Alumni Spotlight: Joey Gelman '08
Brian Barasch, Director of Marketing & Communications

Whether you’re looking to catch up on the latest Chicago sports news or you simply need a comforting voice to help you mourn the loss of another Cubs season that ended far too soon, Joey Gelman is here to help you make sense of it all.

An alumnus of the Bernard Zell Class of 2008, Gelman, along with his co-host Dan Collins, share the mic on their twice-weekly podcast, Bleav in Chicago Sports, from the Bleav Podcast Network. The duo are friends from their time together as broadcast journalism classmates and co-hosts on WPGU 107.1 FM, the University of Illinois’ radio station. Now just a month into their new podcast venture, Joey and Dan have reunited again—this time in the name of Chicago sports. 

But long before podcasts or college radio broadcasts, Joey was a student at Bernard Zell all the way from Junior Kindergarten through his eighth-grade graduation.

“I loved every second of it,” Joey recounts of his time at Bernard Zell, “and to this day, many of my best friends are the friends I made while in school there.”

Also playing a profound role in shaping his school experience were the teachers who guided him academically but also helped him to forge an identity grounded in Jewish values including Ms. Wexler and Ms. Abbo. And perhaps helping to chart his professional path most directly was Mr. Shear with whom he remembers having conversations about sports and who helped Joey to identify his own strengths as a communicator.

“Those teachers were able to put me on my path, told me I can take matters into my own hands, tackle anything and build myself into whatever I really wanted to be,” said Joey, “and that, along with the moral compass they instilled, was really valuable and still stays with me today.”

With that guidance and leadership from his teachers, Joey went on to Francis Parker for High School, U of I for college and since graduating has made a name for himself through producer, manager and host roles at WGN, Comcast, Entercom and today the Bleav Network.

And while many of our hometown sports teams might not have made the playoffs or even finished the year with a winning record, Joey still has optimism—both for Chicago sports and for his own future in the world of broadcasting—something he likely got at Bernard Zell. 

“The school is a very special place and it sets you up both as a person and as someone in the Jewish community with the best base of values and motivation in order to get to the next place in your life that you want to go. Every time Bernard Zell is brought up, it brings a smile.”

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