Rodger Wyland is a familiar face — and voice — for Capital Region sports fans.
He’s been a sportscaster at NewsChannel 13 since 1986, and is currently the Menands television station’s sports director. He’s behind a radio microphone weekday mornings, hosting “Big Board Radio Sports Talk” on Fox Sports 980, WOFX-AM. For the past 18 years, he’s been the play-by-play voice for the University at Albany’s basketball and football programs.
Wyland, 52, a native of Altoona, Pa., talked about his jobs, the Super Bowl — he likes Denver and Peyton Manning in today’s NFL championship — his marriage to WGY’s Kelly Lynch and people who try to impersonate his delivery in a sports-themed question-and-answer session.
Q: You’re on NewsChannel 13 during the evening, “Big Board Sports” on Fox 980 during the day, and UAlbany basketball play-by-play during fall and winter. How do you find the time for all these jobs?
A: It’s not easy. That, plus dealing with my two young kids and family and I’m coaching basketball with (son) Brady at the Ciccotti Center. I try to make sure I have time for the family, but I tell you what, it’s like 13-hour days and it’s the busiest time of the year from September until the end of March because that’s when I have the UAlbany schedule. So we’ve got play-by-play with football in September and it leads right into basketball. Once I get to the end of March, when it’s just the radio show in the morning and the TV, it’s a lot more manageable. The UAlbany schedule definitely adds another element. It’s fun. I’ve got a great gig here and I’ve been here for a long time and I really enjoy what I do. So I never complain about being busy.
Q: What are people talking about on the radio these days?
A: NFL is number one. Even on the slowest of time periods, the National Football League, you can always open up a conversation and get people to chime in on the NFL. That seems to be pretty consistent year-round. This time of year, we try to localize the show because I can’t do all national, I can’t win that game with my competition. So I have to bring on Will Brown, the UAlbany coach, on Monday to talk about the Great Danes program and Jimmy Patsos from Siena comes into the studio every Tuesday. . . . We put the Albany Devils coach, Rick Kowalsky, on Wednesday. We have a segment for Brian Beaury, Saint Rose basketball on Thursday, and we have a high school segment on Friday where I can devote some time to high school sports in general.
Q: You named some names — you forgot the Gazette’s Ken Schott!
A: And Kenny Schott. Honestly, I think there’s a great deal of interest in the college hockey scene around here and Union has been so good. Ken’s in every Thursday, does a great job with that. We put Rick Bennett on, we definitely do once a week a good, solid half hour on college hockey.
Q: A lot of people coming out of college with sports journalism degrees would love a play-by-play gig. What’s it like?
A: It’s a lot of fun. I love basketball, I played basketball growing up. So I feel I know the game a little bit and the highlight for me is when these teams are playing well and you win an American East championship and you go to the NCAA tournament. Those are a lot of fun games to call. You know going in, hey, the championship game of the America East is being played in Vermont and you’ve got the call on the radio. It’s so different than anything else I do with TV and radio because the play-by-play is something so separate and different. I still get a little adrenaline flow going before a game, especially if it’s a big game, an important game in the conference or a championship game. Fortunately, Albany has been in some championship games, so I’ve been able to call some title games and those calls are a lot of fun.
Q: Sometimes you have to do play-by-play solo if analyst Zach Bye is absent. How are those games?
A: You feel like you’re talking to yourself. That one is not easy. If Zach’s not there and you’re doing a solo, which I’ve done many times before, it’s difficult because you have nobody to break it up. It’s hard to get into a really good rhythm when it’s just all you. You need that sidekick to step in there. And then there have been games, too, when we’ve been on the road and you have a technical problem and you do it over the telephone.
Q: Who’s your pick for the Super Bowl?
A: I think this is Peyton’s year. I think his career is winding down, a lot of people criticize him for only having one Super Bowl. I think he’s going to get his second. He’s had a record-setting season. Now, Seattle’s defense is really good, they’re the number one defense in the NFL going up against the number one offense, so I think it should be a great game. I’ll give the edge to Peyton, but I will say this — if there’s bad weather, I may give the edge to Seattle. I don’t know how Peyton is going to do in lousy weather, meaning snow. So I hope there’s no snow; I hope that element is not a part of it.
Q: I think a lot of people are hoping for that element.
A: I know. From a fan’s standpoint they are, but from a player’s standpoint, I’d like to see an even playing field and have the weather conditions be pretty good.
Q: Can you name a favorite event you’ve covered?
A: The Super Bowl would be right up there. I’ve covered the Giants in both Super Bowl victories under (Tom) Coughlin, I was in Phoenix (2008) for the David Tyree catch, which may have been the greatest catch I’ve ever seen in a Super Bowl. And I covered them in Indianapolis (2012), so I’ve been on two Super Bowl runs with the Giants and we were able to get on the field in that (Indianapolis) Super Bowl after the game and it was total luck, but I was able to grab an interview, walking off the field with Tom Coughlin.
Q: He called you by name, didn’t he?
A: He did. Only because of the relationship we developed during training camp, so there was that training camp element where I was able to get one-on-ones during training camp and he actually knew who I was and yeah, he calls me out by name. It wasn’t a very long interview, probably 45 seconds, but it’s hard to localize the Super Bowl and it’s hard to get one-on-ones at the Super Bowl unless you’re the network. We were at the right place at the right time. The bodyguard for Tom Coughlin knew us from Albany and he kind of gave me a look like, “You know what? Go ahead, even though no interviews are being done on the field, I’m not going to stop you, you’re right there, go ahead and have your moment in the sun.” That will be one moment I’ll never forget.
Q: You’re part of a media marriage with Kelly Lynch, of the “Chuck and Kelly” morning radio show on WGY (810-AM). How do the careers and personal lives mesh?
A: We never see each other. She’s up at 3:30 a.m. and she’s on until 9, and then at night I’m never here because I’m working and she goes to bed at 9:30 anyway to be on the radio at 5:30 in the morning. So we kind of pass each other until the weekends but even now, with my schedule on the weekends with UAlbany, I’m traveling, all the crazy trips that we take.
It was funny, they asked us to do a show over the holidays together and we couldn’t come to an agreement. I said to her, “You need to put more sports in that show,” and she said, “Well, that’s not what this show is.” Well, I said, “If it’s me, you’re going to have to.” So there it began. She said, “You’re going to have to research this, this and this.” And I’m like . . .
It would have been good had we gotten there. We would have been back and forth on a bunch of different topics. It would have been like a husband-and-wife kind of thing with kids, but we had too many disagreements leading up to it and we both said, “You know what? Tell them no.” It was going to be on 810. Maybe it will happen in the future. . . . It would have been a good listen for somebody out there.