FROZEN ROYALTY EXCLUSIVE: The first three installments of this series about new Los Angeles Kings television play-by-play announcer Alex Faust took an in-depth look at his background, how he got the job, his broadcasting style, his ideas for Kings telecasts and his thoughts on following in the footsteps of legendary, Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller. In the final installment, we’ll look at Faust’s biggest challenge in his new job, and it probably isn’t what you think it is.
LOS ANGELES — As reported in Part 3 of this series, once new Los Angeles Kings television play-by-play announcer Alex Faust utters his first words during his debut Kings telecast on Fox Sports West in October, he’ll face significant pressure from various sources, primarily because all eyes will be on him as the new guy, but also because he’ll be following in the footsteps of a superstar, Bob Miller, a Hall of Famer, a legend.
Indeed, Faust will have to deal with a significant amount of pressure, including from himself, to provide fans with the high-quality broadcast they expect, game in and game out.
To be sure, the pressure to perform is a challenge that Faust must learn to deal with. But that challenge doesn’t come close to being his most daunting challenge once he starts his new job.
“Getting to introduce myself, getting to know fans and have them get to know me over time—I think that’s really the challenge,” he said. “That’s probably the bigger challenge, because like Joe [Davis] and the [Los Angeles] Dodgers, you’re turning over into a new era. You’re turning the page. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, and I don’t have any experience being the face of a franchise. When you’re the TV play-by-play guy, you’re the face of the franchise for most folks on any given night.”
As Miller noted during the press conference in March when he announced that he would retire at the end of the 2016-17 season, he always had time to talk hockey with fans—he made an effort to engage fans whenever he could, whether he was on the job or not.
“I would like people to say, ‘he was a friendly guy,’” said Miller. “‘I went up and talked to him. He took time to talk to me.’ I never wanted to be walking away from someone and have them say, ‘boy, what a jerk. I just wanted to talk to him and he ignored me and walked away.’”
“I’ve had that atmosphere of cooperation with fans and friendliness with fans and have them say, ‘hey! He spent time with me, asked me what I do for a living and it was really nice to talk to him,’” added Miller. “I think that’s what I want people to remember, and that we had a good time listening to the broadcast’”
Without question, Miller set the bar so high, not just behind the microphone, but also in his relationship with fans, players, coaches, front office and team staff, fellow broadcasters, the media—the list goes on—that it might not be reachable by any ordinary human being. Nevertheless, it’s a role Faust must push hard to fill.
“It’s funny,” he said. “Part of the job interview, and even part of my preparation for the interview, was just reading about what Bob would do, being so active in the community. That’s table stakes for this role. If you were to put together a job description for this role, that’s part of it. It’s not just call the games.”
“You’re expected to be out and active in the community, at events, meeting fans at the arena,” he added. “It’s something as simple as that—not going through the back entrance and using the freight elevator every single game. It’s occasionally mingling out in the crowd. For lack of a better term, it’s shooting the [expletive deleted] with the fans. That’s part of the role, and it’s remarkable.”
The fact that Faust is an employee of the Kings and not of their television rights holder (Fox Sports West), unlike a lot of professional sports team broadcasters, is not lost on him.
“Not every broadcaster is a team employee,” he observed. “I will be a Kings employee. I was chatting with [New York Islanders play-by-play announcer] Brendan Burke. He’s an MSG [Madison Square Garden Network] employee. That’s not to say that Brendan won’t do a lot of the same things with the team, but there’s the expectation set forth in my job description to be that type of person in the community, and it’ll be hard.”
“I don’t know L.A,” he added. “I’ve been there several times for work, but I don’t know it, not having grown up there. Bob expressed something similar over the phone. It was totally brand new for him, too, going out there, just the enormity of the area. It’s different. Having grown up in New York City, it’ll be very different.”
“I don’t consider myself a millennial, but I’m close enough where I understand wanting to just curl up in a ball and not have to deal with other human beings. I think, in the 21st Century, that’s not as natural as it was for gentlemen [like Miller and Vin Scully]—and I say that word with a high degree of importance—to do.”
Faust indicated that it might take him some time to break out of his shell, so to speak.
“I do think the media are guilty, in this day and age, of kind of existing in a bubble,” he said. “So I could totally understand, from that perspective, why it would be the easy choice to think, ‘the game is over. Go down the elevator, walk down the tunnel, get in the car and get out of here.’ Again, I think that the expectation has been set up where even if it’s not comfortable for me at the start, just do it, and the fans will embrace it.”
