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Stormy Buonantony Is Focused On The Now with VSiN

“I analyze a lot of numbers and I make my own bets and if you want to bet with me, let’s do it, we’re in this together… but I like to bring people on the show who are dialed into their specific sports, who are dialed into the betting aspect behind the counter as handicappers and analysts”

Brian Noe

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Stormy Buonantony

There is a saying in sports that you never want to be the guy who follows the guy. I’ve always thought that’s garbage. Although it might not be ideal to take the place of a legend on the way out, I don’t want to be the guy that’s never given a big opportunity. That would be much worse.

A host that has the opposite of a defeatist attitude while taking over for legendary broadcaster Brent Musburger, is VSiN’s Stormy Buonantony. She has embraced the challenge with a positive attitude as if to say, “No one said anything about the girl taking over for the guy.”

The Vegas Stats & Information Network covers sports betting from all angles. Stormy has taken the torch on My Guys In The Desert while showcasing her personality and knowledge. In addition to that role, she still continues to deliver college football and NHL sideline reports.

We chat about what the heck Metallica has to do with her two separate jobs and not being driven by goals. Stormy also talks about the growth of women in sports broadcasting and betting, and also provides a winning eight-team parlay for tonight’s action. (I might’ve embellished the last part.) Enjoy!

Brian Noe: Where are you from?

Stormy Buonantony: I am born and raised in Las Vegas.

BN: Oh wow, you’re local.

SB: Yes, I grew up here through high school and then I went to college at San Diego State. From there I kind of bopped around from different jobs. I moved to Colorado and then North Carolina and then I ended up back in Vegas. It’s really cool to be working back in the city where I’m from and be around my family and stuff. The majority of my family does live in Vegas or in San Diego. It’s really cool especially after being on the East Coast for a few years and having not seen them for a really long time to now seeing them all the time.

BN: Do you think that being a Vegas local gives you a bit of an edge when it comes to sports betting coverage?

SB: Not an edge to the coverage but I think a more natural understanding of it. I did grow up more so in the culture. My uncle, Eugene Buonantony, is an oddsmaker in town. My dad and my grandpa back in the day, just huge bettors, bet on absolutely everything. When I’m watching a football game as a five-year-old with my dad, the game is a blowout, but he’s rooting for another touchdown because he needs the points. [Laughs] It’s definitely a different growing-up experience than most.

BN: What’s it been like taking over for Brent Musburger on My Guys In The Desert?

SB: There are no words. It is surreal. And it’s so cool that he’s still so involved with the show because during football season he was on for the full hour every Wednesday with me. Any time I had a question about anything he was right there to answer it. He’s so nice. He’s so cool. He’s so wonderful at sharing stories even with the sideline work that I do, he would go out of his way to make sure he knew which game I was assigned so that he could watch a little bit of it and help give me tips in that area too. He’s such a legend obviously but so personable and down to earth. Every day that I get to do a show with Brent is the best day. It’s the best show. It’s incredible. I feel very, very honored that in any capacity my name can be referenced in the same frame as his. He’s incredible.

BN: What’s it like to try to keep the show somewhat similar to what it’s been while making it different now that you’re a part of it?

SB: We thought it was super important to make sure that we kept some of that old-school oddsmaker flavor on the show. I absolutely adore Vinny Magliulo, Jimmy Vaccaro, Chris Andrews, all those incredible legends and sports betting Hall of Famers. I’m getting their stories incorporated on a regular basis and making sure we’re always going behind the counter with some of these incredible guys, but also adding a little bit of flair and a little bit of my personality injected into it and some fun. I’m kind of a quirky human. [Laughs] We do little, fun bits. We just try to be as creative and fun-loving and entertaining as we can while also presenting important information that bettors need to know and following line movement and things like that, I guess with whatever Stormy is, thrown in the mix.

BN: With people like that who know this stuff inside and out, what’s something you’ve either learned from what they’ve told you, or by observing how they think and how they approach sports betting?

SB: So much more goes into it than I guess I initially realized. I didn’t even necessarily understand how many different options that you could have betting certain things. Talking to those guys and hearing the way they get to a number I think is really unique. Why their number might not add up to a lot of the other people that you’re talking to and their handicap and what led them to certain things I think is always intriguing to find out. Following line movement has been really, really interesting to me because just as a novice growing up I just think oh, the point spread is seven. Okay, cool. But I don’t think about it moving to 7.5 and what that means and the impact of that number as a kid. Or even somebody just when I was in college and thinking about this type of thing, I didn’t really know what steam meant.

Seeing these big players laying these huge, massive amounts of money that change the game is really incredible. How people get information and does the book know that information or not? I think it’s just more conversational and hearing their stories and hearing how they do things has been really eye-opening for me. I’m a broadcaster; I don’t think of myself as a betting expert. I bring betting experts on to the show.

