Suffering injuries is an aspect of professional sports that is universally loathed by fans and athletes. It can lead to the diminution of skill and ability, sometimes catalyzing the path to retirement. Although there are several methods to prevent injuries, they are hardly inevitable, a primary reason as to why today’s generation of athletes is preparing for the next phase of their lives while in the midst of playing. Whether it is during the season or the offseason, these athletes, some of whom refer to themselves as “new media”, tell their own stories by leveraging their platforms, creating content and generating levels of engagement they hope are enough to propel them into a second career in sports media.
Paul Bissonnette grew up in Welland, Ontario with his two parents – Yolande, a college professor for 30 years; Cam, a steelworker – and was an avid fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He got his start playing hockey at a young age as a defenseman, and at the age of 16, began what would be a four-year stint in the Ontario Hockey League. While in the OHL, he took the ice for the North Bay Centennials under head coach Mike Kelly – but after his first season, the team relocated and was renamed the Saginaw Spirit. Additionally, Bissonnette had the opportunity to play on Canadian junior national teams, including on the men’s under-18 team that captured the country’s first IIHF World U18 Championship in 2003. Shortly thereafter, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Penguins, making his dream of playing in the NHL closer to becoming a reality.
After two more years in the OHL, Bissonnette transitioned to playing in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) with the Wheeling Nailers, splitting his time with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the American Hockey League (AHL). Known as a tenacious defender and enforcer on the ice, Bissonnette worked to elevate his skillset and earned his nickname “BizNasty”. He then secured a spot on the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins roster, a team that would go on to win the Stanley Cup in a thrilling seven-game series against the Detroit Red Wings that ended on a sprawling series of saves by Marc-André Fleury.
The next season, Bissonnette joined the Phoenix Coyotes on a waiver claim, and spent the next five years with the organization as a role player, meaning that he was usually either in the lineup or listed as a healthy scratch. Nonetheless, he was grateful to be on an NHL team and did whatever he needed to do to stay there by utilizing every opportunity he could to make a name for himself both on and off the ice.
“I went from being a kid in Welland, Ontario… to being a fourth-line plug in the NHL,” said Bissonnette. “Even if it would have ended there – ask anybody who I played with in Arizona – I never took a day on the plane eating steaks and flying private and getting to experience the best league in the world for granted”.
After failing to make NHL rosters for both the St. Louis Blues and newly-renamed Arizona Coyotes, Bissonnette signed with the Manchester Monarchs, the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings. Following his first season in which he played 48 games and served 167 penalty minutes en route to a Calder Cup championship, the team relocated and was named the Ontario Reign. At the start of the 2016-17 season, Bissonnette tore his first ACL, but opted not to get surgery and quickly rehabbed it so he could get back on the ice. In his first game back though, Bissonnette tore his other ACL, and ended his career in a fight with two torn ligaments.
Throughout this time in professional hockey though, Bissonnette was doing more than just focusing on his abilities on the ice. In his spare time, he would interact with fans on Twitter, talking about the game of hockey from the perspective of a hockey player. Once he knew his playing career was coming to an end, he began having conversations with Rich Nairn, the Arizona Coyotes’ executive vice president of communications and broadcasting, about potentially joining the organization as the color commentator for game broadcasts on 98.7 KMVP-FM, the team’s then-flagship station. While his time on the ice was ending, a door into sports media was gradually opening, setting up Bissonnette’s meteoric rise in the industry as a name synonymous with hockey coverage.
“It kind of really spiraled and really took formation in my last year,” Bissonnette said of his start in sports media. “There wasn’t really a plan as far as vision as to what I was going to do. It was more so was just kind of offered and I said, ‘You know what? That would be a good opportunity to start doing the radio broadcasts.’”
With play-by-play veteran Bob Heethius by his side, Bissonnette spent the next three seasons working on radio broadcasts and also created online content for the team; however, it was not the only role in sports media he held. Shortly after his retirement, Bissonnette began working on a web series for Barstool Sports called BizNasty Does BC, in which he explored the province of British Columbia while joined by hockey players including Shea Weber, Morgan Rielly and Connor McDavid. The web series was released shortly after the conclusion of the 2017-18 Coyotes’ season, and generated immense viewing numbers and rave reviews.
“I had already done stuff in front of the camera,” said Bissonnette. “It was more about being able to test the creative side, and also with the social media stuff and the original content tending to do pretty [well] just overall from the broad scale – [so] I did that.”
