Shackil said that he had been told earlier in the year to keep the weekend free to potentially fill in for the broadcast, but the news came as a surprise to Berbari.
“I was at WFAN about a month before just doing a regular shift, and I went to talk to one of my bosses—I thought it was going to be a five-minute-long catchup,” he said, laughing. “Then they asked me if I had ever been to Pittsburgh. … I walked out of it like, ‘Wow, I’m going to be doing the series with Justin.’”
From Mentee to Co-Broadcaster
While this was the first time the two teamed up for a broadcast, their relationship goes back to 2017, when Berbari was just a first-year student at WFUV, Fordham’s public media station, and he sent broadcasting tapes to Shackil for feedback.
“There’s a particular sort of pride that I’ve had watching him flourish in these roles at a young age,” Shackil said, “and then to share a booth that is at a really high level—it was really comfortable, because I’ve known about Emmanuel’s work, his cadence and rhythm, so there was no easing-in period. And we’re cut from the same cloth: WFUV.”
The WFUV Legacy
Both Shackil and Berbari said that their approach to calling games stems from Marty Glickman, the famous Knicks, Jets, and Giants broadcaster who became an advisor to WFUV Sports in the late 1980s. Glickman brought on Bob Ahrens, who became WFUV’s first full-time executive sports director and carried on his teachings.
“Consider the listener—that’s a Marty Glickman credo,” Berbari said. “I try to put myself in the seat of the one person that could be driving on the highway listening, and what do they need to know in this moment?”
Shackil said that he draws on lessons he learned from Ahrens.
“I’m really all about the fundamentals of describe, describe, describe, because our job is to inform and educate, and at the same time, entertain as best we can,” he said.
Working for the Yankees
Even when they’re not calling the games, both are involved with Yankees broadcasts. Shackil, who is the backup play-by-announcer, hosts the postgame show on the radio and fills in on the YES Network, in addition to calling boxing matches and hosting a podcast with legendary Yankees pitcher and announcer David Cone. Berbari fills in on the postgame when Shackil is calling the games, in addition to working on-air at WFAN and calling games for Siena College.
Both said that it’s been incredible to work with and learn from Sterling and Waldman.
“John, at 85 years of age, the energy stands out above everything—he’s so passionate,” Shackil said. “For Suzyn, she’s a Radio Hall of Famer, she’s a reporter at heart, she’s probably the best reporter in the Yankee sandbox—just the way she approaches the job is unmatched.”
Berbari and Shackil said that the opportunity to fill in for those legendary broadcasters—and work with each other—was an incredible experience.
“I kept thinking about how rare something like that is—not only getting to work with Justin—but I was thinking for us both in this booth, at the same time, at this level, what are the odds of that happening?” Berbari said.