Ep.68 Hello Out There, We're On The Air (Ben - Hockey Broadcaster)
6:54AM Dec 21, 2019
Good day everyone you're listening to talk to your hobby. And this is Episode 68. Hello out there, we're on the air. That's That's it. That's all I got. For those who know what that's from good for those who don't go look it up. I'm your host Alex and today I have the honor to have been as my guest on the show how you doing today?
I'm doing very well, man. Thanks for having me on. Well, thanks for being here. He's
actually one of the people that I talked to the first time when I try to figure out like, Oh, you know what, maybe I should start a podcast. He was there when I'm like, you know what, I'll do this.
It was a really fun conversation for me as you know. Fellow broadcaster myself, just to kind of see the passion that you were bringing into the podcast. So what would you say your episode? 68 This is Episode 68. Yeah, that's that's insane. That's a pretty, pretty awesome run to hear.
Ya know, I'm excited. I've been loving every single episode and I can't I cannot wait to talk to you about this because you're you were there when it first the idea first came to my mind. So I'm excited to just bounce ideas off of you for this podcast episode.
Yeah, yeah, I'm excited
to I'm looking forward to it. So before we jump right into the hobby itself, so who is Ben?
Ah, so right now I'm promotions coordinator for a radio station in Edmonton Alberta. been doing that for about six months or so before that I was doing a similar role at a radio station in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and did that for about a year and a half. So as far as you know, podcasts, radio shows, audio recording, stuff like that, and is definitely one of my passions. So it's always very exciting to be a part of anything related in that field.
So in other words, I have to be on my best behavior and the best because I gotta step up my game basically. I won't trust me,
I won't be judging it too hard.
Okay, just a little bit, just enough to keep me on my feet. So broadcasting and this is a great segue to the hobby of today, which is hockey broadcasting. How'd you get introduced to that?
So I actually got introduced to it, originally back when I went to college, so I went to a Gotham College in Ottawa. And they have a stellar radio broadcasting program there and radio had always kind of interested me. And one of the jobs that I did before going back to school involved a lot of driving. And that's when I first really started listening into sports talk radio, and one afternoon I'm kind of sitting in my car thinking, you know what, that's the dream job right there. Talk about sports all day and get paid to do it. That's fine. Too bad of a gig. So I enrolled in the program at Algonquin. And they actually have an opportunity for students there to broadcast Junior a hockey games. So it's the Napoleon Raiders. And the students have a chance to do both pre and post game in studio, as well as actually providing play by play and color commentary at The games. So an opportunity that I did not know existed before enrolling in the program. And once I found out did it just absolutely leapt at that opportunity. And how long have you been doing this so far, often on for the last four years now. Two years at school with the Napoleon Raiders and the Ottawa West Golden Knights of the cch l tier one and tier two respectively. I was also able to broadcast for the RN prior Packers of the CC HL tier two on all these 1077 FM that broadcast out of arm prior, and then for the last year and a half, two seasons really, it was with the Fort McMurray oil barons of the age AHL the Alberta Junior Hockey League broadcast on country 93 three which is one of the stations I work for in Fort McMurray. So
you've you have experience all over the place. And speaking of which, where can people find you social media links or anything like that?
Yeah, they can always find me on Twitter. It's Ben Mad 210 and you can also find me on Facebook Normally I'm pretty friendly on Facebook Ben Madigan. If someone wants to, you know, add a friend request especially if it's someone who's interested in hockey broadcasting or or sports broadcast, in general, always happy to you know, bounce ideas off of you air checks, give advice, because it's a very, very fun thing to get into, but it can you know, can be challenging to decide where to start from
And I feel like you are a great person to talk to when it comes to starting this hobby or even a career anything along those lines.
Yeah, I mean, I've, you know, I've been around I've been involved with a couple different organizations and a couple different leagues. And it's, you know, first and foremost, one of the things that I would definitely say is, is getting contact with them. More often than not, teams are always looking for that extra little bit of exposure. A lot of the junior hockey teams that I broadcast with, so that would be, you know, 16 to 20 year olds, who are not going the major Junior route, the ihL. In Ontario, the W HL in Western Canada, they're primarily playing so that they can go to college or university in the States as opposed to going directly from their Playing career into the NHL. Those teams don't get quite the exposure that the major Junior teams do. Obviously just being a little bit different. setup and not to knock on it, but just a little bit lower skill level as well. So typically what they look for is online streaming, which they will pair up with a broadcast team, either with a partner in radio station in the community, or just a group of guys that they bring in to do those, those hockey streams. And there's enough turnover that if you're looking for an opportunity, there's usually something in the area there go just keep your eye out. And
you never know where you can find basically, that's pretty much what you're saying. Right?
