“Hi, this is Tyler.”
“What’s up, Tyler? It’s Larry Burneal, Sports Director at WBNG.”
It was late April 2016. I was sitting at the circular cedar table next to the narrow kitchen of my sixth-floor Cedarbrook apartment.
I was a senior at Penn State, still waiting for that chance to go pro in the sports broadcasting world.
Larry and the fine people at WBNG gave me that chance. I’ll forever be grateful.
This blog post details my fondest memories during my 27 months in Binghamton. How I arrived. How I grew. And how I, to my surprise, fell in love with Binghamton.
My phone call with Larry only lasted five minutes. He was a big Dallas Cowboys fan. I told him that I was from Pittsburgh. That’s all it took, I think. The rest is history.
My WBNG story actually begins in late January 2016.
I had just started my final semester at Penn State, trying to stay calm on the job front. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry very long. As it just so happens, everything would change on a snowy weekday during the first month of the year. While on my way to the White Building for a quick workout…
“Hi, this is Tyler.”
“Hey Tyler, it’s [Bryan] McSorley. How would you like to work at WBNG? We have some jobs opening up soon.”
I had met Bryan in ComRadio (Yes, it was spelled with only one ‘m’ back then) two years earlier. We had built a friendship around the Pittsburgh Pirates. Anyway, at the time, Bryan was the chief photographer at WBNG. He worked at the station with fellow Penn Stater, Caroline Goggin.
Bryan’s out-of-the-blue phone call is why I’ve been able to call Binghamton home for the past two years.
Well, I applied to a news (not sports) job at WBNG, and the next thing I know I’m visiting the station in late February 2016. Good luck trying to sell Binghamton during the winter months. It’s not easy.
But I was sold, thanks to one person.
During my trip, I met with Larry, Bryan and Caroline – just to name a few. I also met with Candace Chapman. She was still the acting News Director but had quickly informed me that a new gentleman would be taking over. Candace made certain I met with him.
Candace called this guy by the name of John Laughrin.
“Tyler, in about 20 minutes head down to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Reynolds Road. That’s where you’ll meet with John.”
John and I talked for almost 30 minutes. At that point, I knew that I had to work with him at WBNG. We shared a common passion for hard work, strong journalism, unique storytelling, and sports. I’ll never forget that brief meeting. I’m a Starbucks guy, but the location didn’t matter. What mattered is that conversation forever changed my life.
So a funny thing happened. A couple weeks after my first visit to the Southern Tier, John offered me a job as a news reporter. I slept on it, but at the end of the day, I only wanted to do sports. Always have. Always will.
I declined my first job offer. That decision wasn’t easy, but it helped create a better opportunity.
Once I told John “no” to news, he told me that a sports job would be opening up the following week.
Well, guess what? About seven days later, John called back and offered me the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter job.
I was thrilled and accepted! Below is me signing my contract in John's office. John snapped the picture.
My first official day at WBNG was May 16, 2016, just ten days after I graduated from Penn State with dual degrees. That picture below from the old studio set was one of my first career live sportscasts.
Now I’ve already written about my difficult and challenging first year in Binghamton. If you’d like to read about my struggles, you can right here: "I never went to summer camp."
Here are my takeaways, or lessons learned, from my first year in the Souther Tier: Living and working on my own was an overwhelming transition. However, I made life harder on myself by failing to enjoy the moment. I constantly focused on where I wanted to be, rather than where I was. I didn’t give Binghamton the proper chance it deserved during my first year.
That changed during my second year, though.
Looking back, I got to cover so many exciting sporting events in the Southern Tier. I watched Maine-Endwell win the Little League World Series. I witnessed high school athletes and teams win state championships and excel in the classroom. I saw the Binghamton Mets become the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The Binghamton Senators turned into the Binghamton Devils. Watkins Glen served delicious ice cream to the media. The DICK’s Sporting Goods Open always presented challenges, but that was our Super Bowl, and we treated it as such. We conquered those challenges with great success. I got to tell some pretty inspiring stories. Oh, and Tim Tebow turned Binghamton into a major sports market. That was fun.
