Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category

jkj

John Kelly Jr. is currently the TV voice of Men’s and Women’s Basketball for the US Merchant Marine Academy.

He is currently entering his third year on the call for US Merchant Marine Basketball Academy at Kings Point, New York.

John Kelly Jr. also is a freelance broadcaster for the NJ Spartans of the Major League Football and does voiceovers for Star Cast Productions for their HS Hockey Team’s Highlight tapes.

John Kelly Jr used to do Television Play By Play for MSG Varsity Network in New York for High School Hockey, Football, Basketball, Lacrosse, and Volleyball. Before that he did Play by Play for Marauder Radio Network for St. Peter’s Prep Football, Basketball, and Hockey from 2009 until 2013.

How long have you been in broadcasting and how did you get your start?

I have been in Broadcasting for 6 years since I graduated Fordham University WFUV in 2009,

My start was at Fordham University and I am grateful for that. With very little broadcast experience prior to Fordham and also being a Transfer student I was at a disadvantage at getting on the air early on. My Mentor, Bob Ahrens is very well respected in NY sports market. He preferred to give freshman on-air experience first because he had more time to work with them.

That did not discourage me at all. I began my career at WFUV as an engineer on the One on One sports show Saturdays at 1pm. I also covered the NY Dragons of the Arena Football League. I got to follow them all the way to Philadelphia and used each and every beat report to improve my pacing, sound, and storytelling.

Finally, I saw a WFUV email for Updates needed on a Fordham Football Game. Of Course I responded and said ill fill in. I performed well on those Updates and gave my mentor enough confidence to do them again for their afternoon sports show every Saturday at 1.

After delivering on updates in the fall I was offered color for Fordham Football vs. Bucknell. That was my first live broadcast over FM radio. I will admit I was nervous and excited. I was Excited because I knew how to stop the Triple Option which Bucknell Ran and Nervous because I wanted Bob to trust me down the road for future broadcasts. He did and that led to future opportunities as a co-host on one on one and for the 2009 NFL Draft.

My first broadcast went fine and the game was entertaining despite Fordham fell in OT. After that the doors opened for me to fill in. During my time Ryan Ruocco of ESPN had left and a lot of other major talents focused on Play by Play and left their other duties open.

This allowed me to fill in as a beat reporter for the Devils, Knicks, Giants, The Barclays, and for the NY Liberty’s outdoor game at Arthur Ashe Stadium.  I also was the beat reporter my Senior Year for the New York Islanders and got to cover Spring Training with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

When did you know it was what you wanted to do?

When I was in High School I knew I wanted to be a sportscaster. Indirectly I have called games just for the sake of it. Whether it was calling my Saturday Soccer games instead of playing defense to calling my NCAA Video games I knew I wanted to do this for a living.

I grew up with many famous calls on College Football Saturdays from listening to Tony Roberts do Notre Dame Football to Keith Jackson’s “Hello Heisman” to Brent Musberger’s “Holy Buckeye”. The ability to dramatize the situation at hand in my opinion is what makes a great broadcaster and I wanted to master that moment and be a part of it.

What sports do you currently broadcast?

I currently broadcast Basketball for the US Merchant Marine Academy on Web stream. I have do football internet radio games for the NJ Spartans. I also call Hockey games for HS teams highlight reels.

I have also broadcasted internet radio Football and Basketball for St. Peter’s Prep and rivals. I have also done TV play by play for HS Volleyball and Lacrosse during my time at MSG Varsity.

Who do you look up to in broadcasting?

My broadcasting Idol is the famous Doc Emrick of NBC. I grew up with him as a diehard Devil fan in New Jersey. I love him the most because of his energy. He brings the heat which I want on hockey broadcasts.

Hearing him say phrases like “SCORE!!!” and “HIT THE POST WITH THE SHOT!!” with his high pitched voice always fired me up. His preparation beyond the game for players and his recall of other levels of hockey is outstanding. Sometimes I cannot believe he knows the two AHL teams for the current teams he is broadcasting. He is the major reason why hockey is one of favorite sports to broadcast.

Is there anyone you emulate or have borrowed from to shape your own style?

There are 5 guys that I have emulated and have borrowed from to enhance my Football, Basketball, and Hockey Play by Play.

For me I am extremely technical coming from Fordham where Marty Glickman and my mentor Bob Ahrens emphasized description and score and time on radio. I am a high energy guy but at Fordham so I wanted to find guys that could incorporate it with play by play radio description.

So for Football radio play by play I emulated Bob Papa the radio voice of the New York Giants. His directional play by play for passes and runs and the way he sets up of the play is a tactic I continue to use today.

