The elder Marinaro was responsible for passing on the love for the beautiful game to his only son, born five years later in Ville Emard.
However, Marinaro’s pro soccer aspirations were put on ice when he suffered a back injury at 17. “I got hurt, but I think I knew before then that I probably wasn’t good enough to play pro,” said the 40-year-old LaSalle resident. “I had decided that if I couldn’t play sports for a living, I wanted to talk about sports and interview players instead.” Marinaro started talking about sports well before his dreams of playing them ended. At the tender age of 12, he regularly began calling sports-radio talk shows to discuss his other passion. “I loved hockey; how could you not growing up in that era? I listened to the late Ted Tevan all the time on the radio, talking hockey. He was original, well-rounded; informative... I was inspired by him. I started calling his show all the time.”
Then years later, a chance meeting on a golf course with Wayne Bews, who was the sales manager at CHOM FM, ended up leading to Marinaro’s big break. “Wayne said he had heard me calling Ted’s show. We talked sports for a while; I took part in his hockey pool with his buddies for a few years after that. Then one day, I get an email from him with the subject line: Do you want to be a star?”
Bews had moved to the Team 990 and he wanted to come out with a Canadiens post-game show to compete with CJAD. “I walked into the studio to audition. I wasn’t very good, but he didn’t tell me that! He did say it was good enough to air, but at the time, there was no budget for the show. There was only one local program, the morning show with Mitch Melnick.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Marinaro took on the post-game show on his own time, with no pay. Along the way, the Habs pre-game show was born. After four months of working gratis, Marinaro was asked to audition for a new afternoon act. He joined comedian Joey Elias and the Afternoon Drive was born. Marinaro was working on the radio full-time.
Eleven years later, Marinaro is now the solo host of a popular midday program (10-noon) called the Montreal Forum, along with other duties including the postgame show, on the revamped TSN 690.
He has developed a good relationship with his listeners, through his passionate debates and sometimes controversial positions, and he counts among those listeners a strong contingent from within the Italian community. “At first people had thought that it was going to be difficult to make it with my Italian background and unpolished grammar. But I think it actually helped me. Montreal is very multicultural and I was embraced as one of the boys. The Italian community has really supported me, especially considering that there aren’t too many Italians on the radio.” Characters such as Filippo the taxi driver, Jerry from Rosemont and Sal from RDP have become regular contributors to his show, engaging in heated debates and rants about the sports they love.
And for Marinaro, that’s the greatest reward of all... giving other passionate sports fans a forum to share their love of sports, or vent, with a guy who can relate to how they feel.