the podcast together for the last couple of years, and had a number of conversations over that time about how fun that hour and a half was, each and every week,” said Huard. “We never really missed a podcast and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Had we not done that podcast for two years, I don’t know if we would have come back for a third iteration. The third time has been the charm on this iteration.”
What makes the show isn’t just Huard being a former athlete or Salk being a very dynamic and experienced host. The two share an incredible chemistry that shines through on the air. However, Huard thinks there’s one reason in particular that the two mesh so well on air.
“Because we listen,” said Huard. “That’s number one. I will listen to so many radio shows when I’m on the road and I’m like, this is bad radio. And you can tell hosts aren’t listening to one another, they’re just waiting for their time to talk and they fill and it’s terrible.
“If I was a radio consultant, there’s two muscles you have to build constantly. A is listening and B is curiosity. I think for 14 years he’s still genuinely curious about me and how my mind works, world views, ideology and sports views. After 14 years, I’m equally interested in how he thinks and it’s very different than me.
“It was hard to be able to listen and respect one another, because we come from two totally different world views, in many ways. But at the same time, when you do, and you’re curious to listen to the other side and what they have to say, you create unique content.
“He and I used to have to build these big show sheets when we started and we still have structure and everyday there’s still show sheets, but a consultant by the name of Rick Scott told me this early on, he said you know your show will be good, when you don’t get to half of the stuff on your show sheet. And he was absolutely right 14 years ago.”
Co-hosting morning drive at Seattle Sports 710 isn’t the only gig Huard has in sports media. He’s also a college football analyst for FOX. He’ll be on the call Friday night for the Pac-12 Championship game between USC and Utah. But everything ties back to radio for Huard and a recent experience on an airplane made him realize it again.
“I was sitting next to this very smart gentleman the other day on my trip home from college football, and he was crushing crossword puzzles like I’ve never seen before,” said Huard. “He’s a very successful attorney and you could see for him, that was such a tool to keep his mind sharp. For me, radio is the same thing. It’s been the best training ground for everything I do with media, especially television.
“If you can do live radio and equip your mind to listen and strengthen that listening muscle, while also creating content, it’s a pretty good active tool. It keeps my mind sharp and plays to my mind’s strengths, I think, with just how wackado I can be between my ears at times. If you have a tremendous partner that helps shape you, like Salk is to me, then it’s just addictive and gets in your blood and doesn’t leave.”
As it relates to radio, being a college football analyst has its perks, because of the access it gives Huard. Every week before calling a game, he gets production meetings with head coaches, which gives him insight that others may not have. It also awards Huard the opportunity to create relationships with coaches. But how much of what’s said does he feel like he can use on the game broadcast or his radio show?
“99.9 percent is used on the air, on the show and sometimes I gain insight and share it with coaches that I know to encourage them,” said Huard. “It baffles me how many times I will hear from my peers, oh, I hate these coaches meetings. I don’t get anything out of them. And I’m like, God bless you. I will have a career for the rest of my life if that’s the way you approach it. It’s the most valuable real estate we have. It’s a forum that nobody else has.
“Yeah, they have press conferences, but if you build true trust and relationship and confidence, they want to tell you their story. They want to share their team. I can’t tell you how many times content from those meetings comes to life in my sit downs with Pete Carroll or Jerry Dipoto, GM of the Mariners or Scott Servais, or on the air or off the air.”
Huard has an insight to college football that few in the Pacific Northwest has, but that doesn’t mean he and Salk will jam pack content from that sport into the show. The duo knows that Seattle cares about. Sure, there’s an interest for college football, but not anywhere near the hunger from Seahawks and Mariners content.
For example, Huard called the TCU vs. Baylor game two weeks ago, which featured one of the best endings in college football this year, when the Horned Frogs nailed a field goal as time expired. The call of the moment was spectacular and could be the shining moment of the season for a TCU team that looks destined for the College Football Playoff. On the Monday after, Huard and Salk made it a part of the show, but never had the intention of making it the majority of the show.
“Our audience is dominated by the Seahawks and Mariners,” said Huard. “That dominates 80 to 90 percent of our conversation. I would say lifestyle is probably the rest. For example, we played that highlight today four times over the course of the show. We rank things at the end of every show and it was my Top 5 games of my broadcast life in 14 years on the road and that was number 1.
