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Fordham Alum Ryan Ruocco Hopes to Continue Sports Broadcasting Success


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By Andrew Pistone
Staff Writer
Published: December 9, 2010

Many students think climbing the ladder to successful employment is a long and arduous process. However, current 1050 ESPN Radio host Ryan Ruocco, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’08, is proof that if you have the right connections and some good luck, the climb can be a short, pleasant experience.

Ruocco started college at Loyola University in Maryland, but realized during his freshman year he that he needed a change. He initially wanted to transfer to Fordham to be closer to his girlfriend, but was also interested in going to a school with a highly acclaimed radio station. During the last month of his time at Loyola, he did a radio show that got positive feedback, which gave him the motivation to pursue his interest at Fordham.

When he visited Fordham that summer, Ruocco made sure to stop by WFUV to meet with sports producer Bob Ahrens, who briefed him about the opportunities he could have.

“I thought to myself, wow,” he said. “I could be in the Yankees’ clubhouse, or the Giants’ locker room.”

Ahrens set up teaching workshops with Bob Papa, Spero Dedes and Mike Breen, all Fordham alumni who have gone far in the sportscasting industry. During Ruocco’s sophomore year, Breen and New York Mets television play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen gave him feedback as well as confidence after listening to his calls of Fordham basketball games.

“If Mike Breen and Gary Cohen said that I can do this, then I can,” Ruocco said.

Ruocco’s big break came when he met Yankee play-by-play announcer Michael Kay, FCRH ’82. After interning at the YES network in the summer of 2006, YES producer Jared Boshnack asked Ruocco if he wanted to record statistics in the booth for half of the Yankees’ home games in the fall of 2007. He jumped at the chance and was able to interact with Kay before, during and after telecasts.

The two soon became close friends, as Kay was impressed with Ruocco’s work. Knowing the ambitious student on a personal level provided the impetus for Kay to go to bat for Ruocco, as the Yankees’ announcer was able to get him a job at 1050 ESPN Radio in the fall of 2008.

“He went out of his way to help me,” Ruocco said. “He made phone calls and talked me up to bosses. I will never, ever be able to repay him for what he’s done for me.”

As an avid Star Wars fan, Ruocco likens Kay and his enthusiasm as a mentor to a character in the legendary trilogy. “I call him Obi Wan, because he’s constantly teaching me the ways of the force,” Ruocco said.

In late October, the 24 year old from Fishkill, NY was given the opportunity to co-host a midday sports talk show on 1050 ESPN Radio called “Second Verse With Ruocco and Lundberg.” Ruocco had already been co-hosting “The Leadoff Spot” at 5 a.m., and entertained listeners with creative and humorous sports angles. Management at the station took notice and gave him his second hour-long show in the 10 a.m. time slot, which attracts a larger audience.

“There was a great response to The Leadoff Spot,” Ruocco said. “People really liked the young and energetic sports talk. We are connecting with a different audience, and the way we are doing things is being appreciated.

Old school sports talk radio would dissect Derek Jeter’s contract negotiations with the New York Yankees and delve into the strategy the New York Jets should employ in order to beat the New England Patriots.  Ruocco thinks that’s boring.

During a recent Second Verse show, the Fordham alumnus found it more interesting to talk about what would happen if Jeter could drink a reality potion as he targets a new deal, and what people think about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s long hair.

“It’s not as important to inform as it is to entertain,” Ruocco said. “The listener’s attention span is so short that we [Ruocco and co-host Robin Lundberg] are always thinking about how we can deliver content in the most entertaining way possible.”

Ruocco is set to take his unique style back to Fordham when he calls the Rams’ men’s basketball game against rival St. John’s on Dec. 11 at the Rose Hill Gym, a place that he is very familiar with.

“Some of my best memories come from calling games in that gym,” he said.  “I’ll feel right at home.”

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Fordham Alum Ryan Ruocco Hopes to Continue Sports Broadcasting Success