Conor McGahey is in his first season as the radio voice of the Colorado Avalanche. It is his second stint with the team as he spent more than 10 years with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment as the in-game host and associate producer of game presentation.
The Breckenridge, Colorado, native was the pregame and postgame host for the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2017-18 campaign and performed the same duties with the Colorado Rockies last season.
McGahey started his career as a public address announcer for the University of Denver athletics while attending school there from 2003 to 2007.
He has also been a play-by-play announcer for the Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth and DU hockey. Beginning in the 2016 NFL season, the Denver Broncos hired McGahey as the PA announcer and he also fills the same role for University of Colorado football.
ColoradoAvalanche.com caught up with the broadcaster to talk about his previous experience and what his new position as the Avalanche radio play-by-play analyst means to him.
With your previous experience all over the Colorado sports scene, how many teams and sports do you think you've worked with?
Ok, let's count these out. Colorado Avalanche, Denver Broncos, University of Colorado, Colorado Rockies, Denver Outlaws, Colorado Rapids, University of Denver--hockey, men's lacrosse, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, women's lacrosse--and the Colorado Eagles, I think that's it. So, I've done something, in some capacity, for every single team in town at some point.
Do you have a favorite?
Hockey for sure is the No. 1. We grew up a hockey and soccer house, but hockey has always been at the forefront. That's why being in this position now is a grand slam and a real honor for me, it's awesome.
Is it hard to change your mindset when transitioning between sports?
Not necessarily. It's funny because you show up to different venues and different sports and your brain automatically makes a switch. When I'm going up to do CU football I'll think OK, I'm at Folsom Field, so the hockey portion of the brain is turned off and a very small portion of my brain works. Last year on TV, I double-dipped. I did baseball in the afternoon and Vegas Golden Knights in the evening. It's just funny that I never really think about it, your brain kind of automatically makes that switch.
How does it feel personally and professionally coming back to the Avalanche?
Personally, it means everything because there are very few people that can say they have achieved a personal and professional goal at the same time. When I was 11 years old, I said that I wanted this job and now I've been fortunate enough to get it--through circumstance mostly and some dumb luck. But I've been truly blessed to be here. I'm sorry that I've told this story a thousand times to people, but my dad and I were there Oct. 6, 1995 when the Avalanche opened up and beat Detroit 3-2. It was then that I truly fell in love with hockey and with the Avalanche. My team has always been the Colorado Avalanche and even if I've worked elsewhere, one eye has always been on the Avs and how they're doing and my heart has always cheered for them. I was never pretending before, but now I can really actualize that because, just like everyone else who is listening to the game, I have been a true fan of this team forever. That's what I hope will make a great broadcast, is being able to bring that side to it. This has been a true gift for me and something that's incredibly special.
How did your experience with Vegas come about?
It was interesting because I was freelancing at the time, doing Rapids radio play-by-play and I heard that AT&T Sportsnet was going to get the TV contract for the Vegas Golden Knights. I reached out to the executive producer and said, 'With AT&T Sportsnet being based in Denver, I'm a local guy. If you guys need any help with any of your coverage, I'm around and I would love to be on.' At the start, three of us freelanced hosting pregame, intermission and postgame, and they ended up hiring me full-time around Christmas to do pregame and postgame. I had approached them at first, and it was serendipitous that they needed some help. We get along well and I was lucky enough that they wanted me to be a part of that truly amazing season last year.
Do you see any similarities between the current Avs and the Golden Knights from last season?
There's something very powerful about having a chip on your shoulder, being told that you don't necessarily belong in a place. Pundits will tell you until they're blue in the face that certain teams are always going to be there, regardless of situation, and teams like the Avs and Golden Knights take exception to that. For Vegas, they had the expansion draft and a bunch of guys that 30 other teams did not want, and guys took exception to that. They called themselves the Golden Misfits and that really played through. I think playing with a chip on your shoulder is a very powerful way to play, and the Avs feel that way because they were not even given a chance by anybody to get into the postseason, much less take Nashville to six games. I think the way that they play is also very similar. They're very fast teams, very skilled teams. That's what you hear Jared Bednar talk about all the time, they want to be a skating team, they want to play fast, they want to play quick all the time. That's where the NHL is going. You look at a guy like Sam Girard and say there's no way he can be a defenseman in the NHL. Tyson Barrie got the same sort of criticism because of his size, but this is a league that is going to be based on skill and that's what Vegas figured in their team construction and that's what the Avs are based on.
Who were some of your favorite broadcasters growing up that had an influence on you?
Everyone has their own style, and I think that's still the truth today. It was hard to watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs and not listen to Gary Thorne, who is one of the all-time greats. I always try to have the perfect blend of personality and professionalism, and I think Gary always had that. Doc Emrick is the same way. Everyone defaults to Mike Emrick, but it's true. If you have that blend of personality and professionalism, I think that makes a great broadcaster and that's why I always liked Gary Thorne and Doc Emrick. They had fun with it, and I believe that sports should be fun and I hope that my broadcasts are too.
How has Colorado sports media changed over the years and how have you adapted?
I think you always have to stay relevant in how news is disseminated. You can't just sit back and have someone put a piece of paper in front of you that has the lineup--you really have to be active in getting information and staying in contact on social media. If you fall behind there, you're not going to be as front and center in people's minds as you should be and that's very important. I think you always have to stay relevant in an age where there are so many fans out there who know breaking news before I do, and anybody can do that. That's truly an amazing thing, but that also means a person in the position like mine has the responsibility to maintain that aggressiveness. Relevancy is the best word to describe it because you have to be on top of every move, line change, injury and also personal stories for these guys. Where do they come from? Why do they love hockey the way that they do? It's not just the action on the ice, it really is storytelling at the end of the day. Everything moves at a fast pace but you have to stay relevant.