Sports radio tradition continues at RiverSpring Living

WFAN, WEEI hold annual live broadcast for residents


Once a year, Major League Baseball broadcasters from sports radio stations WFAN, in New York City, and WEEI, in Boston, bring their expertise to RiverSpring Living listeners in person. The event, called Hot Stove Talk, is a highly anticipated one for the residents.

This year’s two hour long session took place last Friday afternoon. It was recorded live in front of the RiverSpring audience, and broadcast the following day on both stations.

Beth Grossfeld, RiverSpring’s assistant vice president of marketing, said she believed about 400 people listened throughout the day. Residents crowded into the communal art room were hanging on every word of the taping, clapping and cheering regularly and snacking on “game day” food provided by the senior living facility, which included hot dogs, Cokes in glass bottles, and ice cream in commemorative Yankees helmets.

The event featured four anchors, two from each station: John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, the Yankees broadcasters on WFAN, and Joe Castiglione and Will Flemming, the Red Sox broadcasters on WEEI.

On Hot Stove Talk, the discussion is of all things baseball. The anchors chatted, of course, about the longstanding Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, and their predictions for the upcoming baseball season.

Castiglione told a story about getting a phone call informing him that he would be receiving a special award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Castiglione, who has been announcing Red Sox games for 41 seasons, was selected as the 2024 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, given for excellence in broadcasting each year by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in upstate Cooperstown.

He laughed about receiving the phone call because, he said, he didn’t pick up at first, but when he saw that the call was coming from Cooperstown, he had his suspicions about who might be calling.

“They love it,” Grossfeld said of the residents’ interest in Hot Stove Talk. “They love that these announcers who they know and listen to all the time are here — and they’re here because they like our residents.”

The pandemic didn’t even get in the way of the event, though the RiverSpring staff had to be creative. Grossfeld said, the event was broadcast into residents’ rooms using the facility’s internal radio system.

According to Grossfeld, the broadcasters “know that it’s good for (the residents), and it gives them a sense of belonging. It’s something that they remember, and it’s so special.”

She added that she believed the strong support RiverSpring receives from WFAN is due in part to the care and services the facility provides, and the station is happy to be a part of the event.

Mark Zukerman oversees advertisement sales for the Yankees on WFAN — which, he boasted, is the number one sports radio station in the country. Zukerman said he believed that the partnership between RiverSpring and the station is due in part to “a natural synergy.” RiverSpring is in the Bronx, and the Yankees are in the Bronx.” It just makes sense, he said.

But RiverSpring also holds a special place in Zukerman’s heart. He brought his father to the facility a few years ago for rehabilitation.

“I just can’t say enough about the work they’ve done,” Zukerman said of RiverSpring’s dedication to caring for the elderly. “I’ve seen it firsthand with my own dad. I’ve seen it over the years through the relationship we’ve had with the Hebrew Home” — a separate facility on the campus.

Asked about WFAN’s commitment to the future of Hot Stove Talk, Zukerman insisted that everybody loves being part of it — anchors and residents alike.

“I love this atmosphere,” Castiglione said. “These people are a wonderful audience. They’re very attentive. They’re really into it.”

“I know that part of our job that is not publicized is to entertain and provide some light for the elderly and the shut-ins,” Castiglione added. “We have our obligation to those people, and to actually see those people who listen to us. It’s very rewarding.”

WFAN, WEEI, radio stations, sports, baseball, Yankees, Red Sox, John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, Joe Castiglione, Will Flemming, Beth Grossfeld, Hot Stove, RiverSpring Living,