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Scott Hanson Purposely Lives On The Edge

“They don’t want me taking shots at players or coaches or teams in an unfair manner, I am allowed to say what I want to say at any given moment.”

Derek Futterman




Whether it is participating in the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain or swimming between two tectonic plates in Iceland, Scott Hanson is a thrill-seeker.

Having visited six of the seven world continents, seeing new places and being exposed to different cultures gives him the ability to live his life to the fullest and take advantage of many unique opportunities. That adventurous style of travel, though, takes a back seat when it is football season. As the host of the Sunday whiparound show NFL RedZone, Hanson and the NFL Network team notoriously bring fans every touchdown from every game in seven hours of commercial-free football.

No commercial breaks mean Hanson is hosting a program straight from 1:00-8:00 PM EST every day, requiring high levels of stamina and endurance. It is part of the reason why he works out five days a week during the regular season, cognizant of the perceived connection between maintaining good physical fitness and sharp mental acuity. For a hosting job that may seem interminable to some, Hanson revels in it and arrives at the brand-new state-of-the-art NFL Network studios adjacent to SoFi Stadium, the shared home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood, Calif., excited and ready to immerse himself in the day’s action.

“I literally will be on the elliptical machine on the treadmill saying, ‘The last 10 minutes of this one-hour session is for the sixth hour of NFL RedZone‘,” Hanson explained. “I’ve still got to have that energy [and] enthusiasm. It might sound silly, but I really do believe that.”

From an early age, Hanson knew he wanted to work as a broadcaster in sports media, especially when he recognized that attaining a professional football career was highly unlikely to happen. Motivated to follow in the footsteps of the broadcasters living out his dream job of being paid to travel the country and interact with players, coaches and other team personnel, he attended Syracuse University and majored in communication studies. Four years later, he graduated cum laude, achieved Dean’s List status for all four years at school and also continued to play on the school football team.

In fact, his collegiate football career – which started by winning a roster spot as a walk-on long snapper and playing as a wide receiver and defensive back as a member of the scout team – concluded with a 1993 Fiesta Bowl win over the University of Colorado Boulder’s Buffaloes.

After completing a college summer internship with WXYZ-TV in Southfield, Mich. where he had the chance to work with the late-broadcaster Don Shane, Hanson was even more committed to finding a way to succeed in sports media. Upon his graduation, he started his professional journey working as an anchor and reporter for WPBN-TV in Traverse City, Mich. in 1993.

After an additional stop to work at WICS-TV in Springfield, Ill. in 1994, Hanson made the move to Tampa to cover the Buccaneers as a reporter. This marked his first time working in a role associated with covering a specific football team per se – the game he was enamored with growing up in Rochester, Mich.

While playing football at the high school level, Hanson served as the team’s captain and also earned all-conference honors; however, pursuing a career in sports media, although challenging, always appealed to him. He served as a public address announcer for the women’s soccer team in high school and sought to gain as many repetitions as possible as a broadcaster to hone his craft and diversify his skill set, recognizing the importance of versatility in the industry.

Hanson put that versatility on display when he landed a job as the intermission reporter for the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. Closely following the team during its days with star players Jeremy Roenick, Keith Primeau and Eric Desjardins, Hanson observed the differences between how football and hockey players conduct themselves and interact with the media.

“Hockey guys will do interviews differently than football guys will do it, generally speaking,” Hanson said, “and yet they are still uber-competitive, highly-skilled, world-class athletes, and there’s a certain mentality that comes with that [which] often displays itself while you’re interviewing them.”

After working in Bethesda, Md. for the next four years as an anchor and reporter with Comcast SportsNet Atlantic, Hanson joined NFL Media in 2006 as a national reporter. Every week, Hanson would attend National Football League contests and provide pregame and postgame reports. The only problem was that Hanson found himself following all the action around the National Football League even when he was in the press box for games, discussing action with journalists and media members other than what was taking place on the field down below.

“I would be the guy always looking at everything else going on in the NFL even though I had one live game in front of me,” Hanson said. “I guess I was wired for an NFL RedZone-style show from the beginning.”

