Scott Reiss spent a year after completing a master’s in sociology at Stanford trying to land a “real” job in broadcasting. With the odds looking bleak, he found more education was the answer. He enrolled for one unit of credit in community college in Panama City, Fla. And that’s how he got the biggest break of his life.
As a student at Gulf Coast Community College, he was eligible to work for free at the local Fox TV affiliate as an intern—he begged his way in front of cameras as a volunteer. Today, he has almost two decades of diverse experience to bring to his newest gig, play-by-play announcer for Cardinal football and men’s basketball.
As a kid in Los Angeles, Reiss, ’93, MA ’94, absorbed both inspiration and professionalism by listening to legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. In part, that means he’s on guard against sounding like a cheerleader—“It goes against my nature to say, ‘we this, we that.’ ” Even so, it’s complicated for him. “I do love Stanford, and I’m sure it will bleed through in my calls.”
Reiss, highly visible to local fans in recent years as an anchor for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, is in rapid-preparation mode. He succeeds the busy Dave Flemming, ’98, MA ’98, who confirmed in July he would vacate the Stanford role amid juggling his work for the San Francisco Giants and cable sports networks. Stanford unveiled its selection of Reiss on August 21; the first home football game is September 7 against San Jose State.
First and foremost, says Reiss, he’s thinking, “How am I going to call the best possible game?” But even more, “How am I going to reach the Stanford audience? There is a gravity to this because of the Stanford community. This is not a generic sports audience.”
Reiss did play-by-play for KZSU (90.1 FM) as a student. After Panama City gave him enough experience to be genuinely employable, Reiss found TV work in Utica, N.Y., where the blizzard season stretched from “Halloween to Mother’s Day,” and Santa Maria, Calif., where he went from weekend sports anchor to station sports director within a year. In late 2000, he went national, heading to Bristol, Conn., as an anchor for the ESPNews network. He stayed eight years, getting married along the way, and had a smattering of TV and radio play-by-play assignments while polishing his craft as an anchor.
“There is no experience for a broadcaster like working for ESPN,” says Reiss, who served as an occasional anchor on SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship show. “The talent level, the resources—it is unparalleled. . . . If I had some semblance of raw abilities when I got there, ESPN transformed that and made me 100 percent comfortable in my broadcast skin.”
Delighted at the opportunity to return to California, Reiss joined Comcast SportsNet in late 2008 and settled in as a familiar on-screen personality for college and pro news. But like so many high-profile anchors before him, Reiss couldn’t resist the lure of testing himself to the maximum in the fabled crucible of a live radio booth. He plans to wind down his work with Comcast sometime in the fall. Now 42 with two young sons, his signature moments are beckoning: He aims to imprint his voice on the most auspicious era in Stanford football history.
“Every time I have been fortunate to call a game,” says Reiss, “my reaction was, ‘Man, that was a lot of fun.’ I think I have a knack for it, but it’s mostly an untapped skill. I would like to know how good I can be.”
Mike Antonucci is a senior writer at Stanford.