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Andy Lindahl Will Find What Is Interesting And Do That

“As you well know, there are plenty of guys out there that just want you to shut up and do what I’m telling you to do. Well I’m the creative entity here. I need you to give me a little more leeway than that.”

Brian Noe

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Andy Lindahl was born and raised in a Bronco household. His mom was a TV yeller, which eventually trickled down to him. As a general rule of thumb, those who raise their voice at the TV don’t lack passion. Andy is no exception. He went on to cover Denver sports for more than two decades including a 10-year stint as the Broncos sideline reporter. I find it interesting that Andy views the process of divorcing his fandom as a blessing and a curse. He tells people that he loves the Broncos, but when the team sucks like they have for the last five years, he’s going to say they suck.

Lindahl Exits KDSP &

Two of Andy’s biggest influences include a pair of his former radio partners Mark Schlereth and Scott Hastings. Andy has worked at KOA, Orange & Blue 760, and now at his current home Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM. He hosts afternoon drive with his partner Nate Kreckman. As you will gather while reading this piece, Andy can definitely tell a story. He has a knack for connecting with people and finding things that are memorable. I enjoyed my chat with Andy and my money is on you enjoying our conversation as well.

Brian Noe: What were some of the toughest situations you encountered when you were the Broncos’ sideline reporter?

Andy Lindahl: Super Bowl XLVIII sucked for a lot of reasons. It sucked doing the job because I walked into that locking room and I had developed relationships with guys — Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshon (Moreno) a little bit, Pot Roast (defensive tackle Terrance Knighton) was one of them. All of those guys except for Pot Roast gave me a look like don’t you dare come over here and ask me anything. Nobody wanted to talk in that locker room. As I approached the tunnel, I’m like man this is going to suck. I don’t even know what to ask these guys. That was such an ass kicking. It was so surprising that they lost that badly to the Seahawks.

Eli and Archie were in front of me as I was approaching the locker room because I always gave my headset and mic to Peyton so he could talk to Dave Logan in the booth. I was following Eli and Archie. One of the security guards gave me the look of like hey give him a minute. Eli walked in and not 30 seconds later flew out of there walking three times the speed as what he walked in there. I was like oh God this is going to be bad. Then when I got in there, nobody talked except for Pot Roast. He was always good to me I think in part because he wanted to be in the media. He was like ‘Andy I’ll talk to you. Just come here.’ I remember Dave throws down to me and I started to ask a question and everybody in that room surrounded us to the point where I was getting crushed because he was the only guy that would talk.

Reuben Droughns, I’ll never forget, Reuben Droughns was a guy I was quote-unquote friendly with for a while. He had a block in Jacksonville. This was my first time officially on a regular season game on the sideline. I’m in Jacksonville and it’s 2006 or 2007. Reuben Droughns tripped and fell into John Henderson and broke his leg. Matt Lepsis had already engaged him. It looked like a chop block. The Jacksonville Jaguars thought he did it on purpose. Marcus Stroud comes over to our sideline and starts screaming. That was one of the biggest dudes I had ever seen in pads. I’m kind of peeing down my leg, this guy is so angry.

John Lynch starts screaming back at him. Al Wilson is wanting to fight him. I’m like oh my God, what is going on? The Jaguars were convinced it was a cheap block and from what I was told later, he tripped on the play and fell into the leg of Henderson when Lepsis already had him up. After the game I had to go in there and I looked at Reuben and I asked him what happened on that play, man? He was like what are you talking about? He came back at me in the angriest tone I’ve dealt with in a while. I had to re-ask the question. I was like I’m talking about the play that Henderson got hurt on. From your point of view what happened there? This was the first time I wasn’t used to a guy like that getting upset with me.

I had to get Ronnie Hillman after the 2012 game where Rahim Moore — the Fail Mary as we call it in town — Rahim Moore misjudged that thing. What do you ask him? “Man, you guys had that thing won.” When there’s no next week, how many times do you ask a guy how bad does this suck? The sudden death losses like that are bad.

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BN: A lot of the sports radio model in Denver is the broadcaster asking the ex-jock a question and then getting out of the way. When you’re allowed to do more and show your personality, what is that like for you as a broadcaster? 