Before joining the radio, Bissonnette had appeared on the Spittin’ Chiclets hockey podcast various times, hosted by his former Penguins teammate Ryan Whitney, along with Barstool Sports writer Rear Admiral and show producer Mike Grinnell. The show, released periodically whether or not there is hockey being played, focuses on the NHL while also talking about other aspects of sports and pop culture at large. Halfway through his first season on the radio, Bissonnette was asked to join as a co-host of the podcast, and while he was excited for the opportunity, he decided to wait until he concluded his first season as a color commentator to make it official.
“It was something that started as a tweet many years prior with Whit reaching out to myself and Colby Armstrong,” said Bissonnette. “After being a guest on the show [and] seeing the positivity from the fanbase, they figured it would be wise to add another guy. I did that at the end of that first season with the Coyotes [because I] just really wanted to make sure I got my feet wet and was comfortable doing the media thing. Then, [I] took the plunge into the podcast.”
After three seasons working as a color commentator on the radio, Bissonnette transitioned to become a studio analyst with the Arizona Coyotes, providing his insight during pregame, intermission and postgame shows. He worked in that role throughout the 2020-21 season before the National Hockey League agreed to a new multiplatform media rights deal with ESPN and Turner Sports reportedly worth in excess of a combined $625 million per year. Both networks made it a point to bring on a wide array of commentators and analysts with the intention of garnering ratings and revenue on linear and direct-to-consumer platforms while helping to grow the game of hockey on a global scale.
ESPN’s primary broadcast team was announced as Sean McDonough on the play-by-play, Ray Ferraro as the lead analyst and Emily Kaplan as the network reporter. In the studio, coverage was hosted by Steve Levy, who was joined by Hockey Hall of Fame members Mark Messier and Chris Chelios as studio analysts. The network broadcast the 2021-22 Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, and held the rights to this year’s Stanley Cup Finals between the Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.
Conversely, Turner Sports announced its primary broadcast team as Kenny Albert on the play-by-play and Eddie Olczyk as the lead analyst, with a rotation of ice-level analysts and reporters throughout the season. The studio coverage was anchored by Liam McHugh, and featured analysts and former players Rick Tocchet, Anson Carter, Wayne Gretzky and, of course, Bissonnette.
“It’s different, and I think from never really saying ‘no’ to anything, it taught me how to adapt and try to learn on the fly,” Bissonnette said of his first season on national television. “….With TNT and all of the guys involved, that helped for the transition and really helped get my feet wet even more so on the broadcasting side… It evolved, and I was really able to get my reps with the Coyotes and learn from my mistakes, and then that’s what helped me transition to the broadcast.”
Bissonnette is regularly in Turner’s Atlanta-based studios during national game coverage, the same facility where Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal broadcast the award-winning Inside the NBA. Building the chemistry and rapport akin to the crew on that show is something that was quickly established from the day of Bissonnette’s tryout at Turner Sports. In fact, it was an easy transition for him since the Inside the NBA staff ran the tryout and Barkley helped commence the network’s NHL studio coverage.
“Having Charles [Barkley] on that show that we did just to kick things off took a lot of the pressure [off] and added a lot of levity to the group,” reflected Bissonnette. “It was such a special moment for us to start the season, and it kicked us off in the right way.”
While Bissonnette and his colleagues knew how to interact with one another on the show, the challenge was keeping the momentum going throughout the lengthy 82-game season. Hockey is often regarded as being inferior to football, basketball and baseball in terms of its popularity within the American sports landscape; however, Bissonnette believes the game is in the midst of sustained growth, especially because of the excitement derived from the playoffs. That requires a shift in thinking from covering the game from a team perspective to covering players, both from their games on the ice to their personalities and lifestyles off of it.
“I think there is a fine balance in still keeping the integrity of the tradition of hockey and how it is more team-oriented, but ultimately what we know is that the individuals and the stars drive the sport; people want to know about the individuals – that’s how they get more drawn-in,” remarked Bissonnette. “I feel like the league is doing a better job – teams are allowing more access, even doing their own.”
One of the catalysts to help grow the game is in its media coverage, something Bissonnette finds himself within more so than ever before as a color commentator, studio analyst and podcaster. While there is some element of competition between NHL coverage from ESPN as opposed to Turner Sports, Bissonnette knows that having the league shown nationally across two large networks gives the sport a better chance to permeate into the psyche of sports fans in general, and even potentially attract those not interested in sports.
