Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alumni Sports Media Roundtable at Stuyvesant High School : 6/24/09

The KV Colonel and my beloved ex-boss Dr. Ringel sent me info on this
The Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association invites you to the first-ever Alumni Sports Media Roundtable at Stuyvesant High School on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009. Join your friends, classmates, fellow alumni, faculty and students for an evening of great stories, snappy dialogue and fun. The panelists include Len Berman '64, Sam Marciano '85 and Sam Rosen '64 while the moderator will be Dave Cohen '68. All the participants have distinguished themselves in the world of sports media. Len Berman is best known as the former sports anchor at NBC for more than two decades in New York City; Sam Marciano is the anchor for the MLB website; Sam Rosen is the voice of the New York Rangers and the NFL; and Dave Cohen is the former radio announcer for the New York Yankees.

I had graduated with Berman and Rosen(zweig) but only knew Berman. He was in my homeroom class. I never liked Berman much and seeing him again bore out my original impressions. Pre-talk he spent a little (very little) time with the alumns and quickly escaped to hang with Cohen, Rosen and Marchiano. It was my first time at the new Stuyvesant and probably my last. They preserved a room from the original one there (some of the slides in the slide show). Berman mentioned that it was his English teacher and mine, Sterling Jensen, who provided inspiration for his broadcast career. Jensen said he had a great voice and should develop it. Looking back, my Stuyvesant HS teachers weren't so special. With the exception of Kahn, Gluck, Finkel, Schwartz, Schindelheim and Goodman many were pretty mean-spirited and uninspiring. I missed Frank McCourt by a few years.
I found Jensen' times' obituary
Published: Thursday, December 9, 1993
Sterling B. Jensen, an actor and mime who helped found the Roundabout Theater, died yesterday in the Touro Infirmary in New Orleans. He was 68 and lived in New Orleans. The cause was congestive heart failure, said his wife, Esther Ewing Jensen. Mr. Jensen was born in San Diego. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in drama from San Diego State University. In World War II, he saw combat with the Army in New Guinea and the Philippines. In 1965, Mr. Jensen helped found the Roundabout Theater and, in its first production, played Adolf in "The Father," by Strindberg. His many roles with the Roundabout in the 60's and early 70's included Lieutenant Osborne in "Journey's End," Vanya in "Uncle Vanya," the King in "Pelleas and Melisande" and the title role in "King Lear." He also taught creative writing and acting at Stuyvesant High School. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two stepdaughters, Elizabeth Wynne-Martin of New Orleans and Esther Wynne-Wilson of Hardin, Mont., and five grandchildren. He made his Broadway debut in 1955 as a telephone operator in "The Desk Set." In the late 50's, he joined the Mime Theater of Etienne Decroux.

Berman and others were decrying the death of the major broadcast and print media outlets. I feel bad about the loss of the behind scene jobs they provided as well. But I wish I would have had the nerve to ask the question, "Perhaps if those outlets were more truthful about what was happening in the world they wouldn't have fallen victim to the vast and different information available on the internet." Marchiano mentioned how hurt she felt when McGwire and others broke all those records. I can't believe that some of those writers and broadcasters as well as managers and team officials didn't know what was really going on. Although this blurb from a piece from broadcast union news on Marchiano's force retirement sounds like the sad state of affairs for experienced workers everywhere
Marchiano's termination is more about what's happening in the local TV news business than it was about his performance. Industry sources say all six local stations, which for decades were cash registers, are losing money - big money. This has led to cutbacks. It has also led to major players, including local sports anchors making mid six-figures and up, either taking drastic pay cuts or, in Marchiano's case, being fired.
For years now, local sportscasters have been on the endangered species list. Many news directors - some genuflecting to consultants who have mistaken New York City for Iowa City - have attached a low priority to their nightly sportscasts.
"The sports guys are tolerated, but minimized. But the local sportscasts are still important. We are all still viable because we offer, through highlights and commentary, a local slant....That's why I lasted for (over) 40 years," Marchiano said. "Look, I'm not the greatest guy there ever was, but the point is you knew it was me. I'm known by first name."
Familiarity has been devalued. The suits would rather bring in a rotating cast of know-nothing wannabes practiced in the art of awful ad-libs, smarmadukes who have no connection with their audience and no feeling for the marketplace.
Now, there is not even a trace of bitterness in Marchiano's voice. Considering that other local sportscasters, on the outside looking in, still constantly complain about their demise, this is fairly remarkable. Or is it? Marchiano said he ain't looking back, only ahead to the next gig.
Four months ago, he had emergency knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and is finishing up his rehabilitation. Soon, he will head for South Florida to visit friends.
"But I'm only a phone call away. It's peculiar not going in to do a sportscast every night," he said. "What I dwell upon is my brand, which is familiarity and credibility. So, I'm hanging out my shingle."
All of a sudden, it seemed like it was around 10:50 p.m. on Ch. 11. He blasted Woody Johnson for not meeting with Bill Cowher. Tore up the Giants' and Jets' PSL plans. And wondered who would fill all those expensive seats at Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium.
Right then you hoped someone with a clue would do the right thing.
And return Sal Marchiano back where he belongs.


Len Berman said...

Sol, sorry you didn't feel I spent enough time with the alumni and students. I thought 2 1/2 hours was generous, and I felt it was important to re-connect with my fellow panelists before the discussion began. Also, Sam Rosen shortened his name from Rosenblum, not Rosenzweig.

Sol Bellel said...

The event was advertised in conjunction with a pre-talk schmooze/snack, etc. Marchiano and Dave Cohen were there and mingled. (I didn't know who they were at that point) Berman came later and did little. His choice. There's a different kind of interaction that takes place in that setting and a Q and A in a large auditorium. That they gave of their time is generous and commendable. Let's just say it's just a personal response on my impressions of him past and present and that I wish him well in his future endeavors.