Voice of the Blue Demons Speaks Out

When WSCR's Zach Zaidman isn't hanging out at Halas Hall on the Chicago Bears beat, he can be found behind the microphone calling DePaul Blue Demons games on AM 670 radio. In this report, WeAreDePaul.com catches up with the voice of the Blue Demons as DePaul heads into a battle with his alma mater…

Growing up in Queens, New York, Zach Zaidman was destined to become a Big East broadcaster. "I was a huge Big East fan," said Zaidman. "I watched a lot of Syracuse and a lot of St. John's. I thought Billy Owens was a fantastic player. I was a big fan of Mark Jackson, Chris Mullins, Walter Berry, Malik Sealy, Derrick Coleman and all those guys."

Zaidman witnessed a decade of meteoric growth for the Big East conference during the 1980's. "It was a great time because there were so many competitive teams and there were just great coaches in the conference," Zach said. "You had Jim Boeheim, Lou Carnesecca, John Thompson, Jim Calhoun was just getting started at Connecticut, Rollie Massimino was at Villanova."

Zach's passion for Big East Hoops led him down his current career path. "I don't know exactly what age I was when I came to the realization that I would not grow into Patrick Ewing's height," remarked Zaidman. "At that point, I kind of realized that the next best thing was to be involved in another way and broadcasting was it for me."

With broadcasting as his goal, Zaidman packed his bags for upstate New York and Syracuse University. "I chose to attend Syracuse because I grew up listening to Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Ian Eagle, those guys," Zach recalled. "It was just the place to go if you wanted to do what I do, Syracuse is the Harvard for the sports broadcasting profession."

If you listen to Zaidman carefully, you can hear a little bit of broadcasters like Albert in him. "I think I took a little bit of Marv Albert, I was a big Knicks fan growing up, and little bit of Ian Eagle, who is the broadcaster for the New Jersey Nets," Zach observed. "Mike Breen who does the NBA on ESPN is another guy. Bob Costas was another one, just because of how smooth he was."

Zaidman took over as the play-by-play man on DePaul radio broadcasts in December, 2005 when Ron Gleason moved on to other responsibilities. Zaidman barely missed a beat due to his relationship with Gleason. "I do owe a lot to Ron," Zach said. "Working with Ron on the Bears broadcasts, I befriended him. He helped me ease the transition as I replaced him. It was a very smooth transition I like to think."

Zaidman was excited to have the chance to call DePaul basketball. "I know how big DePaul is in Chicago," Zach acknowledged. "At the time they were moving into the Big East, it was just a fantastic opportunity. I'm thankful that everything worked out."

Zach's partner on the broadcasts is former Blue Demon center Dave Corzine. Corzine, who also played in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, provides the color commentary and analysis during games.

The two were separated for awhile last season while Corzine sought treatment for throat cancer. Their separation made for a happy reunion. "Last year, when Dave missed a month, it was before the Villanova game on the road, I hadn't seen him in awhile. He saw me, and I saw him, and he started talking and I heard his voice for the first time in a while. He gave me this big hug. I don't think he realized at the time just how powerful of a man he is, knowing that hurt a little bit."

Zaidman and Corzine travel with the Blue Demons on the road and have been to locales from Maui to Puerto Rico over the last few seasons. Traveling with the team gives Zach an insight into the team and the coaching staff that very few get to see. "Listening to Jerry Wainwright unplugged," Zaidman called it. "I think any time you get a chance to spend time with the coach and just watching him work a room. Watching how he can relate to someone who's 65 years old, to someone who's 40, to someone who is a student at DePaul, to someone who is eight years old and how he can make that person feel like they are the most important person in the world and yet relate to them at the same time. That's a rare skill."

Just as important as Zaidman and Corzine, are the people that work behind the scenes to make each broadcast happen. "It's everybody around the university that helps put the broadcast together, it's more than just myself and Dave," Zach shared. "They help make me look very good when we do the radio. (DePaul Sports Information Director) Scott Reed does an outstanding job of giving me information. I can't tell you the hours that we spend talking and going back and forth in terms of all the different nuggets that we use during the broadcast. It's a fun team and it's more than just the people we hear on the air."

During the 2005-06 season, Zaidman called the Big East conference game between Syracuse and DePaul at Allstate Arena. The Blue Demons handed the Orange a 108-69 crushing defeat.

"That was an unbelievable game because it was one of those weird coincidences where every outlet that was broadcasting the game that day had a Syracuse alum as the play-by-play guy," Zach remembered. "Dave Pasch was doing it for ESPN at the time. Matt Park was the voice of the Orange. It was a big thrill, because as a play-by-play guy you couldn't ask for a better start than the Blue Demons had. It seemed like they couldn't miss in that game. During the first commercial break, I'm looking at Dave and Matt, and they're looking at me. We were all thinking the same thing. I don't think we've every seen Syracuse look that poorly that I can remember under Boeheim. It turned out to be a record low game for Boeheim."

"That was an unbelievable game for DePaul. The amazing thing was it showed the country what the Blue Demons could do with the combination of Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler."

"Right after that, Syracuse went on and lit it up in the Big East tournament and had a tremendous run where (Gerry) McNamara had those dramatic threes. So, it worked out well for both schools."

Unfortunately for Zaidman, when the two schools tip the ball on Wednesday night at Allstate Arena, Zach will be in Arizona covering the events leading up to Super Bowl XLII. "It stinks," Zaidman expressed. "There's nothing that I consider more fun than calling a DePaul vs. Syracuse game other than maybe Marquette or Notre Dame. I'm going to miss it. I have to cover the NFL. That's what I'll be doing this week."

Besides being fun, Zaidman find his job with the Blue Demons rewarding. "It's the opportunity to watch these kids grow. I think that's one of the cool things about being at DePaul and watching Coach Wainwright work with these kids and seeing how they continue to develop. For example, the 2-7 start and the way they've rallied to this point. It's two completely different teams. It just shows you that he's the type of coach that can adjust. It makes it a lot of fun to call these games, because the style of play DePaul runs is definitely something that makes it worthwhile."


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