Coinciding with the proliferation in fans creating fantasy football teams, NFL Network created what has been referred to as “the best invention since television” in NFL RedZone and tabbed Hanson to be its host after he had previously hosted other studio programming for the network in 2008.

While there is another version of the whiparound-style program called DIRECTV Sunday Ticket RedZone hosted by Andrew Siciliano since its launch in 2005, and available exclusively to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers. Hanson is the host of the version produced by NFL Network, and once he learned of the opportunity to pioneer the program from “the captain’s seat” and heard more about the vision of the broadcast from network executives, he was euphoric to get started.

“I absolutely believed that the show would be a galactic success if we could execute [in] the way [with] the vision displayed out there,” Hanson recalled. “They came to me and said: ‘Hey, we’re starting a show from scratch. We’re going to show every touchdown from every game. We’re going to do it for the early window and the late window, so it’s going to go seven hours long. We’re not going to show any commercials and we’re going to bounce around and show people the best of the NFL.’ And I said: ‘Sign me up and put me in front of that camera.’”

Hanson stands in front of a plethora of television monitors featuring a well-orchestrated cacophony of game action occurring around the country. While scientific research has proven the impossibility in truly multi-tasking, additional research suggests approximately 2.5% of people can do it effectively. It is more than likely Hanson falls within that select group, regularly multi-tasking outside of the seven-hour window he hosts NFL RedZone on Sundays. He has five high-definition television screens set up in his home that simultaneously play a wide assortment of programming from sports to entertainment to news.

While it may seem dizzying to some to be closely following over half of the National Football League at once, it is simply all in a day’s work for Hanson. From the moment he returns home after a studio taping of NFL RedZone, his preparation for the next week begins – first by watching Sunday Night Football. Afterwards, he will tune in to all of the major football highlight shows, including those from NFL Network and ESPN, to ensure his broadcast did not miss any significant moments in the action or associated storylines. If he happens to hear information that is transferable to the following week’s broadcast, he makes a note of it and implements it as a part of his preparation.

The next day, Monday Night Football takes center stage, closing out the week of football and leading into the next day’s release of the weekly NFL Media research packet. The document, which ranges from 100 to 200 pages in length, contains facts, statistics and other relevant information compiled by the NFL Media research team. Hanson closely examines the contents of the document and begins to memorize parts of it he may want to use during the NFL RedZone show on Sunday.

On Wednesdays, Hanson begins creating spreadsheets complete with information about all positions and various game scenarios, including possessions taking place in the red zone. It is vital information he needs to be able to quickly recollect during the course of the broadcast.

“The rest of it is just studying and trying to memorize and then digging down into each individual game matchup that will be on RedZone [for that] Sunday,” Hanson said. “….I probably don’t do as much research as [Joe] Buck does for one individual game on all of my 11 games, but I probably do as many hours leading into it for the 11 games [in the] early and late window that we’ll have on Sunday.”

Hanson does not have a favorite NFL team, although he grew up closest in proximity to the Detroit Lions, and genuinely does not have a rooting interest in terms of who wins or loses specific football games every week. Having said that, his fantasy football team – nicknamed the “Iron Bladders” – consists of players from across the NFL and he will sometimes display his fandom during NFL RedZone broadcasts about their specific performance, although he affirms it will not interfere with his hosting responsibilities on the show.

“I do not care who wins any given NFL game, but I do care that the game is action-packed and dramatic and provides us with some moments that we will remember during the seven hours of the show,” he said, “and provide us with some moments that we’ll be talking about at our workplaces [all week] leading back into the next episode of NFL RedZone.”

As an on-air host, Hanson’s top priority is to be a source of information for fans tuning in to the broadcast who are looking to get a complete scope on what is occurring around the league. The show’s commitment to showing every touchdown from every game holds true as it did from its initial launch in 2009, but as time has gone on, Hanson has been able to find moments to insert humor, opinion and other differentiating factors associated with being on the air.

“I’m naturally energetic, naturally enthusiastic and I love the game of football,” Hanson said. “I hope that comes across to all the people that are watching all over the world on NFL RedZone; that if you don’t know anything about [me] personally, you would still say: ‘Yeah, I’d like to sit down and watch a game and have a beer with that guy. It sounds like he loves the game and he sees the game the way I see the game.’”

