What’s In A Game: Interview with PA Announcer Kevin Clark

KevinClark“And now, here they are…your NEW…JERSEEEEEEEYYYY DEVILS!”

If you’ve ever been to The Prudential Center for a Devils home game, I bet you didn’t just read that sentence. You heard that loud and clear in your head, in the voice of the one and only Kevin Clark! He has been our PA Announcer since 2007, and the job couldn’t have gone to a more enthusiastic and dedicated man.

Like many people, Kevin played sports when he was growing up. When it became evident he was not going to become a professional athlete, he wanted to find other ways to stay involved in sports. So, he did some announcing for his local football team, and began a career as a sports artist. In 1999, while doing artwork for the (now defunct) New Jersey Cardinals, he noticed an opening for PA Announcer on their website. He applied for the job and the team gave him a shot! For two seasons, Kevin took the two hour drive to and from his home to their games. His professional career was off to a great start.

In addition to his work in minor league baseball, Kevin had begun doing fill-in work for the Trenton Titans minor league hockey team. One day, he received a phone call from the Titans production director John Bochiaro asking him if he would like to be the Devils PA Announcer. At first, he thought Mr. Bochiaro was asking him to take on the Trenton position full time, as it was right around the same time the name changed from Titans to Devils. He didn’t realize that Mr. Bochiaro had become the Director of Event Productions at Prudential Center. Kevin told me he felt like he was the “luckiest man alive” when he found out the offer was for the NEW JERSEY DEVILS PA Announcer. He couldn’t say yes fast enough, and he has remained with us to this day!

For Kevin, the job really is a dream come true. He has been an avid New Jersey Devils fan since the team arrived in 1982. There are so many moments that are special to him, that he couldn’t really name a favorite, although he listed a few that stood out in his memory. The team making the playoffs for the first time in 1988, our three Stanley Cup Championship wins, and Martin Brodeur’s 552nd win. He told me it “still gives [him] chills at the thought” that he was the one to announce that win. His first playoff appearance was a Devils vs. Rangers game, something he never imagined he would be doing. As for last year, while two more victories would have been nice, he says few moments top our run for the cup. Doc’s call on Adam Henrique’s OT winner against the Rangers is still his cell phone ringtone.

Scott Stevens painting done by Kevin Clark

Scott Stevens painting by Kevin Clark

For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to meet Kevin yet, I mean it when I said in my first paragraph that the job could not have gone to a more enthusiastic and dedicated man. I asked him if any one announcement was his favorite that he’s made over the years, and he replied, “I LOVE every single moment I am behind that microphone.”

This isn’t Kevin’s only job, either! While he would love to be able to work solely behind the microphone for the Devils, unfortunately, it is not a full time position. He is considered “game day staff” which means he is only paid on the days of the games he works. His full time job is with the electric utility in Lacey Township. This involves shift work, so he often has to take his vacation days just to come announce the games. Other times, he drives all the way to Newark to announce the game, then immediately drives to work to do the overnight shift! During baseball season, he also announces for the Lakewood Blue Claws! Between all the hockey (he has also announced for the Boardwalk Bullies in Atlantic City) and baseball, he figures he’s worked over 1,200 professional games (and that was at the time of my interview!).

So what’s in a game day for Kevin Clark? How does he know how to pronounce everyone’s names? How can he possibly keep all those stats in his head? It involves a lot of studying and a lot of note taking! He will often look up videos on YouTube of the home team announcing their players. There is also a pronunciation guide he receives from the Devils published by the NHL prior to the start of each season. In addition to that, he will look up each NHL team’s roster and use that to create his own roster with phonetic spellings he can understand to keep at his desk during the game. Next to each player’s name, he also writes down their goal totals/relevant stats for the season, which he updates during the game with red pen. Prior to Doc Emrick’s retirement, he could always count on him for advice or hockey knowledge on game day as well.

On top of all of that, Kevin receives a script with all of the required announcements for the night as soon as he arrives at the arena. He goes over that with his red pen and highlighter, so he can more easily make out the parts of the script pertaining to him. After that, he walks around the arena, greets the officials and Chico to “ward off [his] impending case of nerves.” He tries to be ready by six o’clock so he can take a few deep breaths and get ready for the game!

Game time is the true highlight of Kevin Clark’s job. Having been a Season Ticket Holder for the Devils in the past and a passionate fan of hockey for decades, nothing is more exciting for him than being so close to the action. When asked who his favorite players names to announce are, he joked with me that I should be able to figure that one out! Regular visitors to the arena, your hunch is correct, it’s Dainius Zuuuuuuuuuubrus! Although, he also gets a thrill any time he announces Martin Brodeur. He cherishes every moment, knowing that he is announcing the name of the greatest goaltender of all time, and a lock for the Hall of Fame.

The most difficult part of his job, he says, is simply getting to the arena! Between his full time work schedule, traffic and weather, the commute can be a chore. But once he pulls into that garage and parks his car, “life is good!”

Like any other fan, Kevin has his superstitions for game day, too. For one, you won’t find him walking the Main Concourse prior to game time. Although he is extremely outgoing and friendly (seriously, don’t be afraid to say hello!), he believes it is bad luck to be up there before puck drop. If the team is on a winning streak, whatever route he took to get to the arena those days, he continues to take that same exact route. If they lose, and he’s wearing a particular shirt or tie, he takes them out of rotation awhile. And those are just a few of his rituals!

Like most of us, Kevin is also self conscious when he hears his own voice. He dislikes hearing himself on video or audio recordings. He feels like his voice never sounds the way he wants it to, but he says, “…there’s nothing I can do about that. I just hope you guys are happy with what I do.”

So, what’s in a game for our PA Announcer? Quite a bit of hard work, as it turns out! We’re some of the luckiest fans in the NHL to have such a passionate and enthusiastic announcer for our home games!

Thank you all for following and PLEASE… arrive home safely!

About these ads

Posted on June 10, 2013, in New Jersey Devils, NHL, Prudential Center, The Rock, What's In A Game and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. to add a data point conveying a sense of kevin’s professionalism and attention to detail: when i mentioned that saying “backslash” in a web URL was “old school” he immediately asked for the “better” way to announce web addresses. and he changed his promotion announcing around it. none of the other major media outlets have his incredible desire for perfection and delivery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,258 other followers

%d bloggers like this: