Paul Deanno, Syracuse ’96, and Scott Reiss, Stanford ’93, first met when Deanno interned at the TV station where Reiss had recently been hired as a news anchor. The two formed an easy connection and soon learned they’re both SigEps.
“It was a nice thing to have in common, and I think it took our friendship to another level,” Deanno said.
Although their careers have taken them in different directions — Reiss went on to become a sports anchor at ESPN and is currently the play-by-play announcer for Stanford football and basketball, while Deanno is now a meteorologist with NBC in Chicago — the friends reconnected during the years when they lived just minutes from each other.
By this time, Deanno, who has written four children’s books about weather, was running a small publishing company with his wife, Suzanne. One day, Reiss shared his idea with Deanno to publish a book in which top sportscasters recount their years in the trenches covering a range of stories, from everyday high school sports to quirky local events, in small cities and towns across the country.
He wasn’t looking to tell the typical stories about rubbing shoulders with pro athletes, but instead to share the offbeat stories famous sportscasters cut their teeth on while pursuing their big break.
Deanno loved the potential in Reiss’ idea, but couldn’t commit to the project at the time. Fast forward five years: Reiss was on a beach with his family on vacation in Hawaii when Deanno called to say he wanted to publish the book Reiss had pitched to him.
The result is “Where They Were Then,” a compilation of 15 first-person essays from some of today’s most popular sportscasters, including Scott Van Pelt and Trey Wingo. Reiss said it didn’t take much convincing to get any of the sportscasters in the book to share their stories.
“They saw it as an opportunity to share part of their story no one ever asks them about,” he said. “These are the priceless anecdotes they share with their buddies over drinks. I knew capturing these stories would be interesting.”
From finding contributors to editing to marketing, the Emmy-winning broadcasters played a part in every aspect of putting the book together. The book took just under seven months for the pair to complete. In the summer of 2022, they released the audio version of the book and are looking forward to collaborating on more projects together.