Yeah, yeah. And don't take those chances. Right,
exactly. And then you could be in a position like Ben is,
yeah, it's, it's a lot of fun. And one of the things that I really noticed about the junior a level as opposed to the major Junior is, a lot of these teams might be set up in smaller communities because those smaller communities don't obviously have the facilities to host a major junior team. But that just means that those teams are so much more important. To those communities. A prime example of course is Fort McMurray. It's a fairly decent sized municipal region their their census, last year was 112,000 people, but they are four hours away from the next major city, which is Edmonton five hours really so that Fort McMurray Oh barons hockey team is the only hockey team really in the city and and the the community, the parents, the fans. The city loves that team and supports that team so much because that's their hockey team. That's where they go on a Friday, Saturday night in the winter time because that's the entertainment that they have in the city.
So it feels more like a family than just a group of people playing game. It's just the whole city. The whole town is just into as a
that's my brother. That's my sister. That's that's my family in the game. Yeah. The other support, they got the back light
like you see obviously a lot of support in the community. And you see one of the biggest I really enjoy seeing as someone who you know is affiliated with the organization but but not directly working for them is billet families. So billet families are families that will allow these young players, these young men come into the town and have a place to live. You know, a 1617 year old kid who is traveling away from home into a new city, these billet families step up and give them a home. Give them a support system in place so that these young players know that they're being set up for success. And that's not always easy to do to invite someone into your home and into your life. But there's never a shortage of billet families and community like Fort McMurray
know speaking about these billet families. I feel like well, this is an interesting segue, but when you do do your sports broadcasting, what do you focus on? Mostly? Do you focus more on the gameplay the team stats the Player Stats, because it won't want to say the family, gathering new players Or to their family? Do they like listen to your broadcasts like cool, I want that player to join into my family kind of thing.
I mean, obviously with sports, you know the the numbers and the statistics play a big role in what you cover. I'm a stats guy when it comes to sports. And that's something that definitely takes focus when you're talking about player success. But more than anything, and it's one of the things that I really enjoyed with doing two full seasons with the oil barons is you get to watch these players grow and develop both as athletes and as people in their community. You see the difference from you know, a young 1617 year old player coming in to the league very new and very raw and then you see them develop and grow into a veteran player over the years. It's really quite something special to watch and watching their personalities develop getting to see them you know, outside of the game outside of the rink in the community support their community. Those are the stories that I like to talk about on air and to just, you know, remind listeners that at the end of the day, these are just athletes, their people, their their young men who are maturing and developing at a unique time in their life and are using sports as a very important way to get through that,
like, like hell, you're like breaking down the barrier between athlete and well, a human. So just connecting both together saying, These are humans, they have feelings, they had go through struggles, they were putting their effort or entertaining you, they're bringing pride to bring glory. They're just having fun doing what they love to do. And that's very honorable of you to do that.
It's very important to me because again, these at the end of the day, the skill level of these players is incredible like that I played hockey all my life and I never be anywhere near as good as these players are. But sometimes the competitive nature of sport can get in the way of that and he Here fans, you know rowdy fans and parents in the stands. I think sometimes it really gets lost that these are people that these aren't just athletes. And sometimes it's fun to be the bad guys and get on their case or, you know, blame a guy who's having a bad game. But at the end of the day, these are young men that are maturing and trying to find their way through life and a lot of them they will find that path through hockey, but hockey won't be the end game. There is not an overwhelming amount of these players that are going to make it into the NHL or even the AHL, a good number of them are going to go on to division one Division Two division three schools in the states and they're going to earn their academic scholarship through sports and find a career outside of hockey. But hockey is that driving factors that central thing that that gets them where they need to be?
No, you didn't mention a very important thing that you used to play hockey didn't play a big role in When it came to you being a broadcaster, knowing how to spot very key things that the the other normal people would not usually see.
Yeah, I mean, hockey's always been a big part of my life. I've been skating since I was three years old. And I played organized hockey, right up until I was 20. And then I've recently got back into an organized League, I played red hockey from the ages of 10 to 15. So I do like to think that having played and having played at a competitive level, definitely gives me a bit more insight than someone who hasn't played. But I think the other thing is you have to make sure that you're remembering you're watching the game as opposed to playing the game. It's a much different perspective, standing up in the press box than it is on game level. And I think that's where I like to give players a bit of a break sometimes on mistakes they may make because if you've obviously ever watched hockey before, it is such a fast paced game. It happens So quickly, you know, things are there are bangbang plays that just happened and you can be caught out of position, you can give away a bad turnover in a split second that can go back the other way and end up end up in the back of your net. And you know, there's nothing you can do to stop it. So I think understanding the struggles that players go through definitely helps as a broadcaster, to be fair on how you analyze the game and how you analyze players because some nights it can be really easy to be hard on a player. But if you understand the game and understand how those mistakes came around, it's a little bit easier to cut them some slack.
I like that. I like that you understand that human error does exist and you're very flexible, which is great. And you want to show the best side of the players you don't you don't want to just keep beating on one player saying oh, this player is doing this wrong. Like you said there. There's some of them are 16 year olds getting to this. You don't want to just crush their spirit. And I understand that.
Well. I was I just want to say it's it's a tough balance as a broadcaster, because you want to be fair. So if a player makes a mistake, and it cost them a goal, you can't sugarcoat it. Right? You have to point out that Yep, a mistake was made. And this is how it was made. And this is who it was made by. But at the same time, especially as an outside person coming into the organization, you can't constantly be degrading, the players are coming down hard on the players, because then it's going to sound like you don't support the organization. So that there's a very fine line between being, you know, bias towards the team and being too hard on the team to make up for.
And I feel that comes along with years of experience and just training how to be neutral. Absolutely. Now, for you on a personal level, what would you say is the best part about being a hockey broadcaster? To be honest, I
just love the game of hockey. As mentioned, it's something that I grew up with, and I don't think it was something that I ever considered as Both a hobby and, you know potential career option when I was young because you hear those voices you know the bob Cole's the Joe Bowens, I'm a Toronto boy so it's primarily leaf voices grew up listening to, but those those guys that have been doing it for years, you never think those opportunities are going to come up because they're so good at what they do. And they're they hit a place where they're hit a point sorry, where they're almost irreplaceable. But when the opportunity came up, even though you know it's at the end of the day, not the highest level of hockey, it's a fun way to watch the game because you're watching it through a different lens than you would as a spectator. I've noticed that since doing games when I'm in the stands, watching the game as a spectator, I watch it very, very differently than how I watch a game as a broadcaster because I'm not analyzing it as much I'm enjoying watching the game as the brother caster, it's it's fun, it's fun to challenge your knowledge of the game to analyze the game and have your take on it. And some people might disagree with your analysis. Other people might agree with it. And I think that's just part of the part that I enjoy the most is how you look at the game compared to someone else and what your perspective is.
No, this might be a really weird question. But does it ever happen to you that you're watching a game and you see a play being played, but you run the future play in your head like you see how it should be run or how it should be executed both sides, the team that's on
the offense and the one that's defending? You see it all the time. So I primarily I do color commentary. And the difference between play by play in color commentary is play by play is literally what is happening. All you're doing is describing what you are seeing in front of you as it unfolds. color commentary is more of why it happened. How it happened. So in order to be able to explain how things happen or why they happen, you have to anticipate the play. You have to look at a defenseman starting with the puck in his end and going, Okay, he's got an outlet pass here or an outlet pass here. If he hits this guy, where's that guy then going to go with the puck, what are his options available to and going back to what I said earlier about not being on ice level, when you're up in the press box with that overhead look, you can see where the open ice is you can see where the open player is and where the puck should go to move the play up forward. Sometimes those plays work. Sometimes players make plays out of nothing and surprise you with a you know, a move out the blue line or an unexpected pass. But having that ability to anticipate the play is crucial to a color commentator because you have to understand how the play broke down and what happened in order to explain that back to the folks who are listening at home and that's the big one with radio right is people are listening but they're not necessarily seeing the game. So you really have to explain what happened. You got
to be very vivid very, as you said colorful, like this podcast got to be very vivid and colorful so people can listen and just visualize everything that Ben's doing. Know what do you tend to do to prepare before a broadcast you have done all the players names and you write down like he knows like, well, this players from here and this players from here or this is their strengths, weaknesses and stuff like that.
Yeah, it's a again, a very important part for both the play by play on their color commentator to do their prep work, their preparation. And normally, you know, if you're really on the ball, you'll spend an hour two hours maybe more depending on the level you're at and, and the depth that you want to go to preparing talking points and those can range from as you mentioned, you have to make sure you have the players names and numbers and the pronunciations correct. You want to make sure that you're talking about the recent history of the team, how they've done over the last couple games, how they've done over the season, where they're at why they're at where they're at, you know, especially in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, there are some big team rivalries because you play these teams every season. So you know, is this a big game for the standings? Is this a big revenge game because they beat us last time, and now we got to beat them. This time. There's always storylines leading into the game. And the more prepared you are to, again, explain those storylines to listeners who maybe don't know, and then explain why they're so important and paint that picture that story of the game. It only adds to the broadcast. So the more prep work that you have ready to go, the smoother the broadcast is going to run for you.
And if you like when you do stuff like that, if It also builds up the anticipation and the show for people watching the game. Because just knowing the backstory let's say for example, I if I didn't know anything about this team and I just listened to you while the game is going like okay, well this is why they're they want to win on this is why this player is doing this. It's kind of cool to know there's like a storylines like a movie trailer like, Okay, cool. This is what's gonna happen and getting excited to see the rest of the game.
Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, You're you want those storylines to be there. Because in sports, there always are, who's the player who's on a streak right now who's the player that's slumping, and you know, the team needs him to step up. There's always always something to talk about. And in those broadcasts, sometimes you have to fill time right if there's a delay in the game, for you know, unexplained reasons a player injury or Zamboni trouble, you name it, it's happened in the past. You have to be ready to fill that time and the more prepared you are for it, obviously the more efficient and smooth You'll be able to fill that time instead of rambling and repeating yourself and, you know, running off into dead end sentences.
Speaking of which, how far back do you go? When it comes to player history? You don't go like when they started when they were five, or do you go? You said last few games. But do you go even further than that?
Yeah, I think a lot of that depends on, you know, is there something interesting to go back to. So, for example, there was a young player in Fort McMurray last year, he's 16 years old, one of 216 year old kids to make the team which is rare at that age and that skill level, because you're going up against 20 year old players, and at that point in your, you know, physical development, that's a big gap between 16 and 20. Both of those 16 year olds were local, Fort MacMurray players. They grew up there, they lived their entire life there. So you can talk about, you know them as 10 year old players and how they stood out at the, you know, the competitive levels in in Adam and midget. And those young Our ages because they have that history with the community. And certain people in the community might remember, you know, that player as a as a younger player
like that. I still, I still love the idea of creating a story, sharing the backstory and just sharing with everybody, which is pretty cool. Yeah. And do you prefer broadcast alone or with company?
I typically always prefer to have company if I can, just because it's a little easier to get those conversations going. Again, when you're trying to kill some time, or you know, if there's a big play, it's always in my mind sounds better. When you have two voices on the broadcast, I have done broadcast solo, and there's a way to go about doing them well, and I think I've done that before. But a prime example is I was doing a game in arm prior for the arm prior Packers. So for those of you that don't know, arm priors, about an hour outside of Ottawa, got there did the pregame show and it turned out That the Zamboni at the rink broke down and they had to start up the other Zamboni but that other Zamboni wasn't ready to go. So there was about a 20 minute delay before the game started, I had to fill that entire 20 minutes by myself. So if you can imagine talking 40 minutes, all by yourself, it's challenging. It's very, very difficult. The radio station I was broadcasting out on all these 1077 is not a typical music radio station. They do a lot of news and a lot of talk radio. So I couldn't just send it back to them to play music, and cover, I had to talk for about 20 minutes straight by myself. And that can be very, very challenging to do. So it's in my mind, always better to have two voices just so you can get a dialogue, a conversation going, and when you have someone that you're comfortable and familiar with, and you really start to develop that chemistry, that's when you can start you know, it's really Some humor into the broadcasts and jokes some some banter back and forth that and to me that really adds to the listening experience for for people back home.
You know I completely agree with you with the whole back and forth aspect if I didn't have that then this podcast would be pretty boring would just be talking people would not like it would not be an entertaining podcast you were just talking about my hobbies or hobbies I heard on the street. But what kind of equipment Do you tend to use when it comes to broadcasting
so the the equipment that by and large I've used throughout my career is called a timeline. And it's a gray box, probably about two feet by about a foot length by width. And basically what it allows you to do is just remote broadcast to the radio station on location. So it connects via an internet connection and then it hooks itself up to the receiving timeline that is back in the radio station transmitter and allows you to broadcast. So the nice thing about it is the sound quality is crystal clear. It doesn't sound any different than if you were to fire up the mic from the radio station control room, you can control your audio levels, your mic levels, your headset levels, and you can hook up. One of the most important things for a broadcast actually, is hooking up the shotgun mics, which pick up your ambient noise. Because there's nothing worse than just hearing two voices talking you want to hear the puck going off the boards, you want to hear sticks battling against each other in the corner, you want to hear body checks the crowd reacting to a big goal. Those are those little things that again, just add to that listening experience back home. So having those shotgun mics are very, very important
to the setup. Well In my case, I'm going to go get some shotgun mics and just put them out on the sidewalks. You hear people walking, just just make it more like, oh, Alex is having a podcast outside and this is being released in the middle of winter. So yeah, Alex is just outside in the middle of winter. Just having an interview with somebody on Skype, which is completely normal.
Yeah, no, it's, it's important.
Yeah, it's nice to the experience, I can definitely imagine that's cool. And for these recordings, do you save them anymore? Or they just get recorded, played and then that's it, they don't do they get saved.
