Written by Corey Twibell Friday, 12 November 2010 00:00
Kenny Albert went from calling games in the seats at Madison Square Garden as a kid, to a sportswriting job at Anton Newspapers in high school, to eventually becoming one of the most recognizable and beloved voices in professional sports.
“I received a tape recorder for my fifth birthday. I started calling games off television, and when I became old enough to take it to Madison Square Garden (MSG) or Shea Stadium, I would call games into the recorder from the stands. The people around me probably thought I was crazy,” said Albert, who grew up in Sands Point and covered sports for Anton’s Port Washington News.
The son of famous sportscaster Marv Albert, Kenny honed his craft as a young adult and worked his way through the ranks to eventually become the official radio voice of the New York Rangers, in addition to several other spots with the NFL, NBA and more.
“My first-ever job was covering high school sports for the Port Washington News as a 13-year-old in 1981. I continued through my senior year at Schreiber High School in 1986. I lived on Long Island from age 3 through high school and really enjoyed it,” said Albert.
His time at Anton Newspapers, which Kenny described as “invaluable,” helped him prepare for some of the most exciting games and opportunities later in life.
“I am fortunate to have worked a number of memorable events throughout my career. I called the 1994 and 1995 Stanley Cup Finals for NHL Radio, as well as hockey at the last three Winter Olympics for NBC.
“I have called the NFL on FOX for 17 seasons, and the MLB on FOX for the last decade. I have worked two Sugar Bowls, one Orange Bowl, one Pro Bowl, three NFL playoff games, one BCS Championship Game (3D telecast), the 2010 MLB All-Star Game in 3D, and handled post-game clubhouse interviews following the clinching games of the 2003, 2004 and 2009 ALCS,” said Albert.
In his 15th season as the Rangers radio announcer, Albert said calling Rangers games on the radio is a “lifetime dream,” and admitted the magic of the home venue at MSG hasn’t fleeted over the last decade.
“I still get the chills every time I walk into ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena.’ I have been inside the building approximately 1,000 times; whether it’s the spoked ceiling, the roar of the fans, or the memories of the historic events that have taken place at MSG, it will always be a special place,” he said.
As a multi-sport commentator, Albert, who conducted a portion of this interview from a plane, is admittedly a busy man.
“I spend over 100 days per year on the road, but it’s not as ‘bad’ as it sounds. I travel with the Rangers and Knicks on their charter flights, and stay in top-notch hotels on both FOX and MSG trips. I have to admit that on occasion I forget my room number, and try to use the key-card in the corresponding room number from my previous hotel,” said Albert.
And although he’s on the road (or in the air) for over three months a year, Albert is never too busy for his job as a father and husband.
“I would never be able to work as many days as I do, and travel as often as I do, without the full support of my family. My wife Barbara and I have been married for nearly 15 years; I could not ask for a more supportive spouse.
“She was a huge football and basketball fan when we met, and she quickly embraced the sport of hockey and the Rangers. My daughters Amanda (11) and Sydney (7 and a half) have grown to understand my schedule — it’s really all they have known,” he said.
Albert added he’s home frequently during the week so he can attend his daughter’s events, that is, when they’re not attending his.
“They enjoy coming to games, and are huge fans of Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers. In my line of work, it is hard to schedule traditional vacations; my kids have gone to exotic locales such as Buffalo and Pittsburgh for spring break during Ranger playoff series,” said Albert.
Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers, who have fought through injuries early in the season, have been putting forth a good effort for fans like Amanda and Sydney so far.
“The Rangers have truly played as a ‘team’ over the first month of this season. The continued development of the young, homegrown talent has been a huge positive – Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov and the young group of defensemen have continued to grow and excel,” Albert said.
A consummate professional, Albert also provided some words of wisdom for young professionals seeking to enter his line of work.
“The most important piece of advice I give to aspiring sportscasters and writers is to always be prepared. That is something I learned from my father. You can never be ‘too’ prepared for a broadcast. I subscribe to five daily newspapers, numerous weekly publications, and spend hours on the Internet every day,” said Albert.
While he’s all business in the booth, Albert, who resides in Bergen County, NJ with his family, noted that there’s a lighter side to many sportscasters throughout the industry.
“I have worked with over 100 color analysts in all four major sports. The funniest – both on and off the air – would have to be Tony Siragusa, the ‘sideline analyst’ with Daryl Johnston on the NFL on FOX for the last four seasons,” he said.
Juggling family and professional life, Albert’s traveled all across the map, but luckily for sports fans in New York, they’ll always know where to find him.