Being that Hanson watches every NFL game on Sunday, along with ESPN’s presentation of Monday Night Football and Amazon Prime Video’s streaming-exclusive Thursday Night Football game every week, he believes in the strength of football as a consumer product in terms of its dissemination and quality, both on the field and inside the broadcast booth.

This previous offseason saw the movements of Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit to Amazon Prime Video, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN, Mike Tirico’s elevation to the weekly play-by-play announcer on NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen forming the new primary booth on Fox – with seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady to eventually join as well. Among these and other changes, Hanson is encouraged about the future of football broadcasts and sports media in its entirety.

“A high tide raises all boats, they say, so I certainly am happy with the contracts that have been handed out to some of my on-air contemporaries,” Hanson expressed. “….I don’t think there’s a weak link in the national broadcasts today…. I love the fact that when it’s not NFL RedZone when I’m on the air, I have fantastic professionals to watch and enjoy as a fan [of] all of the national games.”

Just as fantasy sports rose in popularity in 2009, the phenomenon of sports betting has recently begun to grow coinciding with its legalization throughout nearly half of the country. Hanson attributes the survival of whiparound programs to the augmenting proclivity for fans to follow specific players and portions of the game action relevant to their own teams or bets rather than rooting solely for one team to win or lose. Nonetheless, the goal of the show to be a source of commercial-free football for seven hours every Sunday remains unchanged; the ways in which that goal is effectively accomplished has merely shifted with changes in consumption habits and emerging technologies.

“What I think we hopefully have gotten better at through the years is showing more action; being able to bounce around from stadium to stadium even quicker and slicker to make it an enjoyable viewing experience,” he expressed. “….I think social media has some ability to do quote-on-quote RedZone-style entertainment because the audience is choosing which link they click on; which clip they click on [using] Instagram; Twitter; TikTok; Facebook; whatever else it is.”

Other professional sports leagues have sought to emulate the type of program and staple NFL RedZone has become but whiparound-style programs simply do not work for every sport. For example, DAZN, in partnership with Major League Baseball, broadcast a whiparound program beginning in mid-2019 called ChangeUp. The show, which was hosted by Adnan Virk, Scott Rogowsky, Lauren Gardner and Tony Luftman, was canceled less than a year later after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and reportedly low viewership. Conversely, NBA CrunchTime has been broadcasting since 2015 on NBA TV, but will be added to the redesigned NBA League App for fans to stream.

According to Hanson, the game of football presents inherent differences that give it an advantage in presenting multiple games at once – such as the synchrony in kickoffs, 40-second play clock and sequencing of the game itself, along with the likelihood that crucial action favoring either the offense or defense will occur when play is within the 20-yard line – colloquially referred to as the “red zone.”

“We have eight games going on at one time on some Sundays where we can ping-pong to any one of those locations where the action is hot,” Hanson said. “You’re almost guaranteed that one or two of them have some drama going on at any given moment….. The fact that I can show you a game in Atlanta and I’ve got 40 seconds or thereabouts to show you something from Dallas and something from Green Bay and I can get back to Atlanta and you haven’t missed any material action in the Atlanta game – that helps.”

Some viewers of NFL RedZone or NFL Network as a whole might surmise that since the media outlet has a direct affiliation with the league, on-air talent and contributors may be more restricted in terms of what they can or cannot express. While it is evident that sports media is built on a balance between subjectivity and objectivity, it is up to hosts to establish a comfort zone in which they are able to deliver news and voice their opinions.

“I’ve been with the league for 16 years and while it’s clear they want me to be a fair broadcaster and they don’t want me taking shots at players or coaches or teams in an unfair manner, I am allowed to say what I want to say at any given moment,” Hanson said. “There have only been maybe two times in my 16 years where a boss of mine has come to me and said: ‘Hey Scott, why don’t you say this instead of this.’”

