Gilbertsville’s Lull reports sports news with a passion

WCDO Sports Director Nate Lull, center, accepts a gift from the 2019-2020 Cooperstown Central School Leadership Training for Athletes officers after speaking at their event in March 2020, days before the coronavirus pandemic shutdown went into effect. From left, Abby Ford, Piper Seamon, Lull, Ryan Lansing and Kate Donnelly. (contributed)

Gilbertsville’s Lull reports sports news with a passion

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

If you are interested in high school sports in Otsego County, you likely already know who Nate Lull is.
From his desk at WCDO in Sidney, where he is the radio stations’s sports director, from high school gyms around three Central New York counties – Chenango, Delaware and Otsego – and from whatever parking lot or McDonald’s offers WiFi after games, Lull has revolutionized how sports fans locally get their high school scores and statistics.

In a 21st-century way, he is the radio guy known for his Twitter account, @NateLull, where every night during school seasons he is the first person to post the results of most games and competitions.
“It is a weird thing,” he said in a phone interview Thursday, July 1. “For a lot of people I am more of a Twitter thing and I am less of the radio guy.”

Although Lull does play-by-play for his radio station whenever there is a big game, and also semi-regularly during the peak fall and winter seasons, and he sells sponsorships for his broadcasts and his podcast, The Nate Lull Podcast, much of his work life is off the air, a job endorsed by the radio station’s local ownership.

“I have always thought about coming on the air for sports updates or something, but in some ways, as my boss said, I am a victim of my own success,” Lull said. “This Twitter thing took on a life of its own.”
A Gilbertsville native and 2003 Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School graduate, Lull said he was always interested in athletics. He played soccer, basketball and baseball in school, then switched to track and field when G-MU added the sport while he was in high school. He was a communication major at SUNY Geneseo and he worked at the campus radio station, where he became a play-by-play announcer, covering all sports, but developing a passion for hockey.

In 2008, 14 months after graduating from Geneseo, Lull got his master’s from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Journalism. After a year of “floating around,” he landed a job at Canisius College, where he not only got to do play-by-play for a variety of sports, including hockey, he got some fill-in assignments doing larger Buffalo area sports at the local sports station.

Lull said he shocked some of his friends and colleagues when he decided to return home in 2014, to take the WCDO offer. He said he had always kept in touch with the local radio station and part-owner, Craig Stevens. Although WCDO plays Westwood One Broadcasting programs, Stevens had been cultivating local news as part of the format and wanted to do more, Lull said.

“He felt like sports was something he wanted to do for the community,” Lull said.

Lull’s old friends still think he is crazy for being content as a big fish in a rural pond. A friend from Newhouse now does play-by-play for the Florida Panthers.

“Sometimes he will text me, ‘we’re just leaving Madison Square Garden and flying on the team plane back to Florida,’ and I am leaving a gym in Delaware County trying to find a gas station with Wi-Fi, you know? I mean, Buffalo was a top 100 market and if I had stayed there, I could have written my ticket.

“I always thought, in the back of my mind, I wanted to come home,” he said. “This is where my heart is.”

Lull said he wasn’t home more than a few days, when he bumped into a neighbor. Her daughter, Amanda Loitsch, was a few years behind him at G-MU and had also just moved back home. They hit it off and after a pandemic-lengthened engagement, they are getting married Aug. 21, at The Major’s Inn in Gilbertsville.

“It was funny, I always knew her, because we grew up down the street from one another,” Lull said. “We were just far enough apart in age that we did not have the same circle of friends, but we kind of knew each other anyway, because we grew up together. I think I was home a day or two when I bumped into her mom at the store. She said ‘you have to come over for dinner some time,’ and of course her daughter had just moved home, too, so I guess the wheels were spinning. It just clicked.”

It helps, Lull said, that his fiancé understands his passion and dedication for local sports.
“She understands what I am trying to do and why,” he said. “So if I am tweeting something at midnight because I just got a text from a coach, she gets it.”

Although he has taken his journalism to a new medium, Lull is an old-school beat reporter in some ways. He has a three-county network of contacts, including coaches, athletic directors, parents and athletes who text him, email him and @ him with information, enabling him to update his followers nightly. He goes to games as much as he can, to witness the action and the athletes, he gives out athletic awards, and while he does do some radio broadcasting, too, a lot of the information he provides only goes out on Twitter, at least for now.

Lull said he is planning his own website and exploring options to reach an audience other ways. “I do have some older people say to me, ‘I am glad the scores are available somewhere, but I don’t know about this Twitter thing. I wish there was some other way to see your work.’ Some of them have found a way, but it is something I think about. The WCDO website is a radio website. I don’t think I am being mean to say it isn’t as good as I wish it was, but that is an area of expansion the radio owners just aren’t interested in. So, as with the podcast, they are very understanding about me expanding into doing
my own thing.”

Either way, Lull said he plans to continue doing what he is doing. He has had tempting offers to return to big-time broadcasting, but he said he is happy building a life back home in Gilbertsville and serving his region.

And while you may know him as Nate Lull from Twitter, he sees it slightly differently.

“The funny thing about that is I am just doing what we were doing when I was in Buffalo,” he said. “I never thought about not doing it or that I was bringing something new here. It was just how I had learned to do it and had been doing it before.”


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