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Amber Wilson Gets To Marry All Her Skills

“Even when I had briefly gotten out of the business and I was practicing law full-time, which I was probably out of the business for about a year, I was still listening to sports radio all the time.”

Brian Noe

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Sports host by day. Lawyer by night. I’m not sure if this is written on Amber Wilson’s business cards, but I’m kind of thinking it should be. Being able to see every side of an issue is just one of the valuable skills Amber brings from the courtroom to her radio show. There aren’t many attorneys that also host a sports talk show in a major market. It’s one thing to practice law and do a little hosting in Sheboygan. It’s another thing to be a lawyer while also hosting a weekday show in Miami. 

INSIDER | Page 3 | AM 790 The Ticket

When Joy Taylor joined FS1 in 2016, Amber took over at 790 The Ticket. Amber now hosts middays with Jonathan Zaslow from 10am-2pm. In our conversation below Amber discusses a recent hot take from Jason Whitlock, her biggest sports radio influence, and what it was like to battle cancer.

Yeah, that happened too. I’m starting to wonder if Amber is partially an alien due to her excellent resume. This girl is flat-out impressive. 

Although it was tempting to only ask Amber questions about my beloved Miami Dolphins, I behaved. Enjoy.

Brian Noe: What is your sports radio resume that led to your current position at 790?

Amber Wilson: I started in television years ago. I majored in telecommunication journalism in college. My goal was always to be a sports broadcaster. That was my dream growing up. I was doing on-camera work for years. My first real full-time job was with CBSSports.com. It was CBS Sports Interactive at the time. I was their first web host so to speak at Florida. It was all on-camera work and we did a bunch of online streaming shows. That’s what brought me to South Florida. I was doing a show with Sid Rosenberg who used to host on 790 The Ticket. I used to go on his show once a week with him. That’s where I got my first taste of sports radio and I just loved it.

I always wanted to do radio but I always got pushed earlier in my career towards on-camera stuff. I think that there’s a bit of a bias with women, particularly with young women.

I was in my twenties at the time. I think everyone assumes you want to be on camera. Those were the jobs that came calling. I had a really hard time breaking into radio. I’m not sure people took me seriously that I really wanted to do radio even though it’s not as glamorous as TV. I just always felt like it would be really fitting for my personality. You can be super opinionated. The roles that I was getting on camera in my television career were very hosty. I just knew over the years that I didn’t enjoy that role quite as much. I started finding it a little intellectually understimulating, a little boring.

In my late twenties I decided to go to law school. I got my law degree. I became a lawyer. I was hosting a television show on our local CBS station in Miami that whole time alongside Stugotz from the Le Batard show. Just over the years there were multiple times I had done things on 790. Stugotz briefly hosted mornings on 790 with Marc Hochman. I had done a couple of shows there and I did a few shows in middays with Danny Kanell. Just over about a decade span I made appearances on 790 and I knew a lot of people at 790 from all those years of just being around media and working with so many people that had connections to 790.

When Joy Taylor decided to leave the morning show at 790 The Ticket, they asked me if I’d be interested in trying out. At the time my television show with Stugotz had ended because he had gone national with ESPN and they wouldn’t let him do it anymore. I was only practicing law full-time. My plan was to totally get out of the sports broadcasting business because of these hosty roles that I was getting. I had fun in my career but I just knew for me it left something to be desired. I was enjoying practicing law and I was enjoying the challenge.

I got the call that Joy Taylor left 790 to go to FS1 and I thought all right, you know what, I’ll try out. It’s the morning show. I can still practice law after the show. I loved it. They offered me the job and the rest is history. I started out on the morning show and now I’m in middays. They shuffled everything around about a year ago. I’ve been there overall for about five years.

BN: Does being a lawyer help you be a better sports radio host?

AW: 100 percent. When I was 12 years old I was watching the Jill Arringtons and the Melissa Starks of the world on the sidelines and that’s where I wanted to be when I grew up. Then I grew up and I realized that’s not at all the job that’s right for me personality wise. I knew I didn’t want to do sidelines. I knew I didn’t want to host. I’m really opinionated. I wanted to be the one giving the opinions. I wanted to be the one giving the analysis. I didn’t want to be asking other people for it.

Amber Wilson, Esq. on Twitter: "Radioing. Tune in.… "

Sports radio comes along and what’s amazing is I think if I had that sports radio opportunity on a full-time basis before I went and got my law degree, I don’t think I would have been as good at it. Since it came after I was a lawyer and after I got my law degree, it was the perfect timing because I like to think that I have a unique talent. I can argue any side of anything. I can see every side of every issue. I think that I have a unique ability to play devil’s advocate and move the conversation along and challenge people at times.