Aside from hosting NFL RedZone, Hanson serves as the in-stadium host for the Super Bowl each year, meaning that it is his job to entertain, inform and engage with fans attending “The Big Game.” It is a change from hosting studio coverage, giving him the ability to show fans different aspects of his skillset and vary how he infuses his personality into shorter segments of air time.

Additionally, he has had the chance to converse with some of the greatest football players to ever step foot onto the gridiron, including the aforementioned Brady, who told him that NFL RedZone was his favorite television program to watch on days he was not playing.

“I’ve been able to interview Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson back in his heyday,” Hanson added. “Just big-time, high-profile, world-class athletes; and that energizes me as someone who strives for excellence to be around people who exhibit excellence in their given profession.”

Hanson, akin to most other sports media personalities, works under a contract and while he could see himself hosting NFL RedZone for the remainder of his career, he is open to exploring any and all opportunities in media, the assimilation of sports notwithstanding. Cultivating the skills necessary to effectively host a top-rated sports whiparound program is no easy task, but it is something he has embraced over the years and continues to enjoy when he wakes up at 5 a.m. to go to work.

It takes a willingness to do whatever it takes to improve and gain experience in sports media, and Hanson advises aspiring broadcasters looking to work in the industry to take advantage of opportunities whenever or wherever they may be. Living on the edge is his modus operandi and has allowed him to build a successful career in the National Football League as a broadcaster rather than as a professional football player.

“Be willing to make sacrifices. It’s a very, very competitive business,” Hanson said. “If you’re trying to get into this business to become famous or make a ton of money or just [to] meet Peyton Manning, you’re going to have to pay your dues before any of that happens – and paying your dues means making sacrifices often. Be willing to move anywhere in the country where a job presents itself. Be willing to work whatever days, hours, holidays; anything else that your employer wants.”

BSM Writers

John Mamola Didn’t Overthink New WDAE Lineup

“I don’t go book-to-book my talent, I just don’t. I think the more and more you dive into ratings, the more and more you overthink things.”

Brady Farkas




Just over one month ago, WDAE in Tampa Bay reshuffled its daily line-up. The iHeartMedia station, programmed by John Mamola, moved the Ronnie and TKras program from mornings to afternoons and moved the midday Pat and Aaron show into mornings, while creating a new midday show centered around Jay Recher and producer-turned-host Zac Blobner.

The station let previous host Ian Beckles go as part of the reshuffling.

Barrett Sports Media caught up with Mamola this week to talk about the new line-up, the Tampa Bay market, the importance of developing from within and much more.

(Some of the answers have been edited for brevity and clarity)

BSM: It’s been just over a month since these changes took hold, what would you say is the overall response to them?

JM: Overall, really positive. We lost a really important piece and a pillar of the station in Ian Beckles, but with the moves that we did make, it was overall a pretty positive response from the listeners.

BSM: This wasn’t just creating one new show and calling it a day, this was moving multiple shows into new dayparts. How do you as a programmer get multiple hosts on board with re-arranging their schedules in that manner?

JM: My morning show went into afternoons so they didn’t have to wake up early, so they were very open and welcome to that. As for the original midday show, I knew they were early risers, so moving to mornings didn’t really affect their sleep schedules. And then my midday show, which is the new one, putting those two together is just a combination of some very young, hungry guys that always want new opportunity and are always looking to capitalize on opportunity.

So I wouldn’t say necessarily the convincing was the hard part because it just made a lot of sense for the people involved. The guys in the morning didn’t have to wake up early. The guys in the mornings are early risers anyway, and you get two young, hungry guys to take care of that opportunity so the convincing part was quite easy.

BSM: I got to know Zac Blobner a little bit on the Producers Podcast. He was highlighted a few episodes back and I thought really highly of him. Why was this the right time to get him into a full-time on-air role?

JM: Zac’s been doing some on-air stuff for on the weekends for a number of years. He had his own show and then we tried him out with a couple people on staff on Saturday mornings. That just didn’t necessarily work out but he has hosted a fantasy football show, which we actually air Orlando and in Miami as well as Tampa, live for the last five years.