AL: Some of the listeners — as you laid out — are programmed in this market to listen to the jock’s opinion and that’s all that matters. Well, the way I try to attack things is I’m going to tell you that it’s not just one man’s opinion; it’s multiple people’s opinions. Whether it’s Jeff Legwold who has been offered scouting jobs in this league and works for ESPN or any of the number of players that I’ve worked with or been around. I used to stand on the sideline and pick Rod Smith’s brain all the time. He would tell me all the time how something was going to play out and it was amazing how often he was right. Mark Schlereth has taken me to his house and he’s run back tape. He’s taught me about the blocking schemes. He’s shown me when things have been blocked right and when they haven’t been, the techniques they should have used. Do I get frustrated that people want to hear from the ex-jock a lot? I do, but I just keep trying it. Nate and I are just going to try to show everybody that two radio guys can get together and have fun doing radio and there’s still a place for it in this world and in this market.

I got lucky because I learned under Scott Hastings. My first job was his producer. We did a show called The Zoo. It was on KOA. Scott had always taught me let’s not focus on just sports stories, let’s focus on guy content. What are the guys talking about? What would you be talking about at the bar or the water cooler? Sometimes that’s not sports. 

There was one time we were doing a show in the offseason. We weren’t sure what we were going to talk about and FOX ran a show about whether the moon landing was fake or not. We talked for three days about that. People wouldn’t quit calling about whether they thought one thing or another as if the moon landing was faked. Scott taught me how to just find what is interesting and do that. Be yourself and don’t be fake. Don’t think you’ve got all the answers. Just be a guy you want to hang out with. That’s what I’ve tried to do.

BN: As you’ve shifted from being a part of the Broncos broadcast to more of a general part of the Denver media, has that affected your approach to covering the team at all?

AL: Man, I’d be lying to you to say that it didn’t. I’m a little more honest about things at times. It’s going to be the master we all serve the way the trends are going. We’re all going to work for state-run media in some ways, right? The Avs and Nuggets are great about things but there are times where I wonder if I’m going to upset someone with my opinion. Now that doesn’t stop me from giving it but I often wonder if I’m going to get called to the office. It hasn’t happened. 

Brian, it’s tough because since I left they’ve gotten worse. I didn’t have to do a lot of criticizing during my run. I did a Broncos talk show every Thursday night for a while. Then I think in 2012 when I got my talk show, they were pretty good in the Manning era by then so there wasn’t too much to criticize.

It was tough being at the Bronco owned station. It was tough talking to Case Keenum every week when you know he might be getting benched for Trevor Simeon. It’s been nothing but fighting about quarterbacks on the airwaves for four or five years. I’m a little more critical of things now. To be honest with you I’m a little more critical of ownership than I probably would have been if I was still there. But I also feel like the last few years watching these kids fight and sue each other in court, that wasn’t going on when I was at the other station. When Tyler Polumbus and I were at Orange & Blue 760, we prided ourselves on still trying to do real radio. We obviously knew that when Chad Kelly got arrested and acted a fool at a Halloween party, we weren’t going to dive heavy into that even though he was kind of the quarterback that everybody wanted to talk about at the time. So yes it does affect some of the on-air decisions. I try to be fair about things but unfortunately what we’ve seen the last couple of years with this team, there’s just not a ton of positive spin you can put out there.

BN: What’s your biggest passion outside of sports radio and family?

AL: Honestly it’s lacrosse. If I were ever to leave radio, I wish I could coach a college lacrosse team. I coached high school. When Tyler Polumbus and I started doing our thing, it allowed me to go coach a high school team here. I coached the lower levels. 

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I love coaching. I love helping kids. I feel like if it wasn’t for guys like Hastings and Logan giving me my shot and helping a young guy, there are a lot of people that just kind of taught me how to do things that didn’t have to, so I always try to pass it on. 

Lacrosse is my passion. I love being around kids. I love seeing the light go on. But I want to be competitive. I’m not here to be your dad coach that’s going to tell everybody they’re doing great. We work in a competitive business. We have to take honesty. You have to look at what the scoreboard truly is. I want to teach kids you’ve got to attack the world that way. Because guys like you and me aren’t making it in what we do if we don’t view the world the way that it is. I always trusted Scotty and Dave because I thought even when they were hard on me I know it came from a place of love so I try to be that kind of influence there too. If I could coach a college team I would but it’s not going to happen.

BN: Football players get asked if they want their kids to play football. I was thinking about that with sports radio. Would you want your kids to choose sports radio as a profession?

AL: Yeah, if they love it like I do. I love what I do and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know that I love that you publish this but we are on the record, I’ve got a second job at Starbucks right now. Everybody raises their eyes, what do you mean, you’re a radio host? Yeah, you know what, radio doesn’t pay what it used to. I took a little bit of a haircut when I switched jobs. I didn’t get all my salary back. I hope that I will next contract negotiation but I want to be in it so bad. I used to bartend so serving people coffee and interacting with people is not really that hard a thing for me and it’s not as awful as some people react like I can’t believe you’re working there. Well, it’s not really that bad. I want to be in radio bad enough that I will work two jobs right now. But I’ll tell you when I was transitioning a year ago, I wondered should I still do this?

I almost went and sold insurance. People think I’m kidding. Bobby Pesavento is one of the CU players that I got to know covering him. I helped him get hooked up with the Crush and he was like I’ll return the favor. I will hire you and you can sell corporate insurance if you want to. I thought it was time to quit being Peter Pan and go get a big boy job. But I love what I do and it’s not hard for me to do it. I’m never upset I’ve got to go to work. Nate and I have been frustrated when the Avs or Nuggets have a game and we don’t get to do a show. If you love something that much then I’d encourage any child of mine to do it. I was in a bad depressed place when I wasn’t doing radio shows and I guess it’s obvious that’s why I decided I’d stay in it. I love what I do.

BN: Could you ever see yourself covering teams that you aren’t as passionate about in another market?

AL: I’ve always wondered that. I don’t know if I have a desire to prove it. I tried to go to Tampa Bay and I tried to move to Austin one time earlier in my career. Here’s the weird thing about me; I’ll do radio anywhere. I’ve become friends with Judson Richards and Nick Hardwick out in San Diego. I’d go to San Diego because I dig the town’s vibe. I dig the weather. I’m a Colorado kid so I don’t do well with humidity. I don’t do well with gray all the time. Going any further east than where I am would probably be a little tricky. I’ve got family in Houston. I was offered a sports director job down there. To me Houston is the Seventh Ring of Hell with its humidity so I want no part of living there full time. I’ve heard Austin was cool, which is why I would go there. If it’s a football town I think I could do it.

Here’s what sucks, Brian, I don’t think I’d move because I just don’t know financially. When I was going to go to Austin, they shut that station down. It was the home of the Longhorns and they flipped it from sports to news six months after I would have moved there. I just don’t know. I’m 46. I’ve got two kids. I own a house. I just don’t know that I need to chase the dream necessarily anymore but I don’t want to quit doing talk shows. If you let me live here, I’ll do radio anywhere. We’ve been doing shows from our basement since March.

I guess I just get worried about people’s commitment to things. Kroenke has shown great commitment to us. I love working for Dave Tepper. I’ve had a lot of great bosses, but Dave has a game plan and Dave has explained the game plan to me. I just really believe what Dave Tepper is doing. I think a lot of the people I’ve worked for and yet Dave is still the best because I’ve never had a guy give me the plan so that you can buy in. I need to work for a guy like Dave Tepper. As you well know, there are plenty of guys out there that just want you to shut up and do what I’m telling you to do. Well I’m the creative entity here. I need you to give me a little more leeway than that.

I’m hoping this works because I don’t want to make any more tough decisions. I know I’m a Denver guy. I know for some people they’ve said maybe you need to get out and test yourself elsewhere. Why? I know this town. I know this community. I know what they want. I’ve been on Patriots radio where I’ve tried to break down why I thought the Broncos were going to win. “Oh you’re a homer, you suck. You’re not negative enough.” All right man, that’s cool. But that’s not how we do it out here. We help each other out here. It’s a competitive situation but people are polite. 

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It’s a different vibe out here than the East Coast. And the LA guys; it’s all about getting seen and getting heard. I respect it. I’m not knocking the way anybody does it but I do think there’s an advantage for me to understand how it operates here, and to your point, I’d have to go to some place that vibes like Denver for it to work. I am not everybody’s cup of tea and I know it.

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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