FROZEN ROYALTY EXCLUSIVE: In Part 1 of this multi-part series about Los Angeles Kings newly-hired television play-by-play broadcaster Alex Faust, he talked about his rather unique path to becoming a sports broadcaster. In Part 2, he talked about how he and the Kings found each other, not to mention some of his thoughts about the Kings television broadcasts going forward.
LOS ANGELES — Once Los Angeles Kings legendary Hockey Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer Bob Miller announced on March 3, 2017 that he would retire at the end of the 2016-17 season, the question was:
Would the Kings hire a veteran play-by-play announcer, or would they go with a young, up-and-coming broadcaster who could grow into the role and hopefully, establish himself as a star in its own right in a long career with the team, as Miller did?
Educated bets were on the latter option, and the Kings made those bets winners on June 1, when they announced the hiring of Brooklyn, New York native Alex Faust, who has called games at both the college and professional level, and not just in hockey. But at 28 years of age, not only is he relatively inexperienced, but also has the distinction of being the youngest broadcaster in the National Hockey League. Moreover, although many predicted that the Kings would go with a young, up-and-coming broadcaster, it is unlikely that anyone thought they would choose someone that young and more importantly, someone who is pretty much an unknown.
Indeed, Faust was unknown to the Kings, not to mention just about everyone else. But he took the bull by the horns and made sure that changed.
“Sometimes you take the initiative on your own, right? I knew that I wasn’t on their radar at all,” he said. “I was working a gig for Tennis Channel in late March, and I knew the Kings had an opening. I had no idea how far along in the process they were. But since the season was still going on, and since Bob had yet to call his last game, I figured that they hadn’t settled on anything yet and that they wanted to get through that before making any moves.”
“Luckily for me, I guessed right,” he added. “Again, without any knowledge of what stage in the process they were in, I set up a meeting with Mike Connelly, [Senior Vice President and Executive Producer] of Fox Sports. I’d met with him before. My agent was awesome for setting up a meeting with him three years earlier, kind of a meet-and-greet, because I really didn’t have anything to my name, other than the [Utica] Comets [of the American Hockey League] stuff and basketball at Northeastern [University]. I didn’t have much high-level work to my name. But it was good to meet a couple of folks at Fox because after that, they gave me my first tryout [in a college lacrosse game followed shortly thereafter by a college basketball game].”
“They gave me a shot, so Mike was familiar with my work. He knew that I was a hockey guy, and he’s a Minnesota guy, so we connected over that. So, in our meeting in March, I was playing very coy. You don’t want to be too pushy in this industry, but I made it known that, ‘I’m interested in hockey stuff, still, and there’s the new team in Las Vegas.’ He stopped me in my tracks right there. ‘You know we have an opening here, right?’ So, at that point, I was like, ‘hey! I’d love to throw my hat in the ring.’”
Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
“Timing wise, this was perfect,” Faust observed. “I had a game on NBCSN, the one that wound up on my demo reel. That was four days after this meeting. So, Mike, in his office, set his DVR, as I was sitting there. I guess things went over well there on their end. They decided to pass my name around and once I had a reel put together, I was able to share that with them.”
“Timing was everything on this,” Faust added. “I didn’t expect to get the job at all. I would’ve been happy with an in-person interview. That was my goal, just to get an in-person interview, because you never know what might happen after that.”
In very quick fashion, Faust went from an unknown freelance broadcaster to landing one of the premier play-by-play jobs in the National Hockey League. But last May, before he was hired, he called a previously recorded game with Kings television color commentator Jim Fox as part of the interview process. By all accounts, that audition not only went well, but the two never interrupted each other at all, something quite rare and unexpected since they had never worked together before.
Faust gave all the credit to Fox.
“I came away from that thinking [that was because Fox is just that good], and I’m being fully honest here,” he emphasized. “I had watched his stuff with Bob before. I figured that he was good and that it would be interesting to work with him. But he is so smooth!”
“I’m shocked that I haven’t heard more from him on a national level because I think he’s good enough to do stuff on a national level,” he added. “I know he worked for Westwood One radio [during the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs], and I heard a little bit of that. But yeah, that was cool. To have a guy who’s that articulate, that smooth, and who hits all the right notes, and again, not stepping on each other, that was awesome.”
Now that he has the job, what should fans expect during a Kings telecast? What changes are in store with the new guy behind the mic?
“I expect that we might try a couple of things on the broadcast that are different than what Kings fans may be used to,” he indicated. “It might be as simple as me reading a promotional spot instead of Jim, or maybe there’s a little bit more conversation while the puck is in play. Different things in the open, different elements in the broadcast. We’ll tinker a little bit.”
