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‘I’m Forever Grateful.’ NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano ’96 Talks Super Bowl, Discovering His Broadcasting Style and the University’s Impact
Andrew Siciliano ’96 doesn’t know how he got so lucky.
Eighteen years ago, Siciliano, an avid NFL fan, would watch that week’s top games with his Syracuse University buddies in one of their father’s basements, screaming at the television while cheering on his beloved Cleveland Browns.
Today, Siciliano is just as passionate about football, but instead of being glued to his television as a fan, he is bringing the highlights to millions of fans around the world as host of DIRECTV’s RedZone Channel.
Every Sunday is surreal for Siciliano, who earned a broadcast journalism degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He freely admits he’s not quite sure how he got here, but he’s grateful to hold down a job he loves.
This week, Los Angeles is the scene for Super Bowl 56, which pits the Cincinnati Bengals against the Los Angeles Rams. The game has special significance for Siciliano, who has been the preseason television play-by-play voice of the Rams since 2011.
Siciliano can be seen every week on “NFL Now,” and “Thursday Night Football First Look,” as well as NFL Network’s on-location coverage of the Senior Bowl, the NFL Draft and training camps.
We recently sat down with Siciliano, who shares how Syracuse University and WAER impacted his broadcasting style, reveals the big break that launched his career and gives advice to sportscasters looking to follow in his footsteps.
PODCAST: Check out the full conversation with Siciliano on ’Cuse Conversations.
01You are the Rams television broadcaster for preseason games. How special is it to know that, for your Super Bowl coverage for the NFL Network, you're going to be covering a team that you are quite familiar with?
“I don’t use the word family very often for people outside of my immediate family, but the Rams for me, I’m not ashamed to admit this, are kind of like family. Some of my closest friends are in that organization, and I think it’s 11 years we’ve all been together. So it does mean a lot on a personal level and hopefully it’s better than 2018 when they went to Atlanta and lost to the New England Patriots. It’s going to be wonderful to show off SoFi Stadium. Our network, our entire media group is basically on the grounds of SoFi, directly next door. It’s great to have the Super Bowl in quite literally our building.”
02What kind of pride do you get when you look around at a major sporting event and you see someone calling the game who is a Syracuse alumnus?
“Oh, it’s great! There are so many great broadcasters, and many of us are friends. During my travels for “Thursday Night Football,” everywhere you go, you’re going to see someone. You go to Arizona, you’re going to see Dave Pasch ’94. You go to Cincinnati, you’re going to see Dan Hoard ’85. You go to any random game, you’re going to have Mike Tirico ’88 there calling the game for Westwood One for Howard Deneroff ’89. And if it’s not someone in the broadcast booth, it’s going to be a writer or someone in public relations. When I was a student, it was always great how those already in the business would pick up the phone and help you when you reached out to them with questions about your tape.”
03Take us back to 1992. You come to Syracuse University from Reston, Virginia. What were your goals and how did Syracuse help you to develop your broadcasting style?
“I actually wasn’t going to be a broadcast major first. I went to SU as a print journalism major, but I had always wanted to maybe try radio. I was surprisingly a pretty shy kid. I had written for the school newspaper, and I was not one to speak to crowds. People still to this day are stunned that that’s what I do. But I was always someone who loved listening to play-by-play on the radio. I never wanted to do television. I loved listening to Jon Miller call Baltimore Orioles games. When I got to Syracuse, I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to try the radio thing just for the heck of it.’ And so I walked into WAER, then over at Newhouse upstairs on the third floor, and they had what they called writer shifts. Basically, you sign up to get a chance to audition. I somehow got one of those early shifts to come in once a week and do a fake two-minute sportscast on the cassette and then have the upperclassmen critique it. That year, I was the first freshman that they put on the radio. I started doing this and I felt comfortable doing it. I eventually changed my major over to broadcast journalism, and that was how I got started in radio.”
04How did you find your broadcasting style and voice?
“I think it comes over time. You just have to get on the air and be you. If you try to sound like somebody else, you’re just going to be the guy doing a bad impression. Be yourself. Find your own voice. You don’t have to mimic anyone’s style, but it takes time to find that voice. You need a lot of repetitions. The more games you can do, the more you can learn to feel comfortable in your skin. While at the same time, learning how to communicate what is happening in this game and to tell a story. But that doesn’t happen overnight.”
05What was that one big break that launched your career?
“My first, when I was at SU I also worked at 570 WSYR for about three years. I did not just do sports, I did a lot of news. I’d stay up there during the summer, and I’m a news geek. I would go do City Hall, and I would go do murders, and I would do fires. I was a news reporter, and that really helped me a lot. My big break coming out of school was, when sending out all these tapes, a guy named Jeff Joniak, who’s now the voice of the Chicago Bears and really one of my mentors, hired me at 21 years old, sight unseen, to be an update anchor and a junior reporter at WMAQ Radio in Chicago. I was so in over my head, but Jeff gave me that break to move to Chicago as a 21-year-old. I ended up covering title number five and six for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. I covered Sammy Sosa’s epic home run chase in 1998. It was an amazing break. My second break was getting a job in Los Angeles for a startup, Fox Sports radio. In 2005. I was doing some TV shows at Fox Sports Net, and they were going to launch something no one had heard of it: the RedZone Channel where we bounce around all these NFL games. That launched 17 years ago and that was a good break.”
06With the Super Bowl coming up, what role will you play for the NFL Network's coverage?
“I will be anchoring big chunks of the afternoon during the week for our shows, ‘Super Bowl Live.’ Some of my shows will be at the stadium. Some will be outdoors, outside the stadium. Some will be at what we call ‘Radio Row,’ right down at the Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. But mostly, I will be on from 4 to 7 p.m. Eastern in the afternoon, or some days 1 to 4 p.m. Eastern. And then Super Bowl Sunday, I am going as a fan.”
07How surreal is it to think back to the career path you've taken?
“I am very grateful. Look, we all have good and bad days at the office, right? We all have days where you want to punch a wall or yell at your coworker, but then you step back and you go, ‘We’re talking about football for a living.’ I am quite happy and grateful for the path that has gotten me. I have no idea how I got here, but it’s a pretty damn good job and I love it and I’m thankful for all those who have helped me get here. Every single Sunday, I pinch myself because I realize, if not for this job, I would be doing what I was doing 18 years ago, which was sitting on the couch with my friends, having a beer, screaming at the television with a big group of friends in one of their dad’s basements. I actually get to do this for a job. How cool is that?”
08What's the impact that Syracuse University has had on your life? What’s the biggest lesson you learned from Syracuse that you still carry with you to this day?
“I don’t know that it taught me how to be a sportscaster, but it taught me how to be a professional. And there is an environment, a competitive environment. You learn to compete. You learn that you’re not going to get anywhere without working your tail off because you look around the room and that’s what everyone else is doing. You’re always going to support each other, but you’re going to push each other as well. Syracuse taught me work ethic. It gave me a great education, certainly, but it taught me the work ethic you need because especially at WAER, we became professionals when we were 18 years old. Syracuse gave me a real-world professional education starting at 18 and I’m forever grateful.”