It’s a half hour before show time Sunday and Mark Rosenman checks the video feed while A.J. Carter steps into the hall to handle a phone call.
Town business never rests as Carter, the Public Information Officer for the , discusses bond ratings with the caller. But once he hangs up it’s back to SportsTalk NY.
Inside a nondescript Ronkonkoma office suite, the two men navigate a forest of boom mics, soundboards and computer screens. The studio for WLIE 540 AM, a 10,000-watt station that spans Long Island and beyond, is compact and thick with the trappings you’d expect to put on a radio show.
And while Rosenman and Carter have careers far from the glare of pro sports, from 7-8:30 p.m. each Sunday the duo brings sports to the Long Island airwaves. July 8 marked their WLIE debut.
“Our pitch on the station is, ‘You spend the weekend watching sports, now join us talking about it,’” Carter said.
SportsTalk NY began four years ago as an internet radio show broadcast from Rosenman’s Commack home. Carter, a neighbor and friend, got to know his radio partner when the two coached youth baseball together.
Powerful online tools give Internet radio legitimacy. They streamed their show live and packaged the finished product as a podcast. The podcast averaged 2,500 downloads and live listeners varied by guest, which ranged from Roger Staubach to Minnie Minoso and Phil Esposito.
The jump to terrestrial radio required a one-year contract with WLIE. Rosenman and Carter pay for air time and sign their own sponsors.
And while this isn’t exactly Boomer and Carton, the popular WFAN morning sports talk show, Rosenman and Carter reveal a polish and depth that’s unexpected and refreshing.
It shouldn’t surprise. Carter, 61, worked as a reporter and editor at Newsday for 34 years, including a seven-year stint as Deputy Sports Editor. Carter has spent the last three years working with the Town. Rosenman, 52, turned down a job doing sports for a TV station in San Diego right out of college.
“I found out I could make more as a truck driver in the summer, so I decided not to do that,” said Rosenman, an operations manager for a City-based furniture manufacturer. “Always in the back of my mind I always had the passion and it never went away.”
Rosenman and Carter have another bond. Both are Jewish. That cultural connection comes through with their first WLIE guest: Former pro baseball player Gabe Kapler.
“You have a star of David tattooed on your left calf with the inscription, ‘Strong willed, strong minded’ in Hebrew,” Rosenman told Kapler and the radio audience. “And the post-Holocaust motto ‘Never again’ with a flame and the dates of the Holocaust on your right calf. You also signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays for $1,000,018, the extra $18 representing both your lucky number and Chai, which is the symbol for life in Judaism. Why is your heritage so important to you?”
It’s a question more probing and revealing than anything you’ll hear on ESPN’s Mike & Mike. Kapler obliged.
“It’s an important reminder of where I come from, who I am and some of the things I’m proud of,” said Kapler, who will play for Israel in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Listen to last week’s show.
SportsTalk NY features correspondents who report on the latest NFL, baseball, basketball and hockey news as well as a weekly segment that pits great teams from the past in an online simulation called What If Sports. The 1969 Amazins go head-to-head with the 1986 Mets this Sunday.
It's the stuff of childhood fantasies. And one listen to Rosenman and Carter, it's clear they are living theirs.
“I’m not quitting my day job,” Carter said. “It’s something we’re doing because we enjoy it. We really like doing it. Do we hope it takes off? Yeah.”