Casey Stern has lived in Atlanta for about a month, which naturally represents an adjustment for someone who grew up in Massapequa and spent the past 13 years living in Seaford.
But thus far the two things about which folks most often warned him — traffic and humidity — have been non-issues, especially the former.
“They obviously never have been on the LIE or the Belt Parkway,” Stern, who again will host Turner’s MLB postseason studio coverage, said with a laugh.
But there are other matters to get used to.
“My mother was just in town this [past] weekend and I wish she could have brought bagels and some All American, which I lived two minutes from and I think it’s still the best burger spot in Nassau County,” he said.
Still, it’s so far so good for Stern, 37, his wife and their two young children, who might be in for a long stay after Atlanta-based Turner recently announced a significant expansion of his duties.
In addition to baseball, he will host NCAA men’s basketball tournament coverage and shows on NBA TV. He will continue to host baseball and football shows on SiriusXM Radio and cover the World Series for MLB Network Radio.
It all was part of an effort to branch out from being known primarily as “a baseball guy.”
“Whatever I did, I fooled them enough to have them want me to get involved in other sports, which I’m really excited to do,” he said.
Stern nearly went in another direction when in 2014, he appeared to be in line to join the Mets’ WOR radio crew as a pre- and postgame host and reporter and play-by-play fill-in for his favorite childhood team. At the time, his primary jobs were his SiriusXM shows.
“Career-wise, it’s the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” he said of passing on that opportunity. “That was a dream of mine since I was a kid. Bob Murphy was my idol growing up. I used to hold a pencil [as a microphone] and call Mets games from my room.
“My parents thought there was something wrong with me when I was like 5 years old, talking to myself.”
But his first child had just been born, and the thought of many months on the road made the timing a non-starter. Then, that July, he heard from Turner and was on a new path.
“It was really, really tough because I love that team and I would have loved to be a part of it,” he said. “Even calling one Mets game — if you would have told my 5-year-old self, I would have given you my left arm to do that.
“It was hard to not enter that arena to do that, but knock on wood — and it’s no offense at all to not being involved with Mets and WOR — it’s the greatest thing that could have happened.”
Stern’s bosses stuck by him after an embarrassing incident on the night of Game 1 of the NLCS last year at Citi Field. Thinking the telecast had gone to break, he uttered an expletive in celebration of a segment he was happy with.
“I think they noticed that there was no way to punish me more with any of the things they could have said than I was punishing myself,” he said. “The craziest part was that it came wholeheartedly from the best of possible reasons.”
Stern said that after a long, sometimes difficult career climb, he got caught up in the excitement of being in his childhood team’s stadium, hosting coverage of a championship series game it had just won.
“I think after that first segment, which I remember going extremely well, it was like the Jose Bautista bat flip,” he said. “I basically did a verbal bat flip and got caught up in the moment and didn’t realize we weren’t in break. I couldn’t have felt worse about doing it, and I felt worse about what it represented for [Turner] than anything it said about me.”
Stern mostly keeps his Mets fandom at a professional distance these days. The one pro team he allows himself to root for openly is the Islanders, given that he does not cover hockey.
(How does he feel about the move to Brooklyn? “Outside of the SUV in that arena, I’m OK with it,” he said.)
But he also grew up a Giants fan, which ties into the story of how all this started. He heard in 2003 from a friend’s mother about auditions for a new ESPN reality show called “Dream Job” featuring aspiring sportscasters.
The audition was on a Tuesday and he had tickets to the previous night’s Cowboys-Giants game at Giants Stadium.
So Stern went to the game — a famously brutal overtime loss to Bill Parcells’ Cowboys — then was dropped off at the ESPN Zone in Manhattan at about 2 a.m., still wearing his Dave Meggett replica jersey.
“The audition started like five hours later, and I sat there in my jersey, waiting for five hours, got my audition, and it changed my life,” he said of the serendipitous turn of events. “It’s just how I drew it up.”