A seasoned sports anchor, reporter and producer, Les worked for Denver Channel 4-KCNC-TV from 1984 to 1999. He then continued to cover sports at Fox-31 News. Shapiro started his career as a news writer/producer for KPNX-TV in Phoenix, Arizona and then worked as a sports anchor for WEEK-TV in Peoria, Illinois before coming to Denver.
When asked what he’s been up to lately besides dancing, Les said: “Currently, I am hosting an interview show on the Altitude Sports and Entertainment Network, and I am involved in a friend’s podcasting venture. I also emcee charity events and find prospective clients for my wife Paula’s specialty/promotional products business.”
Shapiro provides intelligent, frank opinions and sports facts without too much nonsense; and he is now ready to move on to his next endeavor. Les candidly admits that he’s bored and doesn’t feel like he’s working at his full potential. Les Shapiro is talented and highly-motivated and feels he can achieve at least one more “home run.”
Les, asYogi Berra put it: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” We know you live and breathe sports, so Batter Up! - Your next adventure is surely around the corner.
Let’s get right to the sports questions. What is your favorite sport? - One that you like to participate in? One that you love to watch? I closely follow the NBA and the NFL, but my real passion is baseball. Doesn’t matter who is playing, I’ll watch major league baseball, on TV or in person. I still like to throw the ball around. I also pick up a basketball and shoot hoops once in a while.
What is a moment in sports history that you will never forget? Two moments stand out for me, #1: I was covering hockey at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Watching the semi-final game between Canada and the Czech Republic was an amazing experience. The game went to overtime and then to a shootout. It was the most tension-filled sporting event I have ever witnessed. And I had a great view of it - I was standing along the glass watching it all unfold just a few feet in front of me.
#2: Was being on the field at the end of the game when the Broncos won their first Super Bowl (1998 against Green Bay). I still get chills when I recall the final play - John Elway, knowing the game was wrapped up, took the snap from center, immediately turned around and ran up-field, screaming, while holding the football in the air. You could see the pure joy and the sense of relief on his face.
What advice would you offer to a young person wanting to become a Sportscaster? Learn about sports, read as much as you can, learn to write and edit, get some real knowledge about television sports and how to do TV. Get as much practical experience as you can, learn how to time out a show, hone your craft, be good at what you do, and - never stop asking questions.
How has sports broadcasting/reporting changed? There are so many broadcast outlets now, and there just aren’t enough good people to go around - on-the-air or in management. So, the quality of the local product has suffered greatly. We’ve always had a number of “wanna-bes,” people who wanted to be on-the-air just to be on-the-air and reap the celebrity benefits. But those people were the minority. Now, with so many positions to be filled, those people are in the majority and it’s really diluted the on-air product.
Another big change is that many local stations are de-emphasizing local sports coverage. Basically, they are conceding the in-depth coverage of sports to the ESPNs and Fox Networks and Comcast regional networks. So, the sportscasts on your local affiliates are much shorter and lack depth. Many local stations treat sports as nothing more than a necessary evil right now.
What one word would describe your life right now? Unproductive. I don’t feel I’m doing enough. I’m used to being busy. I’m used to putting a lot of product on-the-air. I’m used to traveling to games, putting together stories and doing interviews on a daily basis. I’m not doing any of those things right now. I’m terribly unproductive and very bored.
What do you read or watch often to stay informed? I am a voracious reader. I read both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post every day - front to back. I also spend a lot of time reading on the internet. Depending on where the big story is on a given day, I will read many out-of-town newspapers on the net. I also read Sports Illustrated. As for TV watching, I make sure to catch at least one late-night version of ESPN’s SportsCenter and during the baseball season I religiously watch ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.
In what movie or TV show would you like to star in? I would like to call major league baseball games it wouldn’t matter if it were local or national. I’d also like a guest spot on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Much of the dialogue is ad-libbed and I think I could fit right in.
How would you describe your childhood? Did you play a lot of sports? I had a very happy childhood. Loving family. One brother, one sister. A dog. Constantly surrounded by wonderful aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. When I wasn’t at school, I was on the playground or in the street or in the backyard playing baseball, basketball and football. I grew up on a block with many boys my age and never lacked for friends or things to do.
What song always makes you want to get up and dance? The Jackson Five’s “ABC.”
What do you do to stay fit? I run outside or on a treadmill 3-4 days a week. About 3 miles each session.
Are you going to keep up with the dancing? Maybe. My wife and I have wanted to take dance lessons forever. We just want to know what we’re doing when we go to weddings, bar mitzvahs and charity events. Right now, we do the same moves we did in high school. We need some new moves!
Do you have a pet peeve? I hate slow drivers who stay in the left lane, drivers who don’t use their turn signals and people who throw cigarettes out their car windows.
Heavy traffic drives me CRAZY!
People who talk to me while I’m trying to read.
Poor listeners. (I’ve been accused of that, but I don’t listen to those critics.)
Who is the most interesting person you have ever met? Bill Clinton is bright beyond belief. Oozes charisma. Lights up a room. Unbelievably articulate. Also, Michael Jordan. I’m not that impressed with his intelligence, but he has a regal aura about him. Every time I’m around him, I feel like I’m in the presence of royalty.
What topic are you most opinionated about? Pro baseball and football. How to best raise a son. (I made many mistakes, and, hopefully, learned from them.)
What’s the best sports movie of all times? Bull Durham. It’s the most realistic. The dialogue, the grittiness of minor league baseball, the athleticism. Most sports movies are hardly believable because the stars are usually people with little or no athleticism. So, some major editing has to be done to make the athleticism believable. Unfortunately, it rarely is. I might have said Field of Dreams but there were some baseball inaccuracies that bothered me.
What do you think is the key to a good relationship: in marriage? And in friendship? It’s the same key in both situations. Communication. You need to talk to your spouse or your friend. Tell them what’s bothering you. Ask what’s bothering them. Plan together. Listen. Show affection, physically and verbally. Be there for them always. But mainly, communicate.
What’s in the future for Les Shapiro? I don’t know, but I hope it gets here fast. As I said, I am feeling terribly unproductive and bored. I would like to do more broadcasting. I would like to help Altitude become a better network. I would like to get more involved in business - preferably business that is sports or entertainment related. I love the idea of getting involved with a start-up and helping to build something. Now, all I have to do is find that something. I would like to learn how to play piano. I would like to become fluent in Spanish.
How do you want to be remembered by future generations? As a loving husband and father, a great friend and a talented broadcaster.
*Les has been the M.C./Host at many non-profit events. Here are just a few of them: The Lupus Foundation, AMC Cancer's “Men's Event at The Palm,” Make-A-Wish Foundation, Pink Ribbon Foundation, Fresh Start, Hyde Park's “Diamonds in the Rough,” Project Pave, National Jewish “Beaux Arts Ball,” Hospice of Denver’s “The Mask Project,” The Transplant Foundation, Colitis and Crohn's Disease, Juvenile Diabetes, and the Wildlife Experience.