So one, one broadcasting on a radio station, by law, radio has to be recording everything that goes on the air, just in case there is ever a complaint about something that goes to air. Then you can go back and listen to the audio at that time and say, Okay, this is what happened and this is where the complaints coming from. So by law, all radio stations have to record what goes over the airwaves, which means the nice part is we're able to grab that audio of the game and do a number of things with it. First and foremost, as a broadcaster, you want to put together a demo tape, not just you know, to help put on your resume, but also to gain critique to gain feedback from other broadcasters so that you can improve your broadcasting skills. The second one, which again just helps paint that, that picture and helps add to that broadcast, overall sound is putting together highlight packages. So, you know, when we talked in the past about rivalry games, you can grab some audio from the last game against this team, where you're mentioning the team name, and you're talking about the big goal that you know the other team score that won the game for them and lost the game for you or vice versa. And you can paint that story of the last matchup between these two teams. And do you still own
or have access to your first recording ever? Did you ever go back to him like, Oh, that was good, or like, Ooh, that was cringing.
I don't think I have access to it anymore, but I definitely went back and listened to it. And yeah, it's it's cringer. Boy. It's definitely cringy. But that's that's part of the experience as a broadcaster right is you have to be open to criticism, you have to be open to understanding that other people know better than you. And responding to that criticism taken in stride. By and large, the broadcasting community is a very friendly and very helpful one. And you'll find a lot of people who want to help young broadcasters develop and get better. The onus is on you to reach out to them and to look for that help. And then take that advice and use it as opposed to, you know, maybe taking it as criticism and getting you down. So I've definitely went back and listened to a lot of my broadcasts somewhere. I was on the ball, others not so much. But that's that's all part of the experience.
Yeah, I could imagine that some days are better than others. So it's completely normal to Have a roller coaster up and down days. In a sense, yeah. Know, how often do you actually broadcast.
So when I was doing it in school, it probably would have been about one game a week if that only because there were more students than you had spots available on the broadcast team. So we'd have to cycle through that with the oil barons, because I was only doing color commentary. I just did the home games, which was 30 games a season. So and then again, with Fort McMurray being a relatively remote location. It would typically be Friday and Saturday night games, usually back to back because a team would come up for the weekend and play a couple games. Occasionally some Tuesday games and Sunday games but primarily Fridays and Saturdays, September straight through to march and then you're into the playoffs.
And do you have like a training ritual to say you're at home in front of the mirror? Do you practice You're broadcasting in front of a mirror in front of somebody
else. Honestly the most time I spent practicing in front of a mirror was tying my time
Yep, I did it I did it.
Because at that level right you're Alberta Junior Hockey League. It's it's a high enough level and it's a big enough organization that you should look like a professional when you walk into the the rink to do a broadcast. So the dress code is suit, tie, nice dress shirt, make sure your hair is good. Make sure your beards combed. Definitely look the part. So the most practice I did in front of the mirror was with the tie. But I don't know if I said had that many rituals going through more than a routine, right so you get to the rink. The play by play announcer would normally get to the rink about two hours before the game so that he could make sure that everything was set up, connected, ready to go. And then he would typically conduct pregame interviews. One with a player, one with a coach and one with the assistant coach or sorry, the one with the home coach and one with the away coach. And again that just it gives you some extra air extra pieces to put on air, right you get the coach's perspective on the game, you get the player's perspective on the game, and that cuts down on the amount of time you have to fill in the pregame show so it can help you out quite a bit. So normally once he had one to go for those interviews is when I would show up, I'd make sure that my prep was ready to go, I'd highlight the key facts that I definitely wanted to talk about because I normally try to have more prep than I'm really going to need to highlight the key stats that I want to talk about the ones in my mind that stand out as important things going into the game. And then once the play by play host was done with the interviews, we would get together in the broadcast booth and plot out the pregame show. Here's how we're going to lead here. What's we want to lead with here are the things that we want to touch upon. Then go from there and into the broadcast. You know what I completely
agree with you when it comes to the prep aspect, like I have a bunch of questions prepped, but I won't be able to go through all of them, but at least you have them in case and it helps to get back on track. If you ever get sidetracked.
Definitely. And that's a very important one is, you know, sometimes, sometimes getting sidetracked is good, right? Sometimes you have a good play or, you know, a good breakdown that that you might not have been prepared to talk about. But if it's worth mentioning, throw the prep out the window and roll with it. Right. If it's engaging and something the listener wants to hear, then by all means go for it. But as you said perfectly. It's always nice to have that prep to keep you grounded. And to help you get back if if you get a little too far off the trail.
Remind me to ask you to come with me if we ever joined a improv group. So it sounds like you're pretty good on your feet. And so what has hockey broadcasting taught you in life?
Well, that's a good one. In life, yeah,
I mean cutting deep?
