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Rodney Peete Is Done Over-Preparing

“TV has so many sound bites. You’ve got to get in and out in 30 seconds and things like that whereas radio if you have a point that you want to make, you can elaborate on it. People get to know you more on radio.”

Brian Noe

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We hear about the value of versatility each year during the NFL draft. Former Clemson defensive stud Isaiah Simmons has the athleticism to play safety, linebacker, and slot corner. Versatility isn’t confined to skill set alone. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is versatile with his game plans. One week he might run the ball down your throat. The following week’s approach might be completely different. It’s all about adapting and finding a formula that leads to winning.

The same concept applies to sports radio. Rodney Peete is a former quarterback that is now a sports radio host at AM 570 in Los Angeles. During his standout years at USC and 16 years in the NFL, Peete was most comfortable being overprepared for games. He has found that a different approach works better for him in sports radio. Peete still prepares hard, but ad-libbing and being less scripted is his preferred approach.

Rodney Peete - Public Speaking & Appearances - Speakerpedia ...

Versatility, my friends.

It’s interesting to see how successful people find ways of remaining successful. Peete has had success on the football field, in marriage, as a father of four kids, and even with a reality show Meet The Peetes on the Hallmark Channel for crying out loud. He is now successful in sports radio from noon-3pm each weekday.

Peete details how co-host Fred Roggin and SVP of Sports Don Martin have helped contribute to his on-air success. Make no mistake, Peete isn’t perfect as we find out about his pandemic-induced Oreo sweet tooth, but perfection isn’t necessary when you possess charisma and versatility. Enjoy.

Brian Noe: I have to start off with an apology, Rodney, because I am literally from South Bend, Indiana. I feel like I just need to apologize for that up front.

Rodney Peete: [Laughs] Oh yeah, yeah, you should apologize.

BN: [Laughs] Going back to your playing days — biggest rival seems too simplistic — who was the team that you wanted to beat the most?

RP: Oh, it was Notre Dame. We didn’t during my time there. We lost to them. It was during that 10-year run that Notre Dame had on us. I was a part of that. UCLA was a big rivalry because you had to live and hear about it if you lost all year long. You interacted with those guys and you interacted with people from UCLA. It was big, but I think just from more of a national standpoint and just more of a nasty type of rivalry was with Notre Dame. UCLA felt more like a competitive, brotherly rivalry, whereas Notre Dame was an enemy rivalry.

BN: Based on the pandemic whether it’s professionally or personally what has been the toughest part of it for you?

RP: The toughest part about it for me to be honest with you is staying out of the kitchen. [Laughs] That’s been the toughest part. Every break, every time you look up I’m running to the kitchen thinking about things to put in my mouth to eat or drink when normally I’m out, I’m busy, I’m active. I’m not thinking about it when I’m on a regular schedule. Now it’s just like you’re walking around the house and you can only watch so much TV or read so many articles. It’s 25, 30 times a day walking in the kitchen and grabbing something. That has been the toughest thing to stay away from that.

BN: That’s funny, man. What’s the unhealthiest thing you’ve grabbed the most?

RP: Oh man, the Oreo cookies are killing me. They really are. I wasn’t really a big Oreo cookie guy before but for whatever reason I just gravitated toward those. My youngest son loves Oreo cookies so I started kind of chilling with him and eating some. Then it just got to be a thing.

I’m the guy in the household making all of the runs. All of my four kids are here, my wife’s here, and we’ve got two dogs. I make all the runs to the grocery store or to the drug store to get dog food or whatever. I’m the guy going out so I’ll always get stuff for the kids but I sneak my Oreos for me.

BN: What have you enjoyed the most about doing sports radio?

RP: I didn’t know I would enjoy it. I really didn’t. I had a couple of stints doing some TV gigs. I did some work for FOX and then landed a gig on Best Damn Sports Show. I was with them for four years. I did some other local stuff for FOX, so I was more in tuned to the TV thing.

I always thought of radio as a long gig because you’ve got to continuously find things to talk about. My first few months into it, it was a struggle just to keep the conversation going. Thank God I had Fred Roggin to work with me because he’s such a pro. He started in radio. Radio is where he has the most fun even though he’s been on TV for 30 years. He enjoys radio more.

WATCH: "Lunchtime" with Roggin and Rodney opens show talking ...

