Making It Meaningful – In the Booth
Published on April 18, 2017
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — You can recognize his voice every weekday on his talk show on 97.7 and calling play-by-play for the Syracuse Crunch. You may even remember him calling Chiefs baseball for Time Warner– but who is the man behind the voice? That voice belongs to Dan D’Uva. And the bigger question just might be how does he do it?
“You learn to anticipate what’s next,” D’Uva says.
On the go
Although listeners may only hear him a couple to a few hours broadcasting depending on the day, D’Uva’s jobs, yes plural, keep him busy around the clock. On this Friday in particular, he starts his day at the OnCenter War Memorial Arena, home to the Syracuse Crunch. He then breaks away to walk the dozen or so blocks to the ESPN Radio studio in Armory Square for the radio show for a couple of hours, squeezes in time to grab a late lunch on the go, then it’s back to the War Memorial until game time.
About 40 minutes before the puck is dropped, the 5’7” D’Uva eases into the cramped broadcast booth in the rafters of the War Memorial, where he plainly is comfortable. He usually is painting the action with words on radio but is calling TV on this Friday night in the same booth. Soon he is adding his words to the live video of the Crunch beating the Binghamton Senators 4-1.
Between periods he is joined by former Crunch captain Luke Witkoswki for an interview.
And no, when the final horn sounds he’s still not done. He does another radio show for the Crunch post-game and then still has to prepare game notes for the following day’s game against the Utica Comets.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
It takes hours and hours to prepare for a game, and even his interns agree that you can never have “too much” material.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from him it’s that your preparation has to be on point,” says Crunch intern Julian McKenzie, a graduate student from Montreal at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. “It’s a bit intense but if you’re really into sports and really into hockey, you can survive Dan D’Uva.”
Whether he’s interviewing players or coaches, gathering stats or preparing game notes, he’s always working.
“No one’s going to outwork him,” says intern Logan Grossman, a Newhouse a third-year student with senior standing from Livingston, N.J. “He’s got more jobs to do than I can count.”
And as if preparing for a game isn’t a ton of work already, D’Uva balances that with his radio show, “In the Booth” that airs daily on ESPN Radio in Syracuse from 2 to 4 p.m. And yes, he has to prepare for this too. The hours just keep on adding up, but D’Uva’s face shows no wear. He couldn’t be happier to do what he’s doing.
D’Uva, who just turned 32 in February, enters the radio booth with a childlike enthusiasm as if he can’t believe he gets to do this every day. It’s like he just found the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. But trade in the candy and chocolates for a microphone and sound board. It’s that enthusiasm that keeps listeners coming back and sticking around for more.
“As much as we think about listeners and an audience,” he says, “really a broadcaster’s relationship with the listener, singular, is what makes it meaningful.” D’Uva attributes this to his idol, Marty Glickman. In fact, he proudly displays a photo of Glickman on his desk, not to mention that as an undergraduate he received the Fordham University radio station WFUV’s Marty Glickman Award for excellence in play-by-play.
The show gets going and D’Uva and Seth Goldberg find their groove and talk sports. Goldberg is a 2016 Syracuse grad who produces “In the Booth” and has evolved into being D’Uva’s co-host for most intents and purposes, The chemistry between them is so natural you’d think they’d known each other all their lives, and they do share some roots. They grew up in towns about 30 minutes apart in northern in New Jersey and D’Uva did play-by-play for Goldberg’s school, Livingston High. Yes, the same school intern Logan Grossman comes from.
“They couldn’t find anybody to announce,” Goldberg laughs, “Enter Dan.” Goldberg’s teacher had previously seen D’Uva broadcasting for Ridgewood High School and showed his tapes as an example for what the productions should look like.
It’s now time for listeners to call in and first up is “Wayne from Solvay” calling to thank D’Uva for his generosity for giving his entire family tickets to a Crunch game. They talk some hockey but mostly D’Uva asks about him, he asks about the listener.
“How many kids ya got?” D’Uva asks. “And how old are they?” He says if you make it a personal relationship and with that in mind you make it a closer bond with the people that are listening to you.
“History is human and as a play-by-play broadcaster I get to write the first draft of history,” he says with a grin. He’s still smiling after a 14-hour day that still isn’t quite over.
His first ever go at play-by-play came about when he was about eleven years old watching his younger brother play football.
“My dad’s job was to videotape the games,” he remembers,” and I sat next to my dad with a roster and kind of gave play-by-play a shot.” And since then his interest and passion for sports broadcasting grew. During a journalism class at George Washington Middle School in Ridgewood, D’Uva and his friend Guy Benson both declared that they wanted to become sports broadcasters and from then there was no looking back.
“We started making play-by-play tapes in my basement of Yankees and Mets games,” he chuckles. “We plotted that by the time we got to high school we would start doing our school’s football, hockey and lacrosse games.” And by the time the two graduated they were on in 280,000 homes in three counties in northern New Jersey. D’Uva started at Syracuse and transferred to Fordham when broadcast jobs in the New York City area presented themselves, while Benson headed off to Northwestern.
But the two wanted to continue broadcasting together so they started the broadcast network for the Cape Cod Baseball League. And since its inception Benson has moved from sports broadcasting to news and politics, making a name for himself as a conservative pundit and contributor to Fox News. But the duo is reuniting this summer for the 15th anniversary of the Cape Cod Baseball Network where they will team up for a reunion broadcast.
“We’ve stayed close throughout the years,” D’Uva says, “It’s great to look back on how far we’ve come since our days at the GW Post in middle school.”
A pretty neat marriage
Going back to his first go at play-by-play for his brother’s football team, a 14-hour day doesn’t compare to how much time and effort D’Uva has put in to his career. Although his buddy moved to a different realm of broadcasting, D’Uva is confident he’ll stay in sports. D’Uva has been with the Crunch since 2012.
“It seems to me that it’s a pretty neat marriage of loving sports and loving storytelling that has kept me doing this.”