Well, the the biggest one that, you know, we seem to be focusing on quite a bit is that prep work, right, just making sure that you're prepared for things. That's not something that you have to limit to a hockey broadcast. That's something that you could bring into every aspect of your life, the more prepared you are for things, the better you're handled to, or the sorry, the better you're able to handle with things that come up and with things that that might be unexpected. I think, you know, the carrying yourself as a professional is a very important one, especially as you know, someone who went from being a student into a young professional, it's important to remember to look and act the part of the role that you're you're trying to fulfill, and make sure that you're good at putting that best foot forward. And then more than anything, have fun, right? Like, some of these hockey broadcasts I did as a hobby, somebody them I did as a paid gig, so they are technically my job and I am working. But at the end of the day, you should be able to have fun with it. And I think that's something that does get taken for granted a lot in day to day life is just remembering to enjoy those little things and enjoy those things that bring you joy, because it is such a fun thing that I enjoy doing that if you're not having fun broadcasting a hockey game, you're not doing it right. So just always remember to have fun with
it. And I would also imagine that it's a lot more noticeable when somebody is not enjoying themselves when they're broadcasting compared to somebody who is having a great time broadcasting, you can hear it in the voice
well, and that's another fine line where you don't want to be too over the top right. Every shot isn't the most amazing shot in the game. Every play isn't an almost goal that might ice the game. You have to balance that emotional level to make sure that you're not just screaming into the mic for the entire time, but you're actually Right people will notice when you're not in the game, so you have to make sure that you're mentally focused. But you're also enjoying it because at the end of the day it should be if it's something you love doing it should be enjoyable for you for people listening, I am mentally focused in this podcast episode and I am happy doing it just just want to point that out making it clear so people know Do you have any inspirations a whether it's another broadcaster or even family members that encourage you to keep going on somebody that or someone to push you. I think one of my biggest inspirations was a fellow classmate that I had when I was at Okanagan college. His name's Dante to Korea. And when we started our first year of college, I was 25 and he was 17. straight out of high school, and just watching him grow and mature as both a broadcaster and a student. And as a person that has been very, very inspiring to me because he has He had a lot of growing up to do when he got in program and that, you know, goes back to talking about balancing that emotional level. He was so excitable, too excitable on the mic when he started. And as the years have gone on because he's a person that stuck with the hockey broadcasting for the past couple years, he actually just started in Powell river, British Columbia, as the play by play man for the Powell river nights or power. Sorry, Powell river kings. And going back to one of your previous comments, if you were to listen to his first broadcast, compared to his most recent one, it would blow you away by just how much more professional, how much smoother he's become how his inflection and his his his connotation in the words that he says and how he says them has just developed so so strongly, he's so talented, at what he Does, but he has also worked his butt off to get to where he has has achieved. So he's a big inspiration of mine, for sure, just because I'm incredibly proud of the young man he's developed into, and the other one would be my broadcast partner for the Fort McMurray oil barons, Taylor Poe, just a consummate professional. He brings huge work ethic and professionalism to everything he does, while also still being able to have fun cut loose during a broadcast. We love ripping on each other when we're on mic together. It's just a very, very fun atmosphere that he brings while still being the best broadcaster I've ever done a game with. And that helps me in turn, try and bring my best game for him.
And I would imagine that's a very important thing to have. If you've been lucky if you do have a great one where you have a colleague or co host that you can connect with and that makes the experience 1000 times better. Right,
you know, I'd even take it a step further and go from co host to partner, okay, because that's the way that it goes on our broadcast as the play by play guy, he runs the show. His voice is the voice that is predominantly on the airwaves. Typically, I jumped in during a whistle after a goal between intermissions when we talk back and forth, but it's my job to recognize when it is my time to speak and when it is my time to not speak over him. And we have a very good just understanding of when those times are I know when he's done talking, and now it's time for me to jump in. He knows when I'm trying to make a point, and maybe the play starts but I'm making a good point. So he's going to let me finish and then get into calling the game again, that's that back and forth given take that takes time to develop. But when you have the right person broadcasting with you once you hit your stride at it, Really, it doesn't become work or or a chore anymore, it just it becomes a lot of fun.
You guys become in sync inseparable.
And so it doesn't sound like you have a stressful connection with him, which is fantastic. But has broadcasting ever stressed you out at any point?
Oh, for sure. And I mean, I don't think I've ever seen Taylor more stressed out than I've seen him in the broadcast booth because I'm sure you're well aware of this. technical issues will happen. Right, zooms with your equipment, things with timing will go wrong. It's how you decide to roll with the punches and how you're able to respond to them. So we had a game where we got everything set up ready to go for the first period, called into the station with our timeline. And the timeline feed was not potted up in the control, which means we're connected and we're broadcasting but there's no volume Going through there, there's no audio and we're both up at the arena. It's 730 at night so there's no one in the studio to help us. We we missed the entire first period of the broadcast. And it was super stressful. Very, very frustrating because it shouldn't have happened but it did. We, you know, dealt with it. We cursed and we, we ranted off air. And we got some help from our engineers to make sure that everything was set and ready to go after communicating with them. And then we we got the broadcast up and running it. You've got to find a way to make the broadcast work at the end of the day. But it was certainly a very stressful situation. I feel like you have like
one of those moments I had many of these were it wasn't working. You're like, okay, what's going on? You're just looking at everything like is this on is this office is on and you like that I do that right?