I still get to be me and I can still have fun. I can still joke around. It’s definitely not all serious. It doesn’t need to all be argument radio either. I get to kind of marry all of my skills. I think I’ve really refined those skills becoming a lawyer even more so. I think it’s a huge benefit.

BN: As a cancer survivor, what was that fight like for you?

AW: I was diagnosed with cancer eight months after I started at The Ticket in 2016. I was cancer free seven months later after a double mastectomy and numerous other surgeries to clear my margins. It came out of nowhere. I was 32 and I didn’t have any history of breast cancer I knew of in my family. I just happened to catch a lump one day and bam I have cancer.

I got diagnosed in November and I got told that I needed to have a double mastectomy and start the surgical treatment process in February. I had a few months where they were doing all of this testing. It takes a little while sometimes to come up with a treatment plan. I didn’t tell the public during that time that I had it.

I was the morning show co-host on The Ticket. At the time we were a three-person show. I did tell my co-hosts so that they were aware of what I was going through. I was obviously missing a lot of time. I shared it publicly about a week before I went to have my first surgery, which was the double mastectomy because I knew that was going to put me out for a month and a half. I wasn’t going to be able to do radio after that and so I had to explain. I was able to sit with it myself and adjust to my new reality for a few months privately. Then I was able to share my story. In doing so I hope that I helped some people and raised some awareness.

I tried to be really transparent about my journey once I was at a place where I was willing to share it with everybody just because I was so young and it was so unexpected and I was so healthy. I wanted people to know that it can happen to anybody and that you have to be aware and try to catch it early and do what you need to do to save your life. 790 was wonderful to me throughout that whole journey and just very understanding. I was very appreciative to everybody I worked with.

BN: I’m not challenging you, but what was behind you initially not wanting to reveal that you had cancer?

AW: Sometimes cancer is so aggressive or it’s so advanced that you start treatment the day you get diagnosed. But for most people if you catch it earlier then there’s a process of a bunch of testing and them figuring out what the best path is for you and what steps you’re going to need to take in terms of surgeries, chemo, radiation. You’re meeting with all of these different doctors. I was young so I was also doing fertility preservation. I hadn’t had kids yet at the time.

I didn’t really know what direction things were really going to go and how long I was going to be out of the show or if I was going to have to quit the show. I was getting treatment in Tampa that’s the best cancer hospital in this state even though obviously I was living in South Florida for the show. There was a lot of traveling and all of that. I just wanted to wait until I knew the game plan before I shared that journey publicly. I wanted to have answers because I knew there might be a lot of questions.

I had a conversation with my co-hosts and they didn’t want the show to become about that. None of us did. Through cancer I learned the importance of sports being an escape for people. I know it’s a cliché thing to say and that’s not to say that we never deal with serious issues in sports because of course those permeate into sports as well. But I do understand how people use sports as an escape because I certainly did during that time.

My life was all cancer outside of the show but I would go to work every day and I’d talk some sports. It wasn’t life or death and that was wonderful. I honestly just wanted to talk about the Heat or the Dolphins or some stuff that doesn’t matter at all in the grand scheme of life. That was important to me.

Íomhá

When I did share the news I shared it the week before I was gone for a while. The show then doesn’t take a very dark turn. It’s not like we have to sit on it for months and everyone’s always wondering what’s happening with me because I shared the news and then I started treatment. I was very open about what was happening with me on social media and allowed people to follow along that way. If they turned on the radio, we weren’t talking cancer all the time. That’s what I wanted to make sure we weren’t doing.

BN: Jason Whitlock recently shared an opinion that Maria Taylor and Katie Nolan are privileged because they’re good looking. When you hear someone express a point of view like that, what’s your response to it?

AW: There are a million — especially out here in South Florida — there are millions of beautiful women in the world and they can’t all do what Katie Nolan does and they can’t all do what Maria Taylor does. If they could, they’d be there. There’s one Katie Nolan. There’s one Maria Taylor. Every single person wants to be as successful as them.

There are quite literally hundreds of thousands of us who have spent our lives hoping to be as successful as they are and very few of us ever make it there. If all it took was looks then there’d be a whole lot of people there. Clearly it takes much, much more than that.

We never do this to men. We never look at a Kirk Herbstreit or any of these handsome men who are also on television and also incredibly successful. We never look at those men and say they’re just there because of their looks. You never hear that spoken about a man no matter how attractive the man is. We only do it to women. If the woman is attractive then she must not have anything else to offer. Generally, attractive people do better on television. That’s not exclusive to women. That is absolutely true with men as well. It’s only women that we minimize to their looks. That we assume there’s nothing else there.

