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Week of 17 April 1998

Vol. I, No. 28

Feature Article

For a sportswriter's livelihood, anchor's a way

by Eric McHenry

When Joe Amorosino, Jr., accepted a sportscaster's position at WHDH TV last month, he realized a dream that had been driving him since the eighth grade.

Of course, that's not really such a long time. At 28 years of age, Amorosino (COM'92) is startlingly young to hold a position of such prominence in a media market of Boston's scale. As the third member of the sports staff at Channel 7, he is a full-time reporter and occasional sports anchor. His father, Joe Amorosino, Sr. (SED'66), is understandably proud.

"His mother and I are still on cloud nine," says Joe Sr. "It's quite an accomplishment, and it speaks well not only of our son, but of Boston University, because he's carrying the name."

Which is something Joe Sr. knows all about, having recently retired as director of community relations at BU. He worked in that office for nearly 12 years and had served for two as an assistant basketball coach.

"He coached under John Kuester," says Joe Jr., "and when Kuester left, my dad had the opportunity to go with him. But he chose to stay at BU because he liked the atmosphere, and he wanted to put us all through the school."

As a result, the entire Amorosino family has become something of a BU color guard. Joe Jr., the oldest, entered the University as a freshman in 1988. All three of his siblings have since earned bachelor's and master's degrees from BU and his wife, Tiffany (SMG'93), is also a graduate.

Joe Sr., who with his wife, Janice, now resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., calls BU "a great place to raise a family."

"When I started there as an assistant coach, the kids were all very young," he says. "I did my best to get them involved, brought them to a lot of events at the University, and when it came their turn to go to college, BU was the place they wanted to be."

Nor did their enthusiasm for the University wane when they became students.

"They took advantage of every resource," Joe Sr. says, "and all four of them have wonderful things to say about their experiences at Boston University."

Joe Jr. certainly does. He arrived at BU ready to begin making his eighth-grade aspiration a reality and found professors capable of helping him do so. He considers Norman Moyes, COM associate professor of journalism, a definitive influence because of his uncompromising approach to newswriting. Moyes encourages students to produce lively, distinctive text grounded in proper English mechanics, he says, and has no tolerance for the derivative or the sloppy. Joe Jr. also feels indebted to Sasha Norkin, COM associate professor of journalism, for teaching him the ins and outs of broadcasting.

"I had him in TV newsroom," Norkin recalls, "a class where students get a chance to try out the various roles of the professionals who produce news for television. Joe was always interested in being the sportscaster, strangely enough."

Although he was a rather taciturn student, she says, he was also consistently focused and dedicated to his work. And he had no trouble becoming animated at appropriate times.

"He always brightened up when the camera turned on," she says. "He'd sit there very quietly in class. He'd do his writing, go edit his tape, go about his business. But then he'd get on the set and his eyes would light up, and you could tell he was loving it.

"You just know some students are going to make it," she says. "He was one of those."

The strong work ethic of which Norkin speaks has continued to work in Joe Jr.'s favor since his graduation. His professors might have predicted great successes for him, but anyone familiar with broadcast news knows that forecasts aren't guarantees. Joe Sr. remembers his son in his first year out of college driving from station to station "banging on doors."

"It's a difficult field to break into," says Joe Sr. "Obviously, no one was coming after him. But boy, I'll tell you, the kid wanted it."

Joe Jr.'s persistence eventually bore fruit in the form of an internship at WPRI in Providence. That enabled him to do some sports producing for the first time in a professional setting, and he quickly parlayed his new credentials into a sports director's position at a small station on Cape Cod. After a year and a half, he returned to WPRI as a sports reporter and weekend anchor.

Coming to WHDH, he inherited the desk of John Dennis, a sportscaster whose style was one of Joe Jr.'s earliest influences. The job demands thorough coverage of the area's major sports draws -- the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, and all the major college teams -- and affords him leeway to pursue the occasional off-beat feature.

"For instance," he says, "tonight at six I'm doing a story on Bryan Edwards, who is the Massachusetts all-time leading scorer in high school boys' basketball. Now, 10 years later, he's a record producer in Boston. Stories like that are fun. You can be a bit more creative, fool with your writing, experiment."

Obviously, sports are a shared interest for the Joes. Since retiring from BU in June of last year, Joe Sr. has enjoyed some work as a basketball scout for the Charlotte Hornets and some occasional unpaid freelance work as a consultant to his son.

"From time to time when he's on the job, he'll call me up and use me as a resource," Joe Sr. says, chuckling. "All of a sudden the phone will ring at a weird hour: 'Dad, who was on that team?' 'What year did the Packers win this or that?' "

"I'm his expert on the old days," he says.