He is often referred to as the “Mayor of Middle Tennessee Sports,” and for good reason. Brent Dougherty makes sure he is following all of the local teams closely, gauging the pulse of the city and discovering angles that will both inform and entertain an audience. Raised in Nashville, he grew up in an era where there were no professional sports teams in the city.
Yet the area had a sports culture, largely because of fandom towards the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team. Listening to John Ward deliver play-by-play on the radio enthralled and inspired Dougherty.
“I always wanted to be the voice of the Vols,” Dougherty said. “That’s what kind of got me started down the broadcast path.”
Dougherty attended the University of Tennessee as a communications major. What was apparent after he completed radio and TV internships was that radio would allow him to utilize and divulge his creative side. By the end of his time at the university, he knew it was the medium for him.
“I just fell in love with the creative outlet that radio provided that TV just didn’t,” Dougherty said. “Just for my personality type, radio made more sense. That’s the direction I headed and I just wanted to follow that dream.”
Upon his graduation in 1996, Dougherty started his career as a producer of The Sports Scene, a sports talk radio show on WLAC. Despite it being a news talk station, it had had previous success in other formats, helping to popularize the sports talk format in Middle Tennessee with the advent of an afternoon radio show featuring sportscaster Charlie McAlexander and avid fan Rick Baumgartner.
Joining what was a historic radio station was an exciting opportunity for Dougherty to get more professional exposure into the industry and the ability to observe how a broadcast outlet is operated from the inside. Simultaneously though, Dougherty was working at Blockbuster Video since his job at WLAC was for 20 hours per week, doing everything he could to make ends meet.
“I lived with five dudes in a house and just tried to absorb, tried to learn [and] tried to help the best I could,” Dougherty said. “It kind of let me see what the hosts were able to do on a day-in, day-out basis… The vision I had was to one day host a show if I could. I just did anything I could to kind of follow those open doors.”
In 1998, the sports landscape in Nashville changed forever with the addition of both the Nashville Predators and, shortly thereafter, the Tennessee Titans. Suddenly, the city was somewhat revitalized and infused with even more passion towards live sports.
“When the Predators came in, it completely gave downtown life,” Dougherty said. “Nobody would go downtown prior to the Predators, but that brought a lot of business. That brought a lot of restaurants [and] that brought a lot of people. Then the Titans came on top of that and it has just totally transformed what this city is.”
With the berth of professional sports in the city, Dougherty continued to work at WLAC and moved up at the station. By 2004, he was named its sports director. Although he was working in a managerial role, he made sure to continue to find time to go on the air by anchoring shows and reporting on the local sports teams. Moreover, he attained more repetitions on the air working with the Tennessee Radio Network and as a fill-in sports reporter for The House Foundation with Gerry House on The BIG 98 WSIX.
“I love it all and I love the teamwork aspect that radio provides for us to be able to help our clients grow their business,” Dougherty said. “Anybody and everybody in that building has a role in performing those duties, and so I loved, loved, loved working with people with different personality types.”
Dougherty entered the managerial role with previous experience working outside of roles based on the air. He worked as a marketing consultant at both Clear Channel Nashville and Citadel Knoxville, giving him flexibility when it was time to look elsewhere even though he had a non-compete clause.
“I left 1510 knowing that I had done all I could there – and I love those people and I appreciated the opportunity that they gave me – but I was looking for more,” he said. “I did a sports talk show on a news station, and I wanted to go where they were doing nothing but sports so 104.5 The Zone was the goal.”
For the remainder of the noncompete, Dougherty took a brief hiatus from radio. In this span, which happened to coincide with an economic recession, he found himself selling used cars, printers and doing play-by-play for high school football games in Fort Campbell, Kentucky on Oldies 1480 WHVO – anything he could to remain fiscally stable. At the same time, he was making an impact on the lives of others both at home and abroad.
“I did Fort Campbell High School football games and that was really special to me because the kids playing on the field oftentimes had parents that were deployed overseas,” Dougherty recalled. “I would get emails from parents all the time telling me how much they appreciated our broadcast. All I would do was try to tell the story of what was going on; to paint the picture in your head of what was happening on the field.”
In September 2008, Dougherty officially made the move to 104.5 The Zone working as a sports talk radio host. Early in his tenure at the station, he continued to sell used cars as he would host radio shows whenever slots freed up, usually closer to midnight, with Mickey Ryan. Eventually, Dougherty and Ryan started hosting a show together called The Overtime, giving them both air time on a mid-market station.
“You’d wake up [at] 5:00 the next morning, get the kids ready for school, go sell things and then go do it all again,” Dougherty said. “You just kind of have to put your time in, that’s for sure.”
While he was at 1510 WLAC, Dougherty conversed with Duncan Stewart, who he refers to as “the godfather of sports talk radio in Nashville.” Stewart was formerly an afternoon drive host and sports director at The BIG 98 WSIX.
