19

RADIO GA-GA XII: L.A. JACK?

After 44 seasons and 3,351 games behind the microphone as the voice of the Los Angeles Kings, Bob Miller has called it a career in the broadcast booth after suffering some serious health issues – he has had quadruple-bypass surgery and suffered two strokes over the course of the last year.

Miller, 78, who was always one of the most welcoming and friendly radio guys when it came to visiting broadcasters and writers, be it back in the days of the old Great Western Forum or more recently at Staples Center, had, to understate, a helluva good run in Tinseltown as the Kings’ play-by-play man, most recently with partner Jim Fox. If you can’t put a face to the name, you might know Miller from this clip. That blooper aside, he’s left big shoes to fill.

There’ll be a long list of people wanting the job – that goes without saying because it’s a plum gig in one of the biggest media centres in the U.S. – and one of the people who is in the mix, from what I understand, is Edmonton Oilers’ play-by-play man Jack Michaels, who has been manning the microphone with the Oilers since the 2010-11 season.

Michaels, a native of Pennsylvania who took over the call in Edmonton from Rod Phillips, is one of several broadcasters who worked games in place of Miller late in the season. Michaels did play-by-play of a game between the Kings and the Arizona Coyotes April 2. Jon Rosen also did a game, as did analyst Daryl Evans. In other words, Michaels was in some select company.

IS JACK A FIT IN TINSELTOWN?

Former Dallas Stars play-by-play man Ralph Strangis, who worked in tandem for years and years with Daryl Reaugh during his 25-year run in the Lone Star State, did most of the Kings’ broadcasts in place of Miller during the last two months of the season. He’s likely one of the frontrunners for the job, but there will be plenty of competition, including Michaels.

“I’m interested in the Kings job, but if that doesn’t happen I’m open to whatever is next,” said Strangis, who exchanged texts with me recently. “They have a lot of qualified candidates and I respect their process. That’s sort of my mantra. I’ve really been philosophical about this stuff. I have a lot of different things that interest me.”

Michaels certainly paid his dues before landing the job in Edmonton. He worked more than 900 games in the minors — in Colorado Springs of the West Coast Hockey League and the Anchorage Aces of the East Coast Hockey League — before taking over from Phillips alongside analyst Bob Stauffer with the Oilers on rights holder 630-CHED.

“There’s a number of guys like myself who’ve been at this a number of years and, in my case, the joke was ‘Am I going to get to the NHL before I hit 1,000 minor-league games?’ I did and I beat it by 81 games,” Michaels said after being hired in 2010. “Took me 919 games, but there’s a lot of talented people out there, lots gunning for this job, and I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t proud to be chosen.”

While Jack’s revved-up on-air style took some time for me to warm up to — more than anything because I had listened to Phillips call Oiler games for the last 20 years of his esteemed 37-year career through five Stanley Cups — he’s grown on me over the last couple seasons. He and Stauffer are a very solid tandem now. I’m not sure how far up the Kings’ short-list Michaels will be when all the names are in, but I bet he’s on it. Stay tuned.

THAT NEW GUY

Photoshop: @isuckatpicking

I’ve got to say that I’ve really enjoyed listening to the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 these last couple of weeks now that former Oiler Jason Strudwick has taken over the co-hosting chair I occupied for nine years. Strudwick, who left a gig on Dinner TV to partner with Gregor, took over from yours truly May 1.

Gregor and Strudwick are good friends and the on-air chemistry is unquestionable. It adds a lot of zip to the show. The chirps flow, most of them based on Strudwick’s hair weave, and it’s impossible not to get caught up in Struddy’s Mr. Ed laugh and listening to him pronounce names as we’ve never heard them pronounced before.

I’m grateful for the nine-year run with Gregor. That’s forever in the ever-changing radio business. Let’s be honest here, I was never a radio guy, I was a monotone newspaper guy who got his first shot doing radio from Stauffer back in the TEAM 1260 days in 2007. Gregor took me on when he took over the afternoon slot and let me drone on and on for almost a decade before wising up and getting somebody else who is actually good at it. Thanks, Jason.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

  • elliotsmom

    Robin, I am certainly going to miss hearing you on Wednesday and Thursdays. I always enjoyed your perspectives on different players and scenarios. Hopefully you can get back on with Gregor occasionally to do a guest spot.

  • chickenStew

    Please let this happen! In my opinion Jack Michaels is almost unlistenable. When listening to radio play by play you should be presented a picture in your mind’s eye of what is happening. This is not the case with Michaels in the least. The listener should feel comfortable, but he puts you on edge with a confusing, chaotic style.

    As for Strudwick, while he might have chemistry with Gregor, and insight into the NHL as an ex player, the majority of his contribution is an excuse to delve into hair, clothes, dancing, and the like. It is already old shtick.
    I’d much rather listen to Brownlee any day who is an actual journalist who doesn’t act like an immature jock.

  • D

    Big fan of your work RB. A nice run in the radio business. If Jack Michaels goes to Los Angeles, the Oilers should bring back Rod Phillips for a year. Now that the Oil are making the playoffs again, it would be fun to hear Rod one more time in that capacity.

  • Clarkenstein

    I agree with Chickenstew. When he sticks to play by play he’s fine but he goes off on these long meandering tangents about the fact some guy played hockey in Timbuctoo. Meanwhile the play is going on, you can hear shots banging off the boards, the crowd hollering and he’s just ending the story nobody gave a damn about. It’s almost like it’s a contest between him and Stauffer over who has the most info that nobody wants to hear. Least of all during the game. My $.02 worth.

  • ed from edmonton

    If Michaels moves on, it will not be a loss. His style in more conducive to TV where you can see the play and don’t need someone to tell you what you already know.

  • Duke of OiL

    Alot of us working nights all agree he just isnt the guy to take us to the promised land.Def a step below the big leagues and barely tolerable to listen to,just not exiting at all.Very surprised if LA would hire him…

  • shaner

    I’m not a fan of jack michaels, nothing about him personally but I don’t like the way he calls the games, never have. I also don’t like being bombarded with ncaa graduates in the NHL and the stories and home towns of them…….good riddance

  • Freddie the fog

    I for one am not a big jason Gregor fan , but i always enjoyed your take Robin on all things sports. Your informed and humble approach on air will b missed.

  • Mcjesuslaz

    I don’t know why most people don’t like jack and bob to be honest I would rather listen to them then Kevin Quinn and drew remenda. Heck is it wasn’t 15 seconds or so late I would mute my tv and out the radio on

  • Hemi

    Well my good man, like many others who enjoy the sport coverage in this fine city, you were/are a significant part of that enjoyment. On a personal level, I very much looked to listening to you on 1260.

    Don’t sell yourself short here, you maybe surprised as to how many of us looked forward to your views in your monotone voice that is more suited to radio…….. Hope you are able to pop in once in a while!

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Can we get a compensatory pick from LA if we lose Jack? I guess I’m in the minority, because I like his style, and would miss him. He’s not Rod, but no one else ever could be, and he seems like a nice guy.

    Robin, after Stauffer left 1260, you were the only, and I mean (ONLY) reason I would ever tune into that station. Job well done, sir. You will be missed.