The complex choreography of P.A. announcing
Allow me to be self-indulgent for a few minutes before turning this over to Dave Joseph.
When you work for a major junior hockey team, you get used to wearing quite a few hats. One of my responsibilities with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips was to serve as the public address announcer for our team’s preseason tournament before our regular season games were aired on radio.
Traditionally, five other teams would visit Everett, Washington over Labor Day Weekend – we actually welcomed Colin Miller and the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds in September, 2010 – to take part in a three-day, nine-game tournament that served as the kickoff weekend of the WHL’s exhibition season.
Let me say this – I had it easy. It was preseason, so for the Friday afternoon 12:30 game, arena staff would often outnumber fans in the seating area, and when I would mispronounce players’ names or incorrectly credit a goal scorer or penalized player, only the players’ relatives in attendance and the teams’ hockey operations staffs would know. It was also a scaled back version of our game presentation, so the videos, on-ice shenanigans and general arena distractions were kept to a well-organized minimum. Despite the simplification, it wasn’t as easy as simply listening through a headset and reciting the goal scorers and remembering to announce that there was one minute remaining in each period.
There is a delicate, rapid-fire choreography of information being exchanged and shared with the crowd, and considering there are 18,118 yelling fans at each Kings home game, and many, many more variables to consider, serving as an NHL public address announcer is one of the most challenging positions amongst the many revolving parts that come together to form a professional hockey game.
ESPN LA 710 Anchor Dave Joseph, now in his second season as the Kings’ public address announcer, articulated his duties well in a conversation with LA Kings Insider during Sunday’s LA Kings Rink Tour stop in Valencia.
LA Kings Insider: So, what exactly is your responsibility during the game?
Dave Joseph: That’s an interesting question. There is a lot involved. There is a lot people don’t know. I am probably in communication with five or six of the off-ice people, people behind the scenes, the game night operations crew. Sometimes it’s seven or eight people talking in your ear. Then you have the crew you are dealing with on the ice, the off-ice officials who are next to you in the booth who are always communicating with you about something. And then there is the officials themselves on the ice. So you have to kind of pick and choose. You have to listen to everybody, but you kind of have to pick and choose at what point you are going to listen to what person and who take precedence over everything. So a lot of people think you just go in and read the goals and the assists and the penalties and things like that and your night is over. There is a lot more to it than that. There is a lot going on in your headset where you are hearing things constantly all night. Then you have to pay attention to the guys on the ice, they are the most important, obviously. And then you have the off-ice crew, you know three, four, five guys in the box with you at ice level, so you have to pay attention to those guys too. So there is a lot going on, there is a lot of people you have to deal with. It’s good. It’s a learning curve…at first. It kind of blows your mind where you think ‘Whoa, how do I process all of this?’ Then you have to learn how to say…‘Hold on one second, the ref is going to talk.’ And I kind of coordinate all of that where you say, ‘OK, kill the music, the ref is going to make an announcement.’ You are in charge of that. There is a lot to it, but you kind of pick and choose and you learn and after you get through the learning curve it all settles in.
LAKI: Have there been any instances that were particularly challenging?
DJ: This year the referees have made it a point – or the league, I should say, has made it a point – for the referees to, as soon as there is a penalty, to skate over to the box and make the penalty call right away. In years past that hasn’t always been the case. Maybe they didn’t wear microphones or they wouldn’t make the call right away. Now, they want to come over, make the call, have us not play any music, no sound effects, no nothing. Just so the whole crowd can hear the ref make the call. Then we can go into whatever game night stuff we want to do to get the crowd ramped up for a power play or whatever it is. So that’s happened several times this year, where I will tell (Music Director) Dieter Ruehle I will say ‘Dieter kill the music or drop the music…I see the ref coming over.’ Then the ref kind of looks at me and is waiting for a cue from me to say go ahead. I point at him and he makes his announcement and then we can get back into what we are doing to get the crowd all pumped up for the power play. That was never like that in the past. It was kind of like ‘We are going to do what we are going to do, they are going to do what they are going to do and it all kind of works out.’ Now it is a little more structured. So I think that has been the main difference and this year that has happened several times. Especially in the preseason and the first couple games of the regular season it is kind of again a learning curve. We’ve got it all figured out now.
LAKI: How is your second season as the team’s public address announcer evolving?
DJ: Well, sophomore year is different because it is a full season. Last season was abbreviated, so that was good to get that under my belt. Second season, I kind of learned from the first season where I am most comfortable, how I kind of like to do things. It’s also a year removed from David Courtney not being here, which is still tough for me and a lot of fans I know, but he was a friend of mine and I miss David dearly. But this year, I kind of said halfway through the first season ‘You have to make this your own or you will be lost.’ I think this year I have made it more my own where there are certain calls I will do, goal calls, players’ names, things like that, where I am kind of feeling more comfortable doing that and being myself the way I would normally call it. Compared to last year where I was just kind of filling the seat and getting through and kind of finding my way. Now that has all changed where I can kind of inject some of my own personality into it – hopefully not go overboard, because I never want to do that. I think the fans, from what I have heard, some of them don’t like it, some love it. You are never going to please everybody so I just feel that if I can do it the way I like doing it and I am most comfortable, we will just go that way.