By Jennifer L. Warren
FISHKILL – He’s known as “The Voice of the Hudson Valley.”
Since June 4, 1994, Carl Garofolo Jr. has been using his distinct vocals to deliver personalized and unique sports broadcasting coverage to the area with the show Hudson Valley Sports Talk. Holding the distinction of the longest-running sports radio show in the area, the Sunday morning conversational-style, chat format, covering seven counties, and whose reach spans all the way to New York City and past Albany, is celebrating its 25th year on air. It can be heard on WHVW 950 AM as well as four other signals (WBNR, WLNA, WGHQ AM and FM.)
The quarter of a century milestone is one Garofolo never imagined. Doing radio as a side gig to his full-time work, he has used his distinct New York City bred voice in an assortment of realms: voiceovers, commercials, and charity events over the years. However, he always dreamt of doing some sort of a sports talk show. When the opportunity arose, he pursued it wholeheartedly. Together with Tony Navarro and Carl Lindberg, the lively trio interviews coaches and athletes on the high school, college, semi-professional, professional, Special and Para Olympic and Challenger League levels.
Although the popular, Hudson Valley staple show centers upon athletes and coaches, that is just a small piece of its equation. Garofolo, who prides himself on using his voice to help others (he has a special place in his heart for charities and special athletes), has seen the priceless impact of the Show evolve over the years.
“This Show gives a lot of kids we have on it their first experience to know how to speak during an interview,” explained Garofolo, who was elected to the Sports Hall of Fame of Dutchess County. “Some have even come back after college and learned the business from us; also, many of the athletes we have interviewed over the years do very well in school, as their effort in sports goes hand in hand with the classroom.”
Evidence of that athletic-academic connection could be seen Sunday from 10-11 am (the regular slated time for the weekly broadcast) in the Fishkill-based studio. Garofolo and his team were interviewing two Millbrook High School lacrosse players (one former, the other present), along with their coach. Both student-athletes, spoke of their love for the sciences, one will be majoring in nursing at Mount Saint Mary College in the fall, while continuing his lacrosse career. The other, a high school junior, already has plans to pursue a career in computer technology. He not only exemplifies the hard work ethic of many of the young people interviewed, but the deep connections formed through the radio show; his twin sisters were former guests on the weekly show as well.
It’s that radio “family” that has blossomed from the Show that perhaps gives Garofolo, Navarro and Lindberg the most satisfaction. Many of the guests are the children, nieces, nephews or other relative of former people he and his team have interviewed, providing a special multi-generational bond. The Show has also featured professional athletes from New York Teams as well as Special Olympians. The level of play is secondary; it’s the person’s tale that matters. And those stories are plentiful; the show has a three-four month waiting list. People find a way, whether it’s e-mail, social media or a phone call, to become eligible to be a guest. Those selected to be interviewed are in addition to the “regular, annual” people, such as ones from Lap for Life and Hoops for Hope who appear. Although landing a spot on the once a week, hour long show can be a little competitive, everyone stands an equal chance.
“I will cover any sport, at any level, and at any time,” said Garofolo.
The rationale is simple.
“Yes, it’s a sport’s talk show, but it’s about people,” affirmed Garofolo. “It’s about what people do in their communities, how they contribute and who they are.”
Just like the guests he and his team feature each week, Garofolo and the show itself have their own amazing story, one that has earned them a rare accolade in the radio business. Not only do the three men interview local athletes and coaches, but they discuss, sometimes playfully argue and more often than not humorously banter about the happenings in the professional sport’s world. Sunday, lively discussion centered upon such topics as: The British Open Golf Tournament, the Finals at Wimbleton, the National Baseball League’s Pennant chase, as well as its trading deadlines. Local Hudson Valley sports updates and announcements are also provided. It all adds up to a very informative, fun time that has made a marked positive impact on thousands of lives, spanning countless miles over the last quarter of a century.
“This is a real milestone,” said Garofolo about the recent longevity honor of the Show. “To be able to do the same thing, and do it well, for 25 years is really big, and I’m just so grateful to be able to do it and have the people around me to make it all happen.”