By Josh LaBella
By painting a picture in the theater of the mind, George DeMaio said he used his skills to teach student’s history and to highlight high school athletics.
DeMaio was born and raised in West Haven. He spent his childhood and adolescence playing basketball, baseball, soccer and, occasionally, football. Sports have always been very important to the broadcaster and radio host, as they are for many West Haven residents.
“I was honored my senior year by being named athlete of the year in 1966,” said DeMaio. “In fact, in December of last year, I was inducted into the West Haven Hall of Fame.”
After graduating high school, DeMaio said he went on to study elementary education at Southern Connecticut State University. When he finished his degree in 1970, he applied for and got a 5th grade teaching position at Thompson School. He said it was an ominous beginning.
“That particular year, being so pumped up to get my first teaching job, they went on strike,” said DeMaio. “So, I had to wait two weeks before I actually started my teaching career. I actually picketed with the teachers. That’s how I met them.”
DeMaio said he taught at Thompson for four years before leaving to work various jobs including one at Southern New England Telecommunications, a telecommunications company. It was during this time, while DeMaio and his wife were raising their two sons in East Haven that his friend Ralph Solli told him about a sportscasting job opening at KC101.
The broadcaster said he had done some play-by-play broadcasting on the town’s community access show. According to DeMaio, he recording a sports report in one take, and sent it in. He said he was notified soon after that his final interview would be a live sports report on the station.
When he walked into the station, DeMaio said he was wearing his championship jacket from coaching East Haven mini basketball. He said they jokingly told him that if he got the job, they would call him “The Coach,” the name stuck.
The broadcaster went into the studio and did his broadcast from memory, without notes. He said he got a call later that night informing him he was hired. DeMaio said he was always fascinated by sports broadcasting, citing the famous New York Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen as one of his influences.
“When I was a young kid, even in elementary school, whenever I played sports, I always did play-by-plays of the game,” he said. “Don’t ask me why.”
DeMaio worked part time at the radio station while also working at SNET. In 1985 he became a full-time employee of KC101. He said his skill in broadcasting comes from knowing and loving the whatever sport he is covering and by “doing his homework” on both teams playing.
“I think the one thing I’ve told people who tell me they want to do [sports broadcasting] is you have to make your game, the game your broadcasting, the best game ever played,” said DeMaio. “No matter what the teams are and what the score is. If you don’t, why would they [the audience] listen?”
The Coach said a good radio broadcaster paints a vivid picture in the mind of the listener. He said
During his tenure at KC101 and his current station WELI, DeMaio has grown his programming to cover men and women’s basketball and hockey as well as baseball, softball and football. He said he enjoys covering high school sports and has turned down higher paying job offers. He never wanted to move around, he said, and always thought it was important to highlight high school athletes.
“The kids love it. The parents love it,” said DeMaio. “The aunts. The uncles. The grandparents. It’s a place for them to listen and hear about their kids. That’s what it’s all about.”
DeMaio said he covers over one hundred games a year and is adding more to his schedule this year and in 2020. He described his job as “a lot of work” but added that he has “a lot of fun.”
From 1994 to 2008, DeMaio went back to part time as a radio host while he taught middle school social studies in East Haven. He said he brought the same type of energy he used in coaching and broadcasting to the classroom.
“I get into it,” he said. “I want to make social studies, which can be boring, exciting. They played games. I made contests. If there was something else I could have done [in life] I would have been a gameshow host. When I go and cover a big game, I want to have fun. And, I wanted my kids to have fun in the classroom.”
Looking to the future, the Coach said he thinks he will know when it’s time to retire – but that time has not come. DeMaio said he still enjoys the work he does. When he does retire, he wants to travel around the country with his wife and dog to visit the Major League Baseball stadiums.