In the weeks since the passing of Santa Monica College sportscasting instructor Lou Riggs, we’ve heard and read many of his former students reflect upon things they continue to learn from his teachings.
A memorial service today at SMC reflected on how Riggs’ commitment to the craft changed the lives of many who continue in sportscasting today. A column based on that gathering can be found here.
To get a taste of what impact Riggs had, we humbly pass on this reflection we received in an email correspondence with Dan Potash, a Beverly Hills High grad who has been an anchor and reporter with Root Sports in Pittsburgh covering the Pirates and Penguins since 2000:
“We first met in 1988, when I was a freshman at Santa Monica College. I was a student in his mass communications class. He quickly learned about my interest in sports and broadcasting and said I should take his Sportscasting class. I did … and was a repeat student for about two years — not because I kept failing the class, but because the class was so helpful.
“Where else could you get media credentials to the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers and Kings, sit in your own booth in the press box and do play-by-play on a tape recorder. It was great! When we would review our play-by-play material later in class and he would always say, ‘What’s the score? Someone who is just tuning in wants to know. You can never say the score enough!’
“That experience, combined with a solid internship at Prime Ticket and the old ‘Press Box’ show, and some time as a sports anchor for ‘West Side News’ on Continental Cablevision in Westchester, led to my first TV job. It was everything Lou said it would be — I just didn’t know it would be for $10,000 a year in West Virginia, at WDTV, the CBS affiliate in Clarksburg, WV. That was the summer of 1995.
“Lou had told me that I would be a one man band. I would need to shoot, write, edit, produce, report and anchor all my own material. He was right… .and I love it.
“He also told me that moving from L.A. to West Virginia would allow me to grow up as a person. Life in the big city was great, but following my dream far from home in a small town would really open my eyes. The ‘Master Jedi’ hit it on the head. I signed a one year contract in West Virginia, stayed for just over two years and it became a second home, and I am still close with many people who still live there.
“I could only survive on Pop Tarts and Top Ramen for so long, so I moved to WCIV, the ABC affiliate in Charleston, SC, in 1997, before arriving at Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh in 2000 — now Root Sports.
“Over the last 20 years I have done just about everything a sportscaster could dream of doing, and would still send material back home to Lou for his ‘approval.’ How could I not? He taught me everything, and you can always learn more.
“I know I am not the only one he helped, and I am sure other have some great ‘Lou’ stories to tell. He loved watching his students advance their career in the field of sports casting.
“I did reach out to him about three months before he passed — we spoke for about 30 minutes, and it was just like 1988 all over again. He was still teaching me, as a professor and a friend.”