Behind the Broadcast: Newkirk was ironman behind the mike

The Albany River Rats and Philadelphia Phantoms may not have wanted to play all night in Game 5 of t

The Albany River Rats and Philadelphia Phantoms may not have wanted to play all night in Game 5 of their AHL Calder Cup playoff series, but Rats radio broadcaster Owen Newkirk was ready to call the action, no matter how long it lasted.

Newkirk called the longest game in AHL history as Thursday night turned into Friday morning. The Phantoms pulled out a 3-2 win in five overtimes in a game that lasted 142 minutes, 58 seconds.

Despite the loss, Newkirk was honored to witness AHL and Capital Region hockey history. The game was the longest, pro or college, ever played in the area. The previous record was 141:53, when Yale beat Union, 3-2, in five overtimes in Game 2 of the ECAC Hockey tournament first round on March 4, 2006. It is also the longest in the history of the TU Center. The old mark of 123:53 took place March 26, 2000, when St. Lawrence beat Boston University, 3-2, in four overtimes in the second round of the NCAA hockey tournament East Regional.

“It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in broadcasting,” Newkirk said in a phone interview Friday as the Rats headed the Philadelphia for Game 6 today at

1:05 p.m. “After the second overtime, we started looking at the

record books, sort of doing a countdown of how long it was going to be. To see the progression up the top 20 in the AHL book, after a while, we started laughing. For any sports fan or person who works in the business, it’s such a fun exper­ience to be a part of.”

Newkirk said he held up well as the overtimes progressed. And he did the game by himself. He didn’t have an analyst to give him a break.

“You’d think that over 51⁄2 hours, that it would really press your voice into exhaustion,” Newkirk said. “When we got done, I felt like I could keep going. I don’t think I was nearly in a [tired] physical condition as the players were because they were the ones who put it all on the line.”

Despite the long night, Newkirk sounded refreshed during my interview with him. He said his voice is ready to provide more exciting action today.

Thursday’s game was carried by WVCR-FM (88.3) because the Rats’ flagship station, WTMM-FM (104.5) had the Yankees-Chicago White Sox game. With the 1:05 p.m. start today, WTMM will carry the game.

But if the game goes into overtime, there could be a problem. WTMM is scheduled to carry the Yankees-Cleveland Indians game at 3:55 p.m. If the Rats and Phantoms need overtime again, Newkirk said there is a possibility that the game would move over to WVCR.


Thanks to the long game, the Capital Region’s television stations were able to send videographers back to the TU Center. And most of the sports anchors came over after the late news.

Daily Gazette Rats reporter Phil Janack said that Channels 6, 10, 13, 23 and Capital News 9 had videographers there. Anchors Rich Becker (WXXA Ch. 23), Marisa Jacques (CN 9), Jamie Seh (WTEN Ch. 10) and Doug Sherman (WRGB Ch. 6) were there at the end. Also, WTMM sports talk show host Brian Sinkoff was there.

And from the how ironic department, WNYT videographer Pete Rajotte, who returned to catch the end of the game, also came back to capture the five-overtime game between Union and Yale.

NBC keeps NHL

NBC announced Wednesday that it has picked up the option to televise the NHL next season.

Regular-season ratings were up 11 percent over last year, according to the network. NBC will also continue its flex scheduling concept for the Sunday game of the week. And don’t be surprised to see another outdoor game on New Year’s Day.

“We’re thrilled to be able to continue our relationship with the NHL,” said NBC Universal Sports and Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol. “There have been positive signs for the league, both on and off the ice. Ratings were up this year; the Winter Classic in Buffalo was a huge success; advertising sales were healthy; and the product on the ice has never been better, led by young, marketable stars such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. We believe this is a sport that will continue to grow.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, “This is great news for the NHL and its fans. NBC has been a great partner, and its innovations to the broadcasts have helped bring fans inside the game like never before.”

NBC will have two Stanley Cup playoff games this weekend. Today at 3 p.m., Colorado meets Detroit in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series. At 2 p.m. Sunday, it will be Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh.

media transactions

u The MLB Network named CBS executive Tony Petitti president and chief executive officer of baseball’s 24-hour-a-day cable channel on Thursday. The channel is set to launch Jan. 1.

Petitti has been executive producer of CBS Sports since July 2002, and executive vice president since December 2005. This year, he became responsible for the CBS College Sports Network, formerly CSTV.

u Just a week after settling his lawsuit with ESPN, Harold Rey­nolds is joining SNY to be a baseball analyst, the cable home of the New York Mets announced Thursday.

Reynolds, who is also working for, will primarily work with Lee Mazzilli and Matt Yallof on SNY’s Mets pre- and post-game shows. He will make his debut Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Reynolds, a 12-year major league veteran, worked at ESPN from 1996-2006. He was fired in July 2006 after he was accused by a

female intern of hugging her. Rey­nolds sued ESPN, and the case was resolved last Wednesday.

u ESPN Radio is changing “The Mike Tirico Show,” beginning

May 1.

The show will now be called “Tirico and Van Pelt.” Scott Van Pelt, who has co-hosted some of the show with Tirico, will now be a permanent co-host. The show will still remain in the 1-3 p.m. slot, and can be heard on WTMM.

Van Pelt will host his own one-hour show at 3 p.m., replacing Stephen A. Smith. However, that show won’t be on in the Capital

Region because of “Sound-Off with Sinkoff.”

Categories: Sports

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