“I often use conversations and things I learned from those games and players and relate them to the Seahawks and Mariners. Dave Aranda talked about living with expectations and how hard that is in our meeting on Friday. He said, you watch, TCU is going to have to live in an entirely different world, where you’re on the mountain top instead of climbing it. And then you relate that toward the Seahawks or the Rams this year.
“Inevitably, yes, those moments create content, either emotionally or football 101. Radio is all encompassing in that way. I never understand radio hosts who try to play it straight. I just don’t. I think it’s bad radio. You have to be willing to live your life and put your life out there, whether it’s good, bad or ugly. The more you do that, the more you attach yourself and connect with your audience.”
It feels like the third time is truly the charm for Huard and Salk. They listen, they have chemistry and the content is a refreshing mix of sports and lifestyle.
“He and I are not comedians,” said Huard. “We don’t play fake laugh tracks like others do. He and I will land way more on the analytical information side than maybe a consultant would tell us what morning radio people want. But I think where it cuts through is he and I put our lives out there. Our parenting success and failures. Relationship struggles, kids, sports, youth sports, that’s probably where we connect in a way that’s more lifestyle. That’s the word I would use.”
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.
Chuck Swirsky Embodies ‘Always A Pleasure’
“I love working with Bill Wennington and each and every day I have the same enthusiasm of calling a Bulls game like I did as a five-year-old child calling games off a TV.”
It’s hard to imagine there are any more positive thinking people in the world than Chuck Swirsky. If you don’t believe me, just check out his daily tweets. Swirsky has a lot to be upbeat about, he’s doing what he’s always wanted to, and now he’s written a book.
“Always a Pleasure” is his creation, putting thoughts on paper, or iPad or whatever, about stories and people he’s encountered over the more than 40-years he’s been in the business.
The title is aptly accurate. Chuck is always a pleasure to be around and is one of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. He encourages those that need it. Swirsky always has time for people in the business and those trying to get into this crazy racket. I’ve seen and experienced it for myself, so trust me when I tell you, it’s the truth.
There are those that have worked multiple decades in play-by-play, and I’ll bet each and every one of them has been asked at some point, ‘hey, why don’t you write a book?’. Sounds easy enough, I’m sure. But when you really think about it, how can a person be expected to fit 40 plus years of work into a book that wouldn’t be the size of a dictionary?
More on that in a moment. I was wondering what makes someone in Swirsky’s position to write a book. So, I asked him. He outlined the main reason he decided to put pen to paper and tell some of his favorite stories and recall good memories.
“Over the past several years I was approached by several publishers and writers who were interested in detailing my journey in sports broadcasting, featuring my stops calling major college athletics and NBA basketball in addition to sports talk.” Swirsky told me. “I was reluctant to do so but a year ago I had a change of heart knowing 2022-23 Bulls season would be my 25th in the NBA, including my 2-thousandth NBA play-by-play game.”
Swirsky didn’t use a sportswriter or an author to tell his tale. “For years I have saved notes and decided to write the book myself, in my own words. I love my job. I have no desire to retire. I want to continue broadcasting Bulls game for many more years as long as my health and clarity allow me to do so.” he said.
“I love working with Bill Wennington and each and every day I have the same enthusiasm of calling a Bulls game like I did as a five-year-old child calling games off a TV. I have the utmost respect for the Reinsdorf family and our entire organization. I just felt this was the right time to write a book.”
I have followed Swirsky’s career closely and gotten to know him over the years. Growing up in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to hear him in his early days here, at the old WCFL (now ESPN 1000), where he became one of the pioneers of sports talk radio. He’s called games on radio and television.
For DePaul, Michigan, select White Sox games, the Raptors and now over the last nearly 2 decades, the Bulls. That’s a lot of experience and a lot of experiences for one person. It made ‘editing’ the book a little difficult.
“I could have easily written another 100 pages featuring additional sports personalities and stories.” Swirsky said. “But I elected to highlight specifics of a timeline allowing the reader to understand that my quest to reach a childhood goal of broadcasting NBA basketball was met with challenges, setbacks and ultimately persevering through hard work, focus, passion and positivity.”
