Friday, July 24, 2009

12 Reasons Why.....Anish Shroff Has Orange Pride On ESPNews

12 Reasons Why.....Anish Shroff Has Orange Pride On ESPNews

1. Who is Anish Shroff and what great college did you graduate from?

That's a loaded question right off the top, a double barrelled question that's a layup and 60 foot putt all in one.

Let's get the easy one out of the way - I graduated from Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in broadcast journalism (royalty check?).

Who am I? That's pretty existential. I'm a sports fan, a double-bogey golfer (on a good day), loyal to a fault (to those close to me), someone who loves to learn, travel, and soak up as much as I can from others.

2. Any great memories of Syracuse you would like to share or places you would tell a freshman they just have to visit?

Like many of our best college memories - mine are a little hazy. But keeping it "professional", WAER was certainly a tremendous experience for me.

I got to call football games at the Orange Bowl (Miami) and Lane Stadium (Va. Tech). I also got to broadcast Syracuse's run to the Sweet 16 through Denver and Phoenix.

I'll remember the floor boards shaking on press row when McNamara hit the three to beat Notre Dame in 2003.

But THE memory was an April night in 2003. Marshall Street may have well been Bourbon Street that night. Embracing strangers, bonfires in the middle of the street, and unrestrained jubilation. I was among the throngs celebrating that 2003 national title.

3. Do you still consider yourself a Syracuse fan and do you follow any particular Orange sports?

Without question, I still bleed Orange. As many of my co-workers will tell you, I'm pretty insufferable to be around when they lose and can be pretty obnoxious when they're winning. I'm working on toning it down, it's not easy though.

Although I'm much louder during basketball season than football season.

4. So how did you go from Syracuse University to the big network in Connecticut and end up on ESPNEWS?

After running the student radio station - WAER, my first job kept me right in Syracuse. I was an update anchor/talk-show host/play-by-play announcer/reporter for WHEN - an all sports radio station.

After only a few months I left WHEN to chase the stars in the sky. My feet, they finally did take root in the earth (but I got me a nice little place in the stars).

I freelanced as an anchor and voice over talent for College Sports TV in NYC. After a few months, I landed my first "real" job. I was Sports Director at KNDO-TV in Yakima, WA.

Yakima was a small town in Central Washington about three hours east of Seattle and four hours west of Spokane. The closest thing we had to pro sports was a Single-A baseball team, a CBA basketball team, and D-II athletics at Central Washington University, affectionately known as CWU (see-woo).

I spent one year and seven months in Yakima, WA honing my craft. All the while I shot, edit, wrote, produced, anchored, reported, and applied my make-up (easily the hardest). Most of the time I did all of these things in the same day.

I left Yakima in March 2007 to work up for a start-up sports documentary company. This was easily the worst decision I've ever made in my career. I rebelled against all my instincts when I accepted the job and paid for it immediately. After about a week, I had serious doubts. After two weeks , I knew I had to get out.

Barely avoiding the career suicide bullet, I landed on my feet in Syracuse, NY. I returned as a sports reporter/anchor for WSYR-TV in my beloved Salt City, I consider it my second home.

I got to cover teams I rooted for (Syracuse football and basketball) and being close to my Alma mater was an added bonus. Plus good things often seemed to happen to me in Syracuse.

I started at WSYR in June of 2007. In October I was offered an anchor job at ESPN.

I remember anchoring the 11PM sportscast on New Year's eve 2007 in Syracuse, then asking our weather guy for the overnight forecast. He told me a snowstorm was on its way. He got this one right. I went home, packed what was left of my belongings, hopped in my car and pedaled forward to try to beat the storm.

I pulled into Connecticut New Year's Day 2008 at 10AM. I started my job at ESPN the next day.
If you're keeping score - from January 2007 to January 2008 - I held four different jobs and lived in four different zip codes. In March of 2007, I had hit the nadir of my career. One year later I was delivering breaking news that Brett Favre had retired (and soon after unretired).

Destinations are great only when the journey was worthwhile. Life's about the journey. It's not about getting from point A to point B. There are no finish lines. Sometimes you get off the highway on exit 7 and exit 7 takes you to route 4 which gets you to Birdbath street which spits you back on the highway. Or sometimes you find what you're looking for on the back roads, and the detour becomes the destination. There is no one way.

I've been at ESPN for more than a year and a half now (an eternity given my past) and anchor regularly for ESPNews.

I feel fortunate to be able to do something I love for a living. I talk sports, read about sports, and watch sports and get paid for it. Most people do this in their spare time. It's a dream I never want to wake up from.

5. What is your opinion on the current state on the mix of sports and social networking sites, blogs, etc.? Do such things as 24 hour news coverage and other internet options hurt newspapers and local news or do you think there is
room for everyone?

I'm not sure to be honest. I'm still pretty new to the whole social networking phenomenon. In fact I didn't jump on it until just this year. But I think we're starting to see some of the benefits.

Take Twitter for example - if not for Twitter we would have trouble getting news out of Iran during their election crisis. Foreign journalists were kicked out and the only news Iran broadcast was from state run media. The 'truth' was being tweeted. That's the awesome power of it.

Now do I care what Shaq's eating for breakfast. Not so much.

As for the 2nd half of your question - I always laugh when I hear the Blogs vs. MSM argument. In the embryonic stages of this divide - it was seen as anti-establishment vs. establishment. But Buzz Bissinger be damned (and Friday Night Lights is one of my favorite sports books of all-time) - blogs are mainstream now. Sure, not all of them report or break news. But many do these days, and I think as the medium evolves, blogs will have to maintain a sense of responsibility. If they don't readers won't trust the source.

