blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Bob Miller Interview - 2009 Hockey Fest

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bob Miller Interview - 2009 Hockey Fest

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000 as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, this SoCal 70 year-old continues to report to work in the press box bearing his name fulfilling his lifetime contract as the Voice of the Kings. Spanning his legend from Staples Center to Tinsel Town, Bob Miller was even bestowed a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006, one day after his inaugural literary offering.

Embarking on his 37th season behind the mic, the silver-tongued storyteller shared his favorite Kings moments with onlookers at Hockey Fest '09. Afterwards we spoke with Bob about superstition, esteemed colleagues, and the lost art of radio play-by-play. These are his stories.

Q: Do you have any game day rituals or superstitions?
A: Sometimes. You know, if we’ve won three in a row I’ve got to take the same route to the game. But I don’t consistently do that.

Q: Are you friends with CBC Sports broadcaster Bob Cole?
A: Oh yeah. I met Bob Cole in 1973, his first year on Hockey Night in Canada. His was one of those voices like Mel Allen doing the World Series. You grew up with that. Bob’s got some quirks when he's doing the game. He unzips his pants, undoes his belt and everything. And he’s pounding the desk all the time. Marc Crawford told me a great one because Marc worked with him after he got fired in Colorado. He was doing color on Hockey Night in Canada. He says my first game was with Bob Cole. And Bob Cole said, young man, I know you know a lot about hockey but when that puck crosses the blueline, you shut up.

Q: How about the famed Vancouver Canucks broadcaster Jim Robson?
A: Ah Jimmy, good friend. And really a great announcer. Well loved in Vancouver. Too bad he kind of left early in his career. I’m not sure why. I feel bad for a guy like that because now Vancouver is better. I mean he had some lean years up there with 8,000 people in the Pacific Coliseum. A good guy. I don’t see him too often. Once in a while he’ll poke his head in when we’re up there and say hi.

Q: Discuss the disappearance of the traditional radio play-by-play style as television takes over. Why do certain TV broadcasters insist on sharing tedious tangential tales instead of describing the play in front of them?
A: Certain TV producers think that because it’s on TV you don’t have to talk very much. In my opinion, in hockey, yes you do. I can’t even watch a game, and I know a lot of the players, and tell you who has the puck all the time. It’s changing and you can’t see who it is. I want the announcer to get me into the game. If I’ve got a game on TV and the two guys are talking about last night, I find myself reading the paper or something and all of the sudden somebody scores and there’s no setup to the play. They didn’t have you on the edge of your seat. Get me into the game.

I'm doing pretty close to radio play-by-play on TV. I just don’t have to say they’re skating left to right and all of that kind of stuff. But I just don’t know any other way. I've had people say to me I’m glad you do the play-by-play and you're not talking about this and that and something happens. Sometimes you get caught doing that because it’s so unpredictable. But you don’t want it. I don’t like that style.

I think the worst thing today is young kids don’t listen to radio like I did. Somebody said the game on radio in your mind is better than anything you’ll see on TV. And if the radio guy is good, you’re picturing a catch or a goal that’s often better than it really is on TV.

Radio is the announcers medium. Television is the director’s medium. Radio you talk about whatever you want to talk about. Television you talk about what that director just put on the screen. So he's got control over what you’re talking about. In radio nobody is in your ear telling you what to do. You’re doing the game and you’re in charge. It’s so much fun.

Many thanks to Bob for speaking with us. Best of luck this season.


Anonymous said...

Bob's the best, just don't ask him to pronounce Esa Pirnes too often.