For Basketball Play by Play on radio Ryan Ruocco of ESPN Radio is an outstanding talent and saved me on how to call basketball on radio. His description of the right wing, right glass, middle red paint, and right to left and the jersey descriptions were outstanding. When it comes to score and time Ryan is great at giving it right after a basket is made. I continue to listen to him and emulate him on every call.

For Hockey Play by Play energy Doc Emrick has always been someone I have emulated since I was little. When it comes to Hockey on TV I want my audience to be on the edge of their seat. He has taught me the tactic of pausing after a player shoots. It has helped my calls sound cleaner. I emulate how he controls his energy too which is something I try to work on. I also try to sprinkle little tidbits like him about players. It could be something about their home town, family, or off the ice accomplishments.

Still, Kenny Albert, radio of voice of the New York Rangers, saved my hockey play by play life by providing me the structure to call it right on the radio.

His use of the “left and right wing”, “Across the Ranger Line”, “Near and Far Corner”, “Left and Right Point” is all I listen to with hockey play by play. The directional changes he does are outstanding like “Staahl behind the Ranger net, Rangers going right to left”. Since hockey is such a fast game I continuously listen to Kenny to make sure I am doing it right.

Also Kenny’s anticipation on radio is outstanding for a fast paced game. His phrase like “Gaborik over the Capital Line on right wing to the circle” allows you to paint the picture for the listener without getting your tongue twisted focusing always saying right or left circle all the time.

Kenny is also excellent at inserting recaps into his call by saying “Devil and Flyers tied at 2 all four goals scored on special teams”.

When it comes to describing the crowd and setting the scene I have emulated Vin Scully over the years. His descriptions of the crowd on their feet and their emotions during a baseball game are outstanding. He also is great a letting the crowd noise fill in a major moment like he did on his call of Henry Aaron’s record breaking homerun.

You’ve done both radio and TV broadcasts in your career, is there one you prefer over the other?

I prefer Radio Broadcasts because I enjoy painting the picture for the listener and it was the play by play I learned exclusively while I was at Fordham. With Radio the Play by Play Guy controls the game and it’s his job to set the scene to the listener when the game is on the line.

I do enjoy television and am not knocking it at all. However, for a television broadcast to be successful there are so many crucial elements to make it look and sound good to captivate your audience. Also, it is a true team effort all around.

Unlike Radio, your audience can see the play on their televisions. So your director and the guys in the truck need to be on the same page in order to get the proper shots to create that excitement for your viewers. As a play by play guy you are weaving more storylines into your call since your analyst has more control and constantly looking at your monitor to either talk about a graphic or talk about a player or coach or person on screen.

At the Merchant Marine Academy I actually mute my Microphone so I have enough time to set up the graphic or allow my one camera guy to focus in on a player. In the big leagues the truck does that for you.

At the end of the day with Radio my focus is the call on the field, court, or ice. And every dead ball setting up the promo.

How many hours do you spend preparing for one game?

I am a stickler on Preparation from the colors of the jerseys and numbers to the up to date stats of every player. It is crucial for me to know these things so I can think of them day in and day out before the broadcast.

For Merchant Basketball depending on how many games are in a week I spend upwards 6 to 7 hours a night getting starters, stats, facts, information on the conference, and crucial storylines relevant to each and every broadcast.

The Merchant Marine’s sometimes have three games in a week with a Doubleheader on Saturdays. I’ll actually write out the starters out for the doubleheaders the previous weekend in sharpie colors and leave it blank. Then make a copy of those blank starters in case their stats change later. I do this every time I have three or more games in a week so I can allow that 6 to 7 hours prepping for the game.

For Football it starts on Monday and until the night before the game sometimes since I mostly did high school I would prepare close to ten to twelve hours between getting rosters, starters, stats, and finally putting them to paper.

I prep for NJ Spartan games almost for 4 days before the game.

Preparation is key to being your best on every single broadcast.

Where is your favorite place to call a game?

METLIFE STADIUM for a NJ High School Football Championships. You can really see the field well for Football and be able as a radio guy able to describe the play better. You have all that space for your notes, crowd mike, and mixer like you don’t get in NJ HS press boxes.

I have also called some amazing State title games there like Old Tappan and Wayne Hills in 2011 and PC and Bergen Catholic in 2012. Of Course when I worked for Marauder Radio Network I did St. Peter’s Prep’s 2013 State Title game and another one of theirs freelance in 2014.

The ability to view that gorgeous press area and the acoustics from 2,000 to 5,000 people cheering in a stadium built for 80,000 plus is exhilarating.

What is your favorite on air story you can share?

My first year with Marauder Radio Network 2010 with broadcast friend and collegespun.com writer Matt Hladik. St. Peter’s Prep Basketball played Oak Hill a major Basketball powerhouse that had 4 D-I players on their team including former Kentucky player Doron Lamb. No one gave St. Peter’s Prep a chance and they were able to upset Head Coach Steve Smith and Oak Hill.

The best part about this broadcast was because television timeouts from the first game took so long the scheduled 8pm broadcast was bumped to 10pm.

I was raw as a play by play guy back then and had a rough first half call. The second half call though was a lot better and got better as the game got competitive. Doron Lamb had 49 points and Prep’s Guard and former Xavier Player had 33 points watching them duke it out was unreal.

The final call was amazing and I set up score and time and description perfectly.

To be with Matt as the clock stuck 1 am and see St. Peter’s stop the final inbound is a memory I will never forget.

What advice could you offer to aspiring broadcasters or those just starting out?

Well my advice to aspiring broadcasters and ones starting is can be summed up in two parts. Those two parts are from a professional level and an emotional level.

From a professional level you need to constantly be working on your craft and improving yourself broadcast after broadcast. In two weeks I will be practicing basketball play by play and hockey play by play in my apartment to prepare myself for this season. I have my tape recorder out already and I will be listening for two months to make sure I am recapping, score and time, following the ball, sprinkling in stats and storylines when it matters.

For young people and aspiring broadcasters out there you need to be practicing all the time. Your reps are what matters and that is what I am telling you above. I am at over 100 broadcasts now and I am still trying to improve. I wasn’t settled in or even close to it at broadcast number 30. Focus on knowing the players, getting acclimated with the speed of the game, score and time, recap, and description if on the radio. Also, I did Marauder Radio Network unpaid to improve. Sometimes, that is the best way to get exposure, build a reseme, and obtain contacts. Marauder Radio Hockey tapes got me the job at MSG Varsity.

For each rep to count make sure your broadcasts are in a professional environment. If you are doing High School or College Games make sure the conference has a website and the coach is cool with giving you starters and stats. Rich Hansen at St. Peter’s Prep, SIDS Sean Ihauz and Joe Guster at USMMA, and the NJ Spartans are excellent at doing these very things. As a young or aspiring broadcaster every rep is key to improving so make sure your audience you broadcast is on the same page with you in that area

Every game matters and crappy pregame info will harm your call. Also, avoid broadcast environments that will waste that preparation time you’ve done or harm your chances to improve as a broadcaster.

When I was in the HS lots of people offered me games that I had to turn down because they had no idea how to get stats, shoot the camera, and get press space. One former professor I had in grad school at Fairleigh Dickinson who I won’t mention really ruined my calls by doing these same things. If people don’t want to express the same professionalism as you then you need to avoid them.

Reach out to other broadcasters to critique your tapes. Fordham gave me the luxury of having Seattle Mariners voice Dave Sims’s email. Make sure your emails aren’t all about you. Dave Sims helped me a lot with improving. Also Manhattan and USMMA Football Broadcaster Jaden Daly critiqued me and liked me enough to refer me for the USMMA Basketball job I have now. Professional input helps.

Even if one guy doesn’t talk to you keep reaching out on twitter or facebook to talk with them.

From an emotional standpoint stay positive and keep at it. There are ups and downs but if you stay positive, do a good job, and show people your true talent you will get opportunities. Also, have fun because broadcasting games is an awesome time and if you get paid to do it consider yourself extremely lucky.

Be sure to follow John and the Merchant Marines all year round on twitter: John Kelly Jr Twitter

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Our interview this week is with the play by play voice of the Edmonton Oilers Jack Michaels. You can follow jack on twitter @edmontonjack and read his NHL mock draft at http://oilers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=675018

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Jack, How long have you been in broadcasting?

  • 20 years…fortunate enough to go to a great school, especially in terms of getting on the air right away, like Ithaca College.

When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?

  • 1989 Preakness stretch drive between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. Dave Johnson had an unbelievable call….and even though I was just a kid, I already was aware of my athletic limitations.

How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?

