Dave Leno, 29, is one of Philadelphia’s emerging sports broadcasters.
Viewers can see him calling ESPN college basketball, where several of his assignments have included Temple University, and as pregame and postgame host of the Philadelphia Union’s Major League Soccer broadcast on 6ABC and PHL17. He also has filled in as play-by-play for several Union games and handled on-field ceremonies for the team.
A native of Richboro in Bucks County, both Leno’s voice and face have appeared on the world feed at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, voicing highlights throughout the event, college football on the streaming outlet ESPN3 and its app, Villanova University football and basketball.
His grandfather, Harry Band, is a Holocaust survivor and Leno’s Jewish pride is a major part of his life and work.
Q: When did you first want to become a sports broadcaster?
A: I first thought I wanted to do this back in Hebrew school [he attended Ohev Shalom of Bucks County]. I liked sports and played a lot of them and still play tennis. Then, at my Bar Mitzvah, in my speech, I told the crowd I had aspirations of being a rheumatologist, but what you decide to do changes. I had a lot of support from friends through my high school days at Council Rock South, many of whom are still supportive today. It’s been a great group, starting with Hebrew school.
Q: Where did you first do a lot of sports broadcasting?
A: After Council Rock South, I went to Indiana University, where I got my start on national television on the Big Ten Network, where I did basketball sideline reporting and called Olympic sports. I was taught by some great people in Bloomington and I got an idea of how the business worked and what I would have to in order to establish myself. My pop-pop always told me to remember my Jewish upbringing and instilled how important it is to grow up in a Jewish home and always strive to achieve your dreams. IU had a lot to offer for a Jewish student in facilities and an excellent [Born] Jewish Studies program. It was easy to feel at home there if you are Jewish.
Q: Is there a lot of Jewish support in the industry?
A: There certainly is and has been now and through the years. It’s really a brotherhood among the Jewish broadcasters, as we all share the same upbringing in our respective way. There is a camaraderie, and we always compare notes about what we are doing and people we meet. A few years ago, I was doing radio for a minor league indoor football team in Trenton, and met Gene Kolber, whose daughter is Suzy Kolber of ESPN. He was very encouraging and suggested to the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis that I would be an excellent on-court announcer and emcee at their matches. That led to work with the New York Empire of WTT. Gene is a great guy, a mensch, who has helped a lot of us.
Q: Why are you taking a short break from broadcasting?
A: Victoria [Tori] Cramer and I got married on New Year’s Eve. We got engaged in June. I asked her to marry me in the 6ABC news studios with help from their staff I know from the Union. She accepted. We’re just two Council Rock kids who are madly in love. We went to elementary school, middle school and high school together, never dated. Then we were reacquainted at a beach party a few years ago and that was all she wrote. We certainly had a Jewish wedding ceremony with a ketubah and I broke the glass, and we’ll certainly have a Jewish home. It’s important to us. I’ll be back on ESPNU Jan. 15, calling Davidson at St. Joe’s.
Q: What is the most important advice you can give anyone entering your industry?
A: Always believe in yourself. Always take pride in yourself. l
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