What I found is that the more I did it, you’re able to have more of a voice. You’re able to have your opinions and really dive into a topic more so than you are on TV. TV has so many sound bites. You’ve got to get in and out in 30 seconds and things like that whereas radio if you have a point that you want to make, you can elaborate on it. People get to know you more on radio. Even though they may not see your face they get to know who you are more on radio. That part I started to really enjoy. I enjoy that I’m connecting with the audience and being able to hear what they have to say.

BN: What part of your athletic background — the preparation aspect, the way you competed — do you apply the most to sports radio?

RP: It’s funny because when I was playing I did love to prepare. I wanted to make sure I could tell how the game was going to go because I felt really comfortable about my preparation. If I was a little off or I didn’t watch certain aspects of the film and the defense enough, then I was always a little uncomfortable. The thing for me going into a game was to be overprepared.

It’s weird because now I’m prepared, but what I bring to the table in our show is more like a two-minute drill. It’s on the fly, ad-libbing during a situation. Fred keeps us on schedule, but there are things that — and we’ve found a really good groove to this — that Fred will throw out there that I’m able to react to and bring it into a realm and identify it from my sports background and relate it to what we’re talking about. That has worked well for us. 

I have the outline, but I don’t like to overthink something because during the conversation on radio your thought process might change in a second. Just by the way Fred answers a question or poses a question, my answer might change in that moment. If I have this ready-made answer for some of these topics that we want to do, then I don’t feel like I have the freedom to ad-lib it. I treat it like a two-minute drill when we’re doing the show.

BN: Were listeners ever standoffish because, ‘Hey man, you went to SC. You’re the rival.’ Did you have to win some people over who rooted against you back in the day?

RP: Oh yeah! I think the good part, whether it’s me, my family, whomever, I do call it like I see it. I think the people from UCLA or even Notre Dame respect that. If UCLA is doing well and they’re playing well and they’ve got good players, I give them credit. Also, we’re not the USC station; we’re the UCLA station. I’ve gotten called a homer, accused of having a USC bias, and all that kind of thing, but I go in on USC too.

I think that gives me a level of respect when I criticize USC and not just sugarcoat it when they’re struggling. I’ve been hard on Clay Helton during the last couple of years and what they’ve been doing and where USC stands right now in the football realm. I’ve been very difficult on them. I think the UCLA fans have kind of come over and understand that I’m not that biased even though I did go to USC; I call it as I see them.

BN: How did you get into sports radio at 570?  

RP: That’s a good question. I had been doing a little bit of TV work off an on. Me and my wife did a reality show, so I’ve been on TV. Then the Dodgers got heavily involved and had a big part of AM 570. The noon slot for the station hadn’t been doing well. They had run like 15 different hosts in and out of that timeslot from noon to 3. They were really building it up as they were building up the partnership with the Dodgers. My name got thrown out there by a friend of mine who said think about Rodney Peete. He turned to Don Martin.

Don and I developed a relationship. He called me in and said would you be interested in doing it. At first I was a little lukewarm. Then he told me Fred was going to come on board and do it as well. I went in and did a few trials. I actually was a little bit nervous, but again Fred made me feel comfortable. The more I did it, it was pretty cool to be able to sit there for three hours. Then I realized that the three hours went fast. But yeah, Don Martin and I had a mutual friend that suggested me. He brought me in. I went and did a little testing and audition process and it worked out. Here we are four years later.

BN: Don is well known in the business, as you’re aware of. How would you describe him?

RP: Don is a guy that knows — I mean you talk about someone who knows the business from every aspect — he knows the business. He’s someone that you can rely on.

I’m sure we’ve all been in places where the guy that you work for, you know more than the guy you work for. It’s not always a good situation. Don has been in every aspect of the business. He’s been on the mic. He’s worked as a disc jockey. He’s worked in sports. He’s done the sales part. Now he’s an executive, so he can speak to all different levels.

The thing about Don that we love is that he doesn’t micromanage. He lets us be us. He doesn’t try to interfere with the show. If there’s an issue or we start to cross the line he’ll chime in, but for the most part he lets us do our show. We poke fun at him all the time and he doesn’t take it seriously and allows us to do that. He gives us the freedom to show our personalities and express ourselves. That’s the best part about it.

BN: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from Don so far?

RP: The biggest thing I think, and I had to learn this early on is, I don’t like to toot my own horn or pound my chest and talk about it. He had to really force me to let that out because that’s what listeners really want to hear. They want to hear from inside the locker room. They want to hear those stories that the average fan can’t normally get.

I always felt a little uncomfortable talking about personal relationships, my time playing and all that kind of stuff, but I had to step out of myself and think about it as a regular fan. Don really helped me do that by saying that’s what is unique about you and Fred, in LA sports talk radio no one else has the perspective of a quarterback in the NFL that played at SC like I do. You’ve got to use that as much as you can because that is what the listeners really want to hear.

Keyshawn’s on in the morning so he’s similar but he’s a receiver. I’m the quarterback so that is a different thing. But he said don’t be afraid to go back and take people into the locker room. Take them behind the scenes. That’s what they want to hear. That was a big thing for me. I had to get out of my comfort zone and be able to really share those types of stories.

BN: What’s it like to have a famous wife, a reality show, and to be in the public eye?

RP: I would say there are tiers. If I had my choice I’m glad I’m in this tier because if I’m in the LeBron James or Magic Johnson tier, it’s hard to go anywhere. It’s hard to go out to a restaurant and just chill and eat with the family. We can do that. There may be two or five people recognize you and come say hello, but the restaurant doesn’t stop as we walk in like it would for those guys.

REAL Love with Holly Robinson Peete & Rodney Peete | TheReal.com

We’re able to live a pretty casual, normal life and you get to take advantage of the perks — getting reservations, getting invited to certain things, and exposing your kids to certain things that are pretty cool. I don’t shy away from that. I enjoy it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. I’m glad that I’m not too recognizable that I couldn’t just live my life because that would drive me crazy.

BN: What did you think about the virtual draft and how the NFL was able to pull it off?

RP: I thought it was fantastic. I really did. I thought they did a great job. It made the big 800-pound gorilla NFL seem more human to me. The way they set up the kids and the families and the homes and had multiple shots of that.

I think it made Rodger Goodell more personable. Seeing the coaches and the GM’s and their families at home with their kids and wives and the different setups they had, I thought that it went off great. I think they did a fantastic job and interesting enough I think some of those aspects they might keep going in the future because I think it went off very well.

BN: If the NFL has a shortened offseason due to the pandemic, what will that do to the development of rookie and second-year quarterbacks?

RP: It puts it to an immediate halt. You almost wish you could redshirt. Of all of the positions in sports, quarterback is the toughest position to play. It’s the most preparation that you need. The jump from college to pro is so dramatic at quarterback than it is in any other profession or any other position. The speed of the game is different. What you see — the infamous “I see ghosts” from Sam Darnold last year is true. It’s true. It’s more sophisticated.

Guys that you think are open are not open. The guys that are running wide open in college; you’ve got a small window to hit him in the NFL because everybody can play. I don’t care if you’re on the best team in the league or the worst team in the league they all have players that can play. For a quarterback it’s about accuracy and anticipation. You don’t get that unless you have the repetitions. These guys are not getting it.

You can almost go make a bet that if we do have football on time without minicamps and OTAs and the shortened training camp, guys like Joe Burrow are going to struggle, especially in Cincinnati. The teams that have veteran quarterbacks are the ones that have the advantage right now. If you’re relying on a young quarterback without that time to develop it’s going to be very, very difficult.

I know for me even playing in what was the Pac-10 back then, it was very good competition. Playing against UCLAs and Notre Dames and Oklahomas, many of the guys went to the NFL and were stars. The competition was good, but it’s nothing like making that jump from college to the NFL. It’s going to be difficult on the young quarterbacks especially the young rookies in general.

BN: When you think about your future whether it’s sports broadcasting or beyond, is there anything that you want to experience or accomplish before you retire?

RP: When I retire I’m going to go travel the world. I’m going to walk the earth like Caine in Kung Fu.

KUNG FU TV SERIES MAIN THEME - YouTube

BN: [Laughs] You decided to be a bum, Rodney.

RP: [Laughs] Yes, I am. No, I have serious aspirations of being involved with a sports franchise. That is something I would like to do. A couple of years ago Ronnie Lott and I made a run to try to keep the Raiders in Oakland. We had a group that was going to help finance the stadium. We were in it. We were in the fight, but Las Vegas won out. It was an exciting time.

I have a good relationship with the NFL and Goodell and everybody over there in the executive staff. At some point I would love to be a part of a franchise. I don’t want to coach though. I spent enough time playing 16 years being away from family.

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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