Radio Ga-ga II: who will get the skipper’s seat?

I expect it’ll take the Edmonton Oilers another week or 10 days to announce Rod Phillips is retiring after 37 seasons as the team’s radio voice, but I’ll dispatch with that here and now so those interested in the job can get a head-start on preparing their resumes and clips.

If you aren’t a big-hitter with an NHL resume, I’d suggest you get a jump on it because I won’t be surprised to see at least 100 applications for the seat being vacated by Phillips once the Oilers make it official and go looking for their next play-by-play man.

With Phillips, 68, whose passion behind the microphone landed him in the broadcast wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame, ready to spend his winters hacking a golf ball around Buckeye, Arizona outside Phoenix, it goes without saying there’s going to be a lot of interest in the job.

It’s an opportunity that’s bound to draw calls from virtually every microphone jockey in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL, as well as those toiling in the AHL and the lower minors.

Call 82 regular season games a year? Take a chartered jet instead of a bus to road games? Los Angeles or Anaheim or Tampa Bay or Miami in January instead of Saskatoon or Brandon, Syracuse or Rochester? The Ritz-Carlton instead of the Best Western? Where do I sign up?

You get the drift.

On the wireless

With only 30 radio play-by-play gigs in the NHL, it’s a sweet job, and one Phillips did with passion, aplomb and distinction. Having rode shotgun for Phillips as a beat writer with both Edmonton dailies for a decade, I can attest to that.

So, it’s going to take a special broadcaster to take over from him. Of course, there won’t be any shortage of people who think — some with good reason, others with none and most with a resume that falls in the middle — they’ve got what it takes to be the next guy.

I’ve long been a fan of great broadcasting, be it on the tube or radio . Years ago, long before it was possible to get clips to your heart’s content at websites like YouTube, I was eating the stuff up, recording every good clip and buying every over-priced "Great Moments in Broadcasting" CD set I could get my hands on.

I grew up listening to Howard Cosell calling Muhammad Ali’s fights, on the call of Secretariat romping to victory, to Jim Robson doing the call of Vancouver Canucks games on the radio in my mom’s room. The man could paint pictures with words.

The Canucks were brutal. Robson was brilliant. I damn near fainted the first time I found myself standing beside Robson doing an interview with Tony Tanti as a young reporter.

I know good radio when I hear it, and so do you — even if many of you reading this are a generation or two removed from me and have never heard of Jim Robson.

In demand

So, who has the chops to get the job?

When I called Oilers vice-president of communications and broadcast Allan Watt a few days ago, he wasn’t of the mind to tell me that Phillips had called his retirement shot.

Framed in that, I can only speculate the Oilers will open the job to outside applicants rather than keep competition in-house and hand it to Bob Stauffer, who has spent the past two seasons as the Skipper’s radio analyst and called a handful of games when Phillips took time off.

I liked what I heard from Stauffer in the games he did in Rod’s spot. I liked it a lot, particularly in tandem with Kevin Karius, whose full-time gig is on the sports desk with Global TV. I know people who disagree.

Yes, this is where I put in the disclaimer that Stauffer is my friend, but I’ll also tell you he’d still be my friend if I said he was lousy at doing play-by-play, so I’ve got no reason to make things up.

I’m guessing Stauffer will be on the short-list once the Oilers make things official, and he should be. The question is, how long will the short list be? There are some quality play-by-play guys out there.

Ever hear the call of Rod Pedersen, who works the mike for the Regina Pats of the WHL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders? Good Stuff. What about established names, guys with NHL resumes? They’ll be calling on Watt.

Who do you like? Who calls the kind of game that puts you in the middle of the action? Who gets your blood pumping? Who can fill the void left by Phillips?

Get those clips in, kids. This is your heads up.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Bob Uecker !!!
    Calls a great game!

    “Man, I haven’t seen play this bad since the days of Bob Uecker! This is Bob Uecker, saying thanks for watching!”
    Bob Uecker

  • Mitch

    The funny thing about play-by-play guys (I’m thinking mainly baseball here, but I think it can apply to hockey too) is that the “right” guy can’t just be competent at his job, or just be able to call a good game. More than that, he has to be liked – or even loved – by listeners. The best play-by-play men are icons -both in their home communities and beyond.

    Stauffer is competent and certainly prepared, but he’s just too smug and abrasive to ever become much more than just a guy calling a game. The Oilers need someone who at least has the potential of becoming an icon in the same way as Rod has become.

  • Mitch

    IMO there is no better tandem then Jim hughson and Craig Simpson for hockey however i don’t think anyone compares to the bbc’s play by play callers for soccer like Martin Tyler. They don’t usually describe the play literally which leaves much to your imagination.

  • Get Sportsnet Pacific’s Don Taylor to replace Rod the Bod. The guy wouldn’t have a clue who’s out there and would keep trying to call Penner, Kesler. Is there a bigger knob out there in broadcasting than Don Taylor? *Of course I’m kidding*

  • My vote is for Brian Munz to take over for Rod. He did a great job of the play-by-play for the Road Runners during the lockout year and played a nice role assiting Rod and Morley the next season during the Oilers run to the Stanley Cup Final on CHED. I have continued to listen to him on-line as he calls games for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.

