In May, Stony Brook Athletics reached a deal with Connoisseur Media to have its football games broadcast across Long Island on 94.3 “The Shark.”
On Stony Brook’s broadcasts are a child of sports broadcasting royalty and a nine-year NFL veteran in the booth to call Stony Brook’s games.
Josh Caray, the grandson of Baseball Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray, and the son of longtime Atlanta Braves announcer Skip Caray, handles play-by-play duties.
“While my last name might raise some eyebrows,” Caray said. “It’s talent at the end of the day that carries you.”
His color-commentary counterpart is ex-NFL safety Erik Coleman, who played with the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions from 2004-2012.
“Now that I’m not playing anymore, [broadcasting] lets me stay close to football,” Coleman said. “The game’s been good to me.”
Despite two very different journeys to the broadcast booth, each broadcaster seems to be enjoying Stony Brook’s first year on commercial radio airwaves.
Caray knew he wanted to get into the family business at a young age, as he watched his father call Braves games during the team’s heyday in the ’90s.
“I was fortunate to grow up in Atlanta where my dad was the voice of the Braves,” Caray said. “And I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to be an athlete early on, so to see [the Braves] succeed and to see my dad follow them on a daily basis helped push me into wanting to do that one day.”
Unlike Caray, Coleman did not always seek to be a broadcaster.
“Many people in the media told me I had a bright future in broadcasting,” Coleman said. “But I always thought I would coach after I was done playing.”
Eventually, a piece of advice from his wife made him consider a post-football career in media.
“My wife told me I should start broadcasting,” Coleman said. “When we started dating, she didn’t know much about football, so I would try to explain the game to her and I would simplify things by putting them into layman’s terms.”
Although Caray and Coleman had different paths to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium’s press box, each had prior experience behind the microphone.
Caray has served in a variety of local broadcasting jobs over the past decade, but it was on one station where he made a connection that would later bring him to Stony Brook.
“[Stony Brook Assistant Athletics Director for Communications] Brian Miller and I go back a little bit,” Caray said. “He was the Head Director for Basketball Communications at Tulane University, and I was the producer and studio host for Tulane football and basketball. So I talked to him on a pretty regular basis and we always stayed in touch. When this job opened up, he gave me a call.”
Coleman’s first broadcasting gig came while he was still playing with the Falcons during the 2010 season. He hosted “Rollin’ with Coleman,” a series of short interviews with teammates for the team’s website.
“It was tough talking into the microphone at first,” Coleman said of his first broadcasting job. “But I had some great interviews with guys like Tony Gonzalez and Mike Peterson who were great teammates. I really enjoyed it.”
After retirement, he picked up his first true broadcasting job as a studio analyst on Sportsnet New York’s “Jets Post Game Live” in 2014.
A year later, he was hired to call Stony Brook’s football games, making it his first live broadcasting job.
Coleman utilizes his nine years of NFL experience in these settings, although he is still getting used to the specifics of being a broadcaster after a lengthy career on the gridiron.
“As a safety, formation and route recognition come natural,” Coleman said. “I still have a lot to learn in the press box, but I’m taking it day by day.”
Now that they officially make up Stony Brook’s broadcasting tandem, they appear to be enjoying each other’s company while calling Seawolves football.
“His knowledge of the game is really impressive,” Caray said of Coleman. “He sees everything laid out before the ball is even snapped. So for me, a guy whose career ended in high school, it’s great to have someone with that type of knowledge adding to our broadcast.”
Coleman also sings the praises of his co-pilot, calling him a “true professional.”
“It’s been amazing working with him,” Coleman said of Caray. “I don’t even have to work in the booth calling games, to me it just feels like a conversation. He’s a true professional; working with him makes me want to step my game up.”
After the football season is over, Caray will call Stony Brook Men’s Basketball games on WHLI-AM 1370.
“When you look at the basketball team, they are primed and ready to go,” Caray said. “Things are great at Stony Brook, and they’re only going to get better.”
Coleman will continue his duties with Stony Brook on Saturdays and SNY on Sundays for the remainder of this football season.
While he says he enjoys broadcasting, he is at least open to the future possibility of becoming a coach as he had previously planned.
“I still keep in contact with my coaches, so that door is still open,” Coleman said. “I love teaching and explaining the game. It’s been very good to me.”
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: ERIK COLEMAN