Ironic timing for Goren
By David Shaw
Anyone who thinks it’s all rainbows and butterflies being named North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year should spend some time in Dave Goren’s world.
He’s currently unemployed.
“It’s the ultimate irony,” Goren said during the NSSA’s annual awards weekend. “I found out about the award after I’d been let go.”
Officially, Goren’s contract with Winston-Salem television station WXII wasn’t renewed in January, ending a 20-year on-air friendship with area sports fans. He checked out shortly after a Thanksgiving night broadcast.
“They let me go on the air to say goodbye in early December,” he recalled. “But it wasn’t a sportscast. I just said goodbye.”
And with it, a sports-crazy fan base lost ó at least for now ó a thorough reporter, meticulous editor and an insightful sports director.
Goren, named the station’s sports director in May of 2002, was essentially pushed out the door and sucker-punched by fate, a victim of media downsizing.
“If you think that you’re owed a job, you’re wrong,” Goren told the Winston-Salem Journal in December. “It’s their business, and I understand that. But I was very lucky to love going to work every day.”
It certainly showed.
For WXII, Goren enthusiastically anchored the 6 and 11 p.m. sportscasts and a popular high school football recap show on Friday nights. He’s traveled around the country and filed reports about Wake Forest and the ACC, professional auto racing, the Carolina Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes and an assortment of local events.
“What I love most is just getting out there and meeting people,” he said. “That’s the fun part of the job.”
Raised in Taunton, Mass. ó it’s closer to Providence than Boston ó Goren cut his teeth as a hometown sportswriter while still in high school but quickly realized there was more money in television. Later he attended the renown S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse. There he covered the school’s last-second loss to Indiana in the 1987 NCAA basketball championship game for his college radio station.
Goren bounced around after graduation, writing for a newspaper and working as a substitute teacher. In 1984 he was hired as a sports reporter for WJAR, an NBC affiliate in Providence.
“I liked to do everything,” he said. “But I had no interest in becoming an anchor.”
That opportunity presented itself once he landed at WXII in September of 1988. In time he gladly accepted a move to become the weekend sports anchor because “that’s when all the sports happens, anyway,” he explained.
Among his most challenging assignments, Goren recalled having to go on the air to report the death of former Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser in July of 2007.
“That week was probably the hardest week we’ve ever had,” he said. “I was asked if I felt comfortable going on the air and reporting it. His wife was driving to Cincinnati and didn’t even know yet. But it was leaked and was all over the air. The day he died felt like a 37-hour day.”
Years earlier Goren reported the death of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt from Daytona, Fla.
“We went live for an hour,” he said. “After you report what happened, what do you do? You start telling stories, things you remember. You start talking about Moonpies and RC Colas.”
The TV sportscasting industry has been feeling the pinch for a few years, recently illustrated when New York’s CBS affiliate dismissed two of its three on-air sports people. Goren, much like the rock poet Bob Dylan, didn’t need a weather vane to know which way the wind blew. His segments for WXII initially lasted 4 1/2 minutes.
“Now it’s down to 2 1/2, but you’re lucky if you get two,” he said. “Sometimes it’s one story and they’re gone. They put sports at the end of the newscast, so if somebody goes long, you’re the one who gets cut. And the newspaper business is worse off than TV.”
Even without a job, Goren remains an entertaining story teller and a valuable sports know-it-all. Most recently he’s worked as a spotter for Wake radio, but you hope there’s a happy ending to this story.
“Me too,” he said with a warm smile. “My benefits run out in two months.”
Even so, he’s the state’s sportscaster-deluxe for a reason.
“Yeah,” Goren cracked. “I have lots of friends with votes.”
And many others who wish they did.
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