Writing books can be a way to look back on a career. Swirsky if far from done. He never really reflected on things, because he was always looking forward. But the retrospective allowed him to realize a few things along the way.
“I would say this. I am my own worst critic. I very seldom look back on my career. While I was writing “Always A Pleasure” I had to stop and truly reflect how blessed I am to be in the position where I am today. I never take it for granted. Never have. Never will.” Swirsky said. “Nothing is easy. It’s hard. This business can be exhilarating yet so difficult. I never get too high nor too low although I’m very sensitive and my insecurities get the best of me which is probably not a good thing , especially in radio-television.”
In looking back there’s bound to be a few lessons learned from the past. Swirsky did find a few things in writing the book that he remembered, educated him along the way. “I learned that anyone who applies themselves, making a commitment to work on their skill set, and their weaknesses through hard work, dedication, passion and purpose, can be successful.” he said.
“For example, not every professional athlete is going to hit .330. Let’s say another player is hitting .240. What is keeping him in the big leagues? Is it his glove, his ability to play multiple positions? His character in the locker-room? The same principle is in effect in our industry. Maximize your strengths and do it with a great attitude, humility and kindness.”
Swirsky’s book details his interactions with some very familiar people in the business and the sports world. “I have plenty of stories featuring some of the biggest names in sports ranging from Hall of Fame baseball star Willie Mays who many consider perhaps the greatest player of all time to Kobe Bryant who left our world way too soon.” he says. “When you’ve been a professional broadcaster for 46 years, one meets many, many players, coaches, executives, media and sports personalities along the way.”
The one thing you can say about Swrisky, is he is real. There’s no pretense or facade. A genuine human being that is interested in what people have to say. Athletes, coaches, broadcasters and yes, even fans. His book has been reviewed by some of the greats. Mike Breen, Chris Bosh and even Steph Curry. Here’s the 2-time NBA MVP’s take on Swirsky and the book.
Having known Chuck since my days as a still-developing youth player in Toronto, where my dad was a member of the Raptors, I can attest to the fact that his passion for people and basketball is deep and sincere.
Chuck’s unique desire to mentor young people, especially minorities and those of different cultures and backgrounds, will help inspire those who share the same dreams, dreams that enabled him to persevere to the top of his profession.
I’m proud of Chuck, and excited that others can become enlightened by his exciting broadcasting journey, which includes nearly 25 years in the NBA and, of course, a trio of Curry family members shooting from the stars, just like him.
A book written by someone as accomplished in this industry as Swirsky draws interest because of who he is. But the Bulls’ play-by-play man is always thinking of others and trying to help where he can, just like Curry said. Along with stories, he lends his knowledge and relates it to those who are already in broadcasting and those trying to get in.
“I’m hoping those in our industry who read the book even those outside the radio-tv, new media field will come away knowing that perseverance is a powerful resource to help withstand the emotional heartache of rejection, disappointment and loneliness.” said Swirsky. He adds, “I have experienced everything. The good. The bad. The ugly. I’m talking all levels. My message is to stay true to your core values. In this case, my foundation is built on respect, kindness, honesty, sincerity and selflessness.”
Given the opportunity to beam about the finished product, Swirsky in typical fashion, deflected any praise. Simply saying, “I am very humbled and appreciative of the professionalism of the book’s publisher, Eckhartz Press. They allowed me to be me. That’s all I wanted. Mission accomplished. I am grateful.”
The entire industry should be grateful for people like Swirsky. There are so few in the business who are as kind and caring as he is. There are just as few people that take interest in others, and help mentor the next generation like Chuck. Inspiring stories, a career chronicle and life lessons, “Always a Pleasure” is going to be on my must-read list for the holidays. Congrats “Swirsk” keep up the great work.
Andy Masur is a columnist for BSM and works for WGN Radio as an anchor and play-by-play announcer. He also teaches broadcasting at the Illinois Media School. During his career he has called games for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. He can be found on Twitter @Andy_Masur1 or you can reach him by email at Andy@Andy-Masur.com.