So his on-air persona – he was a huge part of the morning show and the success of the Ronnie and TKras Show for their run in mornings. So if we were to elevate someone from inside, it just seemed like he was the right guy to elevate, and to pair with Jay Recher. It’s two young, hungry guys and they play well off each other. Some of the best highlights of my day are just sitting in their pre-show meetings with them and their producer Jon Dugas and just listening to how they collaborate together as a threesome on how to attack content, what sound to use, and what guests to book.

Really, it’s three producers in one room all talking about how to collaborate and do a show. Zac has earned the opportunity, just like Pat Donovan who was a producer first. Aaron Jacobson was a producer at first. It was Zac’s time and he’s done a tremendous job with it so far, albeit it’s only a month, but I totally expect it to be a very high ceiling for that show and for Zac in particular.

BSM: Some programmers believe on developing and promoting from within and some programmers believe in always looking for a splashy hire from the outside. Why is developing talent and promoting from within important to you and WDAE?

JM: I think it’s vital for every brand to have a good bench and to continue to find different ways to utilize that bench. Maybe not on the Monday through Friday, but definitely on the weekends in some capacity. And if not there, then on the digital product. You bring in certain guys to push everyone else. Zac was one of those guys. Jay Recher was one of those guys. Pat Donovan was one of those guys. Ronnie and TKras were two of those guys. I like to bring in guys that have a goal and want to push everyone to be better, not just themselves, but push everyone to be better. We have a tremendous team atmosphere on WDAE and we’ve had it for a number of years.

And when you do a lot of change, like we did about a month ago, you don’t want to keep it too foreign. You want to keep it with somebody that the audience knows and the audience has grown to know. Because the minute you start bringing in out of town people that nobody’s ever heard of or you start going to syndication instead of staying live and local, you start to lose your cume, and you start to lose that branding.

We like to put out as much as we can with whatever we have and I think having good, driven people in the hiring process, albeit I’ve hired a little young over my time here, it’s continued to push the narrative that we are continually growing from within and this was just the latest step of that. I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

BSM: When you have new shows and shows in different dayparts, are you mentioning things like ratings and revenue to them? Or do you just tell them to build the shows and worry about it later?

JM: I don’t go book-to-book my talent, I just don’t. I think the more and more you dive into ratings, the more and more you overthink things. It’s important, but it’s not the biggest thing. For me, it’s the sound of the show. If the show sounds like it’s got energy, if it sounds like it’s progressing, if it sounds like we’re creating more attention by what we’re saying and we’re developing as talents and as a station, you feel it. You don’t need to see the numbers. The numbers are the numbers.

The system is great when it’s great but when it’s terrible, it’s still flawed. You know? I mean, Neilson ratings only get you so far but If I start seeing stream numbers go up, which I’ve seen, that’s a positive.  If I see digital traffic or social media growth or something like that, that’s a metric I can track. Today I went to the gas station and they had our sports station on. If I can hear that, that means we’re doing something right. I don’t look book-to-book. I think PDs that dive into numbers and analytics and, and clocks…. Look, if you put out entertaining stuff, they’ll stick with you. And it starts with giving that confidence to your talent. And that’s how I program.

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BSM Writers

Brock Huard Believes The Third Time’s The Charm For Brock and Salk

“If I was a radio consultant, there’s two muscles you have to build constantly. A is listening and B is curiosity.”

Tyler McComas




It just felt right for Brock Huard when he stepped back behind the mic at Seattle Sports 710. On September 6th, he returned to the airwaves with longtime partner Mike Salk in morning drive. It’s been almost three months since Huard returned to radio, but it still feels as right as it did that early September morning. That’s because the business is in his blood. 

“Once radio is in your blood, it doesn’t leave,” said Huard.

If you talk sports radio with Huard for any length of time, you won’t question his love or intelligence about the industry. He truly loves and understands the business. When you have a former player that has an incredible amount of passion for sports radio, you really have something. Seattle Sports 710 really has something with Huard and his return to the airwaves made locals in the Pacific Northwest very happy. 

Brock & Salk haven’t had to deal with the challenges that new shows experience in the first few months. They’re not trying to establish a chemistry and flow together. They’ve had it after doing a show together twice before, plus a podcast the two hosted together.

