Chris King shakes his head in disbelief. Sitting in the lower bowl of Buffalo’s First Niagara Center, King stares out at the ice surface in front of him.
There, the New York Islanders go through their Game Day skate.
“I still can’t believe that I’m living my dream,” commented King, a native of Long Island. “Not every person can say that about their job.”
King’s job is being the play-by-play announcer for the Islanders. He is also part of a very unique set-up for the flagship station situation.
It began eight seasons ago when the Islanders were looking for a new radio station to broadcast their games over. Ironically, Hofstra University sits right across the street from the Coliseum where the Islanders were playing at the time.
One of the big programs at the University is their Communications program. So the two organizations began to talk and soon after discovered they might be able to have a great partnership.
The Islanders discovered that they would have an FM signal station across the street that would reach all of Nassau County, some of Suffolk, some of New York City and even some into Connecticut. Remember, you have three million people on Long Island and eight million people in New York City.
That would make it 11 million people as a potential audience. It would also allow students at the University to work on the broadcast.
It would look good on the students resume to say that they actually worked on an NHL broadcast. It was also a big plus for the University’s Communication Department.
“It has turned out to be a win-win situation for the Islanders and Hofstra University,” said King.
It was also a dream come true for King.
“I have been an Islanders fan since their inception when I was 11,” stated King, who is married to Beth and have two children, Maggie and Connor. “Prior to that I was a Bruins fan with Bobby Orr and that gang.
“This is a thrill of a lifetime being able to broadcast their games today, 40 years later.”
King began his broadcasting career at SUNY Geneseo as a student in their Communications Department.
“My first professional hockey game I ever covered was for the Geneseo College radio station,” remembered King. “It was a Rochester Americans game in 1979.
“My first Islanders game I ever covered was in Buffalo at the old War Memorial Auditorium in 1980.
“I then got my masters degree in Computer Science from SUNY Binghamton. I then went back home and began working as a software engineer at Grumman.
“After four years I continued working full-time at Grumman and got a part-time job back in radio. I did a little one-minute radio report every day on the Islanders on WRCN.
“Ironically, WRCN got the Islanders broadcast rights five years later. Because of my five years of covering the Islanders the station thought it would be a great idea for me to host the pre- and post-game, as well as the intermission.
“That’s how I got started.”
Three years later King came to a big fork in the road.
“I was offered the opportunity to work full-time in radio doing color commentating for the Islanders,” continued King. “I could continue working for Grumman, which gave me job security.
“Or I could go with my dream job. I took the chance and went with my dream job and I’ve never looked back.
“I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I hadn’t done it. So I gave up a job I liked for one that I love.
“I really enjoy mentoring the students and watching them grow. I’m very proud of the broadcasts.
“It’s a broadcast that is run by the students.”
What kind of advice does King give to students considering going into sports broadcasting?
“Get as much experience as possible,” answered King, who is also the voice of the minor league baseball Long Island Ducks. “It helps you learn the good, the bad and the ugly of the business.
“You can even do internet broadcasts on your own.”
What goal does King have now?
“I’ve been a part of two league championships for the Ducks,” concluded King. “Now I need to get my championship call with the Islanders.”
Until Next Time,
(Photo: Chris King)