  • Hockey is a pretty compressed schedule, so a lot of work comes before the season ever starts….once you’re in the midst of it, though, from game-to-game it goes something like this…..I usually read a at least a week’s worth of articles about the opponent, so I know what’s going on and has been with them. I’ll also watch their previous game with their commentators so I can take appropriate notes….I’ll already have done flow charts with their lines and D-men before the year, but I’ll update that as well due to injuries/call-ups. I’ll then go to their pre-game skate and work the room afterward, recording a couple of interviews and just getting the general tenor…then I’ll move onto the game notes for both clubs, fill out my scorebook and I should be good. For the Oilers, I attend every practice and media session leading up to and for all games, so I usually don’t have a ton of prep on that side—just make sure I catch any pertinent milestones or trends against a given opponent. My prep is done at least four hours before the start of a game…that way I’m relaxed and ready to roll—NO EXCUSE FOR NOT BEING PREPARED!

Have you always done just hockey?

  • Not at all…If you’d asked me when I was 20 I would’ve said that would have been least likely…..I’ve done baseball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, and even a few greyhound races.

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?

  • As I mentioned, Dave Johnson in horse racing. Doc Emrick and Mike Lange in hockey. Pat Summerall in football, Vin Scully in baseball, and Dick Stockton in basketball. I’d argue long and hard that Doc, Pat, Vin, and Dick are unquestionably the best in the four major sports…..as far as scripted, John Fascenda, and it’s not even close….I cannot begin to tell you how many hours of NFL Films I watched as a kid.

Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?

  • Doc—My Dad was in higher education for 40 years, and even he is impressed with Doc’s ability to weave in a vastly superior vocabulary into a telecast that’s highly intelligent without being pompous.

Which sport that you’ve called would you say is your favorite?

  • I like calling hockey the best….but as far as a fan, I’m an NFL guy….not by much, but you can’t take the Western PA out of the boy even if you take him out of that region.

Are there any memorable stories from the booth you can share with us?

  • I did a period with Steven Tyler at an Alaska Aces game….But my first game in the NHL, Battle of Alberta, the goal of the year, as it turned out (Jordan Eberle, look it up if you haven’t seen it), and a one-punch knockout….after nearly 1000 games in the minors, pretty hard to top that, ever.

Jordan Eberle Goal

What was it like to step into the shoes of such a great broadcaster in Rod Phillips who was known as the best Play by play guy in both the WHA and NHL (and who called over 3,000 games)?

  • Never looked at it that way….He’s an absolute legend, and I’m proud to call him a friend now…even worked with him for 10 games in my first season. But I will never “step into the shoes” or “replace” Rod Phillips. I can only be myself, and over time, with consistent dedication and effort, I hope create my own niche in the Edmonton market.

Speaking of games, you yourself had called over 900 hockey games before even getting to Edmonton (including the ECHL All Star game 5 times), but what was it like getting the call from the Oilers and them asking you to be only the SECOND voice of the club in team history?

  • It probably was the greatest day of my life. I was in Hawaii with my wife and two children, and we had a chance to celebrate it together in a beautiful setting. The call from the Oilers, however, was surpassed by the subsequent call—the call I made to my Dad immediately thereafter.

As an American calling hockey in a Canadian city how have you handled the criticism you’ve received?

  • Fortunately, I haven’t run into that criticism. I’ve found Canadians are just like Americans when it comes to evaluating broadcasters. If you’re passionate about what you do and you’ve put in the work, it comes out in the broadcast and it doesn’t matter where you’re from.

Did living in Alaska prepare you for the cold winter nights in Edmonton?

  • Absolutely—it’s actually a little colder, on average, in Edmonton. But Edmonton has plenty of sunshine so you don’t feel it as much. Dress warm, it’s not an issue. I love living in Edmonton and quite frankly, I enjoyed Anchorage as well.

Is it true that when you were working in the minors you once sold your penalty kill sponsorship to a funeral home?

  • Not quite—boy, you’ve done your research….how on Earth did you know that? Never mind, I’m answering the questions….it was actually the Keys to the Game…..as in “Tonight’s keys to burying the Bakersfield Condors, brought to you by Witzleben Funeral Homes…..” Hey, anything to help the club and make a few bucks, right?

What advice would you give to someone trying to make a living in this business?

  • Find a way to stay solvent and keep yourself in the game….whether it’s selling for the club you’re working for, working a little on the side to make some extra money—whatever it takes to keep your life moving forward (spouse, kids, house) while keeping the dream alive. The less sacrifice you feel you’re making from a life perspective, the more likely you are to outlast the numbers game that’s a huge part of this business.

Thanks again for reading PBP Stories, if you’d like to be interviewed or have someone you think I should check into interviewing please tweet me @michaelhirnpbp or send check out my website www.michaelhirn.com

Welcome to another entry to our ongoing blog of Play by play stories, we are lucky to have been joined today by the PBP voice of the Powell River Kings as well as the editor of The Broadcaster Hub (www.thebroadcasterhub.com) Alex Rawnsley:
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Alex, How long have you been in broadcasting?

