By Dave Wieczorek
The cleverly corny nicknames concocted by Chris “Boomer” Berman echo throughout America’s sports bars and living rooms like baseballs rattling off bleacher seats during batting practice. To name a few: Roberto “Remember the” Alomar, Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff, Andre “Bad Moon” Rison, Curtis “My Favorite” Martin, Chris Fuamatu “Bad” Ma’afala, Brady “Bunch” Anderson, Dante “Inferno” Bichette, Ty “Corn on the” Cobb, Steve “Rainbow” Trout.
On and on they go, like Berman himself, who just turned 60. Since 1979 Berman has been the face of ESPN. With a combination of in-depth sports knowledge, humor and enthusiasm he has created an entertaining and informative TV presence – in and out of the studio.
“Don’t call me a personality,” Berman says. “What’s that? That’s a morning disc jockey. I entertain, but I take what I do, the journalism part, seriously. Sportscaster, that’s fine. It encompasses all of that.”
As the fifth and concluding guest speaker, the “All-Pro” broadcaster regaled his fans with “How a Startup-Run-Out-Of-A-Trailer Became the Biggest Media Behemoth on the Planet” during his appearance Wednesday (May 20) as part of the 2015 Broward College Speaker Series, co-sponsored by City & Shore Magazine and presented at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
Berman relayed fascinating tales of the early days at ESPN, how the broadcasting company started out and grew into a global entity, and stories behind today’s biggest stories and personalities.
“It’s kind of fun having been one of 80 [ESPN employees] in the beginning,” Berman says. “We all have our little hand in the cornerstone, and I kind of like that.”
No one has had a bigger hand in ESPN’s worldwide expansion than Berman. He has been selected as the National Sportscaster of the Year (1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 2001) six times. He and his various shows have won 10 Emmy Awards and 12 Cable ACEs.
Berman has covered the NFL for ESPN for more than 30 years. He began hosting Sunday NFL Countdown when the show kicked off in 1986. He is also the host of Monday NFL Countdown as well as The Blitz Sunday nights on ESPN. During halftime of ESPN’s Monday Night Football telecasts, Berman narrates “The Fastest Three Minutes in Television” featuring highlights of the previous day’s games.
The action doesn’t stop there. Berman has served as a play-by-play announcer for ESPN Major League Baseball games since 1990, covered golf and other sports and has frequently called his own number, playing Chris Berman in 11 movies and numerous TV shows.
The wacky monikers aside, “I’m not a stand-up comic. I hit my spots and run with it. When you see me on TV, I’m being me. I don’t pretend everybody likes me. But from the vibes I get, I think people believe I’m approachable.”
The secret to Berman’s success behind the mike and before the camera?
“I love what I do,” he says. “I may talk too much, but that’s me, and it seems to be working. I’m a basic guy, and people are more apt to pay attention and like someone who likes what they’re doing.”