Earlier in my career that used to bother me much more when I also struggled to get people to realize I had much more to offer. I do think becoming a lawyer changed that dramatically for me, but I shouldn’t have had to become a lawyer to be able to show that in sports broadcasting, which shouldn’t have anything to do with whether I have a law degree, or how many states I’m barred in, or what kind of fancy education I even have. That shouldn’t be necessary to show people that in sports broadcasting, I have intelligence, I have a lot to offer, and I know sports. 

BN: Do you think that Miami has been able to enjoy its great sports year during the pandemic?

AW: Oh yeah. We are living through a really difficult time. If you’re a sports fan and you happen to be in a city like Miami or Los Angeles, if you’re in a city where your teams are making a great postseason run, it gives you that little boost.

Sports are not life or death by any means — I discussed it earlier of course when we were talking about cancer — but sports can help people. They’re not life or death, but they give you something to root for. They give you happiness and they give you hope. We have been fortunate enough to benefit from that down here during a difficult time.

I really think that has helped people. You forget when you’re watching these Heat games that we’re living in a pandemic. Even if you’re watching it without fans and even if it’s happening in Orlando and even if none of us can be there during the NBA finals. All of that’s odd but at the end of the day once the ball is tipped it’s basketball and we’re all fans no matter what virus is spreading around. I think that’s been really great for people. It doesn’t look the same as it would in a regular year, but frankly it doesn’t feel that different.

Íomhá

BN: Who did you learn the most from in sports radio?

AW: I am a sports radio nut. That’s also very much helped me with my job. I was a sports radio nut before I ever myself went into it. I would consume sports radio every chance I got. I’m not a person who’s listening to music often in her car. Even when I had briefly gotten out of the business and I was practicing law full-time, which I was probably out of the business for about a year, I was still listening to sports radio all the time.

All that consumption certainly helped me. The people I most listened to were local. I would say that being down here and consuming so much sports radio that I have been most influenced in my style by the Le Batard show. That to me is the best show on sports radio.

I didn’t grow up listening to WFAN. I discovered sports radio when I moved to South Florida. Really for me I discovered sports radio at 790 even though I wasn’t yet working at 790. I would say overall probably that show in terms of style has been a big influence on me. That being said I’m not sure that there’s any particular person in the industry that I would say I modeled my style after.

I hear from guys in my business like my co-host grew up listening to Chris Russo, so you’ll hear that influence sometimes when he talks. I know there are a lot of people in the industry like that that grew up listening to those guys or Mike Francesa. They have a little bit of that style in them. I don’t know that there’s anybody who’s influenced me to that depth who I ever hear in the industry where I necessarily think is like me. But I think as a show, probably the Le Batard show overall.

BN: Your partner Zaslow loves Pearl Jam. Has that made you hate Pearl Jam?

AW: Yes. [Laughs] No, he loves Pearl Jam to an unreasonable degree and I don’t find it reasonable for anybody to like any music as much as he likes Pearl Jam as an adult. I’m very judgmental of his affinity for Pearl Jam.

I liked Pearl Jam like everybody did in the ‘90s when I was in middle school listening to the album with “Black”. That was about it because I’m pretty sure that was the last time Pearl Jam was really good.

Pearl Jam Share Holiday Songs To Streaming Services For First Time [Listen]

I always make fun of Zaslow. I always tell him on air he found all the music he likes around 1995 and then that was it. No more music forever. There are no artists after the mid-‘90s that Zaslow likes, knows about, cares about, cares for. He’s like ‘you know I like what I like’. It’s like he found all the music and he was like “Alright, I’m good. I’ve got my bands. For the rest of my life I’m good. I never need to adopt any more music into my world.”

BN: Is there anything in particular that you would like to accomplish going forward?  

AW: I think just for me I’m a person who likes to add to my repertoire so to speak. I like to diversify. Obviously I have the lawyer thing and the sports radio thing. I recently started doing things for a site called Sports Card Investor because sports cards are really, really hot right now. I’m getting into that medium a little bit just because I think it’s an interesting industry that’s on the rise. That hobby is having a resurgence.

I have re-signed with ESPN Radio for another year. I had a regular show here on the weekends with ESPN Radio, but with the pandemic, the landscape there changed. But I’m hoping that at some point we’re able to resume the regular weekend show there as well.

For me I think in the future it’s just about being multi-faceted and seeing what opportunities come my way that interest me. It’s probably staying in radio because ultimately I really, really do love the medium. If I was ever on television again, the dream would be to be on television in a radio type of capacity, like these shows that are simulcasted. I would hope not to have to give up that format. I really enjoy having to speak unscripted for four hours. It’s a challenge and I enjoy challenges.

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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