I think MSM and blogs complement each other - one primarily reports - the offer offers its take. There's always been room at the table. I enjoy Deadspin, the Big Lead, and Nunes Magician ( as much as I do the NY Times or Wall Street Journal.

6 What do you consider to be the best parts about having your job and what are maybe the least desirable things that you must do? What is the toughest/least appreciated job at the network? And do you have any advice for someone wanting to be a sports anchor or work for ESPN in general?

The best part is being at the mecca of sports. Every resource is at your finger tip, you have no excuse to fail. I read about sports, watch sports, and talk about sports - and get paid to do it.

My advice is don't do it. Yes, you read that right. It's not easy and sure the destination looks glamorous. But the journey is an odyssey.

My first job in Yakima, WA - paid me $20,000 a year. I lived in a small town on the west coast away from all my friends and family. That sacrifice is routine. You can't pick where you want to work, for the most part you go where the jobs are - that's places like Yakima, WA, Bakersfield, CA, San Angelo, TX, Twin Falls, ID - not exactly NYC or LA.

There are a lot of wide eyed journalists who get burned out and spit out quickly in this business - you need think skin, the ability to persevere, and of course a little luck never hurts.

I'd also like to add - you have to have a thirst for knowledge. You'd be surprised how many you run into who "just want to be on TV" and have no interest in reading, expanding their horizons, or even following the news. You have to want it and then work like a yeoman to get better and make it happen.

7. What are your favorite sports, sport teams, and athletes past and present?

Baseball - first and foremost. My first love.

Favorite team - the Yankees.

Don Mattingly my favorite player.

Then college basketball where I bleed Orange.

Growing up, I didn't have cable so I watched a lot of the national teams more than I did the local teams - hence I became a 49ers and Bulls fan. Yes, you can call be a bandwagon jumper. But at least I stayed on!

I did root for the Devils as a Jersey kid but never forgave Lou Lamerillo for trading Claude Lemieux. I guess I still root for the Devils but don't really have an NHL team.

I don't mind the Isles.

It's too bad the Whalers aren't in town, otherwise I'd probably adopt them.

8. If ESPN executives came up to you and presented you with the option to cover any one sporting event in person, which event would you choose and why? When you're not in studio or at a game, are you more likely to be found in a
sports bar or at home analyzing it as though you may have to talk about it on air soon?

Boy that would be tough.
As much as I would like to cover a World Series or Super Bowl of Final Four - I'd probably choose Wimbeldon. I played tennis in high school, love the sport, and that's the apex of it. Having read Days of Grace and Levels of the Game - it's probably the one sport that inspires my imagination more than others. Watching a Federer fire from impossible angles, or the overwhelming power of Serena, or the surgeon like precision of Sampras, or the skill of an Agassi return - to see that on Centre Court at the All England Club - that would be a dream.

9. If you could change one rule in any sport, what would you change and what would you hope to accomplish with such a change?

As a baseball fan - interleague play has run its course, I'd shorten it.

The unbalanced schedule isn't fair either especially if you have a wild card. I'd make it more balanced.

Start playoff games earlier so you don't alienate a generation of fans, and here's a novel thought, how about the team with the best record gets home field advantage in the World Series?

10. In honor of one of your co-anchors on ESPNEWS Jonathan Coachman and his past work with WWE, what would be your wrestling name if you went into professional wrestling? Do you think professional wrestling and MMA have a place in sports media?

I'm not sure - I've had a variety of nicknames - in college it was the Sherrif. At work I get "The Shroff" or "Hasselshroff" or most recently "Blueberry Pie Guy"

MMA has its own place, whether traditional media likes it or not.

11. Were you an athlete in school or work with any of the school sport teams or were you just a good student who had a passion for sports? Did you always know you wanted to get into sports broadcasting?

I played sports growing up - baseball and hoops primarily. I got to be OK at baseball. I played some tennis in high school. It would've been great to run down fly balls as the Yankees' CF - but that wasn't going to happen so I picked the next best thing.

Sports allows you to experience such polarizing feelings and emotional highs and lows but with no real consequence. You can run the gamut of human emotion and yet emerge unscathed. Hope and Despair, Triumph and Failure - in sports they don't carry anywhere near the magnitude as they do in real life. It's the ultimate escape. I think we lose sight of that sometimes. It's sports, it's fun, let's not take ourselves too seriously.

I really didn't answer your question but yes I knew this is what I'd want to do someday. I always say, it beats having a real job.

12. Your Free Space: This is your area Anish to say anything you wish to say. Whether it is to elaborate on one of those topics we already discussed or maybe a topic I never brought up, your choice. And you go in three, two,.....

I'll make the bosses happy... Stay current with ESPNews :)

I would personally love to thank Anish Shroff for taking the time to do this and sharing his views/stories. I always wanted to interview an ESPN anchor with Syracuse ties on here and Anish granted me that wish. He was entertaining and informative and it is nice to know he bleeds Orange and supports Orange blogs, well OK even if it is just but honestly, don't we all read that one? And it is always great to relive the 2003 Syracuse NCAA Championship moments, especially with those who had a first hand view of the celebrations on campus.

By the way, in my opinion, bandwagon jumping is more picking the winner every year or more successful franchise lacking true passion to be supportive of them even in hard times so I would not consider Anish to be that. And I heard about the blueberry incident but also heard that he made up for it by bringing in a blueberry pie the next day.

Thank you again Anish and I hope you all enjoyed this chance to learn a little bit more about him and watch ESPNews whenever you get the chance. GO ORANGE!

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