If you can figure out how to focus on the present, your future will suddenly feel nearby.
I have several people to thank. Hopefully I don’t forget anyone. If I do, please send any complaints to my WBNG Facebook Page.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. Your love is unwavering. Your support of my dream means the world to me. The same goes for my younger sister, Lexi, older brother, Zach, and his wife, Natalie. Thank you.
I’d also like to thank all of my close friends and mentors who listened and understood that working weekends limited our time together. Luckily, we were always just a phone call away.
Thank you, John Laughrin. You challenged me to be my very best. I hope I made you proud. Just know that I’ll never pronounce “anyway” and “t(o)urnament” incorrectly again.
Thank you, Larry Burneal. Your guidance allowed me to grow into the journalist I am today. I’ll always cherish our friendship. We make a great team. Your two-a-day workout sessions helped take 12 Sports to great heights.
Thank you, Bryan McSorley. Your call forever changed my life. I’ll always be appreciative of you seeing something in me.
Thank you to all of my WBNG co-workers. Through all the ups and all the downs, we grew together. Oh, and we had a few fun nights at Dillingers, too. Shoutout to the original weekend team, Emily De Vito, Nick Aresco and Nathan Hopper, as well as all the great people working behind the scenes!
Thank you, Section IV athletes, coaches, referees, athletic directors, and parents. Your enthusiasm and passion for high school sports made my job so fulfilling and fun.
I would also like to give a special shoutout to Seton Catholic basketball and the SCC Greenhouse. That fat head meant the world to me. At the time, it provided me with purpose and gave me a sense that all of our hard work at 12 Sports actually had a positive impact on the community. Thank you, Chris Sinicki and Colleen and Kenny Jayne.
Thank you, B-Sens, B-Mets, B-Devils, and Rumble Ponies. Covering the next big stars was truly a joy. I’d especially like to thank Kurt Kleinendorst, Luis Rojas, Frank Viola, Luis Rivera, Tim Heiman, Jonny Wincott, Rob Lippolis, John Hughes, and Tom Mitchell. You all were wonderful to work with. True professionals. You also figured out how to deal with my humor, and for that I’m extremely grateful. I had fun. Hopefully you did, too. An additional thank you to the wonderful staffs at NYSEG Stadium and Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.
For those wondering, I refuse to thank Rowdy the Pony.
Thank you, Binghamton University athletics. Pat Elliott, John Hartrick, Dave O’Brian, Leigh Martino, and Sydney Harbaugh. I always appreciated your hard work to make the local media happy. Oh, and how could I forget Mo “Reese” Taylor? Thank you for your friendship and infectious energy during BU basketball games!
I’d also like to thank the competition. Sarah Tranelli, Trish Kilgannon, Jeremy Donovan, Dan North, Cam Lavallee, and Kiley Farrell. I lived for that banter on the sideline. I hope you did, too. Best of luck as you continue to progress in the sports industry.
Thank you to all of the kind and inspiring people I’ve met in the Southern Tier. Whether we conversed at Wegmans, Court Jester, Dillingers, or some sporting event, please know that I cherished every moment together.
To all the Section IV student-athletes, never let anyone stop you from chasing your dreams. I truly enjoyed watching you all grow in competition and in front of my camera. Being able to communicate clearly is a lifelong skill, and I hope I made you guys and girls more confident and stronger speakers.
Barry Goldstein, thank you for helping improve my golf swing. Seth Finkelstein, thanks for always playing golf with me, no matter how early.
And last but not least…
I never wanted to give Binghamton a chance. But when I finally did, I was able to see just how many incredible people fill the streets of the Southern Tier.
You allowed a Jewish boy from the suburbs of Pittsburgh grow and refine his passion for sports broadcasting on live television every single night. It took some time, but I think he found his voice, stayed true to himself and let his personality fly off the screen.
You may forget my time at WBNG, but I certainly never will.
Thank you, Binghamton.