“It’s the campus that has the mascot of my name,” ESPN anchor Chris “Boomer” Berman joked to an audience of Quinnipiac students in the School of Communications television studio last Tuesday. The sports commentator of the Bristol-based ESPN was invited to Quinnipiac University by Professor Bill Schweizer, who, in an interview in front of a standing-room only audience, looked back on their early careers together in Hartford. Berman got his big break at Channel 30 in Hartford, where he made $23 per show. That number increased when Schweizer took over Berman’s position when he left for ESPN.
Berman reflected on the path he took to get to where he is today. He gave advice to the students about career choices and what he felt to be important. “The news is good enough to make a good honest living. I just do it because I like it,” he said. Berman explained that success in sports reporting is fueled by passion.
Students had the opportunity to ask the broadcaster a few questions. Ranging from who is his favorite athlete to how much improvisation he uses on set. His lively and jovial nature left the audience intrigued.
Pete D’Alauro, a junior journalism major from Patchogue, N.Y., touched on what “Boomer” is most famous for, his nicknames. Berman referred to his nickname as “an accident that worked.” His nickname came early in his career. He said there was no specific incident that created it. People on the set started using it, and it stuck.
NFL Sunday Countdown, which Berman co-hosts, is one of the most popular shows on ESPN. The show has a more personal nature than others with its humor and seeming improvisation. Berman elaborated that even though much of the script is written, he makes it seem like he is talking with somebody, not at them: “The most important thing you do is break down the barrier. . You might actually be talking to someone in another chair.”
In Berman’s years of working at ESPN, he has attended numerous milestones in the world of sports. Freshman Alex Parrella of Waltham, Mass., wondered which of these was the most memorable for him. Without hesitation, Berman recounted the night Cal Ripken Jr. broke the record for most games played on a Wednesday evening in 1995. Everyone was crying, and the respect for someone who never took a sick day was remarkable.
“The [Adam] Vinatieri kicks weren’t bad either,” Berman quipped about the now-former New England Patriots kicker’s field goals to win championships in the early 2000s.
Many students were interested in Berman’s opinion on favorite teams and players. Being a well-respected sports commentator, Berman’s opinion was sought by many of the students. His all-time favorite baseball players are Willie Mays and Babe Ruth, but in more recent years, he admires Cal Ripken Jr.
“Loyalty is a hard thing,” Berman said. On a team level, his favorite NFL team while growing up was the New York Jets. In this decade, he likes the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. He referred to Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field as “The Last of the Mohicans” when asked about special venues.