HOUSTON — When Dan Budick was in the sixth grade, he failed his science test. A few of them in a row, actually.
Not exactly a proud moment for him. It did, however, get him to the Super Bowl.
How’s that? Well, as discipline for his academic misstep, Budick’s parents took the television out of his bedroom. Left with no other form of entertainment, he plugged in an old radio and tuned it to WFAN, the all-sports channel in New York. He immediately was hooked.
“It really was a great experience to listen to the best of the best in New York,” he said of hearing Steve Somers and Mike Francesa and Chris Russo and other broadcasters ply their trade over the airwaves and ignite in Budick a love of talking sports on the radio. “There is a unique connection to the listeners with radio. It’s so personal. When people let you into their lives with talk radio, you feel like you know the host.”
Now Budick is 21, a senior at Ithaca College. But his love for the medium has evolved since those TV-free days in his bedroom to a sports talk radio show of his own. He and fellow Syosset High School product Jake Asman, also 21, host “The Asman and Budick Show” on WICB in Ithaca, a weekly two-hour program in which they discuss the hottest topics in sports, field phone calls and chat with guests.
This past week, it brought them to Radio Row at the Super Bowl. They had a table set up among some of the country’s most well-known broadcasters, interviewed former Super Bowl champs and Hall of Famers, and immersed themselves in what essentially is the national convention for sports radio.
Radio Row is organized chaos as guests try to keep to appointments while being tugged into unscheduled interviews, and anyone from former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre (dressed in full minuteman regalia to support his Patriots) to Miss America to Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice can be spotted in the crowd.
“This is the Mecca of sports talk radio,” Asman said. “Just being here has been unbelievable.”
It certainly would have seemed unbelievable when the two began broadcasting as high school freshmen, doing one hour a week on WKWZ, the student radio station in the basement of Syosset High School. They connected, found they shared a passion for it, and did it all four years of high school.
After Budick spent a semester at Temple University, they reconnected at Ithaca College and picked up their radio show where it had left off. They talk New York sports, national stories and whatever else is going on.
So what was a college radio station — an Ithaca College radio station — doing at the Super Bowl?
They asked if they could come.
Of course, they had to ask the right people — such as fellow Syosset graduates Greg Aiello and Michael Signora, who work for the NFL’s communications department. Before they knew it, they were in, broadcasting two hours each day on the college’s VICRadio.org.
They will do their usual show back in Ithaca on Sunday night. No, they didn’t stay for the game. That’s not what this was about for them. It was a chance to rub elbows, share contacts and see what “Radio Row” is like.
They taped segments on Wednesday with Craig Carton of WFAN, got Michael Kay of ESPN Radio and the YES Network, and squeezed in an interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio right before he did a live shot for the network.
During the Fox media availability on Tuesday, they sat at a table with Joe Buck for a half-hour and listened to him describe everything from how he prepares to call big games — such the upcoming Super Bowl — to how he got started in the business. Later in the week, he jumped on the radio with them.
Yeah, they missed classes this past week. But they learned an awful lot.
“It’s about entertaining the listeners,” Asman said. “Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Both of them will graduate in May. That will be the end of “The Asman and Budick Show” in Ithaca. Maybe one day, they said, they’ll find themselves back together again, on the radio, talking about sports. Hey, there will be an opening at WFAN in December, right?
The two chuckled at the idea of filling Francesa’s vacancy. But a few years ago, they probably would have chuckled at the idea of being on Radio Row at the Super Bowl. So who knows?
For now, they’re just enjoying the experience.
“There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be this week,” Budick said, “than right here.”