Interview with Andy Gresh of Sirius XM Radio

Here’s an e-mail interview with the night time host Andy Gresh of Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio. Andy hosts the 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift. Before he joined Sirius XM in January, Andy had been doing weekends at ESPN Radio, and before that, he was morning drive host at WSKO AM/FM in Providence, RI, first with John “Coach” Colleto, an afternoon drive co-host with Scott Cordischi, then back to morning drive with former Patriots/Dolphins/Jets backup quarterback Scott Zolak signing on when the station flipped to all-sports in October of 1997 and remaining with the station when it was killed by Citadel Broadcasting on March 2008.

Greshie also did work on television at Comcast SportsNet New England and works with Zolak on the WBCN Patriots Rock Radio Network on the pre and postgame shows during the NFL season. And he did some fill-in work at WFAN where he got noticed by Chris Russo.

During his tenure in Providence, I got to know Andy through one of my friends at sister station WPRO and back when I was still working at WHJJ.

Andy also was an offensive lineman for the University of Rhode Island where he was often called for holding. That’s a joke, I stole that from a WPRO news reporter. Sorry, Andy.

But Andy has worked at his craft and made his step to the national stage first at ESPN Radio and now at Sirius XM. We had to jump through hoops to get this interview, but I thank the people at Sirius XM for making this possible.

Over the last day and a half, Andy and I exchanged e-mails and the result of the interview is below.

Fang’s Bites: After 790/99.7 The Score went under, what was your strategy that eventually led you to Sirius? There was a stop at ESPN Radio, but did you feel there was another avenue for you to go?

Andy Gresh: There really was no strategy. I was working at ESPN Radio when I was at the Score, in fact the day they fired me, I was in one of the Senior Manager’s offices that afternoon discussing my future. I was on the Score’s air that night on ESPN radio…irony at its best. Two days after I got fired, I got a call from Steve Cohen, Vice President of Sports at Sirius. He and I saw each other at the Super Bowl that year and he told me he’d like me to do some work for him and I told him then that my contract with Citadel wouldn’t allow me. When he called me after the Score went under, he said “How’s that contract workin’ out for ya?” Funny as Hell. I went to New York and met with him and his team and the next thing I knew I was working for Sirius NFL Radio broadcasting from my office in my old house in Massachusetts. I used to get ridiculed by some in our building about building relationships with people in other markets, and I think some of them wish they did what I did.

FB: What led you to Sirius XM and Mad Dog Radio?

AG: Since I was working for NFL Radio, they knew I had Sports Talk chops and it was a natural fit. When I flirted with New York earlier in my career, Chris was complimentary of my work on WFAN and remembered me. We had lunch in Manhattan early September and he said, “We’re coming for ya, just hang tight.” And the deal got done but it all started with Steve Cohen bringing me in to NFL radio and 6 shifts from WFAN.

FB: How has Chris Russo been as a boss or is he a figurehead and is (Program Director) Steve Torre the real Man? LOL.

AG: Russo has total control and everyone knows it!! No, they work in concert and they’ve let me be me, which can be dangerous at times. I think when I told them about my plan for web presence, my vision for the show, and me being me, they were a little taken aback. All I heard was “just focus on doing a good show”. I went in with a plan and we’ve executed flawlessly and it’s a credit to Chris, Steve, and the people above them letting me run with it the way I wanted to.

FB: Let’s give a plug for the website. What’s the address and what do you have on the site?

AG: We take advantage of with a poll question every night. You can also hear old interviews and pictures of people who’ve come in studio. I have a website for the show where you can find the Greshabulary page…… It’s a must see.

FB: You’re going into the third month as the nighttime host. Do you feel this is the type of show you’ve been wanting to do all along since you began as the Morning Drive co-host at the Score?

