The Ohio State legend forms a broadcasting partnership with his daughter.
Maddie Spielman says she and her dad have a “unique” father-daughter relationship, and this is literally true. As far as I can tell, they comprise the only father-daughter sports radio team in the universe.
Her dad, of course, is Chris Spielman, who used to play linebacker at a local college and now talks for a living as a Fox Sports football analyst and co-host of a morning show at Columbus' newest sports-talk radio station, 105.7 The Zone. When he arrives at The Zone's West Fifth Avenue studio at the unholy hour of 6 a.m. every Monday, he's greeted not only by co-host Bruce Hooley, but by his own pride and joy. He doesn't need Take Your Daughter to Work Day; she's already there.
“Well, she's always been interested in sports,” Chris says when asked how he ended up doing a radio show with his 23-year-old daughter. Yeah, I guess when your dad was an All-American at Ohio State and played 11 seasons in the NFL, you might take a passing interest in sports. But this is more than just a gimmick—“Hey, wouldn't it be cute to bring Chris' pretty young daughter on the air?”—or blatant nepotism. Maddie (short for Madison) is serious about this as a career. Spielman Serious.
“We're very similar-minded,” Maddie says. Meaning, the discipline and professionalism that defined Chris as a player and a broadcaster is well-represented in his daughter. Maddie graduated from Ohio State with a degree in communications and, for a number of years, has been a spokeswoman for the breast cancer awareness fund the family started after the death of her mother Stefanie. She got her feet wet in sports journalism as a reporter on a show Hooley, a former Cleveland Plain Dealer sports writer who co-authored a book with Chris about Stefanie, hosted for Time Warner cable.
“Bruce kind of took her under his wing,” says Mike Elliott, The Zone program director. He and producer Matt McCoy first hatched the idea of pairing Chris and Maddie. “There's not a lot of female sports radio personalities in Columbus. In fact, there aren't any. And the last name doesn't hurt.”
“She's very smart, very knowledgeable” about sports, Hooley says. “She draws out a different side of Chris than I can, the human, funny side of Chris. We call them ‘Maddie and Chris moments.'”
“He embarrasses me on a daily basis,” Maddie says. “My dad makes it a point to get me at least once every day.” Sample: On one recent morning during a live show from the Memorial Tournament, Chris was late. “He's gonna be so salty when he gets here,” she says. “He is not going to like this parking situation.” When he does arrive, he tells Maddie, with just the slightest edge, “You look pretty today.” She fires back, “I just got out of bed. Chill.”
Chris is only on the show Mondays until football season starts, when he'll do multiple shows every week. For Maddie, it's a full-time gig, appearing five mornings a week with Hooley. But she loves having her dad around. “On the days when he comes in, I have an extra spring in my step,” she says.