When Jeanne Zelasko called me one morning in October 1993, I felt like my big break had finally arrived.
Three months earlier, I had moved back to my hometown of San Diego after three years of entry-level radio in McPherson, KS. For the final two of those three years, I had been trying unsuccessfully to get on board at San Diego’s XTRA Sports 690 – just the second all-sports station in the country at that time.
Finally, I decided if I was going to get a job in San Diego I had to live in San Diego. So I moved west, introduced myself to station PD Howard Freedman, and told him I was interested in future opportunities.
Jeanne Zelasko has enjoyed a fabulous sports broadcasting career – most notably as a longtime member of Fox Sports’ Major League Baseball coverage. In the Fall of ’93, though, she was XTRA’s Morning Drive sports anchor and handled the scheduling of air talent.
Jeanne called me that October morning to tell me that someone had called in sick. She asked if I could do sports updates that afternoon on legendary sports talker Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton’s show. It took me about half a second to say yes.
That afternoon, I put on a coat and tie, went to the station and had a flawless sports update shift. I remember Hacksaw sticking his head into the studio before at least two of my updates to remind me to “keep it short.” It wasn’t that I was going long – it was that less of me meant more of him and there’s nothing that Hacksaw loves more than Hacksaw.
After my shift, I met my parents to celebrate at our favorite Chinese restaurant. They had listened to each of my sports updates that day. As we shared egg drop soup, broccoli beef, and sweet and sour pork, my parents’ obvious excitement and pride in me made me feel like a million bucks.
It still does.
What is one of the most memorable days in your sportscasting career? Please share it in the comments section below. I am eager to read about it!