FROZEN ROYALTY EXCLUSIVE: In the third installment of a multi-part series about newly-hired Los Angeles Kings television play-by-play announcer Alex Faust, he talked about his broadcasting style, and the fact that he’s following in the footsteps of legendary Hall of Fame announcer Bob Miller, not to mention the pressure that brings to his new job.
LOS ANGELES — After getting so accustomed to and comfortable with the style that legendary play-by-play announcer Bob Miller brought to Los Angeles Kings broadcasts for 44 seasons, fans will have to get used to new play-by-play announcer Alex Faust, who was hired by the Kings on June 1 to succeed Miller, who retired after the end of the 2016-17 regular season.
Although no one can replace Miller, the Hall of Fame Voice of the Kings, like it or not, Faust will be the new guy behind the microphone. But what will likely be music to the ears of Kings fans is that Faust’s style shares one key point with that of Miller—he doesn’t use catchphrases or shtick.
“I don’t do catchphrases, I don’t do gimmicks, I don’t do shtick,” he said. “Those are just not things you’ll find with me. If you’re looking for a catchphrase, if you’re looking for something kitschy that I’ll bring to the table, you’re not going to get it, and I won’t be apologetic about that.”
Now that we know Faust shares one significant thing with Miller, in terms of his broadcasting style, has he watched many of Miller’s telecasts, maybe just to get a few pointers?
“I went back and watched a lot of the stuff from the 90’s,” he indicated. “I actually went back and watched a good chunk of the Caesar’s Palace game, [a 1991 pre-season game against the New York Rangers played outdoors in Las Vegas, Nevada], for whatever reason. That was kind of fun. Just hearing [Miller and long-time color commentator Jim Fox], they didn’t sound much different in 1991 than they did when they wrapped things up last [April]. That was quite remarkable.”
“That audition [he did in May with Fox during the interview process] set up such a great first impression for me, and you know, it’s funny,” he added. “I watched the last game he and Bob did. I know there was a lot of emotion around. [Fox] said that it’s not going to be the same, and I fully expect that. It’s not going to be the same for him or for any of the production staff. Bob is in a league of his own.”
Faust indicated, however, that he has not had time to watch many more games that Miller and Fox have called over the years.
“The way that I tried to approach it was to understand their style,” he noted. “But other than trying to understand more of the Kings history, and maybe some of the stuff that worked on the production over the last couple of years, I haven’t had much of a chance to go back and watch games.”
“The same could be true for any broadcaster out there,” he added. “There’s just such a volume of it. But I got a pretty good idea of Bob’s style—more of a radio style because he had that background—they used to simulcast those games—and to a certain extent when Foxy would have a comment, or they had some sort of interaction, and fans have been sending me some clips from a couple of times when they just lost it, laughing on the air together. It’s moments like that I’m expecting to get more exposure to.”
It’s probably a good idea for Faust to limit the number of broadcasts he reviews—he cannot afford to get caught in the trap of trying to imitate or copy from the legend who precedes him. Indeed, he must make the broadcast his own.
“At the end of the day, at the risk of trying to imitate that too much, I don’t want to watch too much of it because I do want to put my own stamp and style on it,” he said.
Although it seems that most Kings fans will be patient with the rookie NHL play-by-play announcer, in all likelihood, there will be a vocal minority who won’t. As such, comparisons to Miller will be inevitable, even though they would be patently unfair and totally absurd.
To be sure, Miller is one of the best hockey play-by-play announcers ever to have called a game, perhaps the best ever. His 44 seasons behind the microphone eclipses, not just Faust’s broadcasting career, but his entire life, reason enough to know that such comparisons would be entirely unfair. Then there is the fact that Faust has only called one National Hockey League game, magnifying the unfairness of any comparisons by several orders of magnitude.
In light of the adversity that will likely come his way once the season begins, Faust seems to have the right outlook going into his new job.
“I can’t go into the Fall thinking that I’m going to be replacing Bob Miller, just as Joe Davis has told me that you can’t go in [the Los Angeles Dodgers television play-by-play announcer position] thinking you’re going to replace Vin Scully,” he emphasized. “You just can’t. So what I’m going to do is just do the game. For me, that’s the easiest part of the job because I’ve been able to, at least, hone a little bit of my own style, which will grow and develop over time.”
“I feel comfortable enough in my own skin with the sport of hockey,” he added. “Not with other sports as much. Maybe baseball is a close second. But with hockey, I feel comfortable enough to walk into any situation, like with the NHL game I did, or the Frozen Four, not having seen most of those teams this year, and call the game and do it well. I’m confident in my own ability to do that.”
That confidence is likely one of the reasons the Kings hired him. It should also serve him well, especially in his first few seasons on the air.
