He has covered major stories including Superstorm Sandy, 9-11 and now, the Coronavirus.
And today, he is doing it all from the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, New York City.
Steve Scott graduated from Escalon High School, Class of 1979, and now works at WCBS Newsradio, AM 880, in New York City. He is among a handful of staff members still physically going to work at the station, commuting from his home in Jersey City, New Jersey for his morning news anchor duties.
“More than 90 percent of our staff is working remotely,” Scott explained, adding that “it just kind of worked out that way” for him to be the morning anchor still coming to work as he lives about 10 minutes away from the station, just across the state line on the Hudson River.
He shares the duties with a co-worker, who is broadcasting from his home out in western New Jersey, as opposed to the station. They alternate hours on the air for the most part, although they also occasionally share the microphone during the morning shift.
Many of the advertising personnel, support staff and reporters are working from home, Scott said.
“In what is normally a very bustling newsroom, I see four people scattered around,” he said one day this past week.
He said that the staff is “stretched very thin” and everyone is working hard to make sure they continue to get important news and information to their listeners in the heart of the city.
The whole situation has an eerie feel to it, the anchorman said.
“It looks a little apocalyptic,” Scott admitted of looking out the windows of the studio at the streets down below. “In a city of eight-and-a-half million people, you don’t see anybody.”
He also said that while there is other news happening, most of what stations in New York City are covering is coronavirus related.
Case in point, he noted a deadly fire that claimed four lives in an apartment complex that got very little air play, something that normally would have been the lead story.
So far, his health has remained good and Scott is taking all the suggested precautions, wearing a mask outside, practicing social distancing, and the like. His wife gets up with him in the morning – typically before 3 a.m. – to drive him in to work and then picks him up after his shift so he doesn’t have to take public transit.
“So far it’s working well,” Scott said. “I go in (starting his on air shift at 5 a.m.), I anchor an hour, then my co-anchor in New Jersey does an hour, I am on again from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.”
They alternate the ‘morning drive time’ hours, with his co-anchor on from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Scott returning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Then, he does some news gathering and interviews for the next day’s broadcasts. While he is not on the air, he works at “freshening up” the copy of the stories to bring a new angle the next time he uses it on the air.
“The morning goes by pretty fast and we’ve got it pretty much figured out,” he said of the new routine. “We do talk back and forth on air sometimes as well, even though he is 50 miles away. It’s pretty seamless.”
A graduate of San Jose State after completing high school in Escalon, Scott started his career in radio in the early 1980s. He moved to Chicago in 1986 and worked for a few different stations, spending 20 years there. In 2006, he went to WCBS in New York City.
“My first day here was September 11, 2006,” he said, the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Scott said he was involved in band and tried sports at EHS, though he was cut from the sophomore basketball team by the late Mike Backovich. Though tall, he said he wasn’t that good an athlete, and when he was cut from the team he instead became the PA announcer … starting him off on what would turn out to be a career path.
He also has good memories of teacher and coach Steve French – for whom he did play basketball – and said his early work as the PA announcer for the Cougars, coupled with his college education and experience, led him to stints as PA announcer for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. Previous experience included working at the 1984 Olympics and broadcasting San Jose State basketball games.
Now, though, he is focused on helping keep his listeners up to date and making sure he and his family and friends get through the coronavirus safely.
“Before we go outside, we put on our masks, our gloves,” Scott said. “It’s really kind of a strange experience and a little bit scary. I think now even the naysayers are taking it seriously.”