Q&A with Fox Sports' Kenny Albert
Kenny Albert comes from one of sports' most famous broadcasting families. His father, Marv, is one of America's best-known broadcasters, and his uncles Steve and Al also joined the family business. Kenny Albert, 41, got his start calling minor-league hockey games in 1990 and has moved his way up to become one of the top play-by-play announcers on Fox, as well calling New York Rangers games on the radio.
Albert and partners Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa will call the first three Bucs games of the season on Fox, starting with Sunday's home opener against the Cowboys. On Wednesday night, Albert spoke from his home in New Jersey.
Coming into these first three games, what story lines are you looking at regarding the Bucs?
There are so many between the change at head coach and the change at offensive coordinator. There's a new quarterback. Derrick Brooks is gone. There are a lot of story lines, and we'll touch on those issues, I'm sure, but it really comes down to the game that dictates the broadcast. You can prepare and prepare for a game, and then you get a totally different game. You tend to overprepare for the first game. You have four months to prepare for the first game and then six days for the second game.
What's it like to call a game with the same team for three consecutive weeks?
It definitely cuts down on the preparation time. You do a team two weeks in a row pretty frequently, but I think only once before have we called (a game with) the same team three times in a row.
How do you like working with Daryl and Tony?
This is our third full year of working together, and we occasionally did games for three years before that. Those guys are great, and I think we mesh really well together. The key is we really get along. There's kind of that locker-room mentality where we kid around at each other's expense. But when it's time to go to work, we get our work done.
What's unusual about your broadcast team is that Tony is on the field. How difficult can that be?
With me, even in a two-man booth, I call the play and then shut up and let the analysts talk. With three guys, including one on the field, I find that I really have to edit myself. In the end, it's a feel thing. Everyone seems to know when to talk and when not to talk. Oftentimes Daryl will say what he's going to say and then lead in Tony. What's amazing is that Daryl and Tony almost never talk over one another even though one is in the booth and the other is standing in the end zone.
It's unusual to have a sideline guy in the end zone.
Tony is a polarizing guy; people just gravitate to him. Both Daryl and Tony have won championships, and you see how much players -- and everyone, really -- respects those two guys. And Tony is one of a kind. A couple of years ago, we were in Green Bay, and Brett Favre and Tony get going telling stories. Brett says, "Remember that one game when I came up to center and looked at you lining up, and I said, 'Hey, how does your head fit in that helmet.' '' And they start laughing, and that kind of thing happens all the time. And as far as Tony being in the end zone, he's a former lineman, so he likes to look at a game like he did when he played. It's a vantage point unlike any other analyst on TV.
You do football and baseball for Fox. You call Rangers games on the radio. You do the Knicks occasionally, college basketball. Which sport is your favorite?
That's like asking which one of your kids you like better. You know, I'm just so fortunate that this is what I do for a living. Growing up, my favorite sport was hockey. I've been doing the Rangers on the radio since 1995, and I love it. But then again, 1 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon, and you have the opening kickoff of a football game, and you just know that so many people are watching; that's really exciting. Then you have Saturday afternoon and a baseball game. It's all apples and oranges. I'm just so fortunate that I wake up every day and have a chance to call a game in any sport.
Your dad, Marv, is one of the most famous announcers ever. Was that helpful growing up and breaking into the business, or did it make it more difficult?
I grew up with it, and I've known since I was 5 years old that this is what I wanted to do. As a kid, I set up my bedroom like a booth, and I would turn the sound down on the TV and call games into a tape recorder. Having my dad in the business, obviously, was a big advantage. I watched him and learned the importance of preparation. But then I went down to Maryland and called minor-league hockey for three years. I had gotten out of New York, where my father was so big, and established myself on my own, and that was important, too. I guess having a dad in the business is no different than wanting to be a lawyer or doctor because your dad is a lawyer or a doctor.
These days, I'm not sure you're really associated with your dad as much. Don't take this the wrong way, but don't you think you're seen as just another announcer?
Oh, I would take that in a good way. And as far as my dad, I always tell people that it’s probably hard for him to admit he has a son who is 41. He introduces me as his brother.
I have to ask you about the Rangers and their coach, John Tortorella.
It's really exciting with him here now. … When he was an assistant coach here years ago, he always talked about how exciting it was to be with an Original Six team and to be in New York. And when he took over as head coach last year, you could see how excited he was to be a part of that. Obviously, he brings a lot of credibility because he won a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay. He certainly laid down the law when he got here, and he has talked about the conditioning of this team, and his message is certainly getting through. He's one of the great characters in the game, and I think everyone is really looking forward to seeing how he does in New York.