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Craig Heist Considering Next Move After Leaving WTOP

May 14, 2013

By Dave Hughes,

Sports reporter Craig Heist -- is he Baltimore or is he Washington, D.C.?

(Photo courtesy of WTOP Radio)
Born and bred in Essex, Heist went to Kenwood High School in Baltimore County and attended Salisbury State College (now Salisbury University), but he has spent many of his years working in the D.C. market. Until recently, he was doing sports reports for top-rated WTOP all-news radio.

"I'm a more D.C.-ish kind of guy, even though I was raised in Baltimore," said Heist, who lives with his wife, Suzanne, in Laurel, midway between D.C. and Baltimore. "And, yeah, some in Baltimore think I'm a traitor for going to D.C. But, you know, WTOP gets good ratings in Baltimore. I'll put our sports department up against any sports department at any station in the D.C.-Baltimore area."

Heist's career began during the early 1980s in Ocean City, where he covered local high school and college sports at WKHI radio.

"There's nothing better than going to a local high school gym and meeting parents who are thrilled that their kid's game is being covered by radio," Heist said.

While at the shore, he did play-by-play and color commentary for Salisbury State football, which included two playoff appearances and a trip to the Division III national championship game in 1986.

In 1988, Heist moved to the D.C. area, becoming the Baltimore-Washington correspondent for four national sports networks, including ESPN Radio and Sporting News Radio.

He also worked as an audio technician for the Voice of America's Radio Marti, which beams government-based broadcasts to Cuba.

Heist was based in D.C., and Radio Marti wanted to move him to Miami, but he didn't want to go, he said.

So, after 10 years of doing that, Heist moved to D.C.'s all-news WTOP radio in 1999 and covered both the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles.

"It is the greatest place that I have ever worked and ever will work," Heist said. "There wasn't a day that I didn't look forward to coming to work."

During his time at WTOP, Heist covered Baltimore Ravens football; 17 Super Bowls; 10 Major League Baseball All-Star games; the days former Oriole Cal Ripken tied and broke the MLB consecutive-games-played record (Sept. 5 and 6, 1995); and four no-hitters, including the Orioles' four-pitcher no-hitter against Oakland in July 1991.

Heist has also covered NBA playoff games, NHL playoff games, the Washington Wizards, the Washington Capitals, Georgetown University basketball games, and University of Maryland football and basketball games.

"Craig is a sports guy's sports guy," said Jim Farley, WTOP's vice president for programming. "He eats, lives and breathes it. He is passionate about being a sports guy, particularly when it comes to baseball."

Heist is a three-time winner of the Maryland Sportscaster of the Year award, which the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters presents annually.

But Heist decided to leave WTOP. The scuttlebutt was that he didn't quite see eye to eye with a new program director Farley had hired.

"It got to a point that I personally was not able to use my talents to the best of my abilities anymore," Heist said, preferring not to go into more detail about his departure.

Kevin Heilbronner, who worked for George Mason University's athletic department, said: "[Heist] is always working and a very familiar and pleasant voice on the radio. I worked alongside Craig many, many times in my 12 seasons working with WJZ. He was always smiling and hustling. It's a very thankless job and crazy hours. He is truly one of the good guys in the business."

Thom Loverro, who works for ESPN 980 radio and the Washington Examiner, said Heist was the most consistent, reliable, professional radio reporter he had ever seen in the business. One of the area's radio veterans, Michael Filippelli, also had good things to say about Heist.

"I worked with him at 100 KHI," Filippelli said, "and his professionalism and personality always was a part of his reports and fun banter."

Heist is currently freelancing for a variety of firms, including the Associated Press and other sports providers.

"I'm at the ballpark every night supplying audio feeds of baseball games," he said.

So, where will he wind up -- maybe a D.C. sports talker, or possibly in the sports department of a Baltimore TV station?

Although Heist said his first love was radio, he's done TV, too, including appearances on D.C.'s Fox 5 and Baltimore's Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

"I've had no discussions yet," Heist said. "I need to take a month to decompress."

Issue 185: May 2013