Father’s Day Tip of the Cap to UCF Alumnus, Longtime MLB Radio Broadcaster

UCF alumnus Vince Cotroneo ‘83, who has been a radio broadcaster for Major League Baseball for 25 years, is now watching his son Dominic follow in his footsteps (photo courtesy of Vince Cotroneo)

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 15, 2017) – UCF alumnus Vince Cotroneo ’83 has experienced some memorable moments during the past 25 years of his career as a radio broadcaster for Major League Baseball.

His first opening day in 1991 with the Houston Astros. His first postseason game in 1997. His first inside-the-park home run call during the 2006 playoffs.

Yet, it was a series of three spring training games for the Oakland A’s this year that rank at the top of the list for him. He was on air alongside his 22-year-old son, Dominic, and that’s why it holds a special place in his heart.

“Let me tell you, that was rewarding. It was strange. It was very poignant. I tried not to cry,” Vince said. “He loves what he’s doing. He works very hard at it, and he’s basically done it on his own terms. It’s a proud moment watching your son going down the path of realizing his dreams.”

Dominic’s journey into sportscasting nearly duplicates that of his father’s. Both men are living their dreams through hard work and perseverance, and they have their family tree to thank for their love of the game.

The son of Joe Cotroneo, Vince was the youngest of four brothers. The Cotroneo family lived in Altamonte Springs, where Joe was a Little League baseball coach for years and taught his sons to love the game.

On a family trip to Brooklyn for a funeral when Vince was 14, his cousins were watching the New York Knicks on television. He still recalls his family turning down the sound on the TV and turning up the radio instead.

“They were listening to Marv Albert do the game on the radio while watching on television, and I thought that was really cool,” he recalled. “That’s what ultimately hooked me into what I wanted to do.”

While attending UCF, he joined the radio station as a first-year student and later became the sports director. He also served as the sports editor for the university’s student newspaper, the Central Florida Future.

“There were so many open doors for students. I was lucky enough to jump in with both feet and take advantage of it,” Vince said. “They gave me so many different opportunities in so many areas to prepare me for what I wanted to do in real life. To learn my craft, make my mistakes, get better, to enjoy the atmosphere. To enjoy the camaraderie of people.”

Following graduation in 1983, he made his way to Lynchburg, Virginia, to cover the New York Mets’ minor league club.

After nine years in the minor leagues, he was called up by Houston for an open position it needed to fill. On the Astros’ opening day in 1991 against the reigning World Series champion Cincinnati Reds, Cotroneo was in the broadcast booth at 30 years old.

“It’s something I’ll never forget — being involved in that environment, wide-eyed, watching it all unfold,” he said. “I was extremely fortunate to get that opportunity and it’s been a great run ever since.”

Perhaps it’s because his family has been with him for the ride.

He met his wife, Veronica, at a baseball field. Their first date was to see the 1989 film “Major League.” Their honeymoon was at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

Before he met Veronica, Vince planned to name his first-born son Dominic as a nod to the DiMaggio brothers — Hall of Famer Joe, Vince and Dominic. His father’s favorite player was Joe DiMaggio, so it seemed only fitting.

She went along with it and got naming rights to their two daughters, Olivia and Sophia, who came along later.

Dominic is now a student at Arizona State and is mirroring nearly every step his father took.

At 15, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in sports radio. He got his foot in the door by starting away-game broadcasts for his high school baseball team.

He saved up money from his part-time job to buy the necessary equipment – a laptop, scorebook, table and a chair that he carted on the bus every road trip – and asked the coach if the team could handle his $50-per-month streaming subscription fee.

Thanks to his experience in high school, he arrived at Arizona State with a resume strong enough to secure the baseball gig for the college radio broadcast program.

Now, he’s taking advantage of Arizona State’s online classes while living in Kinston, North Carolina, to cover the Down East Wood Ducks, the High ‘A’ minor league franchise of the Texas Rangers.

His father listens in when he can and is always there to offer advice, colleague to colleague, when Dominic needs it. More importantly, with 140 games in 165 days on Dominic’s schedule, Vince knows the grind of the season better than most and checks in on his son every day.

“That’s a father’s love,” Dominic said. “It’s amazing to know I’ve got him in my corner.”

This Father’s Day, they will be almost 3,000 miles apart in their respective broadcast booths, and yet still connected through the airwaves doing what they love to do.

Hey, Mr. DJ

Love of music spins alumnus into his dream job

JayEdwards

Jay Edwards, ’04 | On-Air Producer/Personality, MIX 105.1

By Angie Lewis, ’03

A typical day on the job for Jay Edwards, ’04, includes waking up at 3:45 a.m., getting games and prizes ready, and setting up the studio for his co-hosts, Scott McKenzie and Dana Taylor — until they all go live at 5:30 a.m. On some days, he even gets to hang out with celebrities like Dr. Oz, the Backstreet Boys and Mary J. Blige.

