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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


January 29, 2016  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Voice of Lightning charged with excitement

By BRUCE LOWITT Jewish Press

Radio play-by-play announcer Dave Mishkin Radio play-by-play announcer Dave Mishkin TAMPA – Dave Mishkin is nothing if not excitable. It’s the trademark of the Tampa Bay Lightning playby play radio broadcaster.

As the action on the ice intensifies, so does his voice, the words coming faster and louder, the pitch climbing until …


“ SCO-O-O-O-O-RE!”

“ SCO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-RE!”

… when Tampa Bay, well, scores a goal.

It’s nothing he planned, not like so many broadcasters of so many sports who create their own special calls, like Marv Albert’s “Yes!” during basketball games.

What Mishkin shrieks just sort of happened.

“I don’t do that as a signature call,” the New York City native said during an interview at Amalie Arena, the Lightning’s home ice.

“I made two conscious decisions when I started broadcasting hockey,” he explained.

One was to stay with the action, “keeping up with the play, following the puck,” rather than being overly descriptive, painting a picture, so to speak, as some broadcasters do.

And remember, play stops in baseball, basketball and football, to substitute players. In hockey it’s done on the fly, and the names of the players on the ice are constantly changing.

“There’s no right or wrong answer,” Mishkin said. “It’s personal preference. In my case it’s, ‘What would I want to hear? I’d want to know where the puck is.’ I tend to stay on the puck a lot.”

The second decision had to do with passion. “I always enjoyed listening to broadcasters who weren’t afraid to show emotion if they represented a team,” he said.

“Calling a national game is different; you have no allegiance to one side or the other, but if I’m rooting for one team I loved it when that team’s broadcaster got excited when something good happened. So I decided I wasn’t going to temper any enthusiasm.

“That’s where my ‘goal’ call came from, It wasn’t like I sat and thought, ‘You know, I want to sound like this!’ I’m just reacting, and that’s how I’ve always reacted.”

And that scream isn’t rough on his vocal cords, even though it may sound as though he’s tearing them apart. He does it only three or four times a game, or however many Lightning goals are scored.

“Some people sitting in the stands are screaming the whole game,” Mishkin said. “They do much more of a number on their voice.”

Mishkin lives in Tampa with his wife, Dulcie, and their son, Eli, and if you’re wondering what a nice Jewish boy is doing behind a Lightning microphone, broadcasting sports, well he’s among some pretty elite company.

Start with Marv Albert and his brothers, Steve and Al, and their nephew Kenny. And Suzyn Waldman, Max Kellerman and Suzy Kolber. And Al Michaels, Bonnie Bernstein and Tony Kornheiser. And the late Mel Allen and Marty Glickman and Howard Cosell – that’s just a small sampling of Jewish sportscasters.

In 1987, his freshman year at Yale, Mishkin saw a flyer promoting the university’s broadcast of an upcoming football game. And because he and a friend had broadcast a few football and hockey games as seniors in high school, Mishkin had had a taste of it.

“I could do that,” he said to no one in particular – but the Yale student handing out the WYBC pamphlets overheard him and invited him to a meeting at the station. He started doing “dummy” games, calling them into a tape recorder until he was good enough to get on the air.

“I never thought much about a career before I got to Yale and I was broadcasting by my sophomore year, before I had to choose a major. There was no broadcasting major at Yale, no journalism major, so I chose American Studies.”

By the time he graduated in 1991 Mishkin had done play-byplay for many sports, including close to 60 hockey games in his junior and senior seasons, and had been WYBC’s sports director.

“I was fortunate to get a job right out of college,” he said. It was with the Johnstown Chiefs of the East Coast Hockey League. If you’ve never heard of the Johnstown Chiefs, rent Slap Shot starring Paul Newman, even if you’re not a hockey fan. The wild 1977 comedy is about the mythical minor league Charlestown Chiefs, modeled after the Johnstown Jets, which went out of business that year.

Johnstown, PA, where much of the movie was filmed, got a new team in 1987. The owners wanted to call it the Jets but the owners of the old team still held the rights to it. A name-the-team contest was held and in honor of the movie, still revered in Johnstown, their fans named them the Chiefs.

That’s where Mishkin began his professional career as a broadcaster – and just about everything else the team needed. He wrote press releases, handled player appearances, sold tickets …

“Minor league staffs are smaller – there’s less money to pay people to do each individual job – and broadcasters do more,” he said. “The staff in Johnstown was the general manager, the office manager and me. That was it and anything that needed to be done got done.”

His parents “never expressed any disappointment or displeasure at my choice (of a career),” Mishkin said. ”When I started out at 21, 22, working in a small market for not a large salary they thought, ‘Well, he’ll do that for now,’ but as I moved up they were fine with it.”

From there he went to Hershey, PA, for eight seasons with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, still doing much of what he’d done with the Chiefs – along with three years as media director and play-by-play broadcaster of the Hershey Wildcats, the company’s A-League soccer team.

“I called close to a thousand games in the minors (before joining the Lightning),” Mishkin said. “The more that you do it, the more comfortable you become with it. Now it’s rare for something to happen that I haven’t seen before.”

“It’s not the easiest thing in the world to be a minor-league broadcaster,” Mishkin said. “You have to love the broadcast to basically go wherever there’s a job and work for whatever they’re offering you. … If you can do it you can get better at it with experience.”

That’s what got him to Tampa Bay for the 2002-03 NHL season.

Even with the Lightning there’s more to his job besides broadcasting. After each game he writes Mishkin’s Extra Shift, how he saw it from the booth, for the Lightning website. He produces a column every week or two, and does promotions and elementary school programs.

He has called about 1,000 Lightning games, including the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2004, when they won it all, and last season.

And career-wise, he’s not thinking too far down the road. “I love what I’m doing now and I see no reason to change,” he said.

“The ’04 run was definitely memorable, Game 6 as much as Game 7. Game 6 they were in Calgary and had to go to double-overtime. One puck going the other way and it’s all over. And Game 7, winning 2-1 to win the Cup. And the (seven-game) conference finals against Philadelphia.” But no, Mishkin admitted, he doesn’t have a favorite call.

Too many, he said.

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