Mr. Ersalesi: More Than a Teacher
By Guest Writer Colin Doyle
At Rutherford High School he is Mr. Ersalesi (Mr. E), but on the weekends you may have heard him as Brian Britain on 1010 WINS.
What it takes to be a great teacher cannot be taught. It’s that unexplainable, undeniable quality that makes teachers like Mr. Brian Ersalesi memorable. Most teachers devote their whole lives to their work, yet still struggle to connect to students on more than an academic level. I went into my sophomore year at Rutherford High school with little to no expectations, proceeding to have a chance to meet and be taught by one of the best educators that I’ve ever had. After everything that I learned in his class, it was only right that I would interview him and shine a light on how brilliant of a person and teacher Mr. Ersalesi really is.
CD: How long have you been a teacher? What made you decide to become a teacher?
Brian Ersalesi: When I left RHS as a graduating senior in June 1994, there was no thought in my mind that I would ever be back here as an employee! I went to college and graduated with a double major in theatre performance and British literature and a double minor in American history and vocal performance. After college, to make extra money, I started substitute teaching. It was that job as a sub that led me to become a theatre director at Midland Park High School. I worked as a DJ and was the director of the school plays and musicals there for a few years before I went back to college and got a Master's degree in education and became a teacher. Working with high school kids who were so passionate and creative is what spurred my decision to become a teacher, going onto becoming an English teacher at Midland Park High school.
CD: When did you become a Supervisor? Why did you want to take on this position?
BE: I became the English Language Arts Supervisor at RHS in September of 2014. Rutherford is also one of the very few districts in the state that allows its supervisors to continue to be a teacher. It was important for me to retain a connection with the students in the building. After all, they're the whole reason that ANY of us are here!
CD: Besides being a teacher/ Supervisor, you are also a news anchor. How did you get that position?
BE: I got bitten by the radio bug when I was a freshman in college. The radio station sort of became my home away from home. I started hanging out there when I wasn't in class. And then I started writing some of the newscasts for one of the news anchors there. That turned into a job being a producer/engineer for some of the talk shows that the station aired. It was a small AM station called NewsTalk 1230 WMFR. When the radio company got bought out by a larger company, I began to start being asked to do various jobs at the station. I produced the local shows for the "Delilah" show, I was a fill-in talk show host, I was a traffic reporter, I was a fill-in news anchor, and I was a country DJ. It was an amazing experience. I began working there full time during my sophomore year in college - somehow I handled going to school full time and working there, too. I loved it!
After a while, though, I wanted to come back home to the NY/NJ area and I was lucky enough to get a job at Y-107 in NY, hosting the “Saturday Night Dance Party”, having a chance to make remix popular country songs with dance beats. Sadly, though the station changed formats and I was fired. I was lucky enough to get hired as a traffic reporter for Bloomberg Radio and then moved over to 1010 WINS. That was in 2002 and I've been a news anchor at WINS ever since.
CD: What do you enjoy most about reporting the news on 1010 WINS?
BE: I love the fast-paced environment of being in the newsroom and the air studio. I love the immediacy of radio. When I turn on my microphone there could be over one million people listening, but you have to make it sound like you're just talking to one person. People listen in their homes and cars and when they're at work. Thankfully, I also work with amazing people, too. Every single person, from our service aids, to our production assistants, to our writers, to our editors, and to our weather, traffic, and sports reporters are consummate professionals who understand just how important our job is when it comes to keeping the public informed.
CD: How do you juggle being a teacher/ Supervisor and a News Anchor?
BE: I get asked this a lot. I don't know. I just do. My work at WINS begins on Saturday and Sunday mornings at about 3:30am. I get to our studios in the city at about 3, so that means I wake up at 2:10 am on the weekends. I'm done at noon and usually home by 1 pm. That leaves the whole day for me to spend with my family. Of course, I'm tired, so sometimes I take a nap when I get home and sometimes I just go to bed early. During the week, I'm at school by 7 am and I usually leave by 4 pm. So the jobs don't really overlap time-wise.
CD: Are there similarities between your career in radio and your career in education?
BE: At their core, they're both about communicating with people and making them understand something or learn something. With radio, I have about 45 seconds for each story I tell ... so I have to choose my words carefully and write my stories to get the maximum impact in the minimum amount of words. With teaching, I have about 45 minutes for each class I teach ... so I have to make sure that I create my lessons carefully while also ensuring that the 25 kids in the class all "get it." And as a supervisor, it's the same kind of thing. I supervise every English teacher and Arts teacher in the district. Communication isn't just about words... even on the radio, it's not just the words. It's about the tone of voice, inflection, and all of those things that allow a listener to make sense of the words we're speaking. The same is true in class. My tone of voice, my facial gestures, the way I wave my arms around when I'm talking. It's all part of making sure that the people I'm communicating with understand my intent. I really am thankful and proud that I get to work in two industries that I truly love.