It’s a Tuesday evening at KGTV’s San Diego newsroom and Ben Higgins has a close eye on the night’s Padres game in advance of his sportscast for the night’s edition of 10 News at 11. For Higgins, it’s the cap of another long day that kicks off with a bright and early 4:30 a.m. wake-up call for a relatively new, yet equally important, assignment.
“The biggest challenge, of course, is just managing my schedule,” said Higgins, alluding to his latest gig as host of Ben and Woods, a sports radio show on Mighty 1090 that launched in late March and features Higgins alongside the San Diego radio personality Steve Woods. “I’ll host ‘Ben and Woods’ from 6 to 10 a.m., hopefully head home by 11 a.m., take our two dogs for a walk, visit my wife Sheli, have a little lunch, and head down to the KGTV studios by 3 p.m. for the rest of my day.” There, Higgins is the standout sports anchor, where he’ll fill in San Diegans on the day in athletics, from local games to national happenings. “Usually, I'll get home by around 12:15 a.m., sleep for about four hours, and then do it all over again.”
While that slog could be a tortuous grind for some, for Higgins it’s the realization of a lifelong dream that he’s been working towards since his youth. Growing up in the Olivenhain area of Encinitas, Higgins cut his teeth while a student at Torrey Pines High School, graduating from its Carmel Valley campus in 1993.
“I got my first chance at a microphone when I served as the public address announcer for basketball games during my senior year,” he remembers of his humble beginnings, inspired by the likes of Vin Scully, Chick Hearn and Jerry Coleman, all titans of the sportscaster craft. “I also spent a lot of time with the Academic Team, which is like Quiz Bowl.” One of his proudest accomplishments is when the team won the national championships when Higgins proudly recalls: “We made the frontpage of the U-T.”
From Torrey Pines, Higgins attended Pomona College but didn’t get a taste of actual broadcasting until he interned at Mighty 690 during his junior year, first covering high school football games around the Inland Empire. “After graduation, I was hired at 690 as a producer which was supposed to be a short-term job while I figured out my next step in life.” That short-term gig eventually morphed into a career. “I got a couple of lucky breaks to get on-air, and a few years later, made the jump to television with Channel 10.”
In the past decade-plus, Higgins has had a front row seat to “thousands of Padres games” and some of the biggest events in recent sports history, covering everything from the NFL and its Super Bowls to the US Open golf tournament. Despite the glitz of those events, there’s one game that stands out above all the rest. “I'll never forget being in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 2009 when the kids from Park View in Chula Vista won their Little League World Series title,” he recalls. “A memory of a lifetime. Not only for them, but for me as well.”
It turned out be all preparation for Ben and Woods. “It’s the radio show I’ve always dreamed of doing,” Higgins notes as the broadcast celebrates its one month anniversary. It’s a show that relies on not only Higgins’ deep breath of knowledge, but his chemistry with partner Woods. “He's a little newer to the sports-talk format, but brings an energy and passion that we can thrive on.”
Reflects Higgins of his path, “It's hard to imagine that I walked into sports radio just over 20 years ago to answer phones and now I get to host this daily show with a great guy like Steven Woods.”