I feel your struggle. It could be any number of problems and that's what you have to do. You have to go kind of Through a mental checklist of Okay, could it be this? Let's test it? Could it be that, let's test it. And another big part of the stress is with the oil barons broadcast as a commercial radio station, we have sponsors, we have clients who we owe name mentions on air and liners that we read promoting their business and we have a certain amount that we have to hit through the game. If we're not broadcasting, then we're not upholding our end of that agreement with a paying customer. So it's an added level of stress of not just getting the game on the air because we owe it to the team. But we also owe the customers there. They're deep. And it's usually sometimes just because of the silliest little
thing. And you know what, that's why I started creating like a checklist and with pictures were like are these are the settings you want when you want to record online. These are the settings you want when you want to record in person. It's like saving a Google Doc document and just picture step one, step two step three, do this. Do this do this. Do you have any like that where you have like a checklist, or is everything memorized?
Um, I think for the most part, we have everything memorized only because there's less things to worry about. Like, it's a pretty straightforward setup that we have. There's not too many WORKING PIECES. So if we ever run into a problem, it's a very short list of what the problem is. It's really just more sometimes the issue can't be taken care of in a timely matter. And that's just the unfortunate reality of the situation.
Time is our friend and our enemy at the same time.
Know what was your biggest challenge when you first started
broadcasting? Honestly, the biggest challenge that I had when I first started broadcasting, and it's one that I run into the start of every season is just remembering names. You've got, you know, 17 players on each team. You get to know your home team quickly, but the visiting team, you're only going to see them a couple times a year. So learning who the players are their names, their numbers. pronunciation is obviously huge because you don't want to be calling a player by the wrong last name. So and me personally, I'm not good with names. I'm great with faces. I recognize people I know exactly where I know them from. But I'm that person who will forget your name five seconds after.
Look, the third here.
Yeah, so the biggest struggle I had honestly was names. After that, it's the speed of the game. So especially for the play by play guy, there's a balance you have to find between saying what's happening, and not saying what's happening. Because if you try and say every little thing that happens, you're going to run out of breath because it's such a back and forth, fast paced game. You more want to just kind of paint a picture as we talked about, describe what's going on, but in very broad terms, so that the listener knows what's happening, but maybe not exactly what's happening. They can kind of picture it in there. own mind, because if you try and say everything, it's just too fast to the game, it's not going to happen.
No, I might agree with you. And on the name thing, actually, my wife and I have this little strategy doesn't work every time. But when I we meet somebody that I've met before, and I completely forgot their name, I would introduce my wife, in hopes that she would introduce herself. And she would say, they would say their name, but it never happened. She always forgets. So we're just stuck. But I'm sure you can't do that for hockey can go into every player, Hi, this is my friend, or this is my co host or my partner, you can do that in the middle of the game.
So you're not your prep work comes into play, right? So I always have the names and numbers printed out. And I it works for me and the way that my brain works, I go out in numerical order. So player number one, number two, number three, so on and so on. So you can look down at your sheets and go Okay, player number three is such and such player number 17. This is his name.
That's a lot better. I don't think it worked for me with I can't put numbers on people that don't think like that. But But I like I like your strategy works really well. And now you said it's your challenge when you first start games is more also when you first started off, but is this still the same challenge today or you're facing different challenges
that like I said, the the start of the season, there's always new names to learn, right. But by by mid season, I could tell you every player's name on the oil barons and their number, because I'm familiar with them by that point, but at start of every season, there's new names, there's new numbers, new players. So it's always you know, it's not as big of a challenge as it was at the start, because I have better ways of dealing with it. But it's always going to be a challenge. I think the only other challenge that I kind of face now is just shaking off that rust. You have the offseason, where you're not broadcasting any hockey and the first couple games back might be a little little tough to get through. Only because you're you haven't done a broadcast in months, and your You're a little rusty
know, to jump more onto the dark side? Well, I guess it's not too dark. But what are some misconceptions about people who broadcast? Yeah, that's
that's a good question. I think, you know, part of the misconception is that there's not a lot of work that's done behind the scenes. Like I said, if you're on your game, you should be doing at least an hour, if not more of preparation before the game even starts. We're at the game two hours before the game starts to record audio to do our setup to make sure that everything's ready to go to troubleshoot. So I, I think a big misconception is the amount of work that actually does get put in to make sure that a broadcast goes smoothly. We have our pre recorded intros every time we come back from a commercial break or extras when we go into a commercial break. That's something that's put together by the radio stations producer. So again, you're talking about more work done behind the scenes by another person who's not even on the broadcast. In our case with the oil barons, we have to make sure that it's financially viable to be doing these broadcasts, we need to sell those sponsorship packages. There's a lot of work that gets done behind the scenes by a lot of different departments to make sure that those broadcasts run and run as smoothly as they do.