In the end, they came up with an idea for a sports talk radio show which never came to fruition at WLAC. In essence, the show would resemble friends sitting at a sports bar talking about sports and other parts of their lives, akin to the way many alternate game telecasts are seeking to penetrate a new sector of live game commentary.
What followed at 104.5 The Zone was the creation of a unique on-air product with a distinctive sound of friends talking with listeners rather than talking at them.
“Friends don’t always get along. Friends don’t always agree and that’s fine,” Dougherty explained. “If we all agreed with each other about everything, it’d be a boring world. We hope that we’ve set up something where we can all be right and wrong from time to time and give each other crap and have fun with it.”
3HL has had various iterations since its launch in January 2010, initially starting with Dougherty, radio host Clay Travis and four-time NFL Pro Bowl safety Blaine Bishop. Eventually, Mickey Ryan joined the cast, along with sports broadcaster and reporter Dawn Davenport. Dougherty and Davenport remain on the show today and are joined by a third co-host in University of Tennessee basketball standout Ron Slay. Viewing himself as the “point guard” of the program, Dougherty sees a benefit in working with two other personalities rather than one to bring listeners compelling and engaging daily sports talk.
“I’m lobbing things up for Ron Slay to dunk. I’m trying to feed off his energy which is unmatched,” Dougherty said. “….Dawn Davenport is kind of the professional end of things for us. I try to lean on her to make sure we’re not going off the tracks.”
Being tasked with replacing Jim Rome’s nationally-syndicated show on the airwaves, a palpable level of pressure was placed upon Dougherty and his co-hosts. Especially on day one, there was a cognizance that the show concept had to work; it was a risk in trying to take over the afternoon slot from a bonafide national talent and, simultaneously, try to elevate its standing in the marketplace.
“Jim Rome is such a huge presence in this field,” Dougherty explained. “His listeners are so passionate and so loyal. I wondered how long it would take for people to kind of accept us…. We got immediate responses when we went on the air, and everybody seemed to like it. We all just kind of looked at each other after the first day and we were like, ‘I guess we can do this. Let’s go kick ass and have fun.’”
As he prepares for a show, Dougherty takes it upon himself to look at stories and think about which of his co-hosts on the show would be most apt to talk about them, emblematic of his previous role as a producer. His job today is to enhance what Davenport and Slay bring to the program, helping them find talking points of which they can bring strong perspectives and opinions. Similarly, Dougherty’s co-hosts try to position him for success, creating a symbiotic relationship that has helped to establish a working chemistry on the program.
“I love going into the room and just kind of feeding them and then feeding off of them,” Dougherty said. “I think that’s what’s worked well for us. We have such a good thing going right now.”
Despite being the flagship station of the Tennessee Titans and Nashville affiliate for the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team, Dougherty has not felt limited in terms of offering criticism. In fact during his time working with Program Director Paul Mason and other members of upper management, he has never once been told to refine his opinion, allowing him to share his genuine feelings towards situations surrounding the teams.
“We have complete freedom to go [in] any direction that we want, and I think that’s important in sports talk radio – being able to try new things,” Dougherty said. “It might not work – bits might not work – but try them and see what happens and if they don’t work, can it and try something else.”
104.5 The Zone has experienced success in the ratings, especially since the start of football season for both the Titans and Volunteers. In addition to the traditional Nielsen numbers though, the show also receives digital numbers from its live stream on 104.5 The Zone TV. Launched by digital producer Will Boling, the station’s sports talk shows and original programming are streamed live every day on Facebook, Twitch, Twitter and YouTube.
Additionally, the station makes its content available to consumers on-demand and also produces original podcasts. More people than ever are consuming radio digitally, according to Dougherty, engendering levels of engagement that make phone calls, to a degree, superfluous.
“We use [the] comments as phone calls sometimes as conversation generators to help us do what we do but also to include those guys that maybe can’t listen in the car but are watching at home or watching at work and have their headphones in to make them feel like they’re a part of what’s going on,” Dougherty said. “I think this medium is certainly headed down that direction and I’ve really, really enjoyed watching the growth of Zone TV as a supplement to what we do on the air.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
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.”
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.
Brady Farkas is a sports radio professional with 5+ years of experience as a Program Director, On-Air Personality, Assistant Program Director and Producer in Burlington, VT and Albany, NY. He’s well versed in content creation, developing ideas to generate ratings and revenue, working in a team environment, and improving and growing digital content thru the use of social media, audio/video, and station websites. His primary goal is to host a daily sports talk program for a company/station that is dedicated to serving sports fans. You can find him on Twitter @WDEVRadioBrady and reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”
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.”
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.
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.”
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.
Andy Masur is a columnist for BSM and works for WGN Radio as an anchor and play-by-play announcer. He also teaches broadcasting at the Illinois Media School. During his career he has called games for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. He can be found on Twitter @Andy_Masur1 or you can reach him by email at Andy@Andy-Masur.com.