You'll never convince Evan Cohen that his grandfather, who died last summer, had nothing to do with the fortuitous twist of fate he experienced in June.
"He was my idol, my hero, a huge New York sports fan — and it happened on his birthday," the ESPN 760 sports-talk radio host was saying Friday as he headed to the West Palm Beach-based station to do his afternoon show. "So I've got no doubt he had a hand in this."
Less than an hour later, Cohen would announce to his audience that he was joining Sirius/XM's "Mad Dog Radio," where, starting Monday, he will work alongside former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips on the satellite network.
He'll also work under Chris Russo, the former "Mike and the Mad Dog" co-host who left New York's WFAN three years ago to join the Sirius family.
"As a New Yorker who grew up listening to Mad Dog Russo and wanting to get into this business, it's a thrill to get this opportunity," Cohen said. "I actually have an old photograph of me with Chris, taken when I was a kid. So when Chris called and asked me to come up for a tryout, I was like, 'Is this really happening?' I couldn't believe it."
That was June 2.
A couple of weeks later, the 31-year-old University of Wisconsin grad was in New York, sitting behind the "Mad Dog" microphone, talking sports with Phillips and taking calls from listeners. The audition went so well that Russo offered him a full-time job. And, of course, Cohen accepted.
But he isn't leaving ESPN 760, where he spent the past eight years helping build a sports-talk radio station that can be heard throughout the Treasure Coast. Nor will he be giving up his television gig at WPTV — though he said he'll now do sports features, not anchor the sports segments of the local NBC affiliate's nightly newcasts. He's also keeping his home in Palm Beach Gardens.
"Throughout this whole process, I never had any interest in leaving," Cohen said. "Just adding."
So his plan is to do it all. Monday through Friday. Sometimes in New York, sometimes in Florida.
From 6 to 10 a.m., you can hear him on Channel 86 on Sirius/XM. From 4 to 6 p.m., you'll hear him on 760 AM. And from time to time, during the 6 p.m. or 11 p.m. hours, you'll see him on TV on Channel 5.
"The past eight years, I've had at least 15 job offers, but I took this one because it allowed me to continue my show at ESPN 760," said Cohen, a budding, big-league talent who has done occasional fill-in work on national shows for the ESPN and Fox Sports radio networks.
"It would've been easy for me to go up there and commit all my energies to the new job. It's my home state. My fiancee is from New York. I'm working for a guy I idolized. I'm a Mets fan who'll be working with a former Mets GM. But I'm still committed to this market and the people I work with down here. I'm very grateful to the people in this area.
"The back and forth will be a challenge," he added. "I don't know how much I'll need to be in each place. But this is the best of all worlds: I get to do a national show on an worldwide platform and still work here with my best friends. So if I have to fly every week, or even every day, I'll do it."
In fact, Cohen already has checked the airline schedules.
"There's a flight that leaves LaGuardia at 11:40 a.m. and gets to Palm Beach at 2-something, so it can be done," he said. "I'll do whatever it takes to make this work. I consider this opportunity a gift."
From his grandfather.