Aug 5, 2019

SHOOTING THE 3: ANDREW SICILIANO OF THE RED ZONE CHANNEL

Shooting The 3 is an exclusive SportsbyBrooks.com feature in which a sports media figure fields three questions posed by SbB.

Today’s sports media figure is Andrew Siciliano of Direct TV’s Red Zone Channel and NFL Network.

Andrew Siciliano: Red Zone Channel Host Has Pioneered The Way We Watch Sports Television

With the advent of the all-action Red Zone Channel on Direct TV in 2005, the way Americans consumed their favorite commercial spectator sport – NFL football – was changed forever.

Andrew Siciliano was, is and shall remain for all-time the name and face forever associated with that groundbreaking moment in sports television history.

Andrew grew up outside of Washington, D.C., in Reston, Va., and attended Syracuse University.

From SU, he migrated to Chicago radio staple WMAQ as a reporter before scoring an on-air role as a Fox Sports Radio talkshow host in Los Angeles in 2000.

Landing in L.A. helped provide Andrew, who also happens to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns and Indians fan, the launching pad he needed to elevate himself to the on-air roles for which we know him today: As Red Zone Channel host on Direct TV and host of NFL Network’s daily Up To The Minute show.

SbB Question #1:

Describe the biggest break in your professional career. How it happened and who was involved?

Andrew Siciliano:

I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had a lot of breaks.

Tom Lee moved me to Los Angeles for the launch of Fox Sports Radio in 2000.

David Hill and Eric Shanks had faith in me in 2005 when they had this crazy idea called the “Red Zone Channel.”

NFL Network put me at Rich Eisen‘s Total Access desk in 2011.

But I have to credit Jeff Joniak (now the phenomenal voice of the Bears) with the biggest break of my professional career.

He offered $12 per hour job, sight-unseen, to a 21-year-old kid and moved him to Chicago to work at WMAQ radio.

We still share a laugh when we see each other that upon emerging from the elevator at the NBC Tower in Chicago, he thought to himself “Wow. I made a mistake.”

I still, on a daily basis, apply lessons I learned from Jeff, legendary Chicago anchor Pat Cassidy, the late Jim Frank, and so many others to my on-air and off-air approach.

Few things compare to working in a hectic big-city newsroom.

I was the youngest on-air person in the market.

Jeff gets all the credit. He believed me. I’m forever grateful.

SbB Question #2:

Take us through how Red Zone Channel originated – and how you got the gig.

Andrew Siciliano:

It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years.

What if I told you the Red Zone Channel was born in Italy?

Eric Shanks, now the president of Fox Sports, got the idea while watching Sky’s “Dirreta Goal” in Italy.

It had a bunch of broadcasters in one room calling Serie A soccer games simultaneously.

When one of the games had a lot of action, the play-by-play guy raised his hand in his cubicle and the director cut to that game.

Genius.

In 2005, David Hill decided to try it with the NFL.

He and Shanks wanted a radio guy who could work unscripted.

I had been working on FSN’s fantasy football show and hosting on Fox Sports Radio.

Honestly, when Shanks first called me, my first reaction was, “Damn. I guess I can’t sit on the couch with my friends and watch games all day anymore.”

I was a bit skeptical, but knew I couldn’t turn down the job.

The first year was rough.

We didn’t have permission to show CBS games live.

There were windows where we had only two games between which we could jump back and forth.

But it worked because we had a great crew from day one.

Shanks, James Crittenden, Jonathan X, Fred King… there are too many to name.

The first few years were on stage B at Fox.

Eventually, after Chris Long took over, we moved to a beautiful new studio at DirectTV.

We didn’t invent America’s short attention span, but we came along at the perfect time.

It sounds like a cliche, but the show really does work because we have a great crew that works together beautifully.

Bill Wagner and Derek Manning have stepped in as producer and director, respectively.

I can’t watch ten games at once without help.

Will Kalec and Daniel Burris are always by my side as researchers, spotters, and mental health assistants when I’m ready to explode.

I’d argue it’s the most difficult show to produce in television.

We don’t take shortcuts.

We never have, and never will, claim a game is live when the action has already happened.

Millions of fans live for Sunday. We’re no different.

Hopefully, that comes through to the viewer. 

We love football just as much as them.

SbB Question #3:

Describe what you’re most likely to be doing when you aren’t on NFL Network or DirectTV?

Andrew Siciliano:

I love to hike. I love to travel. I love to eat.

Life is good when I can combine all three.

I was able to do that last month on a 95-mile hike in the Alps through France, Italy, and Switzerland. It was amazing.

Hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim back in May was pretty spectacular, as well.

I love the escape.

I can turn off my phone, clear my head, get a great workout, and marvel at nature.

I’m invigorated by seeing new corners of the world and experiencing new cultures.

I guess I have a hard time sitting still.

Go figure. 

Follow Brooks Melchior on Twitter.

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