Here is some good news: pioneering Yankee radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman has been nominated for the Radio Hall of Fame in the Spoken Word category. Here is some even better news: you can help play a role to help ensure that Waldman receives the honor she so deserves by casting a vote. You can do so on RadioVote.com or, if you prefer, by phone at 877-370-VOTE. Voting began yesterday and will run through July 28.
You can only vote once, obviously. The way it works is that the public vote counts as a committee vote, so it is not insignificant–it might make a real difference. She is facing:
- Stephanie Miller
- Scott Slade
- Joe Madison
I don’t think there is any question that Waldman is deserving of the honor. She is a pioneer in the field of sportscasting, an inspiration to young girls with dreams of joining the sports industry, and has been a fabric of New York sports for more than 30 years.
Hers was the first voice ever heard on WFAN. “They laughed at me,” Waldman told the New York Times in 2001. “They laughed at the station.” Unfortunately, similar derision and skepticism has followed Waldman throughout her career, almost entirely due to the fact that she is a woman in a man’s world. She therefore made herself indispensable, disrupting the industry by offering to drive to arenas for WFAN soundbites instead of waiting for the newspaper reports the next morning.
At WFAN, Waldman co-hosted a midday talk show and also covered the Knicks and Yankees beats. There was a problem, though: her future boss, George Steinbrenner, denied her access to him for interviews. She demanded a meeting anyway, penning a letter to Steinbrenner; he relented, but told her that “I don’t like women cops; I don’t like women firemen; I don’t like women in the military; and I don’t like women in sports.”
Waldman pressed on, as she always has, displaying a toughness and determination that apparently impressed Steinbrenner, who should already have been impressed. This is truly remarkable, and came against a context in which Waldman faced rampant sexism from all corners. As she told Newsday a few months ago:
“I used to get things in the mail at the FAN. I would get used condoms in the mail. I got toilet paper with feces on it . . . They were really ugly and disgusting letters, the most vile stuff. You know, it’s not in cyberspace. It’s sitting in your hand. In 1989, it started really early. We got a lot of letters to the station, got letters to the stadium.”Suzyn waldman
She has constantly risen above these displays and advanced her career in spite of serious and significant institutional barriers. A long career in beat and clubhouse reporting gave way to her replacing Charley Steiner in the Yankees radio booth for the 2005 season. She has been there ever since.
Suzyn is every bit as much an integral part of the broadcast as her colleague, John Sterling. Her “as [leadoff hitter] steps up to the plate, stepping up to the microphone issssss the voice of the New York Yankees, here is John Sterling” is every bit as part of the fabric of a Yankees radio game as “it is high, it is far, it is gone!” When Sterling missed his first games in three decades a few weeks ago, Waldman’s voice alongside substitute Ryan Ruocco’s provided a sense of familiarity to the broadcast. (Ryan did a fantastic job as always, but it was weird to not have Ma and Pa Yankee on the mic, no?)
Her intelligence, passion, and drive come through on every broadcast. That’s why her list of accolades is already quite long. Consider her list of awards:
- International Radio Award (1989)
- New York Sportscaster of the Year (1996)
- American Women in Radio and TV Star Award (1999)
- Alliance for Women in Media Lifetime Achievement Award (2016)
- Gracie Award (2016)
In addition, she is the 3rd woman in MLB history to serve as a full-time color commentator for a club and the 2nd women to serve as a play-by-play announcer on TV, which she did in the 1990s for the Yankees.
All of this is to say: vote for Suzyn for the Radio Hall of Fame. I’m sure the other candidates are deserving, too, but I didn’t bother to look because I don’t care: there is only one Suzyn Waldman, and I know that she deserves this more than they do.