November 26, 2012 | 1 Comment
By Nicole Sorce ’13
While most New York Yankees diehards were trying to sleep off the heartbreaking news of Derek Jeter’s untimely postseason injury, Bruce Beck was just parking his car at his Scarsdale, New York home after staying at Yankee Stadium until 3:00 a.m. to finish up his postgame coverage.
Clicking on @BruceBeck4NY’s profile certainly reveals plenty in 140 characters, including that he is the lead sports anchor for WNBC-TV in New York City, happily married, and a proud father of two sons. However, he doesn’t have enough room to credit the place where his journey to becoming one of the tri-state area’s most recognizable sports television personalities began.
“It was a beautiful area of New York State. The size was really perfect for me — wasn’t too big, wasn’t too small,” Beck reminisced. “It just seemed like the right fit.”
When Beck arrived at Ithaca College in 1974, he was undecided as a major as he struggled for admittance to the school of communications. However, this didn’t hold him back from molding his future as a broadcaster. He immediately joined the sports staff of WICB, the campus’s sole radio station at the time.
“The opportunity to be on the air quickly as a freshman was different than many other schools, including Syracuse,” he explained. “I just felt like I was ready to be on the air quickly, and I was presented that opportunity, even though I was undecided as a major.”
Although Beck wound up graduating with an accounting degree in 1978, he landed his first gig in the broadcasting field in 1982 with MSG Network and went on to host coverage of the Knicks, Rangers, and Yankees until 1994. He then spent three years with the Comcast Network while calling college basketball for CBS Sports, and before arriving at NBC4, Beck spent 2000-2008 as a studio anchor for NBA-TV. He has yet to forget where it all started.
“I miss getting up in the morning for my 6:30 a.m. report on the radio at WICB. I had to trudge through the snow to get there,” Beck remembered about his time at Ithaca College. “I don’t really miss it, but I missed that it was kind of the moment that helped shape my career.”
Beck’s fondest career memories are quite impressive. For example, he was able to land an interview at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, with the Israeli Gold Medalist in wind surfing, Gal Fridman.
“He was the first gold medalist ever from Israel, and they wouldn’t allow him to talk to the media because they were so concerned about the security,” Beck explained. The devastation of the Munich Olympics, along with the terrorism Israel had suffered over the years, were among the reasons why Fridman was untouchable to the media. Well, most of the media.
“I ended up going over to the Israeli delegation and schmoozed my way into their hotel by reciting my bar mitzvah,” said Beck. “That is a moment I will never forget.”
Beck remembers another memorable time of his career in 2006 when he spent time in Torino, Italy, covering the Winter Olympics. In one of his broadcasts, his counterparts asked him on the air what he missed most about being away from home.
“And I said, ‘I miss a good Boors Head turkey sandwich,’” Beck reminisced, “and five days later, the Boors Head factory in Brooklyn, New York, sent me a 6-pound package.”
A much smaller dream came true for Beck as the package included two gigantic turkeys, six different cheeses, a number of hats, and all the necessary condiments a turkey sandwich would require. Boors Head also included a note, which read, “We love people that love our products. Enjoy Italy. Thanks for the mention.”
Those two instances in his career confirmed something Beck believes all aspiring broadcasters should know — relationships are everything.
“As good as you are in this field, it’s all about how you deal with people, and being gracious, and being a gentleman,” Beck explained. “Being classy. That’s something you’re being judged on, as well as you are by your talent.”
It would be impossible for Beck to leave the New York Giants Super Bowl upset over the New England Patriots off his list of favorite career memories.
“It was in February of 2008, and I was on the field doing the post-game and covering it,” said Beck. “I think no one expected it. I had predicted the Giants would upset them, and that was a pretty great moment, too.”
However, not even memories of reciting his bar mitzvah for the sake of an interview, being personally delivered Boors Head products, or witnessing the Giants upset the Patriots in the Super Bowl can erase the vivid images Ithaca, New York, has left him with.
“I miss those Saturday afternoon football games. I miss the parks; Robert H. Treman Park was my favorite,” Beck reminisced. “I used to love it. It was just the greatest place to be.”
His talent as a studio host and sideline reporter has earned Beck eight New York Sports Emmys, one Mid-Atlantic-Sports Emmy, and three national Cable Ace Awards. He was also voted the 2007-2008 New York State Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
“Follow your dreams. If you’re passionate about this business, you got to take your best shot,” Beck said. “The hours are long, the family time is short, and the preparation is intense, but go for it if you want it.”
Twitter should consider expanding its character limit so Beck can squeeze in the word “Ithaca” to his profile. Behind those six letters lies the story that shaped the fate of one of the most passionate alumni Ithaca College can proudly call their own.