Sportscasters recount Bob Wolff’s influence on their careers

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WFAN's Mike Francesa was one of many St. John's students who learned from Bob Wolff, who was also a professor there. WFAN's Mike Francesa was one of many St. John's students who learned from Bob Wolff, who was also a professor there.
Samantha Ryan, who now works at the MLB Network, also learned from Wolff. Samantha Ryan, who now works at the MLB Network, also learned from Wolff.
Mike Breen is the current TV voice of the Knicks,  a job Wolff once held. Mike Breen is the current TV voice of the Knicks,  a job Wolff once held.

Hall of Fame sportscaster Bob Wolff spent almost eight decades in the broadcasting business -- and while he was building his own career, other high-profile names in the business say he helped build theirs, too.

Wolff, a News 12 veteran, died Saturday. He was 96.

WFAN's Mike Francesa was one of many St. John's students who learned from Wolff, who was also a professor there.

"If you can be excited...and bring that energy and enthusiasm to it, you're going to have a great career," Francesa says. "And Bob did that every day."

Samantha Ryan, who now works at the MLB Network, also learned from Wolff.

"I'm nothing -- I don't have this career without his guidance," she says. Wolff was the first one to put Ryan on TV in the 1990s. She says he encouraged her and gave her self-confidence at a time when there were few female sportscasters.

"He believed in you as a person," Ryan says. "This was 20 years ago, when there were so many people who wouldn't give you a chance. I didn't feel that at News 12."

Mike Breen is the current TV voice of the Knicks,  a job Wolff once held.

"As a sportscaster and as play-by-play guy, he was a legend -- and that is an overused term: He was royalty," Breen says. "As a kind, wonderful man, he was the king."

Wolff also influenced the career of another famous sportscaster named Bob -- Commack native Bob Costas.

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