“There won’t be wholesale changes,” he added. “I don’t think my style differs all that much from Bob, but I’m looking forward to playing around.”
Faust also indicated that he knows that, as an NHL broadcasting rookie, and as someone lacking experience with the Kings, when it comes to the telecast, he knows his place, in a manner of speaking.
“I’ll definitely defer to Jim,” he stressed. “He has twenty years on me in this thing. But I’m expecting that it’ll be fun to try a couple of new things, and from the moment that we were doing the audition, he said that he was open to trying some new things and tinkering here and there, so we’ll give it a shot.”
“It’s also that the broadcast comes first,” he added. “I’m sure there are a lot of analysts around any sport who kind of want to make it more about them. But again, from the short time that I spent with [Fox], I got the sense that—I know that he’s a former player and a Kings great, but he’s a TV guy. He understands all the mechanics of it, and when we get started in October, I think that’ll make it a very smooth start, as if this was nothing new.”
One of the things that made Miller a legendary Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer was his preparation for each broadcast, something he taught Fox. What will likely be music to the ears of Kings fans is that Faust shares both Miller’s and Fox’s emphasis on preparation.
“I couldn’t agree more, and there are a couple of things in [Fox’s] system that I really liked and may try to incorporate into my own,” he noted. “If you ever want to look at my play-by-play chart, I’d be happy to share a sample. Maybe I’ve got a little too much in very small print.”
“I don’t think you can do a professional job in the NHL, or any major professional league sport, without being fully prepared, every single game,” he added. “Otherwise, you get exposed. The worst feeling in the world is if you don’t do the homework. You’re going to get burned.”
“Inevitably, something’s going to happen where you don’t have the proper pronunciation for a player’s name, or you don’t have an obvious backstory, or you don’t have something about the franchise that you should’ve known. That’s going to be hard for me. I don’t have that built-in institutional knowledge that a guy like Bob would have for Kings history, specifically, and I’m not going to try to pretend that I do because in that regard, I will get burned.”
Faust indicated that he will take a bit of a conservative approach to the telecast in the coming season.
“The way that I’m going to approach it, especially for this first year, is soaking it all in, and maybe have a little bit more restraint than I otherwise would,” he said. “But at the end of the day, if I’m putting in the work, it should work out great. I’ll try to find a unique and interesting angle from a 28-year-old-who’s-new-to-the-NHL [as a broadcaster] perspective. I’ll try to bring that to the table, and I’ll lean on Foxy to provide more of the historical stuff.”
As reported earlier, the smart money was on the Kings choosing to hire a young, up-and-coming broadcaster who would be able to grow into the role and hopefully, become a legendary broadcaster in his own right over many years behind the Kings microphone.
That thought was not lost on Faust when he threw his hat into the ring.
“This is the type of role, once I knew I was being seriously considered, I made it my number one priority,” he noted. “I’m going to move [to the Los Angeles area], and if all goes well, I don’t intend to leave. That’s as simple as it gets. I don’t think there’s anywhere else I’d rather be.”
To establish and build a career with the Kings in similar fashion to what Miller did—those are certainly very lofty expectations.
“[That’s] tons of pressure, no doubt,” said Faust. “I know, from my own perspective, there’s a lot to live up to. But what gave me the best feeling in the world was, after this process, and even during the interview, I got the vibe that they really believe in me.”
“It would be one thing if I was brought on with the feeling from the franchise, or even from Fox Sports West that, ‘yeah, we have a new guy who we’re going to try out for a couple of years and see how it works out,’” added Faust. “I didn’t get that feeling at all. I got the feeling that they really want me here for the long haul, and they believe in me for the long haul.”
Even though he will be charting his own course, in terms of the Kings telecasts, making the broadcast his own, Faust will be the new guy following a superstar, a legend, a Hall of Famer, in Bob Miller, a broadcaster who was so good, so revered, that no one will ever be able to replace him, and no one is expecting Faust to do that. Nevertheless, he will be the guy doing the play-by-play, not Miller, and the comparisons will be inevitable, fair or not.
Faust’s thoughts on following in Miller’s footsteps, about his broadcasting style, and more on his thoughts on Kings telecasts, are coming soon in Part 3.
LEAD PHOTO: Newly-hired Los Angeles Kings play-by-play announcer Alex Faust (left) with Kings television color commentator Jim Fox (right)/ Photo courtesy Los Angeles Kings.
Going Deep With New LA Kings Broadcaster Alex Faust – Read The Entire Series
- Going Deep With New LA Kings Broadcaster Alex Faust – Part 1
- Going Deep With New LA Kings Broadcaster Alex Faust – Part 3
- Going Deep With New LA Kings Broadcaster Alex Faust – Part 4
Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.