Jeremy Conn's camaraderie with host serves him well on 105.7 The Fan
By Nelson Coffin
Northeast Booster Reporter|
Apr 28, 2016 | 9:37 AM
In March of 2010, Jeremy Conn was facing as much uncertainty in his professional life as were the beleaguered Baltimore Orioles, who would fall to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, on opening day and go on to lose 95 more times that season under three different managers.
Conn's career was also in flux, and he was thinking that his radio broadcasting career might be coming to a swift and unceremonious end.
Instead, he discovered a gig that has made him a fixture on the Baltimore airwaves at WJZ-FM (105.7 The Fan) as a co-host of the Scott Garceau Show.
Although the Perry Hall resident had his own nightly sports talk show and was producing another one at the station, Conn was being courted by a competitor promising a hefty raise and a better time slot.
Just as it looked like he would score his biggest professional triumph, the rug was pulled out from under him when the competitor yanked the offer off the table, leaving Conn to contemplate a future outside the radio business.
Sports radio is growing nationally and holding its own in Baltimore. With an abundance of regular callers, sports talk radio can feel like a close-knit neighborhood — albeit a homogeneous one in which the residents are nearly all wisecracking men. It's a winning formula.
"I went home to tell my wife and I was almost in tears," said Conn. "It sounds corny, but I love what I do so much that I was devastated."
Because he hadn't given his notice that he was leaving 105.7 The Fan before the contract fiasco, he was still available when needed as a fill-in host on other shows.
And that's when his luck changed.
Even though it wasn't couched as an audition per se, Conn was asked to co-host Garceau's show one afternoon (it airs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday) and the odd-couple camaraderie between them became immediately apparent to the station's management.
"It was the day that Anquan Boldin was traded to the Ravens, so I'll never forget it," said Conn, 36, who is married and whose sons, Dalton and Peyton, attend Perry Hall Middle School. "There was a lot going on, but we were having a lot of fun. Scott and I were riffing on the air. I was making him laugh and he was making me laugh. It was great."
Halfway though his next fill-in shift of the popular program, Conn was presented with a contract to stay on the job. He's been with the show ever since.
"Here I was, getting ready to maybe leave the business, and then I get a contract instead," Conn said. "It's funny how things work out sometimes. I've been very lucky."
Growing up in eastern Baltimore County before playing basketball and football at Harford Tech, he then attempted to become a walk-on for the Towson University basketball team before leaving the school in his first semester.
Shortly thereafter, Conn was prodded by friends to give radio sports talk a try because of his deep knowledge of major professional and collegiate sports.
Much of his good fortune has come through perseverance and hard work, first by climbing the ladder through a succession of jobs at WNST 1570. He started as an unpaid intern and moved his way up to being an engineer and, eventually, a sports talk show host.
"In all honesty, I came from nothing, so the name-thing doesn't bother me," he said. "I get just as much joy talking on the air no matter what they call it."
After all, Garceau, who was a television sports broadcaster for 28 years WMAR and the play-by-play voice of the Ravens for their first 10 years with color analyst and longtime sidekick Tom Matte, has a higher name recognition after working in the Baltimore radio and television market for 36 years.
Conn's admiration for Garceau runs deep.
"I've learned so much from Scott," Conn said about his co-host. "He's a Baltimore legend. If anyone has the right to be a jerk, it's him, because he's been in the business so long. But he's genuinely nice to everyone."
The pairing of the polished and professional Garceau bonding with Conn's quirkier style has been a big hit with listeners.
"We're No. 1 in the market," said Conn. "Our ratings have never been higher." According to Gorki Delossantos, U.S. media communications director for the Nielsen Co., the company "does not provide ratings information for stations or individual programs. We provide share info through our Nielsen Topline website."
On that website, WJZ-FM is the runaway leader in the all-sports category list in the Baltimore market, dwarfing its sister WJZ-AM that mostly airs syndicated nationally-oriented shows.
The area's other all-sports station, WNST, is not even charted on the Nielsen list.
WJZ-FM owes its popularity to its broadcasters, like Conn and Garceau, knowing the ins and outs of the most popular local teams, such as the Ravens, Orioles and Terps.
The co-hosts' personalities are also a big part of the mix.
In the case of Garceau and Conn, their on-air connection came quickly.
"I was always comfortable with Jeremy," Garceau said, noting that he had known Conn when he produced Garceau's show with former co-host Anita Marks. "I knew that he was funny and entertaining. Plus, he's a walking sports encyclopedia."
Gerald G. Altman Jr., known to generations of Baltimore radio talk show listeners as "Gerry from Pikesville" who gave voice to various liberal and progressive causes, died Monday of heart failure at Northwest Hospital. He was 92.
Their show does not feature a lot of screaming and yelling, unless, of course, they field a call from "Giusuppi," who was greeted last week by Conn with a long, loud and drawn out rendition of the caller's name.
Other regular callers, including "Elkton John" and "Bob from Parkville," know that the response to their questions or comments will be answered without a lot of histrionics and with much friendly banter.
"A lot of guys scream, rant and rave," Garceau said. "That's just not our style."Garceau said that he sometimes has to bring the conversation back to within the boundaries of propriety when Conn is about to veer over the edge.
"I have to remind Jeremy that the 'childrens' — an in-joke term they use at such times — might be listening," he said. "That kind of reels him back in."
Conn appreciates the mild reproach and accordingly defers to his co-host."Since the beginning, Scott has had my back," he said.
"We have each other's backs," he said. "A lot of times co-hosts feel like they're competing with each other, but that's not the case with us. We may disagree on something, but we've never had an argument."