As the on-air producer of Scott McKenzie & The Morning MIX on MIX 105.1 in Orlando, Edwards’ job doesn’t stop when the show ends at 9 a.m. After that, he edits audio for their evening podcast, reaches out to celebrity publicists and managers to book interviews for future shows, and he manages much of the station’s social media and website updates.

“People dream about going to work each and every day to a job they love, and with people they like and respect,” he says. “I have exactly that — and they pay me! I get to talk about fun topics, listen to music and hang with celebrities. What’s not to like about that?”

Edwards fell in love with radio when he interned during his junior year at UCF. But, a career in radio wasn’t always on his radar. When he was a child, he dreamed of being a police officer.

His first paying job was as a summer camp counselor. He also worked as a recreation supervisor and tuxedo salesman. However, he says his love of music ultimately made radio much more appealing. “And I’m so glad it did, because I have the best job in the world!” he says.

Music also led him into a second job, about which he’s just as passionate. On most weekends, Edwards puts on his best attire and DJs his heart out for new brides and grooms. And, thanks to all of his hard work and dedication, his company, Liquid Entertainment, has been named tops on many wedding-affiliated lists.

Since he’s lived in Central Florida his whole life and wanted to stay, UCF was a natural fit when it came time for him to choose a college. It also helped that his brother was a Knight. “He had nothing but good things to say, so I followed in his wise footsteps and now I’m a proud grad!” Edwards says.

Whether it’s teaching or mentoring the UCF interns who work on the show nearly every semester, or scoring an interview with Coach George O’Leary, his alma mater has remained a constant in his life since graduation.

He’s even been out to campus several times to speak to radio/TV students about careers in the field. His advice to them: “Don’t just focus on your voice! Sure, vocal presentation is key in radio, but these days, there are so many other things that go into being a great DJ. Know how to blog, know every aspect of social media, and be up to speed with everything happening in the music and entertainment industries. If you’re a pop culture geek, radio is the right place for you!”

MIXin’ It Up Q&A

Q. Working in radio, you’ve probably had opportunities to meet some pretty famous people. Who has been your favorite so far, and why?
A. One of my goals as the producer of the morning show was to have Bill Cosby on the show. I’m a really big fan and, about six years ago, I was able to book him for a five-minute phone interview, which turned into a 45-minute interview. He was so cool! When you get to talk to someone that you’ve truly admired and respected your whole life, and they are genuine and humble, it makes you appreciate them even more!

Q. Do you have any special/hidden talents?
A. Before I got into radio, I was the singer in a band, and I also play the drums.

Q. What movie can you quote word for word?
A. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”  

Q. What part of pop culture do you wish would just go away?
A. Baggy pants, twerking and lip syncing 

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I coach my kids in football, baseball, basketball and softball. So, if I’m not working, I’m on a field somewhere with them. We also have an RV, and we love to go all over the Southeast and camp at new places and go jet skiing.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. I still have the desire to be a police officer. I find their line of work absolutely fascinating, and I have the utmost respect for them. I will occasionally do ride-alongs with different departments just to get a taste of what they do day to day.

Q. What’s the first album you ever bought/owned?
A. I bought a cassette single of The Outfield’s “Your Love.”

Q. What was the first concert you ever attended?
A. I was a big fan of Van Halen and, shortly after they split up, David Lee Roth came in concert, and I had to go! He had some band no one had heard of opening up for him called Guns n’ Roses.

Q. If you could have front-row seats to any concert, which would you choose?
A. Red Hot Chili Peppers! My favorite band ever, and I’ve been close — just not front row.

These Guys Will Kickstart Your Heart

Alumni radio hosts rock Central Florida mornings

PatDougher+BobMiller

Pat Dougher, ’90 & Bob Miller, ’96 | On-Air Personalities, WJRR

By Angie Lewis, ’03

The subject matter can get a bit raunchy, and the occasional bodily function may slip through the airwaves, but what Orlando rock fans tune in for are the on-air personalities and guitar-laden music.

Loyal listeners of Orlando’s WJRR morning show are familiar with its hosts, Pat Lynch and Taco Bob. But, even if you just channel surf through morning FM radio, you’ve probably heard their unmistakable voices. The guys regularly promote local rock concerts, describe the latest viral videos and, most importantly, talk about their alma mater — UCF.

Meet “Pat Lynch”
Pat Dougher, ’90, better known as Pat Lynch, grew up in South Florida. He chose to attend UCF thanks to a recommendation about WUCF radio from a counselor at Palm Beach Community College.

While he was a student, Dougher worked an internship, which, he says, was key to his future career because it allowed him to meet some of the real players and shot callers in the local radio industry. “Doing an internship opened the door to the people who have and still do make it possible to do what I do for a living,” he adds.

As a radio/television major, Dougher ended up leading a student drive to gain an afternoon block of student programming on WUCF, which proved successful.

After WUCF, he went on to work for Central Florida’s old Q-96, then Relativity Records in New York City. After a brief time up north, he moved back to Orlando, where he worked as a manager at Peaches Music. In addition, he worked part time for WDIZ, which was eventually merged with WJRR when Paxson Communications bought the station. Seventeen years later, Dougher’s still with WJRR.

