Q/A with Dave Mishkin
If you’ve ever listened to a Lightning game on radio and the Lightning scored , there was no mistake about it. You’ve heard Dave Mishkin scream it so loud that you probably don’t need your radio to hear it. Now in his sixth season as the voice of Lightning radio, Mishkin, 38, recently chatted with Times staff writer Tom Jones.
Were you one of those kids who turned down the sound on the television during a game and announced it into a little tape recorder?
No tape recorder. That didn’t come until college. I had Strat-O-Matic baseball. I would do play-by-play of those games. I had the 1981 season. The A’s would be playing the Royals or whatever, and I would do the play-by-play as I played the game.
But then you ended up going to Yale. What did you study there?
My major was American Studies. It’s a liberal arts school so they don’t really have communications or journalism. What people do there, however, is a tremendous amount of extracurriculars — acting, singing, sports. What I got involved in was college radio.
And that’s what got you started in broadcasting?
Basically the sports department was run by all seniors and I was a sophomore and there were no juniors. So by the luck of the draw, by my junior year, me and another guy become co-sports directors and I got on the air a lot. But when I was a sophomore I did take the tape recorder and practiced doing as many games as I could. And the upperclassman would critique my tapes.
Did you end up calling games at Yale?
Yeah. All sports, but I was the only one who had a major interest in hockey so I did the majority of the hockey games — all the home games and about half the road games. So I probably did close to 60 games between my junior and senior years. So I had a tape that was far along enough that I was able to use that to get my first job.
And what job as that?
The Johnstown Chiefs. I was lucky. I got it right out of college. So a week after graduation, the car was loaded up for western Pennsylvania.
And then you went from there to Hershey?
Yeah. … Jay Feaster hired me there. It was great. Obviously, being in the NHL is the pinnacle of this profession, but for me, calling games has always been enough. And if you’re going to be in the minors, there aren’t too many better places than Hershey. My last year was the last year of the old building. It was a great historical building. The franchise was stable, it wasn’t going to fold like often happens at that level. There was a great fan base.
Your trademark is screaming, “Score!’’ Is that something you planned out or is that just a natural call?
It just happens. The only conscious decision I’ve ever made about my calling a game — I always like the announcers who weren’t afraid to show emotion. When people say someone is a “homer,’’ there are two definitions of a homer. The one definition, and I would classify myself as this kind, is someone who gets much more enthusiastic for the team he is representing than for the other team as opposed to calling it down the middle. The other kind of homer, which I very much don’t want to be classified as, is somebody who just puts on the home team glasses. The home team never does anything wrong. They never get a penalty. The other team is always getting the calls. Every call is a bad call. I don’t want to be like that, and I don’t think I am. The decision I made was I would never censor myself. I never said, “I’m going to get really excited.’’ If you hear me getting excited it’s because I really am excited.
Do you ever hear yourself in the postgame show when you do the highlights and think, “Man, I really went crazy on that goal?’’
Yeah. (Laughs) It’s kind of like hearing yourself on the answering machine. But I’ve heard it so much I’m used to it now.
Okay, who’s the toughest name to pronounce in hockey?
It’s not even so much how many vowels or consonants there are because once you learn how to say it, you remember it. Like there’s this guy in Chicago named Dustin Byfuglien (pronounced BUFF-lihn). He’s got like every consonant in his name. But once you learn it, it’s easy. But there are some names that are just hard to say. There was a guy from Carolina named Jaroslav Svoboda. And if you’re saying the first and last name together in the flow of the game, that’s physically hard to say. The mechanics of saying the name are tough.
Best building to call a game?
In this day and age, a lot are pretty similar. The St. Pete Times Forum is fun because it’s the home-team building. As far as road games, I like Atlanta. You’re right on top of the ice.
It’s a great building, but Madison Square Garden. It was a building built in 1968 and they weren’t thinking press boxes with 150 seats and big booths for announcers. Visiting radio there is close to the ice, but there are parts of the ice you can’t see. You lose the puck sometimes.
And you’re in the crowd there. How’s that?
First off, the Rangers fans are great. So I don’t mind it, but maybe the fans sometimes don’t like hearing me! They hear this crazy guy yelling, “Scoooooooores!’’
(Times photo - Dirk Shadd. Click to enlarge.)