About two dozen radio listeners and sports fans flocked to the Davenport Common Room on Tuesday to take in the words of two men who talk for a living.
For his first Master’s Tea of the new school year, Davenport Master Richard Schottenfeld hosted New York’s WFAN (660 AM) sports’ personalities Steve “The Schmoozer” Somers and Bob “Mr. Met” Heussler. As part of his introduction, Schottenfeld drew laughter from the audience with the simple phrase, “They can talk.”
Indeed, Heussler works as a play-by-play announcer, sportscaster and anchor for WFAN, while Somers, who Schottenfeld proclaimed is known as the “first 24-hour, all-sports radio announcer,” hosts a sports talk show on the station.
During the hour and 20 minute talk, the two sportscasters discussed both their fans’ relationships with sports and the influence of the radio on the world of sports. Heussler stressed his long relationship with athletics and went on to describe his emotions during the dream season of 1969 when the Mets, trailing the first-place Chicago Cubs by 9.5 games in August, rallied to win the National League pennant and the World Series.
Both Heussler and Somers said their parents played important roles in their careers.
“My father was the sports fan. My mother was the fan of radio,” Heussler said, explaining that his father’s passion for the Brooklyn Dodgers inspired his own devotion to the New York Mets.
Somers, who has been in the radio business since the age of 17, said his experience working for his father’s grocery store taught him to be friendly to everyone. For this reason, he describes himself as “the please-and-thank-you guy” when interviewing guests. He said he teared up on his train ride to New Haven for the Tea, as he realized how proud his parents would be of him.
Heussler and Somers went on to discuss how sports talk radio provides a sense of community for everyone who listens, and for the hosts themselves.
“Radio is a medium for people to connect person-to-person,” Somers said. “Radio, unlike television, is personal and intimate.”
On Somers’ show, listeners typically call in to express their opinions, and some frequent callers have even gained fame — or notoriety. Somers mentioned “Doris from Rego Park,” a frequent caller to WFAN who was the subject of a front-page New York Times story upon her death. Some of WFAN’s callers are already famous, including “Jerry From Queens,” who is the comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
Many listeners on Tuesday absorbed the pair’s advice to students who are considering a future in the radio business. Heussler described the business as “very competitive” and the path to announcing as “not as cut and dried” as the paths to other professions. Somers told students to be persistent and keep knocking on doors and calling producers. They both stressed the importance of communication skills.
“Less important is the sound of your voice,” Somer said.. “More important is the communication,.”
Leroy Cole ’12, a football broadcaster and the sports director for WYBC Radio, who attended the talk, has worked with Heussler in the past and described the pair as two of the top talents in the industry.
“[Heussler and Somers] are the gold standard,” Cole said. “They’re the originals, and they do that the best.”
Somers graduated from the same high school as University President Richard Levin — Lowell High School in San Francisco — and later played baseball at Cal-Berkeley. Heussler graduated from the University of Bridgeport and lives in nearby Hamden.