So you're telling me it's not just a press record and play? No, it's not that simple.
It's not microphone and talking. There's a lot more that goes on
the struggles of recording audio.
I'm there with you, man. So do you have any word of advice for anybody who might be interested in picking up hockey broadcasting or just broadcasting in general?
Yeah, like my first biggest piece of advice is, be proactive, go out and reach out to teams. Do some research and see what teams are in your area, talk to them, see what kind of help they need. Even if it's not a broadcaster right away. They'll always need help with video because even if the game isn't being streamed teams will record their games for their team meetings later on. So any way that you can get involved with an organization is going to help you make sure that you're comfortable behind the mic. I'm sure you've been through this too, right. Even though you're sitting in front of a microphone and not in front of other people, it's still public speaking. And some people can have, you know, their struggles with public speaking and, and talking to a crowd. So make sure that you're comfortable. Being in that public profile, do your prep work, make sure that you're ready to go, work hard, put that effort in. Typically, when you're starting off, it's going to be for, you know, a lower end organization, there's going to be a lot of travel that's involved. If you're doing road games, make sure that you're prepared for that. Make sure that you're, you know, not late for the bus or holding the team up. And then one of the most important things and I've been a big proponent of this since Going to school for radio broadcasting is develop your network, make sure that you're reaching out to fellow broadcasters, especially ones that are in a position to mentor and help you. Because that's only going to make you stronger as a broadcaster and the support is there. But you got to show the initiative, you got to show the desire to want that help and walk that support.
Well, that's the reason why I got you on this podcast so I can learn from you. This was all a plot, I wanted to just talk to you and then expand my network. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. Of course, I want to talk about your abuses. But it's great to have you where we share common interest in telling a story broadcasting, I guess if podcasting is considered as broadcasting. Either way, I just enjoy having somebody who shares similar feelings and experiences, which is always great. Absolutely. Now, do you have I mentioned this at the beginning, but would you like to throw again, your social media links that you'd like to share with people?
Yeah, you can find me on Twitter at and Add and add to one zero. Or you can always find me on Facebook Ben Madigan and add IGA n. Normally I'm pretty good with that in front of quest especially from, you know people who are looking at breaking into broadcasting more than happy to help offer advice. You know I'm may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but I can definitely give some pointers to some young broadcasters who are looking to start off,
there you go, I'll put that in description and door I'm not even in the shed, you're at least in the shed, which is great. I'm not even the tool in the shed. So yeah, I'll put that in the description so people can follow you and ask for advice. And Ben is very friendly. I've met him a few times he has such a welcoming energy, which is fantastic. And what I tend to do on my podcast for the last question is a question I am never prepared for but always excited to have. Do you have any questions for me about hockey broadcasting or just broadcasting in general?
Well, I don't have any questions per se but I just hope that You enjoyed talking to me as much as I enjoyed talking to you that absolutely, I hope you keep this podcast running as strongly as it's been because it's pretty awesome to see how well you've built this from the ground up since we first started talking about it.
You know, I've been loving it. So far, I've been able to have interviews with people from Scotland, South Korea, like all around the world. And I just can't wait to that's like one of my objectives to have an interview with somebody from every country around the world to see what hobbies are like.
Yeah, that's great, man. I'm super happy to hear. Well, there you have it another
body with a hobby. Thank you so much, Ben for coming on and putting me to shame with your wonderful voice. God, I feel like you have such a good radio voice even better than mine.
Really, I really had to step up my game. I have to make the stereotypical radio voice. I've got the voice for radio and the face for it too. So there you go.
Oh, that kids were twins. Yes. So
yeah, we'll learn more about Ben. You could go check them out on Twitter and Adam as a friend on Facebook. The link is in the description below so you guys can go check that out. If you like to be on this podcast or have any questions at all, you can send me an email at time for your hobby at gmail. com. And of course, if you think this episode's going to be helpful for anybody, by all means, share it with them, because maybe they're going through a hard time. And broadcasting could be a solution, whether it's for hockey, soccer, ping pong, chess or any other activity. You can even broadcast family cooking. Like I don't think your parents would appreciate it. But you could broadcast anything, just the idea of doing it can be pretty helpful. And if you yeah, that's pretty much all I have to say except for thank you again so much, Ben, for coming on. And thanks for having me on that I had a great time.
So Until the next episode, make some time for your hobby.