Monday, April 17, 2017

The Voice Behind the Voice

Story and Photos by Bridget Chavez
Link to Unedited Interview Here
Link to Package Here

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- You recognize his voice every day on 97.7 and calling play-by-play for the Syracuse Crunch, and you may even remember him calling Chiefs baseball for Time Warner-- but who is the voice behind the voice? The deep voice with just the right amount of inflection and register, belongs to Dan D'Uva. but how does he do it?

"You learn to anticipate what's next," D'Uva says standing proudly inside the War Memorial, the ice rink framing the 5'7" broadcaster behind him.

Now 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. Today in particular, he starts his day at the OnCenter War Memorial Arena, home to the Syracuse Crunch. He then breaks away for the radio show for a couple of hours, squeezes in time to grab a late lunch on the go, then its back to the War Memorial until game time. And no, when the final buzzer 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 days game against the Utica Comets.

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," intern Logan Grossman says, "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 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 to no avail on D'Uva's face. He couldn't be happier to do what he's doing. He enters the radio booth with a child-like 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. But 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 broadcasters 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 who also works on the show find their groove and talk sports. The chemistry between two is so natural you'd think they'd known each other all their lives, and in a way they do share some roots. The two grew up in neighboring towns in New Jersey and D'Uva did play-by-play for Goldberg's school.

"They couldn't find anybody to announce," Goldberg laughs, "Enter Dan." Goldberg's teacher had previously taught D'Uva and showed his tapes as an example for what the productions should look like.

It's now time for listeners to call in and the first call is a local Syracuse resident calling to thank D'Uva for his generosity for giving his entire family tickets to the last 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 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 11 years old watching his older 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, NJ, 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 attended Fordham and Syracuse 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, 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."

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 and 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."

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