The upcoming season will be my 5th year broadcasting, and my 3rd season with the Powell River Kings in the BCHL. I began doing regular hockey games in 2010/2011 with the Cariboo Cougars in the British Columbia Major Midget League. The team made the league final that year, but got swept by North West.
Prior to that I worked for a season with the Prince George Fury, a now defunct indoor soccer franchise. I got to travel across Canada and into the North-West United States with the team.
When did you know that it was what you wanted to do?
Being born in Australia, it would be hard to say I’ve known all my life I wanted to be a hockey announcer. I’ve known most of my life that I wanted to do something in sports. Originally it was the player and team management side, the business aspect of this industry, but in 2003 I fell in love with broadcasting, worked and went to school for the technical and production side of the television industry, and then transitioned into play-by-play from there.

I think I knew this is what I wanted to do when I was with the Cougars during the 10/11 season. Every spare moment I had was put into prep, or web site stuff, or anything related to the team. I figured that if I was working this hard when I wasn’t getting paid, and I still liked it, then I could be onto something.
How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?
It’s constant. I don’t sit down and say ‘ok I’m going to prep for 2 hours.’ I consider my morning blog reading prep, any chats I have with other announcers is prep. In terms of sitting down, pouring over numbers and getting my paperwork ready, I’d say about 2-3 hours. The bulk of my time is spent reading reports and blogs, talking with players and coaches from both teams, and having nice anecdotes to work into the show, as opposed to just numbers.

What sports do you currently broadcast?
I currently only cover hockey, however I would love to branch out a little. I did an international baseball tournament in Prince George in 2011 and that was a lot of fun. I’m not really a baseball ‘fan’, but had a blast calling games, because the pace of the game really allowed you to tell stories. I’ve been asked to do roller derby too, and will do that this summer.

Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?
Directly related to hockey, guys like Jim Hughson and Doc Emrick are the two guys I look to and say ‘ok, that’s what to do’. I try not to copy anyone, but have taken methods and phrases from a variety of different announcers, even ones I work with. I am also huge fans of both Richie Benaud and Bruce McAvaney, two Australian announcers. Richie is the Vin Scully of Australian cricket, and a true master of the artform. McAvaney is a talented network announcer who covers multiple sports, ranging from track and field to Australian Rules Football.

Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?

I don’t think so. I don’t look at a game and say “oh I have to copy that”. If I came out and starting poaching “Holy Mackinaw” and “Great Save (goaltender)”, then I think it would come off as corny. The thing I take most from other announcers are vocab…ways to describe different areas of the playing surface. Perhaps it’s an ordinary term I haven’t thought of, that really works. What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?

One of my favourite coaches interviews happened late into my 1st season in the BCHL. For his sake, I won’t mention who it was, but it was before the game and I was chatting to the other team’s head coach for my pre-game show. The Coach and I had a good repore, and often spoke more off air than we did on.
During the interview, he was trying to eat a mandarin orange. While I would ask a question, he would eat a piece, and while he was answering a question, he would peel the next one. The only catch was he kept dropping that next piece, and every time he did, he’d give me a look as if to say “I can’t believe I just did that.”
We were getting to the end of the interview, and by this time, there are 2-3 pieces of orange at his feet. He had tried to pick them up while I asked a question, but they were slippery. I didn’t see it happen at the time, but also during the interview, a piece of orange pulp had jumped up and was sitting on his eyebrow. I noticed it during my last question, but kept a straight face.
He answered the question, with the pulp on his eyebrow. In closing, I finished the interview with “Thanks (Name), and there’s a piece of orange on your eye brow”. We both just paused and he burst out laughing. He gave me a look, again as if to say “I can’t believe that happened” and we had a good chat about it after. I cut out the final line for air, but that remains one of my favourite interviews I’ve done.

You’ve recently started your own broadcasting resource website, could you tell us a little bit about that?
Shameless plug….The Broadcaster Hub (http://www.thebroadcasterhub.com/) is a resource web site for sports broadcasters. It features both original content, as well as links to other places on the web with information and resources specific to the play-by-play industry.

I was constantly trying to find this information, and then when I did find it, I’d often lose it and have to seek it out again. I design my own web sites on the side, including an online portfolio for myself, so I felt I had the skills to build this site. It’s started off well, the response has been very positive, and I’m excited to see it grow with both original and linked content.
Be sure to check out http://www.thebroadcastinghub.com as it is a very valuable resource for any play by play guy, and follow Alex on twitter @alexrawnsley