ESPN’s Chris Berman shares tips of the trade with communications students

Riley Millette, Sports Editor

ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman visits QU to talk journalism, disabilities and funny nicknames. (Xavier Cullen)

Longtime ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman, best known for his eccentric highlight calls, visited Quinnipiac University Feb. 3, to discuss his career and the future of journalism with School of Communications students.

Berman’s friendship with Dave Stevens, head of Ability Media, led him to Quinnipiac. Berman was at Quinnipiac to use the Ed McMahon Communications Center to shoot a commercial and agreed to host a Q&A session with students afterwards.

Ability Media, which was founded on the basis of educating the public about physical and mental disabilities, has grown since its inception last year to a place where it can host the Q&A session as well as send six students to Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles.

Stevens was grateful that Berman took the time to visit and interview with student journalists.

“To be able to bring in Chris Berman, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Stevens said.

Stevens held an open-public interview with Berman, and one of the main topics the two discussed was the inclusion of journalists with disabilities in the sports media industry. Stevens was born without hips or legs, and Berman recognized the adversity Stevens faced when breaking through as a journalist in the 1980s.

Berman said the greatest thing he’s learned about sports in his 42 years in the business is that it can be a bridge between people who otherwise have little in common.

“It brings all sorts of people. ‘Hey, did you see the Chiefs-Bills game last week?’ This guy’s a millionaire, this woman shines shoes, I’m just talking, walking through an airport,” Berman said “But we can have a conversation, not because I’m Chris Berman but because I’m a football fan. I don’t know where you’re from, you don’t know where I’m from, but we could have the same conversation. What a good thing.”

Aside from education about disabilities, students were excited to listen to Berman’s industry knowledge, which ranged from the decline of cable television to the difference in broadcasting between different sports. However, Berman’s patented enthusiasm and nicknames that he uses on-air was the most popular topic of discussion.

When Berman was asked where he gets inspiration for his quips, he said they all came to him organically out of his excitement for the sport.

“Anything that cuts the barrier to bring more people in is a good day,” Berman said. “But if you plan to do a bunch of that to be famous, not going to work.”

William Dean, staff writer for The Chronicle and reporter for Ability Media, is taking part in the pre-Super Bowl coverage and has been a part of Ability Media since the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. He said Stevens’ connection with Berman has helped get the word out about Ability Media.

“It’s a huge boost in eyeballs, attention,” Dean said. “Obviously when you have the voice of American football coming to campus, interviewing with one of the leaders of the organization on campus, it’s huge.”

Ability Media’s events like the Berman Q&A, have helped student journalists like Dean build their resume and report from a different perspective.

“It’s not really about my career, per se. It’s all about bringing these issues to light,” Dean said. “However, I would be lying if I said that it hasn’tbenefited my career … it’s unmatched what I’m able to do through this organization.”

As a man with disabilities, Stevens commends the growth that Dean has exhibited in hisshort yet busy stint with Ability Media.

“I see the change in him as a journalist, and he goes

from sympathy to empathy,” Stevens said. “And he can help tell these stories now from that perspective. He got to be in New York at fashion week and see some really debilitating disabilities, and they’re out on the runway acting like they’re supermodels. So it brings a different perspective to thosethat don’t have a disability.”