Life changed for Emmanuel Berbari his freshman year at Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, NY. “A couple of my best friends launched the first live video streaming program at the school,” he recalls. “In late 2013, I called one basketball game out of the blue and something clicked.”
That click has become a career. Berbari is the new play-by-play voice of men’s basketball and other sports at Siena College in Loudonville, NY.
After his freshman year experience, Berbari continued feeding his newfound passion at a sports broadcasting camp. “Hearing from some of the people I had admired watching sports games — learning everything that went into the craft — inspired me to do more,” he remembers.
Berbari learned of the Siena opening in an STAA Job Leads email. “I’d been looking for college basketball jobs since graduation and the summer baseball season, and thought it was the perfect opportunity,” he says. “When I sent along materials, they were still early in the process, but I followed up a couple of weeks later to gauge where everything stood.”
Two of Berbari’s mentors helped boost his candidacy. “They were nice and generous enough to go out of their way to put me in touch with those involved with hiring in the athletic department.
“People talk a lot about how great broadcasters often go hand-in-hand with great people, and I truly don’t think I get the job without references going above and beyond, mainly conveying who I was as a person. Following up and showing how much I wanted to be at Siena definitely helped, but the great people I’ve met along the way were more interested in helping than I ever could have expected.”
Developing his craft
Berbari’s play-by-play experience ranges from football, basketball and baseball, to softball, lacrosse and volleyball. Hoops, though, is among his favorites. “I absolutely love basketball radio play-by-play. The pace and energy of the game environment have always made it feel special.”
Berbari has continued honing his craft over his past four years at Fordham. He graduated this year. “The last few years have been a great learning experience — self-critiquing my work, finding a variety of ways to describe the same action and really working on improving how I use my voice to convey the story of the game.”
His efforts paid off. Berbari twice earned STAA All-America honors as one of the nations six most outstanding collegiate sports broadcasters. He’s been an STAA member since 2018 and credits his membership with helping him land the Siena job. “Not only in making me aware of the job initially, but helping me become a better broadcaster over the last few years,” he says. “The play-by-play resources, videos and summits make you think about the craft in different ways that you can weave that into your own work.”
Now, the kid who started calling games as a high school freshman is the voice of an NCAA Division I men’s basketball program.
“It will be an awesome chance to continue growing as a broadcaster around a terrific program,” Berbari says excitedly.