Arizona Wildcats Fan Spotlight: Tony Berlin has lived his dream in a way he didn’t expect


Not many broadcasters can say they have been able to interview their idol during one the most historic times in Arizona Wildcats basketball history. Tony Berlin can.

Photo Cred: Toni Berlin
Photo Cred: Toni Berlin /

ZonaZealots writers are huge Arizona Wildcats fans, but it doesn’t compare to some of our readers, today we interviewed former Arizona basketball recruit (well kind of) and broadcaster Tony Berlin.

Growing up in Tucson Berlin was born a Wildcat! He played ball at Amphitheater High School in the 1980’s when Lute Olson was starting to put Arizona on the college basketball map.  Even though he feels he had no business playing D1 college hoops, he says he was a “slow 6’3’’ but a decent jump shot” type of player, he sent Olson a letter his freshman year asking him to consider recruiting him.

That took a lot of guts but shows just how much he wanted to be a Wildcat and be associated with the team. Little did he know he would eventually be on the other side of the microphone from Lute one day, and during the most storied times in Arizona Basketball history!

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He was very kind, wrote Berlin back and gave him a polite ‘no way kid!’   Today he lives with his wife and two young daughters in Northern New Jersey on the Hudson River across from New York City. He is a former TV reporter and producer with CBS News (in the Twin Cities and NYC) and currently runs boutique public relations agency promoting mostly financial experts.

One of Berlin’s favorite Wildcats is former Sabino Sabercat and NBC Sports Golf broadcast journalist Dan Hicks, “He’s a class act and very talented,” said Berlin.

Photo Cred: Toni Berlin
Photo Cred: Toni Berlin /

Zona Zealots feels each and every follower is special, and we enjoy highlighting Huge Wildcats fans, we reached out to Toni Berlin to answer a few questions about his favorite team!

ZZ: STUDENT/ALUMNI Status – Are you an Arizona Alumni? What is your favorite place to eat or go out in Tucson?

Berlin:  I left Tucson and graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles (I ended up playing D3 hoops there). But that didn’t stop me from catching the Cats when they were in town at Pauley Pavilion and the Sports Arena (pre Galen Center).  As for Old Pueblo cuisine — hands down – my favorite place to eat is Mi Nidito in South Tucson.

ZZ: Do you attend any Arizona games in person when they are in or close to your home town?  If so which sport? How far would you travel to see the Wildcats Play?  

Berlin:  Even though I have moved away from Tucson – every time I head home to see family during the hoops season I make it a point to see a game. Just last winter I caught the UNLV and Long Beach State games at McKale with my step dad!

Photo Cred: Toni Berlin
Photo Cred: Toni Berlin /

The “new” McKale that Sean Miller built is truly an amazing arena!  I’ve also caught the Cats over the years in different NCAA games and venues. The most amazing and heartbreaking — our 2001 run to the Final Four and title game against Duke. I was in the Metrodome when we lost to the dreaded Blue Devils!

ZZ: If you can’t go in person to games, is there a specific local establishment or sports bar you go to watch the games?  

Berlin:  Not in Tucson – but in NYC – the Pac12 bar to watch games is Finnerty’s in the lower east side.


ZZ: Do you know the words in the UofA alma mater by heart? The Beardown fight song?

Berlin:  The fight song for sure!

ZZ: Do you have any game day rituals or game day look? Does everyone you work with know, know you are an

Photo Cred: Toni Berlin
Photo Cred: Toni Berlin /

Arizona Wildcats fan? Do you work talking about the Wildcats at work or on the air?

Berlin:  I always wear game day red – and for special games I dig up our 1997 Championship t-shirt and 2001 Final Four and title game shirts.  In 1997, I was working for a CBS station in Dayton, Ohio (no Archie Miller yet) and, of course, picked AZ to win in our newsroom March Madness pool.

The sports guys (and pretty much everyone else) were shocked when the Cats took it all that year in Indianapolis, and I had a very nice pay day!

ZZ: Do you have a favorite Arizona Wildcat Athletics moment?

Berlin:  When I was a reporter for CBS in the Twin Cities, the Cats rolled into town to play in the Final Four. Remember “Four Bobbi” in honor of Lute’s late wife?  I begged my news director to let me cover the Cats, and he relented!  I got to interview Olson, Richard Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas! What a thrill!

Photo Cred: Toni Berlin
Photo Cred: Toni Berlin /

ZZ: Does winning or losing a game affect your mood?

Berlin:  You can ask my wife and kids. Daddy is bummed when the Cats lose.

ZZ: Who is your favorite Arizona Wildcat player and what sport do they or did they play? Favorite Coach? And why? (can be current and past or just one)

Berlin:  I have to say Steve Kerr ranks up there – especially with the amazing way he has revolutionized the way Golden State plays basketball – it’s truly a thing of beauty.  I remember being in line for lunch at Taco Bell my senior year in High School and Steve Kerr was in front of me ordering lunch and thinking who is this guy??

Photo Cred: Toni Berlin
Photo Cred: Toni Berlin /

ZZ: If you could say one thing to your favorite player or coach, what would it be? Or if you did meet them, what did you say, how did it go?

Berlin:  I joked with Olson about the letter I sent as a kid – he laughed and said I did pretty well for myself!

ZZ: What sports articles we write do you enjoy the most? Is there anything we should be writing about more?  

Berlin:  Your coverage of the hoop Cats is terrific, and a must read for me…. Well done guys!

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Thank you, Tony!

It’s always great to meet and have Wildcats fans share with us, in NYC find Finnerty’s and take in a Pac-12 game, maybe you will find Tony. BearDown Tony! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday in your fabulous Arizona Wildcats slippers!