“I think we’re just happy that the game is growing,” said Bissonnette. “We’re happy that both networks were able to get in. I just think that we’re professional and we want to do our best every show. We make sure that we’re brainstorming and putting in opinions and really doing a lot of the due diligence and brainstorming before we ever get there.”
From the inaugural pregame show in-studio to the outdoor game between the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators from Nissan Stadium in Nashville to a lost bet that resulted in his head being shaved on national television, Bissonnette’s first year on national NHL coverage was certainly a memorable one. He has been able to successfully appeal to various demographics across multiple platforms, and has helped bring out the personalities of his other colleagues as well throughout the course of the season. As he looks ahead to another busy season with Turner Sports set to broadcast the Stanley Cup Finals, Bissonnette is excited to create more memorable moments on the air – but that comes with first improving the existing product.
“Knowing that we have the Finals — it’s awesome!,” Bissonnette exclaimed. “[Not having it this year] was almost a blessing in disguise because this was the first time that I’ve ever done network, and then being on throughout the whole playoffs the way that we were, I probably would have been gassed for the Finals. Getting to learn that stamina was a blessing in disguise, so I’m just really looking forward to everybody getting back in the saddle, learning from our mistakes, getting better and trying to amplify the product for next year.”
Despite being a studio analyst for Turner Sports’ coverage of the National Hockey League, Bissonnette still enjoys podcasting because of the freedom it gives him to talk about topics in the ways he desires to discuss them. He and his colleagues look at their podcast, which is associated with Barstool Sports, as a business, trying to maximize opportunities for innovation and reach.
“I like to beat to my own drum,” said Bissonnette. “I love the freedom. As much as I love everything network-wise… and getting to experience that side of [the industry], I’ll always want to do my own film projects. I’ll always want to say and be able to kind of bring things in the direction I want to bring them and be silly about it because it’s just sports and I think it should be silly.”
The “new media” movement, exemplified in the NBA with the endeavors of Draymond Green joining Turner Sports as a contributor and hosting a podcast on The Volume, shows no signs of slowing down. Yet there seems to be a smaller cohort of NHL players willing to express their opinions or show their personalities off the ice than in leagues like the NBA, potentially stymying the acceleration of growth in that regard.
“Hockey players are a little bit less likely to stand out,” Bissonnette said. “I think that’s why P.K. Subban is so embraced and has such a big following – because hockey fans are starving to see guys allow them access into their life… I definitely think more players will start doing that and opening up themselves more and more to fans.”
The sport of hockey definitively remains on an upward trajectory, with both regional and national networks displaying the nascent pace, perseverance and proficiency of its players on a near-daily basis over nearly seven months – preseason and playoff games notwithstanding. The excitement engendered by the sport, along with its growing appeal to those within younger demographics, is reason to be optimistic about the future of the game.
“In my personal opinion, I think that the trajectory that hockey is on could maybe someday potentially compete with the NBA – maybe be a little bit behind it – but I think it’s past baseball,” Bissonnette said. “I think that hockey is on a rocket ship and there’s more development and more skill, so overall, there is room for improvement, but I am very impressed with the way they are evolving and allowing these guys to show more personality and putting these guys on a pedestal.”
Indeed, Bissonnette has effectuated a robust second career for himself after a devastating injury ended his playing career. He hopes to continue to bring his light-hearted, convivial spirit to his current media jobs, along with opportunities that may arise in the future.
“The biggest compliment we can get as a podcast when we’re on the road is, ‘Hey, I wasn’t even a big hockey fan, but since I started following your guys’ podcast, I started paying attention more and I became the biggest hockey fan,’” Bissonnette said. “For what the game has done for me personally and the life it’s led me and the path it’s led me down, now it’s all about trying to grow the game and give back to this amazing sport.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, Derek serves as a production manager, broadcaster, voiceover artist, technical director, audiovisual editor, and media engineer for Hofstra University’s WRHU. He has also worked on New York Islanders radio broadcasts. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @DerekFutterman.
Sports Talkers Podcast – Carl Dukes
Carl Dukes went from DJing clubs to holding every job there is in a radio building. Now he is dominating 92.9 The Game in Atlanta. Check out his conversation with Stephen Strom.
Stephen Strom can be heard hosting ‘The Sports Talkers Podcast’ for Barrett Sports Media. In addition to hosting here, Stephen works as a broadcasting assistant for the Miami Heat and color analyst for Nova Southeastern. Additional career experiences include working for SiriusXM, performing analyst duties for Princeton basketball, and hosting shows for TalkNorth.com. You can find him on Twitter @SStrom_.