“He and I had still done the podcast together for the last couple of years, and had a number of conversations over that time about how fun that hour and a half was, each and every week,” said Huard. “We never really missed a podcast and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Had we not done that podcast for two years, I don’t know if we would have come back for a third iteration. The third time has been the charm on this iteration.”

What makes the show isn’t just Huard being a former athlete or Salk being a very dynamic and experienced host. The two share an incredible chemistry that shines through on the air. However, Huard thinks there’s one reason in particular that the two mesh so well on air. 

“Because we listen,” said Huard. “That’s number one. I will listen to so many radio shows when I’m on the road and I’m like, this is bad radio. And you can tell hosts aren’t listening to one another, they’re just waiting for their time to talk and they fill and it’s terrible.

“If I was a radio consultant, there’s two muscles you have to build constantly. A is listening and B is curiosity. I think for 14 years he’s still genuinely curious about me and how my mind works, world views, ideology and sports views. After 14 years, I’m equally interested in how he thinks and it’s very different than me.

“It was hard to be able to listen and respect one another, because we come from two totally different world views, in many ways. But at the same time, when you do, and you’re curious to listen to the other side and what they have to say, you create unique content.

“He and I used to have to build these big show sheets when we started and we still have structure and everyday there’s still show sheets, but a consultant by the name of Rick Scott told me this early on, he said you know your show will be good, when you don’t get to half of the stuff on your show sheet. And he was absolutely right 14 years ago.”

Co-hosting morning drive at Seattle Sports 710 isn’t the only gig Huard has in sports media. He’s also a college football analyst for FOX. He’ll be on the call Friday night for the Pac-12 Championship game between USC and Utah. But everything ties back to radio for Huard and a recent experience on an airplane made him realize it again. 

“I was sitting next to this very smart gentleman the other day on my trip home from college football, and he was crushing crossword puzzles like I’ve never seen before,” said Huard. “He’s a very successful attorney and you could see for him, that was such a tool to keep his mind sharp. For me, radio is the same thing. It’s been the best training ground for everything I do with media, especially television.

“If you can do live radio and equip your mind to listen and strengthen that listening muscle, while also creating content, it’s a pretty good active tool. It keeps my mind sharp and plays to my mind’s strengths, I think, with just how wackado I can be between my ears at times. If you have a tremendous partner that helps shape you, like Salk is to me, then it’s just addictive and gets in your blood and doesn’t leave.”

As it relates to radio, being a college football analyst has its perks, because of the access it gives Huard. Every week before calling a game, he gets production meetings with head coaches, which gives him insight that others may not have. It also awards Huard the opportunity to create relationships with coaches. But how much of what’s said does he feel like he can use on the game broadcast or his radio show?

“99.9 percent is used on the air, on the show and sometimes I gain insight and share it with coaches that I know to encourage them,” said Huard. “It baffles me how many times I will hear from my peers, oh, I hate these coaches meetings. I don’t get anything out of them. And I’m like, God bless you. I will have a career for the rest of my life if that’s the way you approach it. It’s the most valuable real estate we have. It’s a forum that nobody else has.

“Yeah, they have press conferences, but if you build true trust and relationship and confidence, they want to tell you their story. They want to share their team. I can’t tell you how many times content from those meetings comes to life in my sit downs with Pete Carroll or Jerry Dipoto, GM of the Mariners or Scott Servais, or on the air or off the air.”

Huard has an insight to college football that few in the Pacific Northwest has, but that doesn’t mean he and Salk will jam pack content from that sport into the show. The duo knows that Seattle cares about. Sure, there’s an interest for college football, but not anywhere near the hunger from Seahawks and Mariners content. 

For example, Huard called the TCU vs. Baylor game two weeks ago, which featured one of the best endings in college football this year, when the Horned Frogs nailed a field goal as time expired. The call of the moment was spectacular and could be the shining moment of the season for a TCU team that looks destined for the College Football Playoff. On the Monday after, Huard and Salk made it a part of the show, but never had the intention of making it the majority of the show. 

