If you are a fan in the New York area, let alone a fan of Fordham athletics, you may not “know” Chris Majkowski, but you certainly know of him. As the longtime PA announcer for many Fordham basketball and football games (he followed another famous New York voice, Mike “King Wally” Walczewski, now the longtime PA announcer for the Knicks at Madison Square Garden) and the on air producer for New York Mets radio as well as other events like NFL football, “Majick” is one of the backbones that which sports broadcasting is built on. Quiet, with a self-deprecating sense of humor, his booming voice could have led to a successful career on air, but instead it has produced one of the most important people behind the scenes for sports media.
We recently caught up with the man Mets and Islanders announcer Howie Rose has dubbed “The Immortal” after almost every broadcast to talk about baseball, broadcast and his time in and around Rose Hill.
You were one of the great voices on WFUV, how did you come to be such a key part of the WFAN radio team behind the scenes these days?
About a year after I graduated, Bob Jewell, WFUV’s chief engineer, told me he knew of a company that was looking for someone who had a basic working knowledge of remote equipment and knew what was going on during a game to help produce a broadcast. I probably fit the bill more on the producer side than the engineering side but knew enough that JBF Remote Services took me on. I got some further training and started out doing NY Islanders games and various visiting feeds, including the Cubs with Harry Carey and Harry Kalas and the Phillies among others. That led to some Knicks and Rangers assignments at MSG with those games being on WFAN at the time. By getting to know the folks at WFAN and them getting to know me, when the Mets job opened up in 1993, as they say, one thing led to another and here I am today.
You still do PA at Rose Hill, what is your best memory in that spot?
Yes, I still do the PA and let me say thanks to Joe DiBari for working with my schedule and allowing me to do the games when I can to get my on-the-microphone fix. I can’t say that I have a lot of specific memories over the years. I always enjoy the Senior Days and Nights. I did get a kick many years ago when I stopped into the cafeteria and the guys behind the counter started imitating some of my calls. Also the time I had forgotten my pass and the security guard let me in after I recited “a very pleasant good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Rose Hill Gym” and she said, “oh, you’re that guy, I love listening to you.”
How do you balance all the time on the road with the Mets during the baseball season?
Having not missed a Mets game since August 1993 and missing many family functions and other events along the way, one might say I could use better balance but on the other hand, I could be working for a living.
What’s your favorite memory being in and around the booth with the Amazins?
Of course, the postseason years are near the top of the list of memories with the Grand Slam Single game being my favorite game. The 1999-2000 teams will always be my favorites with John Franco, Al Leiter, and all those guys. From a show standpoint, I’ll always be very proud of the post-game we did after the Yankees won in 2000. Although we were the Mets station, because we were also WFAN, we had to cover both sides and with Ed Coleman and Suzyn Waldman downstairs and Gary Cohen upstairs, I think it was one of our best productions. Others that I’ll always remember, the closing of Shea, the first game back after 9/11, Howie and Gary spending most of the game that night just reminiscing when Bob Murphy passed away, and, of course, Johan’s no-hitter.
Most memorable moment as part of WFUV Sports?
Other than meeting Ron the Raider Fan, Mr. Viking, and Mr. Knicks slash my wrists in person at the Hosts vs. Listeners softball game and picnic? That and the trivia marathons. Seriously though, while basketball and football were the prime assignments, we also had the opportunity to do some baseball and I think I enjoyed that the most. Tournaments in New Britain, CT, Orono, ME with Stephen King in the stands, another year in Wichita. Traveling around the country to get baseball on the air, just a sign of what was eventually to come.
When you talk to people entering the business these days, what advice do you give them?
Become a doctor. But if you must give this crazy business a whirl, set your sights high of course, but don’t be afraid to take a different path or a different opportunity that may arise. Look at some of our alums right in the area, Bob Papa with the Giants, Michael Kay with the Yankees, Mike Breen with the Knicks, Chris Carrino with the Nets. I won’t lie, going through school, that’s where I wanted to be, but my path took a different turn and that has worked out just fine. I have been very fortunate. I’ve been to the World Series, Super Bowls, NBA and NHL Finals, and haven’t really worked a day in twenty years.
At Fordham, who were the people who had the most influence on you professionally?
It’s an eclectic mix spanning the various departments and classes, but there is a pretty fair-sized group from my time at FUV that still stays in touch and gets together a few times a year. During my freshman year, Bob Papa was the sports director, so he got the ball rolling as I started to learn what FUV was all about. Later on during my time at Fordham, the legendary Marty Glickman came aboard to instruct us. I’m grateful to have known him.