DJ And Jim

During his radio and broadcast career at Staples, DJ Sixsmith covered football — and soccer, basketball, volleyball, indoor track, rugby, everything except (I think) Ultimate Frisbee — with the skill and professionalism of pros like Jim Nantz.

Which, last summer, brought him to the attention of — Jim Nantz.

Stamford Advocate sportswriter Dave Ruden (a Staples grad) had taken an interest in DJ.  Dave asked his friend Jim (CBS’ star broadcaster, and a longtime Westporter) to meet with DJ and his WWPT/Wrecker radio colleagues Eric Gallanty and Brandon Edelson.

“Jim is so busy.  We expected a half hour lunch at Gold’s,” DJ says.  “But he spent 2 hours talking about sports and TV.  It was amazing he took that much time for us.”

DJ Sixsmith, Jim Nantz, Brandon Edelson and Eric Gallanty hang after lunch at Gold's this summer.

At Staples’ Back to School Night this year, DJ’s mom saw Jim.  She introduced herself, thanked him for his help — and was surprised when he suggested DJ join him in an NFL booth.  Jim gave her his email.

DJ had just begun his 1st year at Fordham University.  Most freshmen start at the bottom at WFUV, the school’s highly regarded radio station.  Thanks to his Staples experience, DJ was already covering women’s volleyball, and helping with football broadcasts.

Seizing the opportunity, he emailed Jim.  The broadcaster quickly invited him to last Sunday’s Giants-Bills game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

On Friday, DJ spent hours in the production truck.  He watched all the planning sessions, and asked plenty of questions.

Two days later he was in the CBS booth.  The sightlines were fantastic; the inspiration, intense.

He met Phil Simms — Jim’s broadcast partner — then went back down to the truck for the 1st half.  During the 3rd and 4th quarters DJ stood a few feet from Jim and Phil, wearing a headset, listening to and watching them work.

“It’s a view almost no one has,” DJ recalls.  “And there I was, in my second month of college.  It blew my mind.”

He was awed by how easy the broadcasters made everything look — and how difficult calling a game is.  “You’re not following a script,” DJ says.  “You really have to be alert and creative, all the time.”

He was also impressed by the number of people involved in the telecast, from graphics to ads to go-fers.

Not to mention the food.  “No one went hungry,” he laughs.

“It kind of made our little operation at Staples seem like a different world,” he says.

DJ Sixsmith prepares to broadcast Fordham women's volleyball, from Rose Hill Gym.

The experience “reaffirmed how much I want this as my career,” DJ says.

“Jim was so happy, so enthusiastic about what he was doing.  I realized that’s how happy I am too.”

Back at Fordham — and college women’s volleyball, not NFL football — he says, “I’ll continue to hone my skills however WFUV wants to use me.”

He is thankful for the boost Mike Zito and Jim Honeycutt gave him at Staples — and for the kindness Dave Ruden and Jim Nantz are showing him now.

It’s no stretch to say that one day he will pay it forward to a Staples student — perhaps yet unborn — who wants to be a star broadcaster too.  Just like his hero, DJ Sixsmith.

12 responses to “DJ And Jim

  1. Another story in your win win win win theme.

  2. Nice story, Dan. Longtime Dodgers radio voice Vin Scully started his career at WFUV where he broadcast Rams football and basketball games. He would have covered Fordham baseball as well but couldn’t because he was the Rams’ centerfielder. Famed Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber discovered Scully and hired him when Scully was just 21 years old. Maybe Jim Nantz will be DJ’s Red Barber.

  3. Very cool story. How would we ever know about all these interesting things Westporters are doing in the world without “06880”?

    • Virginia Gilbertie

      Amen sister! Thanks for keeping is in the loop, Dan. And thanks to Jim Nantz for being so generous with his time and expertise.

  4. DJ was a wonderful kid who went out of his way to be kind to other students, to work hard on what mattered (including an Inklings story about inner-city Connecticut kids who don’t have access to sports facilities like those in wealthier suburbs), and to give back to his community. Maybe the reason Dan writes so much win-win-win stuff is that there are so many great kids?

  5. The Dude Abides

    Nice story and kudos to DJ. I had the good fortune to meet Nantz in Houston at his annual “Three Amigos” golf tourney along with Freddy Couples and Blaine MacAlister. He is a true gentleman and damn fine golfer. I am glad to hear that he is passing his wealth of knowledge and experience on to a younger generation. Good guy.

  6. This is a Beautiful thing that Mr. Nantz did for DJ!!! He is my Grandson and we are so very proud of him ! He is a wonderfu young man and we Love him very much !!!!

  7. I’m a sophmore at Staples right now, but I was very fortunate enough to spend my freshman year working with DJ at Staples Television Network. We all agree things have changed a lot and miss him back at the studio.

  8. Stephen Rubin

    Great story …… and also true about DJ, He has a great future ahead. Staples and fans thank him for all the great listening. DJ – Keep to the books and stay with with Chaps such as the Nantz. Your team that is covering this year is good because of you. Stop in for a hot dog on me at the stand during Home Coming. Sorry you did not have the chance to be on the gridiron undder the lights but it will happen,,,,,, Steve

  9. Also anonymous....

    Fortunately, WWPT began streaming Wrecker football games 2 years ago. For those of use who live out of state, and can’t make the games, listening to DJ and his crew broadcast Wrecker Football was almost as exciting as attending the game.

    Thanks to DJ and his crew – Good Luck.

  10. Another very encouraging story. So DJ, we need your expert input: should the Staples teams be known as the Wreckers or the Minutemen?

  11. I met Jim at a Sunrise Rotary luncheon a few years back when I was fresh out of college and hungry for a career in sports. He and I have kept in touch ever since and he continues to be a great mentor.

    Don’t know how he finds the time, but I’ll never take our conversations for granted. Can’t say I would be where I am today without Jim’s guidance and support.

    Go get ’em, DJ.