“Our audience is dominated by the Seahawks and Mariners,” said Huard. “That dominates 80 to 90 percent of our conversation. I would say lifestyle is probably the rest. For example, we played that highlight today four times over the course of the show. We rank things at the end of every show and it was my Top 5 games of my broadcast life in 14 years on the road and that was number 1.

“I often use conversations and things I learned from those games and players and relate them to the Seahawks and Mariners. Dave Aranda talked about living with expectations and how hard that is in our meeting on Friday. He said, you watch, TCU is going to have to live in an entirely different world, where you’re on the mountain top instead of climbing it. And then you relate that toward the Seahawks or the Rams this year.

“Inevitably, yes, those moments create content, either emotionally or football 101. Radio is all encompassing in that way. I never understand radio hosts who try to play it straight. I just don’t. I think it’s bad radio. You have to be willing to live your life and put your life out there, whether it’s good, bad or ugly. The more you do that, the more you attach yourself and connect with your audience.”

It feels like the third time is truly the charm for Huard and Salk. They listen, they have chemistry and the content is a refreshing mix of sports and lifestyle. 

“He and I are not comedians,” said Huard. “We don’t play fake laugh tracks like others do. He and I will land way more on the analytical information side than maybe a consultant would tell us what morning radio people want. But I think where it cuts through is he and I put our lives out there. Our parenting success and failures. Relationship struggles, kids, sports, youth sports, that’s probably where we connect in a way that’s more lifestyle. That’s the word I would use.”

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BSM Writers

Chuck Swirsky Embodies ‘Always A Pleasure’

“I love working with Bill Wennington and each and every day I have the same enthusiasm of calling a Bulls game like I did as a five-year-old child calling games off a TV.”

Avatar photo




It’s hard to imagine there are any more positive thinking people in the world than Chuck Swirsky. If you don’t believe me, just check out his daily tweets. Swirsky has a lot to be upbeat about, he’s doing what he’s always wanted to, and now he’s written a book.

Always a Pleasure” is his creation, putting thoughts on paper, or iPad or whatever, about stories and people he’s encountered over the more than 40-years he’s been in the business.

The title is aptly accurate. Chuck is always a pleasure to be around and is one of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. He encourages those that need it. Swirsky always has time for people in the business and those trying to get into this crazy racket. I’ve seen and experienced it for myself, so trust me when I tell you, it’s the truth.

There are those that have worked multiple decades in play-by-play, and I’ll bet each and every one of them has been asked at some point, ‘hey, why don’t you write a book?’. Sounds easy enough, I’m sure. But when you really think about it, how can a person be expected to fit 40 plus years of work into a book that wouldn’t be the size of a dictionary?

More on that in a moment. I was wondering what makes someone in Swirsky’s position to write a book. So, I asked him. He outlined the main reason he decided to put pen to paper and tell some of his favorite stories and recall good memories.

“Over the past several years I was approached by several publishers and writers who were interested in detailing my journey in sports broadcasting, featuring my stops calling major college athletics and NBA basketball in addition to sports talk.” Swirsky told me. “I was reluctant to do so but a year ago I had a change of heart knowing 2022-23 Bulls season would be my 25th in the NBA, including my 2-thousandth NBA play-by-play game.”

Swirsky didn’t use a sportswriter or an author to tell his tale. “For years I have saved notes and decided to write the book myself, in my own words. I love my job. I have no desire to retire. I want to continue broadcasting Bulls game for many more years as long as my health and clarity allow me to do so.” he said.

“I love working with Bill Wennington and each and every day I have the same enthusiasm of calling a Bulls game like I did as a five-year-old child calling games off a TV. I have the utmost respect for the Reinsdorf  family and our entire organization.  I just felt this was the right time to write a book.”

I have followed Swirsky’s career closely and gotten to know him over the years. Growing up in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to hear him in his early days here, at the old WCFL (now ESPN 1000), where he became one of the pioneers of sports talk radio. He’s called games on radio and television.

For DePaul, Michigan, select White Sox games, the Raptors and now over the last nearly 2 decades, the Bulls. That’s a lot of experience and a lot of experiences for one person. It made ‘editing’ the book a little difficult.