Terry Ford Couldn’t Say No To 107.5 The Game
“In Columbia, South Carolina Gamecock fans are in 150 percent. These people love football. The Atlanta experience, the taste of it in Lexington really gave me a good foundation for what we have here in Columbia.”
If he had to put a number on the big decision he made last year it would be 150 percent. Sure, leaving Lexington, KY and 96.1 WZNN didn’t happen without long thoughts and consideration for Terry Ford, but the opportunity to work for one of the most respected names in the business was too much to pass up.
In late November of 2021, Ford was named the new program director and host at 107.5 The Game in Columbia, SC. The opportunity originally came about during a conversation between Ford and Jason Barrett. Ford had always wanted to work with Bruce Gilbert. Barrett knew this, so when the position under the Cumulus umbrella opened, he urged Ford to consider the position.
“I’ve always wanted to work for Bruce,” Ford said. “Jason told me there was an opportunity to work with Bruce and I talked to the market manager Tammy O’Dell. She was fantastic. Everything was just too good. It was 150 percent the right decision. This has been nothing but a phenomenal experience.”
Columbia is the exact market you think it is. Situated in a college town, which breeds incredible passion for Gamecock athletics. South Carolina has had success in basketball and baseball, but to its core, it’s like most other SEC markets in that college football rules the day. To an outsider, that can sometimes be a challenge to immediately grasp and understand. But Ford is no outsider when it comes to the SEC. His previous stop was in Lexington and he even did a stint in Atlanta at 790 The Zone. He knows the landscape of the SEC.
“When I was at 790 The Zone, I’ll never forget the PD Bob Richards was like, ok, you have to understand, we might have pro sports here but the Georgia Bulldogs are gigantic,” Ford said. “This is SEC country. I kinda learned then and there that if Georgia was sniffing around some 9th grader that runs a 4.2 40-yard dash, that’s a story. When you’re in SEC country, everything is a story that matters to the local program. Atlanta gave me my first taste of the passion of the SEC football fan. Lexington was different because it’s a basketball school. And in Columbia, South Carolina Gamecock fans are in 150 percent. These people love football. The Atlanta experience, the taste of it in Lexington really gave me a good foundation for what we have here in Columbia.”
But there was much more to his new gig than just understanding how much passion there is in Columbia for Gamecock football. His biggest challenge was going to be to earn the respect and trust of his on-air staff as their new PD, as well as blend into the three-man show he was going to be a part of. So how did he do that?
“It’s kind of a tightrope,” Ford said. “You’re the PD, but you’re also in the octagon with them. I really think talking with hosts in ‘hosts talk’ is the best way to connect with them when you go to another market. We hosts are different. When you can sit and talk like hosts together I think it builds a connection. I think all hosts, when you get a new PD, you’re like, ok, what the hell have you done? You’re going to be in charge of me as a host, have you hosted? I think that’s natural for a host, whether it’s outward or internal. I’ve done the same thing.”
Ford has more than 20 years of experience in sports radio. That will garner him some respect in the building, but not as much as his continued eagerness to learn from others. That could very well be one of the best traits for any PD, no matter their age or experience. If you’re always eager to learn, you’ll undoubtedly be better. Ford is just that. He wants to learn from as many people as possible.
“I’ve always wanted to learn from guys like Scott Masteller or Bruce Gilbert or Jason Barrett,” Ford said. “People who have done this successfully at a high level. And learning from guys who’ve done it in different size markets. You can’t take things from Philadelphia and apply them to Oklahoma City. It’s a different level. I wanted to learn how different guys in different markets program their brands. I wanted to learn all aspects of the business.”
Ford’s eagerness to learn isn’t where his characteristics of being a good PD ends. In the eyes of a host, it can be appreciated that the PD in the building has also seen things from their side. Ford has done exactly that. In a closed-door meeting, he’s now the one delivering the news, good or bad, to a host. But it wasn’t long ago when he was the one sitting on the opposite side of the desk.
“I never want to forget when I went into programming, what it’s like to sit on the other side of the desk in that other chair,” Ford said. “Because it can suck. I’ve sat in that chair and gotten good news and I’ve sat in that chair and got some crappy news. I just never want to forget what it’s like to be the guy sitting there getting news. I want to take all those experiences and all that knowledge and you come in and deal with a Heath Cline, or a Jay Phillips, or Bill Gunter, or a Pearson Fowler, who’s under 30, or Patrick Perret, who’s under 30. I want to be able to relate to them and talk to them in their host language, where they say, ok, this dude speaks the language. He gets where I’m coming from. It’s just about finding a way to relate to everyone.”
