A hockey announcing career lost in the five-hole

March 12, 2010 by  

My radio career began like many do - I walked into my college’s radio station asking about sports announcing possibilities and they said “Sure, wanna cover tonight’s hockey game?”

Thus, like most things in my life, my career as a sports announce started quickly with me having almost no grasp of what I was actually doing.

I mean, I know hockey the way the average American sports fan knows hockey. I can keep up with what’s happening on the ice. I know who’s winning and basically why. But I don’t know the lingo for the life of me. And let me tell you, from personal experience, you need to learn the lingo before you go on the air.

Now here’s something they don’t tell you - hockey’s a really fast game. Really, really fast. And here’s something they didn’t tell me - the team the fearsome University of Alaska Anchorage team would be playing a tea, made up from guys from Vick’s Vertigo Recovery Institute.

Adding up all the factors, and you see I had fallen into a dream assignment - Announcing a really fast sport I really didn’t know that well for my first time on the radio, in which one of the teams ends up scoring 18 goals.

That’s right, the final score was 18-1. You try and make that interesting. So my first experience on the radio consisted of me desperately trying to keep up with the game while finding different ways to describe the un-holy amount of goals.

Sadly, the one bit of lingo that stuck in my mind was “the five-hole.” Thus, about 11 of those goals were made through the five goal. the Vertigian goalie had a HUGE five-hole, and I filled it up with pucks, real or perceived. And honestly, I still don’t know where the five-hole actually is.

The final indignation? The fact that the engineer cut me off for the entire third-quarter. Meaning I was announcing the game (terribly) while no one was listening and no one was recording. It was totally the right thing to do.

My radio announcing career continued and got reasonably better (I was never again asked to cover hockey, and instead covered a lot of girls’ volleyball, which is a lot more fun). For the most part, I’d say that my desire to be a sportscaster was filled, much like that poor, overburdened five-hole so many years ago on that fateful night.



4 Responses to “A hockey announcing career lost in the five-hole”

  1. dgun on March 12th, 2010 5:51 am

    Something else we have in common. I too was once on the radio, in college then for a couple of years at a small AM station.

    It was the early 90′s and we were still playing 45′s. And I did an obituary report twice per day. My ‘Rock’n Roll’ lifestyle was something to envy.

  2. Michael on March 12th, 2010 9:10 am

    I was on TV once in 2006, as a representative of a single-issue political campaign I was involved in. For a counter-point, the reporter email-interviewed a guy who was running a “Yes Men” style website designed to make the opposition look absolutely ridiculous. The reporter didn’t realize it was a fake website until about a month after they aired the report. By that time, they had generated about 100,000 hits to the guy’s website and infused a load of misdirection and misinformation to the opposition’s campaign (the Nazi hat in the top left corner of the website should have been a dead give-away, but the reporter was kinda dumb). We squeeked out a win (50.6% of the vote).

    People assumed that our team had something to do with it (we didn’t, but I did secretly encourage him from time to time throughout the campaign). And that was the last time any respectable person suggested I go on television. But, whatever. I can do much more damage from behind the scenes.

  3. hugh.c.mcbride on March 12th, 2010 12:57 pm

    The unquestioned highlight of my “career” announcing basketball & football games at my small D-III college was the time that my partner & I arrived at an away basketball game only to discover that the team’s gym did not have room for two broadcast crews in the press box. So we were forced to sit in the bleachers, with our equipment on our laps & a couple of wires running up into the press box for power & connection.

    Though I would never compare my output to the likes of Chick Hearn, Joe Tait or Marv Albert, I’m pretty sure that *they* never had to call a game while also passing a hot dog from the a vendor to the guy at the other end of the row.

  4. hugh.c.mcbride on March 12th, 2010 1:04 pm

    And on the topic of hockey announcers, in addition to turning me on to the sublime beauty that is Mike Lange, the radio voice of the Pittsburgh Penguins, some hockey-lovin’ Pens fans from college also occasionally regaled me with stories of the brief period when beloved Pirates announcer Bob “Gunner” Prince worked Pens games.

    Apparently not completely sure whether the puck was blown up or stuffed, Prince’s announcing consisted of a lot of calls like “OK, we’ve got the ball — um, I mean the puck. Now the other team’s got it … now we’ve got it again … now they’ve got it …”

    Never knew if it was really that bad, or if they were just exaggerating, but Prince’s Wikipedia entry (I know, I know) does include the following:

    “His work with the Penguins was a cause of consternation for hockey fans. Prince didn’t understand the game, didn’t know the Penguins’ personnel and thought he could get by on his reputation and popularity.”

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