New Yorkers like their sports radio hosts loud, angry and well-versed.
Hosts are expected to know stats, minutae and off-the-field theatrics in encyclopedic detail, and they're expected to use their massive stockpiles of sports knowledge as ordnance, the better to yell at callers and co-hosts with.
So it was no surprise that out of more than 100 people who showed up to a WFAN contest in Port Chester Thursday night, only 24 of them were deemed knowledgeable enough to step behind the microphone.
Under the critical gaze of WFAN host Anita Marks and MC Matt O'Boyle, the two dozen hopefuls got two minutes each to prove they can carry a radio show on the country's biggest sports station. The winner gets a weekly, two-hour program on WFAN.
Hopeful applicants arrived early and filled out cards to enter the contest. Only a handful made it through the pre-screening and a series of random trivia questions.
The challenge couldn't have been held on a better night -- with beer flowing and wings at 60 cents apiece, it was the perfect recipe for screaming, ranting, and high-fiving masculinity.
Before the glaring lights and the attentive looks of the judges, the contestants calmed their nerves by bantering among themselves. With only two minutes to prove their sports talk chops, it became clear who would be moving on to the semi-finals in New Jersey, and who would be driving home defeated.
For some, getting to Port Chester was a hike. The contestants hailed from Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and New Jersey, fertile grounds for the disgruntled Met fans and Derek Jeter cultists who regularly call in to the station.
One eager applicant, Joel Mahan, trekked to Port Chester from Allenhurst, a Jersey Shore town about 70 miles south of Manhattan.
"It took me almost three hours, with traffic, to get here today," he said. "Now that's dedication."
Mahan said the hosts "really like to challenge you. They're fair, yet tough with their opinions, and they won't be afraid to say they don't agree with you in the competition.
"It's a lot like they do to people who call in to the station ranting about a particular sports event."
With 20-odd men screaming about batting averages and championship rings behind the scenes and in front of the stage, it was refreshing to see one woman among all that testosterone.
Marcia Herold is a bartender in Brooklyn, and said she's been a fan of sports her whole life— with season tickets to Yankee games. A friend encouraged her to try out, telling her an on-air job at the station is "her calling."
"I play fantasy football, and I am surrounded by men watching the games constantly in the bar where I work — I have nothing to lose," Herold said.
She nailed most of the trivia questions thrown her way, earning a spot in the next round of auditions. Herold said she didn't feel pressured to show off her knowledge of all things sports, and dismissed the notion that it takes obsessive memorization of stats and records to host a successful show.
"As long as you pay attention for awhile," she said, "you'll be able to keep up."
And keep up she did—at the end of the night, when the winners were announced, Her0ld was chosen as one of two people headed to North Brunswick for the next round of competition, proving strong opinions about football and baseball aren't just for guys.
As Herold calmly took it all in, the other winner walked on stage and held his hands up in victory, barking with excitement.
If you think you have what it takes, the next stop is this Saturday at Livingston Mall in Livingston, New Jersey. At 10am, sports devotees will have the chance to voice their opinions before hosts Matt O'Boyle and Anita Marks. Applicants must be 18 or older.