“I got a little taste of that [with the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets], where the broadcast booth—it’s not separated from the crowd. You have to walk up through the concourse to the radio booth. I got a chance in warm-ups, if I was grabbing a coach interview 90 minutes before puck drop, there might be some fans in the building who would stop me and say hello. We’d chat about, ‘hey, how have you been? How was the drive over? What did you see on the road with the team recently?’”
“I would make an effort, when I was in Utica, if I was in a local coffee shop, and I overheard folks talking about the team, even if I didn’t introduce myself, or say who I was, I’d try to get their feel for what was going on with the team. It was kind of remarkable to get the pulse of the fans at that level. It’s a totally different scale and size at the NHL level. But it’s something where I might have to get out of my comfort zone and do. That’s the expectation and I won’t be doing my job, and I will not have done a successful job from the Kings perspective if I’m not out and about like that.”
“I know, from being honest here, that it’ll be very different to be in the spotlight like that. I’m going to have to get outside my comfort zone and be OK with—that’s just part of the routine, and I don’t want to trap myself here and paint this in the wrong way. But I’m saying what I know my experience is. I’ve never done anything, at this level, like that before. I’m just going to have to do it.”
Even though Faust’s biggest challenge in his new job will be something that he has to dive into, even though he might not be comfortable with it, at first, he’s excited about it, nonetheless.
“It’ll be fun,” he said. “It’ll be different, it’ll be challenging. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think that would be a fun part of it.”
Another aspect of the job, even though he hasn’t officially started yet, was something he did not expect—the tremendous reaction from fans on Twitter who welcomed him with open arms.
“I was not [prepared for the outpouring of well wishes], actually,” he noted. “I thought it would be kind of cool from the team folks, but I had no idea it would be so overwhelmingly positive.”
“In 2017, on social media, it’s so easy to be hateful behind a keyboard,” he added. “But I got no sense whatsoever that Kings fans were thinking, ‘you hired WHO?? From WHERE? WHERE did you find THIS guy?!’”
“At least the ones on Twitter, and I know that’s not all of them, and not even the majority, from them, and from those with whom I did the Reddit AMA [‘Ask Me Anything’ on June 6], and everything that I’ve heard, I’ve been very well received and I’m just blown away by that. It speaks a lot to what the team told me, that Kings fans are very unique and that this was not uncommon for them to do.”
Faust indicated that he plans to move to Southern California shortly after July 4, with his fiancée, Carolyn, following later.
“My fiancée has been on board with this from the moment I knew that I was being considered,” he said. “She’s going to love Southern California, and she’s so looking forward to this. She may not be able to get out there right away, but she’s really looking forward to Southern California. I think she’s more of a West Coast girl than a New York City type, even though she was born in Manhattan.”
What was his mother’s reaction?
“My Mom probably cried,” said Faust. “She frames it as ‘you got to pursue your dreams and actually achieve them at age 28.’ That’s pretty powerful.”
“It’s a dream job to explain to your friends,” he beamed. “I didn’t even know, for friends who are in sports broadcasting, how do you even approach telling them, ‘hey! I’m going to work in the NHL.’ But everyone’s just been super kind and gracious.”
“It’s taken a little bit to settle in as to what the enormity of this role will be for a 28-year-old NHL rookie, and it probably won’t sink in entirely until I move out there and start going to the office every day, and drop the puck in October,” he added. “It’s going to take a little while to settle in.”
Aside from his new job, Faust said that there is one thing he’s going to be in search of after moving to the Los Angeles area.
“I can be a bit of a pizza snob, at times, so L.A., you’d better impress me with your pizza,” he said, rather matter-of-factly. “Otherwise, there’s going to be a little bit of trouble.”
Being a Brooklyn native, it will be rather difficult for Faust to find New York style pizza in the Los Angeles area that is as good as it is in New York City, so if you know of a place that would measure up, send your recommendation his way.
What should work in reverse is finding quality Mexican food.
“I grew up in a neighborhood that had good, but not great, Mexican food in New York City,” said Faust.
Faust’s new colleagues, including those of us in the local media, should be able to help him in that regard, no doubt.
Finally, Faust noted that working with television color commentator Jim Fox will come with a rather unique requirement.
“I need to bone up on my wine knowledge, that’s for sure,” he said. “He’s a connoisseur.”
“I’ll have to get a sample of his wine.”
LEAD PHOTO: Newly-hired Los Angeles Kings play-by-play announcer Alex Faust. 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 2
- Going Deep With New LA Kings Broadcaster Alex Faust – Part 3
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