I’m not gonna lie – I always tend to feel bad for the sports guys in this town. I mean – I’d imagine it can be quite a drag after a while. But, Channel 7 Sports Director, Joe Buscaglia doesn’t want our sympathy; he is on cloud nine covering sports in his hometown.
We caught up with him recently for a Spotlight Interview – and talked Harry Potter, who’ll win a championship first – Bills or Sabres – and yes, what makes him Totally Buffalo?
Q: Tell us a bit about you – I mean aside from the Harry Potter love you seem to cherish? ?
A: Well, I do love me some Harry Potter, and you can tell a lot about a person by which house they’re sorted into. I’m a Slytherin by trade, but don’t go jumping to conclusions. Slytherins are a seriously misunderstood people that got a bad rap from Voldemort — but I digress. Honestly, I’m a pretty simple guy and the littlest things make me happy. With whatever I immerse myself in, I get to nerd levels, whether it be the NFL Draft, Harry Potter knowledge, my weird obsession with knowing almost every single mascot of every Division I basketball school, and really, having spreadsheets for just about everything. I have a wonderful girlfriend that loves me and encourages me to be a nerd in whatever way I see fit. My parents live in Florida, even though they’re from Buffalo, and my brother lives down in Florida with my sister-in-law and niece. I try to see them at least once a year. Other than all that, I help coach a high school freshman basketball team in the area and I try to play basketball as much as I can. And I love helping people just starting out in the business — because I’ve been there. I started as an intern over at WGR just hoping for a chance, and someone believed in me enough to take a chance on me. If someone takes the time and effort to reach out, I love going for a cup of coffee and talking with them about what they want to do and giving a helping hand in whatever way I can. And socks…. I love crazy socks. My sock drawer is akin to an exploded color wheel. All that said… yeah, I’m a pretty basic dude.
Q: You’re a Buffalo guy, covering Buffalo sports. Should I start with an, I’m so sorry?
A: Covering Buffalo sports — especially the Bills — gives the feel of working in a big market without working in a big market. It really is true. That sensation is the perfect storm of almost two decades of fan anxiety and being fed up, along with the incorporation of social media into our normal sports viewing practice. I can’t tell you a lot of other places around the country that will click on, and debate you, about a fourth-string cornerback signing the Bills are thinking about making. It really is unique, and such a wonderful place to grow as a sports journalist. At the ripe age of 30, this will be my eighth full year covering the Bills full-time, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’ll never take this job for granted, no matter how many years I do it.
Q: Seriously, have you always been a sports guy?
A: Yes, I most certainly have. I grew up playing every sport imaginable: football, basketball, baseball, tennis, street hockey, dodgeball. And when I wasn’t playing sports, I was either creating tournaments in my mind with my collection of sports cards (and doing the play-by-play as I actively simulated said games with a marble and either paper bases or a paper hoop) or creating my own mode on sports video games growing up. I still turn into my 8-year-old self with a smile I can’t control while watching a great game unfold.
Q: Who gets a championship first – Bills. Or Sabres?
A: I’ll go with the Sabres, only because the path has been established. They have Jack Eichel, they have some solid pieces around him, and now they have a GM that knows how a winning organization is built. With the Bills, they have some talent, but they’re pretty close to having to turn over a lot of different positions due to age, and they still don’t have a Super Bowl caliber quarterback — unless Tyrod Taylor turns the corner this year. As of right now, I’ll go with the Sabres.
Q: Do you think the Bills can make the playoffs with Russ Brandon a part of the organization? I have to ask….
A: I do. Russ Brandon is no longer a part of the football decision making over at One Bills Drive — at least not from everything that I know to be true. This is now the Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane show. Russ Brandon is an incredibly accomplished marketing and businessman, and the Pegulas trust him with both organizations because he is so successful. Some fans are hung up about him even still being employed by them, but he’s not influencing football decisions anymore. A lot has changed over in Orchard Park in the last few months.
Q: I was super bummed when Fred Jackson left the Bills, any players you didn’t want to leave?
A: There are some really good people over the years that you remember that just fell victim to the business and teams needing to move on. Some of them that were really nice people in the locker room from the past were, in no particular order: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson, Andra Davis, Arthur Moats, Jarius Byrd, Rian Lindell, and Garrison Sanborn. And there are more than that, but those are just a few I can recall right now.
Q: Lets switch gears. Now, I need a little explanation – I heard something about Ryan Fitzpatrick making fun of some super tight pants you used to wear? What is the deal?
A: Haha, oh, Fitzpatrick always liked to put me on blast on the radio when he was here. He’s referring to the skinny jeans that I wear, and I still wear that style of jeans to this day. I’m a tall and slim dude, and I prefer the tighter-fitting clothes. So, Fitzpatrick took it upon himself to make fun of this fact on the air when I wasn’t even there to defend myself. He’s a pretty funny guy that pulls hijinks on a lot of different people. I encourage the good-natured ribbing. I had a good laugh about it. It’s all in good fun.
Q: Do you think a new stadium should go downtown? Or somewhere else? Or stay in OP?
A: I think it should go downtown. With all the new buildings downtown and the way it’s been built up recently, it just feels like that’s the way things are trending. Perhaps I’m reading the tea leaves incorrectly, but, I think downtown makes the most sense considering the momentum we’ve seen down there over the past several years now.
Q: Favorite Bill ever?
A: Well, I’m not a fan of the team, so I’ll go with the person that was just a real genuine guy, and I think I’ll take the late, great special teams coach Bruce DeHaven. I like the St. Louis Cardinals and he was a humongous Cards fans, so as soon as we found out about the connection it was chatter every single day. I even remember him just sitting by himself at Ted’s reading the newspaper, just with a big smile on his face. And, even when he was working down in Carolina after his most recent tenure with the Bills wrapped up, he somehow found out I had gotten the new job at WKBW, and he sent a handwritten note to congratulate me. Bruce DeHaven was one of the good ones… just a great, great man.
Q: You’ve done radio and TV – what’s the best and worst part of each?
A: Radio was a wonderful place to start and it will always have such a big place in my heart. The immediacy of radio, and developing your voice and really hearing yourself making progress is such a great way to grow up in this industry. It helps you learn how to ad-lib and lose all nerves in doing so. The worst part of radio was playing the waiting game for a full-time job. I started at WGR in 2008 as a spring semester intern, was hired part-time immediately following it, and proceeded to balance part-time work on nights and weekends with a full-time job as a bank teller. Eventually, in July of 2010, I landed the full-time job that I so coveted — and coincidentally, that was the first full-time on-air job that opened up there since I started interning in 2008. It was well worth the wait, and I wouldn’t give up the journey I’ve had for anything. It really gives you a deep appreciation for the job, and I don’t think I’ll ever lose that love because of the initial struggle. Television is great because there are so many different things you can do, and in sports especially, your creativity will never get bored if you keep challenging yourself. The worst part of television is lugging around all the gear, haha — but you can’t do all those creative things without the necessary components to create it!
Q: What makes you Totally Buffalo?
A: I’ve lived here for 28 of my 30 years, I’ve grown up here, I’ve grown as a person here, I’ve seen the city grow, and I couldn’t be happier to be where I am. Somehow along the way, someone thought I was worth a shot to do what I loved, and I will never let the novelty of the ‘job’ of covering sports subside. It still blows my mind that people care what I have to say about their favorite team, and nothing brings a smile to my face more than when somebody stops me and says hello. After all, that’s what Buffalo is all about — a tight-knit community that is unlike most other cities around the country.
Follow Joe on Facebook and on Channel 7! Thanks for your time, Joe!
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