I analyze a lot of numbers and I make my own bets and if you want to bet with me, let’s do it, we’re in this together. We’ll ride the highs and lows, but I like to bring people on the show who are dialed into their specific sports, who are dialed into the betting aspect behind the counter as handicappers and analysts, and making that information consumable for people that have been doing this and betting for a long time or in the industry. I’m not dumbing things down for them but also making it consumable and understandable for somebody who might be listening to us for the first time.

BN: What do you think about the growth of women in sports broadcasting and sports betting?

SB: It’s huge. I feel like so many stories that I had heard coming up in this business were just about how it’s really hard, there’s going to be a lot of preconceived notions about you being a woman in the locker room, being a woman in this space. You have to overcome a lot of hurdles. I have had some of those experiences I guess, but more often than not I’ve had so many men in my corner that were supportive and have made me feel so comfortable working in this industry.

I think and hope as more women continue to get invested in sports and in the sports betting side that they’re welcomed because I feel like every day I’m seeing somebody new getting involved or a new face on television that I hadn’t seen before that’s a woman. Not only in reporter roles but in analyst roles and in play-by-play roles.

When it comes to betting, I don’t know if it’s because of the explosion of legalization over the last handful of years, but from a content producing standpoint of women in sports betting that like to talk about it, there are so many female faces and voices, whereas it was such a long journey I feel like in the sports reporter realm to get to that point. Now with more states opening up with it, as soon as it pops up in a state, there are women that want to get involved. They want to be a part of this. I think that’s pretty telling for that section of the industry in itself.

BN: How do you have to switch your mindset when it comes to hosting a sports betting show compared to doing sideline reports?

SB: Being a reporter and host are two completely different skill sets because for being a sideline reporter, you do all of this work leading up to this one day, but you speak in 30-second increments so you have to make sure that you get your story out, it’s concise, it’s consumable, it makes sense to everybody and it’s good. On VSiN, I have this wonderful opportunity to sit there and speak my mind for an hour or longer depending on what show I’m on that day. Obviously my show is an hour, but when I fill in on other programs that are longer, you get to really dive into a lot more, which does mean more research and does mean more work, but it’s really fun to share your opinion.

Being a reporter and being a sports betting host are very different from the standpoint that I’m telling other people’s stories and trying to get in-the-now information there, and in my show, it is kind of about my opinion. For whatever reason people want my opinion and I’m not sure why. But I’m just very used to being the question asker and not being the one voicing that. At first it was a challenge for me to be able to do that because so much of being a reporter is to separate yourself from it. You’re not the story and you’re not part of it, but VSiN encourages that. They want you to dive into the numbers and share why you like something or why you don’t and what you know and what you don’t.

BN: It makes me think of the band Metallica. Back in the day they had these long, long songs. Then the black album came along and their songs were shortened quite a bit. They were asked which was harder to do. The drummer said it was harder to make the songs shorter and to be more concise. They could come up with ideas all day for longer songs, but to trim things down was difficult. Which do you think is more difficult for you; the quick sound bites, or all the prep and all the airtime you need to fill on the VSiN side?

SB: Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. I find them both equally difficult. It’s a challenge but they’re equally fun in their own ways. I’ve never really thought of it that way. It is different so one thing about the show that I’ve never had to deal with as a reporter that’s new for me, and anybody that works in radio or live TV for a long time has dealt with it plenty, but this is a very new thing for me when I had started with the show was if a guest drops out.

I don’t have a co-host or anything and on other shows I always have. That is a challenge for me. At the beginning, you plan out the show and you allow a certain amount of time for certain things. Then if you’re a minute into an interview and somebody drops out and they’re not able to reconnect again and you just have 11 more minutes to fill of just you talking, that was very hard for me at first just because I had never experienced it before.

My producer, Stephanie [Kamerschak], is incredible. That first time specifically she’s like I don’t know why you freaked out, you handled that really well, I’m really proud of you. I was like okay, thank you. Maybe we can plan extra segments each show or something so we can have something in the back pocket. That was harder for me because I had been so programmed to be a sideline reporter and to be more concise, so stretching was a challenge for me at first. But now I feel a lot more comfortable with it. I’ve done the job for a full calendar year now and I’m used to those things happening, but the first time I was like what’s happening? Why is this going on?

BN: What do you see happening in the near future for sports betting?

SB: I think growth first and foremost. It’s just going to continue to become more and more widely accepted. My Twitter feed is just constantly filled with it. When you watch NFL Network or any of these major TV programs, they have tickers on the bottom with spreads now, which is so different. I think that that’s just going to continue to elevate and elevate. Maybe it’s in broadcasting that they’re incorporating it more.