Meet “Taco Bob”
Bob Miller, ’96, better known as Taco Bob, says he chose to attend UCF because it seemed like the next step on the ladder after growing up in Central Florida and attending Valencia. “Plus, UCF offered a great communications department,” he adds.

As a radio/television major, Miller had the opportunity to meet guest speaker Jenny Sue Rhodes from then-Paxson Communications [now WJRR], to whom he credits helping him get his foot in the door of the radio industry thanks to an internship with her company, after which he was hired on as an employee. This year marks his 20th year with WJRR. 

Pat Lynch, Meet Taco Bob
So, how did this pair end up together?

“When WDIZ merged with WJRR, our program director walked in the studio one day and said, ‘Pat, this is Taco Bob. He’s going to be on during the lunch hour with you to do entertainment news,’” Dougher explains. “I said, ‘OK,’ and we hit it off immediately. We had good chemistry, so the powers that be said, ‘Looks like we may have something here we can develop into a full show.’ The rest was history.”

Learn more about the guys and their lives in radio in the Q&A below.

WJRR has had several format changes over the years, but adopted its current rock format and call letters in 1993. Some of the station’s alumni includes Larry the Cable Guy, Just Plain Mark and Buckethead.

Rockin’ On Q&A

Q. Describe a typical day at work.
Pat Dougher:
Arrive at 4:10 a.m., catch up on overnight news and start the show at 5 a.m. From 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., we execute the mechanics of the show as well as the online/social media aspects of the show. After the show, we produce any promos or commercials that have been assigned, meet with our programming boss and sales counterparts as needed. The day sometimes also includes on-site appearances for client and station promotions. I try to leave the office by noon, catch a nap and then begin a couple of hours of show prep for the next day’s program. 

Q. Favorite thing about your job?
Bob Miller:
When we have a great show. 

Q. Why do you do what you do?
PD:
I always loved radio as a kid and decided I would try to make it a career.
BM:
I love entertaining people. 

Q. Working in radio, you’ve probably had opportunities to meet some pretty famous people. Who has been your favorite so far, and why?
PD:
Hands down, Ozzy Osbourne. Why? He is the front man of, in my honest opinion, the most important hard-rock band, Black Sabbath.
BM:
Matt Damon because he’s very down-to-earth and a great guy to have a beer with. Slash because he’s Slash, and he does so much more than rock. Larry the Cable Guy because Pat and I worked with him for years, and it’s so good to see a great person become beyond successful. 

Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?
PD:
Police officer/law enforcement
BM:
Meteorologist or actor 

Q. How did you end up at WJRR? (What other jobs have you had?)
PD:
My previous radio jobs have been at WUCF (when the station played rock music and paid some of the students, including me). I then went to work for the old Q-96. After that, I briefly worked for Relativity records in NYC. I moved back to Orlando and worked for Peaches Music as a manager, and also part time at the legendary WDIZ (where I ended up working full time). WDIZ was merged with WJRR when Paxson Communications bought WDIZ. Been at WJRR ever since.
BM:
I did an internship at WJRR while attending UCF, and they hired me. I worked in the restaurant business from [age] 14 to 21. 

Q. What advice would you give to current UCF radio/television students?
PD:
Minor in something that will make you more valuable to a potential employer — business, marketing, etc. And, do an internship to establish some contacts.
BM:
Do an internship and learn as much as you can while you’re there about promotions, marketing, production, sales, etc. 

Q. What was your first paying job?
PD:
I started mowing yards when I was 10. When I turned 15 and was legally allowed to work, I went to work for a mom-and-pop grocery store chain in South Florida.
BM:
Sold mistletoe at the age of 7. We made a killing growing up in Winter Park! 

Q. What or who inspires you?
PD:
Adversity inspires me. There’s nothing more satisfying than overcoming adversity.
BM:
Successful actors who give back to their local communities and anyone who does charitable work 

Q. What’s the first album you ever bought/owned?
PD:
Kiss’ “Destroyer”
BM:
Bob Marley’s “Uprising 

Q. What was the first concert you ever attended?
PD:
Cheap Trick and U.F.O.
BM:
Pink Floyd 

Q. What music/artist would you never be caught listening to?
PD:
Mumford and Sons
BM:
One Direction — unless my daughters do a sneak attack on me 

Q. What songs would make up the soundtrack of your life?
PD:
“Street Fighting Man” by The Rolling Stones, “You Won’t Change Me” by Black Sabbath, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest, “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Cool Change” by Little River Band, “I’m No Angel” by Greg Allman, and “Back for More” by Ratt
BM:
Songs by Bob Marley, Sublime and The Zach Brown Band

On the Air

In preparation for this article, the guys invited me to stop by the WJRR studio and sit in with them during one of their live shows. Our executive director (and huge WJRR fan), Tom Messina, ’84, and our social media coordinator, Stephanie Sheppard, ’12, accompanied me.
Listen to our segment.