To be completely transparent, the phone call I had with Ford only lasted 20 minutes. But even in that short time, I found myself saying, wow, this is a PD I would love to work for. He’s intelligent and passionate about the business, he’s incredibly skilled and genuinely cares about relating to his hosts, but he’s also really funny. Each question he answered was well-thought-out and insightful, but it wasn’t said without a short joke until he broke out with a serious answer. He’s a guy that knows what he’s doing but isn’t the dreadful guy that sucks the life out of the building. Columbia seems lucky to have him.
“Sometimes you get good fortune from the radio gods and other times you feel like you can’t get any luck they’re taking a dump on you,” Ford said. “They smiled on me through circumstance and with the help of a guy like Jason Barrett I ended up with a good opportunity in Columbia. It was too good to turn down. It was one of the moments where, if I turn this down, I’m a dope. I’ve been a dope in my life and this time I decided not to be one.”
I’ve always been interested in the daily life of someone who’s both a host and a PD. I don’t envy it because you have to perfectly delegate your time to fulfill both duties. So how does Ford go about it?
“Massive chaos at high speed while blindfolded,” joked Ford. “I get up around 6:30 in the morning and away from the office, I try to put in a couple hours of prep. That way people aren’t asking me about stuff and I’m not doing PD things. All I’m doing is trying to prep like a host. I try to give myself a couple hours of that before I come into the office. I’ll be honest, prepping as a PD and prepping as a host, good luck. I tell the guys here, I’m probably about 75 percent of a host right now, in terms of effectiveness. I just can’t prep like I want to. I’m a prepping dork. I jump down all sorts of rabbit holes and I’m deep-diving into stuff. As a PD you don’t have that time to dive.”
Ford started his radio career outside of sports talk. But he was always captivated by the business and spent many nights debating sports with his friends. It was a passion, even though he wasn’t yet hosting a show.
“I always was captivated by sports talk, but when I was growing up it was a certain way,” Ford said. “It really wasn’t the way that I wanted to do it. I said, man, if it ever becomes where you can be opinionated, compelling but you can also have some fun, I’m all in. I always had an eyeball on sports while doing music radio. Around 2000, I said, I love sports, talking sports, you know what, screw it, I’m going to start looking for sports talk openings.”
So he did, but while searching for openings, Ford had to refine his craft, while also building a demo. He did it in a way that perfectly sums up who he is as both a talent and a person. He made it fun
“I was doing rock radio at the time, and you talk to dudes, and what I would do is start sports conversations with them and record it. I would save those and put a riff in front of it like a monologue and I would take these calls and I built a demo by talking to drunk guys at a rock station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I got the gig off of that for Sporting News magazine in Seattle.”
Tyler McComas is a columnist for BSM and a sports radio talk show host in Norman, OK where he hosts afternoon drive for SportsTalk 1400. You can find him on Twitter @Tyler_McComas or you can email him at TylerMcComas08@yahoo.com.
Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Kevin Burkhardt
He is always upbeat, but never over the top. No screaming, but his energy remains consistent and smooth throughout a broadcast.
It wasn’t all that long ago, that Kevin Burkhardt was selling cars in New Jersey. Now that’s all in his rearview mirror and Burkhardt is getting ready to enter his first season as the main play-by-play voice of the NFL on Fox. You could say he could be the definition of ‘perseverance’, doing whatever it took to chase a dream. That focus has certainly paid off nicely for Burkhardt. The leap he made in two decades time is amazing and not often duplicated.
Growing up in Bloomfield, New Jersey, Burkhardt, would do play-by-play for his Nintendo games back in his Junior High days. He loved Gary Cohen and tried to emulate him as best he could. Strangely enough, he would end up working with Cohen on Mets broadcasts on SNY.
A 1997 graduate of William Paterson University, Burkhardt earned a degree in broadcasting. He took that degree to radio station WGHT in Northern New Jersey, spending eight years working for the station. It was a 1,000-watt, daytime only AM station. Burkhardt delivered local news and called high school football. While at WGHT he also worked at Jukebox Radio, broadcasting New Jersey Jackals minor league games for WJUX. To make ends meet while doing freelance work, Burkhardt began working as a sales associate at Pine Belt Chevrolet in Eatontown, New Jersey. Over the next six-plus years Burkhardt could not find a larger station willing to take a chance on him.
