Schnepf: Dom Izzo moves his shtick from TV to radio
Fargo—My urge to become a sportscaster was shortlived. At eight-years-old, I decided to turn the volume down on a telecast of a Minnesota Twins baseball game, blocking out anything real announcers Herb Carneal and Halsey Hall would say. I thought this would be easy and fun announcing the game in my own words.
Silence. I froze. I could really think of nothing to say. So much for my sportscasting career.
Now for some people — like WDAY TV’s Dom Izzo who has made sportscasting a career — it only comes natural to be able to not only just talk, but speak with so much enthusiasm that it just may force some viewers to turn the TV’s volume down just a tad.
“That is kind of my M.O.,” chuckled Izzo, the spirited voice of WDAY-TV Sports for the last 14 years. “It may be my calling card or my shtick. Maybe it’s my Italian heritage. But the way I look at, if I’m not excited about it, why would any viewer be excited about it.”
Starting tonight, viewers will no longer be seeing — or hearing — Dom Izzo’s sports shtick on the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. WDAY-TV News. He’s starting a new chapter in his 17-year sportscasting career.
Instead of working nights, Izzo will host a radio sports talk show on WDAY’s 970-AM from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday. The show is called “Hot Mic with Dom Izzo.” WDAY-TV is still searching for a new sports anchor.
“I have worked evenings since I was in college,” said Izzo, who with his wife Courtney had their first child in June, son Jackson. “That certainly created a new dynamic. And when the station approached me about doing a radio show, that was really appealing. It was the best of both worlds.”
Don’t worry for those of you who have become accustomed to tuning Dom Izzo onto your television sets almost every night. You can still see him when his radio show will be live streamed on The Forum’s web site. There are plans to simulcast the radio show on the WDAY-Xtra channel.
Plus, Izzo will continue covering North Dakota State football, will still co-host WDAY’s “First Down Friday’s” show that highlights about every high school football game in the area, and will announce WDAY-Xtra’s “Game of the Week.”
But not seeing Izzo sitting behind the sports anchor desk will be different. It’s something he’s done since becoming WDAY’s sports director in 2010.
“I know the first couple of weeks will be odd for me,” Izzo said. “It was the biggest honor of my professional life because I know what those call letters mean. You know people are watching.”
Growing up in upstate New York, Izzo always knew he wanted to be a sportscaster on TV. He grew up idolizing sportscasting legends like Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Jack Whitaker and Jim McKay.
As a teenager, he remembers broadcasting the 1992 World Series between Toronto and Atlanta over a walkie talkie. His dad was his lone listener stationed in their backyard with his walkie talkie.
“It came easy,” he said. “As you know, I’m kind of a motor mouth.”
He worked with the radio and television stations and the newspaper at Oswego State University in New York. His first job was as a news photographer with a station in Syracuse before he worked sports at a small television station in Glens Falls, N.Y.
Then he moved to Fargo in 2006.
Three years later as WDAY’s weekend sports anchor, he remembers driving through a blizzard to get to work. That was the night North Dakota State’s men’s basketball team won a Summit League tournament championship in Sioux Falls, S.D., and earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“That is one night I will never forget,” Izzo said. “We had a great show that night. CBS called us for highlights. It was an electric night.”
Almost equally as exciting was the night NDSU’s football team defeated Georgia Southern in the final seconds to earn a trip to the national championship game in Frisco, Texas.
“You could feel the Fargodome that night, it was so loud,” Izzo said.
But Izzo’s voice was loud enough to carry through all that noise during a live shot. Now all that enthusiasm will be heard on the radio.
“I’m nervous, excited and scared all at once,” Izzo said. “But it’s a good change.”
Reporting live for WDAY-Sports, this is Kevin …. oh wait a minute, that’s not my shtick.