Each of these announcers shares a common heritage. They all got their start at WFUV, Fordham University’s public media station, which has been launching the careers of sports broadcasters for more than seven decades. Now, some of the history of the station has been preserved in a documentary titled Off the Air: The Legacy of WFUV Sports.
Evan Jaenichen, a Fordham College at Rose Hill senior and the video coordinator at WFUV Sports, came up with the idea for the documentary and pursued it as the capstone project for his new media and digital design major.
“I had started at WFUV last year and loved it so much,” said Jaenichen, who brought the idea to Bobby Ciafardini, the station’s sports director, and to Bob Ahrens, who retired in 2017 after two decades as sports director.
Ahrens helped put Jaenichen in touch with some of the most recognized voices to come out of the station, including Scully, FCRH ’49; Breen, FCRH ’83; Tony Reali, FCRH ’00, the host of ESPN’s Around the Horn; Bob Papa, GABELLI ’86, the radio voice of the New York Giants; and Chris Carrino, GABELLI ’92, radio voice of the Brooklyn Nets.
Vin Scully, the Dean of Fordham-Trained Sportscasters
The story of the station’s sports legacy begins with Scully, who said he used to call Fordham baseball games to himself while he was playing in the outfield at Rose Hill. He later called Fordham sports games on the air for WFUV, which was founded in 1947, his sophomore year. Scully says in the video that he was always enamored with the game.
“I used to be so thrilled by the roar of the crowd that first, I loved the roar. Then I wanted to be there, and eventually I thought I would love to be the announcer doing the game,” he says.
Scully retired in October 2016 after 67 seasons as the voice of the Dodgers. He was inducted into the broadcasters’ wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, and has received many other accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has inspired generations of broadcasters who have stepped up to the mic at WFUV.
“His vocabulary, his storytelling, his personality—everything. He just was perfect,” says Mike Breen, who recently became the third Fordham graduate to win a Curt Gowdy Media Award from the basketball Hall of Fame. “It made you … [want]to make sure you were always prepared anytime you went on the air. You might have had two exams that day or [been]having trouble at home that day—it didn’t matter. You had to have a certain standard for WFUV that began with Vin Scully.”
New York’s Longest Running Sports Call-In Show
In the years after Scully’s graduation, the sports department continued to grow, particularly during the 1970s, when Malcolm Moran, FCRH ’75, introduced One on One, which has become known as New York’s longest running sports call-in show.
“It was so much fun because I think for a lot of sports fans around the tri-state area, they had no way to express themselves like this,” Breen says in the video.
In the late 1980s, broadcaster Marty Glickman, who was best known for calling New York Knicks, New York Giants, and New York Jets games on the radio, became an adviser to the students at the station.
“I knew of Marty Glickman—at the time he was the Jets play-by-play announcer—[but]I didn’t know how impactful he would be on my life at the time,” Carrino says. “Marty’s voice is in my head every broadcast that I do. His mantra was ‘consider the listener.’”
Making It to the Major Leagues
After Glickman, Ahrens took over in the late 1990s as WFUV’s first full-time executive sports director.
“We were so fiercely and proudly student-run that we weren’t sure exactly what to make of a professional executive producer,” Reali says in the video, joking that when Ahrens told him he could cover Yankees’ games, that was all it took to convince him of the benefits of learning in a professional environment.
“I thought if we’re going to do this the right way, we should go to the major league games and train the students how to be broadcasters and how to do interviews,” Ahrens says. “I called the Mets and the Yankees. The Mets offered us one game, no clubhouse access … and [in]what was probably stupid at the time but became a very bold move, I turned it down.”
He followed up with a call to the Yankees and, after a discussion with the team’s media relations director, WFUV was granted a credential.
“We went from there to the Giants and the Jets. The following year, we went to basketball and hockey on an as-available basis and then a year later we had everything,” Ahrens says.
Current students say working at WFUV provides invaluable experiences—such as covering the Super Bowl, interviewing legendary players and broadcasters, and hosting live shows—not available to students at traditional college radio stations.
“It’s a real broadcast that’s actually going on at 90.7 FM to the entire tri-state area, so that’s one of the biggest audiences that any radio station can reach,” said Brianna Leverty, a Fordham senior.
Jaenichen said WFUV has helped him develop his love for storytelling. While he’s not sure exactly what professional path he wants to pursue after graduation, Ciafardini, his current sports director, thinks projects like this could be in his future.
“I think Evan is amazingly talented and the work that he has put out is a prime example of what he’s capable of doing,” Ciafardini said.
Jaenichen said it’s inspiring to know that the broadcasters he interviewed for the documentary were once in his shoes.
“It was a huge thrill to talk to people I’ve looked up to my whole life,” he said. “You realize that they’re just like you and they came exactly from where you are.”
Watch Off the Air: The Legacy of WFUV Sports