“I could have easily written another 100 pages featuring additional sports personalities and stories.” Swirsky said. “But I elected to highlight specifics of a timeline allowing the reader to understand that my quest to reach a childhood goal of broadcasting NBA basketball was met with challenges, setbacks and ultimately persevering through hard work, focus, passion and positivity.”

Writing books can be a way to look back on a career. Swirsky if far from done. He never really reflected on things, because he was always looking forward. But the retrospective allowed him to realize a few things along the way.

“I would say this. I am my own worst critic.  I very seldom look back on my career. While I was writing “Always A Pleasure” I had to stop and truly reflect how blessed I  am to be in the position where  I am today. I never take it for granted. Never have. Never will.” Swirsky said.  “Nothing is easy. It’s hard. This business can be exhilarating yet so difficult. I never get too high nor too low although I’m very sensitive and my insecurities get the best of me which is probably not a good thing , especially in radio-television.”

In looking back there’s bound to be a few lessons learned from the past. Swirsky did find a few things in writing the book that he remembered, educated him along the way. “I learned that anyone who applies themselves, making  a commitment to work on their  skill set, and their weaknesses through hard work, dedication, passion and purpose, can be successful.” he said. 

“For example, not every professional athlete is going to hit .330. Let’s say another player is hitting .240. What is keeping him in the big leagues? Is it his  glove,  his ability to play multiple positions?  His  character in the locker-room? The same principle is in effect in our industry. Maximize your strengths and do it with a great attitude, humility and kindness.”

Swirsky’s book details his interactions with some very familiar people in the business and the sports world. “I have plenty of stories featuring some of the biggest names in sports ranging from Hall of Fame baseball star Willie Mays who many consider perhaps the greatest player of all time to Kobe Bryant who left our world way too soon.” he says. “When you’ve been a professional broadcaster for 46 years, one  meets many, many players, coaches, executives, media and sports personalities along the way.” 

The one thing you can say about Swrisky, is he is real. There’s no pretense or facade. A genuine human being that is interested in what people have to say. Athletes, coaches, broadcasters and yes, even fans. His book has been reviewed by some of the greats. Mike Breen, Chris Bosh and even Steph Curry. Here’s the 2-time NBA MVP’s take on Swirsky and the book.

Having known Chuck since my days as a still-developing youth player in Toronto, where my dad was a member of the Raptors, I can attest to the fact that his passion for people and basketball is deep and sincere.

Chuck’s unique desire to mentor young people, especially minorities and those of different cultures and backgrounds, will help inspire those who share the same dreams, dreams that enabled him to persevere to the top of his profession.

I’m proud of Chuck, and excited that others can become enlightened by his exciting broadcasting journey, which includes nearly 25 years in the NBA and, of course, a trio of Curry family members shooting from the stars, just like him.

A book written by someone as accomplished in this industry as Swirsky draws interest because of who he is. But the Bulls’ play-by-play man is always thinking of others and trying to help where he can, just like Curry said. Along with stories, he lends his knowledge and relates it to those who are already in broadcasting and those trying to get in.

“I’m hoping those in our industry who read the book even those outside the radio-tv, new media field will come away knowing that perseverance is a powerful resource to help withstand the emotional heartache of rejection, disappointment and loneliness.” said Swirsky. He adds, “I have experienced everything. The good. The bad. The ugly. I’m talking all levels.  My message is to stay true to your core values. In this case,  my foundation is  built on respect,  kindness, honesty, sincerity and selflessness.”  

Given the opportunity to beam about the finished product, Swirsky in typical fashion, deflected any praise. Simply saying, “I am very humbled and appreciative of  the professionalism of the book’s publisher, Eckhartz Press. They allowed me to be me. That’s all I wanted. Mission accomplished. I am grateful.”

The entire industry should be grateful for people like Swirsky. There are so few in the business who are as kind and caring as he is. There are just as few people that take interest in others, and help mentor the next generation like Chuck. Inspiring stories, a career chronicle and life lessons, “Always a Pleasure” is going to be on my must-read list for the holidays. Congrats “Swirsk” keep up the great work.

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