He recalled the frustrated feeling he had back then, when he spoke with Sports Illustrated in 2013. . “I thought I was good enough to make it [in broadcasting], but after so many years of busting my tail, I was making $18,000 a year and working all kinds of odd hours,” says Burkhardt. “It just wasn’t happening for me.”
Finally, Burkhardt got a part-time job working at WCBS-AM in New York, which in turn put him on the radar of the all sports station, WFAN. He began to work there part-time, then eventually became the station’s full-time New York Jets reporter. He got the break he needed.
ROAD TO FOX
After his stint at WFAN, Burkhardt joined the Mets broadcast team starting the 2007 season for SNY. He appeared on shows such as Mets Hot Stove, Mets Pregame Live, Mets Postgame Live and Mets Year in Review. His main duties though were as the field reporter during Mets telecasts. He would also call select games during both Spring Training and the regular season.
Also, while employed at SNY, he called Dallas Cowboys games on Compass Media Networks from 2011 until 2013. That’s when he left for Fox. But, sandwiched in between was an opportunity to be seen by Fox execs. He called a Mets/Braves game with SI’s Tom Verducci on their network. The Fox brass liked what they saw.
According to that 2013 SI article, Burkhardt’s agent initially had discussions with the network about his client calling college football this season but those talks morphed into an NFL opportunity. “When my agent called me with that, I was floored,” Burkhardt says. “I’m sure you hear people say ‘this is my dream job’ all the time, but I literally dropped to one knee on the floor. I could not believe what he was saying on the other end.”
He started with the #4 broadcast team and of course has worked his way up from there. Now, some 9 years later he’s on the top crew. After Joe Buck left for ESPN earlier this year, Burkhardt was promoted to the #1 broadcast team for the NFL on Fox, alongside Greg Olsen.
Football isn’t the only thing Burkhardt has exceled in at the network. He is the lead studio host for Major League Baseball coverage on Fox and FS1 during the regular season, for the MLB All-Star Game and throughout the entire MLB Postseason.
When Buck left for ESPN, in my opinion Burkhardt was the obvious choice to replace him. Buck leaves some big shoes to fill, but Burkhardt has the ability to make this work. It’s never easy to replace a well-known commodity like Buck, but Burkhardt himself has been featured prominently on the network. As mentioned, his other high-profile assignments have made him visible and appreciated by viewers.
If social media is a good judge, I almost got that out without a chuckle, the choice was a good one. Even the outgoing play-by-play man was on board with the decision.
Burkhardt will do a great job and will become a fixture on Sunday afternoons.
WHY IS HE SO GOOD?
Maybe we’re finding out that he was a great car salesman through his work on television. I mean there’s a friendliness and something reassuring about the way he calls a game. It’s positive, almost downright cheerful in his delivery. You know what you’re going to get from a Burkhardt broadcast. He is always upbeat, but never over the top. No screaming, but his energy remains consistent and smooth throughout a broadcast. I really enjoy watching everything he does.
While the style may be more lighthearted in nature, the information and description are right on the mark. The presentation seems much more relaxed than some announcers that can be a little ‘in your face’ at times. I say relaxed as a compliment, because as much as you want, a broadcaster can’t be ‘hyped up’ all the time. That would be disconcerting to say the least to the viewer.
The fact that he has such a diverse background in the business really helps. Having done radio, he can understand the importance of brevity. That comes in handy when calling a game on television, especially when you want your analyst to feel free to make points. The reporting and studio hosting on his resume allow him to be very conversational and at ease. Those assignments also tune up your listening skills, which helps when calling action and working with your analyst. It didn’t hurt either that he had so much experience on the big stage of New York.
I know I’ve said this a million times, but he genuinely sounds like he’s having the time of his life every time he works a game or hosts a show. Considering where he came from, I’m not surprised.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2019, he called select games for FOX Sports Sun, the television home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Since getting his break, Burkhardt has appeared as the celebrity endorser of Pine Belt Chevrolet, his former employer, in Eatontown, N.J.
In 2019, Burkhardt and his wife established the Kevin and Rachel Burkhardt Scholarship at William Paterson University in New Jersey, their alma mater, for a fulltime student majoring in Communications and preparing for a career in broadcast journalism.
Andy Masur is a columnist for BSM and works for WGN Radio as an anchor and play-by-play announcer. He also teaches broadcasting at the Illinois Media School. During his career he has called games for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. He can be found on Twitter @Andy_Masur1 or you can reach him by email at Andy@Andy-Masur.com.