Russ Salzberg speaks to students about career; gives advice

Sports anchor Russ Salzberg spent 28 years with Channel 5 news.

Ryan McFadden, Assistant Sports Editor

Russ Salzberg sat in front of a group of Iona College broadcast journalism students with plenty of experience in the sports broadcasting business under his belt. From covering multiple Super Bowls and World Series to his well-known interview with Mike Tyson, Salzberg has been through enough to educate upcoming broadcasters on what to expect in the career field.

One thing he explained to the students was that he became a sports broadcaster in an unexpected way.

“I was working up in Toronto, selling real estate. I was already married with a wife and a kid. I was in my thirties and came home one day and didn’t like what I was doing,” Salzberg said. “I quit my job and basically I was a house daddy. My wife went to work full time and I was training myself to be a sportscaster.”

It took time for Salzberg to hone his skills as he spent time doing commentating for small events. But it didn’t matter to him. All he cared about was gaining the experience and improving on his craft.

“I went to local community access cable to do whatever I could do,” Salzberg said. “The first thing I did was play-by-play for wheelchair basketball.”

Salzberg spent time as a sport anchor for CITY-TV in Toronto, where he was known as the “Brooklyn Dodger” because of his New York accent.

Salzberg returned to New York, where he worked as a sports anchor for 28 years for Channel 9 and Channel 5 news. During those years, the two-time Emmy award winner had a chance to witness some of the top player the area had to offer and the biggest sporting events.

“I had a chance to come home and work at one station for my entire career,” Salzberg said. “Being involved in Super Bowls, Stanley Cups, and World Series is exciting. It’s been great.”

There were so many things Salzberg has experienced during his career, that it was hard for him to pick a specific one.

“There are so many special moments,” Salzberg said. “When the Giants won the Super Bowl in 1990, it was really special. I was on the field and that’s when the security wasn’t as tight. Some of the World Series were great, but then there are other memorable moments. I had the chance to meet Arthur Ash. And Wellington Mara’s funeral was memorizing to me because I admired him so much. It’s hard to put a finger on a favorite moment.”

What made it better for Salzberg was that he loved what he was doing and he believes everyone should have that same mindset no matter what he or she is doing.

“I tell people this all the time, you have got to be very lucky to like what you do,” Salzberg said. “I don’t care if you are cab driver or a conductor. Do days have their ups and downs? Sure they do.”

Salzberg’s biggest advice to anyone trying to get into the broadcasting business is don’t worry about the money and work on getting better.

“The most important thing I suggest to young people is that you can’t be worried about what you are making,” Salzberg said. “Just go out and do it. I treated wheelchair basketball like it was Gonzaga versus North Carolina, or Cavs and Warriors. You need the work and go polish your skills.”