We’re seeing them already obviously, but in-game. I was watching the UFC fights and while maybe it wasn’t done great, the way that they presented some of the numbers and odds, but they’re not trained in that either. They just have a DraftKings logo and they’re like okay, we’re supposed to do this promo so we’ll do it. But I think that’s going to transform from it being a blurb and here are the odds because this is a requirement to wow, this number moved a lot. A lot of people are thinking that this underdog has a real chance here and talking about it like that and have it being a free-flowing conversation broadcast is going to happen sooner than later. Growth with more women involved, with more people of color involved as it expands. I’m really excited for the future of sports betting. I think it’s only brighter and it’s only going to get bigger.

BN: It’s funny because it makes me think of Al Michaels where he would have those read between-the-lines comments like well, that’s overwhelming. Do you see yourself on the sidelines, and it might not be your whole report, but at some point interjecting sports betting into what you’re saying?

SB: I actually have once. It was very fortunate the way that this panned out, but I was working the New Mexico Bowl this past bowl season and a couple of the players on the sideline kept on saying the number of the week. I think it was 11 maybe. But that was the point spread of the game. One of the kids even came up to me and was like did you hear that? I was like yeah, what was that about? He was like they were 11-point underdogs, that’s been their motivation. They knew they were being doubted. They were up at halftime. I just remember thinking that was so cool and I told my producer. I was like am I allowed to say this? He said go for it. It was really cool to see those worlds collide there for a moment.

BN: I wonder if that will ever become common. To me I just wonder where the line is, how far is it going to go before someone says that’s a little bit too much.

SB: Yeah, I’m not sure. Every other job that I have had prior to where I am at now, I’ve not been allowed to bet based on my contract. When I worked for the Mountain West Conference, you can’t even bet on any professional sport if it has an NCAA championship. You can’t bet on any college sports and you can’t bet on any professional sport that is associated with an NCAA program.

I worked for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL; you can’t bet on any NFL or football. I worked for the NHL; you can’t bet on anything hockey-related. It took a little while for my brain to flip that switch that no, you’re allowed to talk about this, it’s okay. Don’t freak out. [Laughs] It’s awesome now because I’ll go on a football game and our statistician will be over there like okay, Stormy, what’s the big game that we’re looking at this week? People are into it and it’s awesome and it’s cool and it’s normal. I’m sure it’ll take some adjusting for some of those big-wigs to welcome this transition. I don’t know where the line is. Fortunately, that’s above my pay grade and so I don’t have to worry about that right now. [Laughs]

BN: How often has it happened where you’re under contract, you can’t bet, and you’re like I would totally bet this line right now?

SB: All the time. It happened all the time. What was the worst was when I worked in collegiate athletics and working for a college conference you can’t even make an NCAA tournament bracket. Even if it’s not for money, you just can’t do it. So bizarre. When I worked in the NFL, my dad’s calling me every week, so what’s going on, Storm? I’m like, dad, I can’t tell you, but I do like that number. [Laughs] Stuff like that, it’s just so goofy. It’s really interesting. It’s a different world.

BN: What experiences would you like to have going forward in your career?

SB: I am the worst person to answer this question because I am just so on the fly and living life day by day. Whenever anybody asks me, where do you see yourself in five years, I’m like I have no idea because every time I think I know, I never end up there. And it’s been for the best. There have been so many jobs that I thought I really, really wanted and I didn’t get and I was so sad about it, but if I would’ve taken that job then I never would have gotten this other opportunity, which ended up being so much better for me. I’m very much just taking opportunities and taking life as it happens.

The fact that I’m with VSiN even feels super serendipitous. I was just back in town and someone basically saw me on a Golden Knights broadcast when I was working for the team in town and realized hey, that last name sounds really familiar and connected the dots with my uncle and was like wait, does she know sports betting? They just got to know me and asked if I liked or cared about sports betting and developed that relationship. I never ever, ever, ever would’ve thought that I would be working in this industry and now I can’t imagine not working in it. Yeah, just kind of seeing what happens.

BN: Do you ever think that goals could get in your way, meaning if you’re in the moment and you’re day by day, if you’re thinking I want to get to this job, could that almost throw you off in a way?

SB: I think sometimes because it doesn’t let you embrace what you’re doing currently enough. If you’re always seeking that next thing and that next opportunity, you’re probably not giving your all to your current job. That’s always been really important to me. People are paying me to do this job for a reason. I want to make sure they’re getting what they’re paying for. I want to make sure they’re getting all of my personality, all of my energy and that I’m not just always looking for what’s next. I think that’s really important and maybe that does get lost for some people.

I also think a lot of times at least for me early on in my career where I was thinking dang, why am I not quite here yet. I was looking at so many other people that were my age or younger doing certain things. Comparison is the thief of joy; I don’t know where that quote comes from but I very, very firmly believe in it. I’m more so focused on supporting and lifting other people up and celebrating everybody’s wins; it’s so much more important to me now than trying to get what’s next. I just think that’s really important.

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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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