  • Get the great BRYAN HALL to announce games… he’s been around for ever….but on another note….let me tell ya folks, about Tony Roma’s succulent ribs….mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmmm good. Come on down to Crosstown!!!! Hello Quikcard??

    Someone put a new battery in B. Hall, so he has the energy to walk himself out of the 630 Ched building and never return.

  • I like Stauffer as host of radio talk shows, but i don’t like his work as a play-by-play guy or even a color analyst. He just doesn’t have the voice for it. But I don’t doubt his sports I.Q. and passion. That’s why he’s great as a talk show host.

  • Peter Loubardias maybe? Although he’s under contract to Sportsnet, perhaps he’d jump at the chance to be the official ‘voice’ of a team for the next few decades (he’s what, in his early 40s?). He’s a bit squealy, but then again, Chris Cuthbert sounded like he snorted helium when he first started, too, and now he’s considered one of the best.

    Wishful thinking: Mike “Doc” Emrick

    Stauffer would be alright, too, i spose. Gonna be hard to replace Rod Phillips’ mighty big shoes though. SO many fond Oilers memories growing up in Saskatchewan with a Zenith transistor radio stuck to the side of my head, and Rod was the voice for every one of them.

  • Bucknuck

    Folks there is only one opinion that counts when it comes to selecting Rod’s successor. That is Rod himself. Do any of you really believe that it is going to be up to Alan Watt to choose Rods heir? Please lets not live in a fantasy world. Alic ein Wonderland this is not. After 30 years behind the microphone I can’t really believe that Rod would just walk away and leave the microphone to just anyone. Do you?

  • Bucknuck

    The Oilers need not look further than 90 minutes down the QE2. We have a great guy here calling Rebels games, he goes by the name of Cam Moon. You want a guy that will exude the same amount of raw emotion that we’ve heard from Phillips over the last few decades, then Mooner is your guy. And as far as Rod Pederson goes, that guy is money, but won’t be calling Pats games anymore. He’ll still do Roughrider games, but is hanging up the hockey mic…

  • Bucknuck

    I loved hearing Rod go nuts when a spectacular play was made or something exciting happened. Rod could make a snore fest sound interesting. I listened to a lot of games and while he lost a step or two the last few years, he was still awesome. Whoever succeeds him will have big shoes to fill, because no one could replace him.

    I like Stauffer. I can picture the game he is calling. I miss the passion, though. He just doesn’t seem to have it. I need to hear someone go crazy and have their voice crack when it gets amazing.

    I am soo sad Rod is done.

  • Bucknuck

    To those of you who think Robin’s friendship with Bob Stauffer makes him incapable of judging Bob’s ability to call OIlers games in the future. I say this. Get the kaka outta of your ears and listen. How many of you actually listened to the games that Bob did this year. I did. And I can assure that Stauffer does Oiler play by play with the utmost capability. You all can bitch and moan all you like about Bob’s relationship with Daryl Katz. Some of you think that if it wasn’t for that he wouldn’t have got the color job. Wake up. If Bob felt that was the case I don’t think he would have taken the job. Integrity. Does anynone know the word. His radio show had the kind of numbers that alot broadcasters could only hope for in thier wildest dreams. How many of you listen to Oilers lunch? Have any of you looked at TSN and Sportsnet lately? How many of those guys worked in Edmonton and cut thier teeeth here before being recruited? Dutch, Rishaug, to name only 2. You think that Bob hasn’t had any other offers? Get real people. Bob Stauffer is big time homegrown talent. Just because he chooses to stay in Edmonton doesn’t make him any less a talent than the names that have been mentioned by many of you. I think at times we in Edmonton don’t appreciate the talent that we have to offer. Could you have 30 years ago said that Rod Phillips was going to be in the HHOF? Look beyond the man and see the talent. Thats waht I think Robin Brownlee has done> And I agree with his evaluation.

  • Bucknuck

    I like Brian Munz’s call of games too… used to listen to him in Prince Albert.

    Can’t wait for the draft.. we’re on our way back to playoff hockey soon!!

  • Bucknuck

    I like Bob, his show and his Oilers colour. I don’t think his voice suits play by play.

    It isn’t his passion, vocabulary, connections…just would prefer a different voice.

    I wouldn’t feel like there was nails on a chalkboard, but I sure wouldn’t turn down the TV commentator just to listen to Stauff.

  • Bucknuck

    I have listened to Rod Pedersen in Regina for years, and must commend him for his work ethic, preparation, on air passion for his work and presence in the community. The Oilers would be well served with Rod doing their radio call.

  • Bucknuck

    I’d be disappointed if Stauffer got the job, though I think that he’s great as a sports-talk show host.

    He’s overly verbose as a colour man and doesn’t ignite any passion in the listener as a Play-by-play man. Plus his annoying ‘I told you so’ attitude is all too remeniscent of Hallsey – bless his heart – you keep listening, in spite of the annoying voice that’s calling the game.

    Personally, of all the candidates mentioned, I like AJ Jakubec of the Oil Kings best, though I haven’t heard any Rod Pederson hockey calls.