AG: Yes and no. In my opinion it’s the most unique radio show on the planet because we can listen to any game on the Sirius XM empire. And if we do have some hurdles, like we do with baseball, we have the ability to figure it out and get the info to people quickly and give them the ability to listen what happened then call and analyze. Our phones are open all the time while games are going on and we have the audio to go with that analysis. And I think we make people think every night in a way that they haven’t thought about a topic. We mix in some guy stuff and we sound young so there are elements of the show I did with Zolak, mixed in with a lot of me, and phones from across the country. We sound different from anything else on, not only Mad Dog radio, but I think radio in general. And we’re constantly evolving…..well be better in 1 month, 3 months, 6 months.

FB: One of the things you did was do cut-ins for the NCAA Tournament. How much fun was it for you to play Greg Gumbel during that period?

AG: It was pretty cool except we did a better job of switching to the games that mattered!!

FB: Have you remained in touch with any of the old Score staff?

AG: Zolak and I talk probably once or twice a week. He’s training for a triathlon and God, would I love to be working with him now to kill him on that. Our old producer, Jim Louth, we talk a couple times a month and Ron St. Pierre is a mentor and friend who’s relationship is very important to me. Other than that, not really. I found out who my friends are in the building I used to work in….. I found out that I had a lot of acquaintances not friends, which is fine. I do miss people like Duffy Egan from Citadel Engineering. I’ve done a bad job to keeping in touch with him and the women in the business department. I love them all. And my favorite news nerd, Bill Haberman and Dan Yorke. And of course, there are some people in that building I have zero respect for and I hope I never see them again. Most know who they are!! But I’ve also learned that there are frauds everywhere.

FB: Any good sports celebrity/music celebrity/Hollywood celebrity sightings in the Sirius XM hallways?

AG: I can’t even explain how cool the vibe is at Sirius XM. It’s a place where you feel the creative juices flowing when you walk through the door and it’s sooooooooooooooooo liberating….and free. It’s wonderful. I’ve met all kinds of people but let’s put it this way, when I walk out Friday nights, I see Dee Snider doing his (Fangoria Radio) show and he’s cool. Kurt Angle….Bridget from Hef’s (Hugh Hefner, who else?) stable….and I love it when my man Bryant from the Latin station at Sirius brings in singers and has them in studio cause the ladies come in to see them and there’s nothing better for a divorced guy than to be in a lobby full of hot chicks.

FB: Do you miss terrestrial radio at all?

AG: Radio is radio. No matter where you apply your trade the rules are different so to me, it’s all radio. It’s more about missing people you work with and for me that includes Citadel and ESPN Radio. I formed some very special relationships at ESPN Radio with Scott Masteller, Terry Foxx, and Freddie Coleman and I miss them and others. But….calling my own shots is fun and it’s all on me for my show to succeed and i love that. Chris, Steve and I don’t agree on everything I do, which is good. And we talk it out and it’s a great relationship. I’m probably Sports Talk for the 21st century and different philosophies breed new ideas and creativity. But it’s about making the channel work and it will be very successful and to be successful you can’t have everyone being the same and doing the same show and Chris realizes that. He knows the medium very well, very well.

When do you start prepping for the show?

AG: I work very hard at making the show the best it can be. I want to have the best show on the channel and that’s not me being snide or cocky or taking a shot at anyone. If I don’t work every day to make my show the best on the channel, then I’m cheating Mad Dog and I’m not gonna do that. He and I bust each other up on air but I have great respect for him and now that he knows me and what I’m about, I think he respects me as well. My approach is for every hour I do on air, I spend an hour of prep. From music, to opens, to writing liners, to topics, guests…..what you have to remember is that it’s all me for 5 hours, and I plan the show as if I’m not gonna get one phone call that way I have plenty of material. I could mail it in and not work as hard because I know we have a ton of calls every night, but that’s not me. Here is my normal day……I’m up at 11am….(depending if I’m doing TV that day at SNY) I’m usually in around 2 p.m. and work till 3:30, mix in an hour at the gym, and come back and work till Showtime. It’s a long day with the train ride from my place in Jersey City but when you do what you love, it never feels like work. I realize I work in the toy department of life and am grateful for doing so. The only thing that would tweak my schedule is occasional TV work…….which is a ton of fun. Not every host can do my show with weaving in and out of games and guests on the fly….it’s tough but fun.