“It may sound a little bit weird to say when you’re 28 years old, but I actually don’t care if people don’t like [my] style,” he said. “From what I’ve heard, especially from those who make the decisions and from fans who seem to enjoy it, or at least say it’ll take some getting used to, if somebody doesn’t like my style and would prefer a different way of calling a game, I’m not going to change for one person or a small percentage.”
Although some might interpret that comment as brash or arrogant, Faust put any concerns about that to rest when he stressed that he wants constructive criticism.
“If there’s something constructive, I’m all for it,” he stressed. “I want feedback from fans, management, Fox Sports West—from everyone. I want feedback. I want to know how I’m doing. In this business, how else are you going to know how you’re doing, so I welcome feedback and I’ll be more than happy to have that come from fans. I’m all ears.”
Like any good broadcaster, Faust does have one fear.
“The only thing I’m afraid of is making mistakes because I know I’ll get exposed,” he observed. “This summer, I have to really dive into—especially for teams around the league, some of which I’ve seen while watching TV before, some through their farm system, players who have come up through the AHL—that’s the only thing I know I will feel awful about.”
As reported in Part 2 of this series, like Miller and Fox, Faust prides himself on preparation.
“If I make a mistake, get called on it, and it becomes a thing, that lands on me,” he said. “That’s my preparation being exposed. That’s my one fear and that’s what keeps me motivated to be pretty prepared. I don’t want to just [provide] stats.”
Coming from Connecticut, where Faust currently resides, suddenly being thrust into a drastically larger spotlight will take some getting used to.
“That’s part of the challenge, right? That’s part of being able to handle it in a market like L.A., where you might have your face on a billboard,” he noted. “You never know. So I have to get used to that idea. It’ll sink in over the next couple of months, especially when I move out there.”
“Being here in Connecticut, it’s so odd because [his new job] is big, and social media has exploded on me,” he added. “People are excited about it, yet here in Connecticut, I go to the grocery store, and I’m totally anonymous. Nobody knows a thing about what’s going on here. But I know that might not be the case in L.A. I know it’s a big city, and I know only a percentage of folks watch Kings hockey on a regular basis, and the same is true for Dodgers baseball. Not everyone in L.A. is a big Dodgers fan. I’m sure everyone knew the name, ‘Vin Scully,’ but there are probably people now who don’t know who Joe Davis is, and I suspect that’ll be the true with me. But I have to at least set myself up for the expectation that it might happen. I might be recognizable.”
But even if it takes awhile for him to become recognizable in Southern California, Faust intends to continue to work towards that end in terms of national broadcasting opportunities, and not just in hockey.
“I intend to continue to pursue national opportunities, especially where it fits within the Kings schedule,” he said. “Whenever there’s an opportunity to do that, I’d love to continue to pursue that. I’ll try to do a college basketball game here and there, again, if it fits within the schedule, and if there’s an opportunity on NBCSN to do a [hockey] game, great. That’s part of it, too.”
As reported earlier. Faust won’t spend a lot of time watching old games that Miller and Fox called. But he has already spoken with Miller, who called him right after he was hired.
“He was so gracious with his kind words on what he saw of my work and he was giving me a little bit of background on when he moved out to L.A., coming out of Wisconsin,” Faust said. “That warmed my heart because I’m a big college hockey fan. That’s how I really got fully invested in the sport, through college hockey, not through the NHL. It’s kind of a backward way of developing in this world, but my first exposure to it was through college at Northeastern [University], the Beanpot [annual college hockey tournament in Boston], Hockey East, so hearing him talk about his time at the University of Wisconsin, the old WCHA, that was cool, because there’s a lot of parallels there.”
“Also, his first experience out in L.A.,” Faust added. “I’m sure he’s said many times that [original Kings owner] Jack Kent Cooke was not the easiest owner to work for, and then thinking, in the first few weeks of being on the air with the Kings, jeez, what am I in for here?’”
“I doubt that anything I run into will be as nerve-wracking as working in that kind of environment. He told me a couple of stories about that, and he expressed his well wishes. I told him that I’d love to get together sometime, and I think the Kings are setting up a time for us to meet for dinner [this] week. That’ll be cool—to get together, to meet him and [his wife], Judy. It’ll be a fun time.”
Once Faust moves to the Los Angeles area and jumps into his new job, preparing for his first broadcast with the Kings, getting in synch with Fox, and just calling the games are among the challenges that await him. But if you think those are his biggest challenges, guess again. In the final installment of this series, Faust will share his thoughts about what will be his biggest challenge as the Kings’ new television play-by-play announcer. Stay tuned.
LEAD PHOTO: Newly-hired Los Angeles Kings play-by-play announcer Alex Faust (right), shown here during a college basketball broadcast for Fox Sports. Photo courtesy Fox Sports/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 2
- Going Deep With New LA Kings Broadcaster Alex Faust – Part 4
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