FB: What blogs do you read to prep for the show? You don’t have to mention mine to suck up.

AG: I really don’t read blogs before the show. And it’s no disrespect to them. It’s just not a habit. If I do, I go to SPORTSbyBROOKS or Deadspin to see if there’s some funny audio we can use. For me, it’s about reading about the news of the day……and that’s where the Fang’s Bites Friday blog comes in handy. Because by Friday after doing 20 hours of radio solo and needing to bring it home heading into the weekend, being able to go to one place and find stuff is great. In the words of Pete Gillen “At the end of the week, my eyeballs are bouncing off the floor.”

FB: You mentioned you’re on SNY now. Give yourself a plug and what you’re doing there.

AG: SNY has 3 local shows and I’ve done work on all of them. My role is pretty much the same as I had at Comcast SportsNet in Boston, sports analyst, loud guy, funny guy, do what I do and have fun. Curt Gowdy, Jr. who runs the show there knew of my work from Boston and it’s been a nice fit. And Brad Como from SNY and Kevin Miller from Comcast in Boston know each other as well and that made it easier to get in because Kevin put in the good word to Brad. What I didn’t know was that Curt was a big Patriots fan so he knew of me anyways. It’s always nice to have friends!! Their operation is first class and I hope, and want, to do more with them.

FB: Who has been the favorite Gresh guest on the show thus far?

AG: Scott Zolak!!! No. When Tommy Lasorda and I got into it on the air about the World Baseball Classic …. but I’ve found a gem in Michael Collins, an analyst for PGA Tour Radio, who was a caddie and he and I talking golf is serious but a hoot and fun. He’ll be on during Masters Week a lot and I love the guy. My producer Mike Babchik is a guest booking machine…. we’ve had John Calipari, Chipper Jones, Bob Kraft, Billy Gillespie, Pat Summitt after her 1,000th win, being a national radio show opens the door for a lot of guests and a ton of people. My crew gets it done from that end.

FB: A couple of sports questions: Who are your favorites for the World Series?

AG: I think those who have been picking the chalk are smart. I don’t see a Tampa situation this year. For me it’s come down to, if Smoltz is great once he comes back around June, I like the Red Sox. If A-Rod comes back and is A-Rod, I like the Yanks. I’m gonna lean Yankees and in the NL, I like the cubs to get over the hump. So I’ll go Yanks – Cubs.

FB: I know you’re a bit of an NFL Draftnik. Who’s your sleeper pick this year? With your Steelers coming off a Super Bowl championship, do you feel they have any particular needs?

AG: The Steelers need some o-line help. I can’t believe they won it with that line. A Center would be nice and so would a swing tackle who can develop into a starter and they gotta look at d-line as well. I always took pride in picking who would come in and make an impact right away and this year…some good players will go to bad teams but I like Mark Sanchez a lot and Michael Crabtree is great but way go to someone like Jacksonville and may get bogged down…..but I like Brian Arakpo from Texas. Good football player and a big guy.

FB: Last one. Have you found any Bickford’s restaurants in New York City?

AG: The Bickford’s line is an inside joke that made me laugh like hell so good job out of you, Fang (ECW! ECW!)…… New York and New Jersey, the food I can’t even explain how good it is here. But I’ve been going to the gym and controlling my eating during the week and I’m down to 340 pounds. And I’ll lose more over the next few months. I’ve got a chance to lift again because I’m nearby a best friend from college and I’m working on (my weight).

Things are good…..2008 was worse personally than professionally if you can believe that, so I’m in a good place. My career is growing by leaps and bounds and I may have some more news soon. And I’ll be back for another year for Patriots Radio so those looking to jump on my grave, it’s not empty!!

Great interview with Greshie. I hope to have another interview with him down the line. Always fun to talk with him.

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.