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Ferrario to fill in for Kerber on Saturday's broadcast on 101 ESPN

Chris Kerber will miss Nov. 23 game vs. Nashville to receive Musial Award for gesture during Stanley Cup Final

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - Sometimes life presents you with a moment so profound you can recall every detail about where you were when it happened.

Alex Ferrario had one of those moments last week.

Like he does every game, Ferrario was sitting in the back of the broadcast booth, going over his notes and preparing to host the intermission show on 101 ESPN. Typically, when the period ends, Blues play-by-play announcer Chris Kerber tosses the broadcast to Ferrario, who takes over until the action resumes on the ice.

But last Tuesday, after the buzzer sounded to signal the end of the first period of a game between the Blues and the Arizona Coyotes, this is what Ferrario heard:

"On Nov. 23, I won't be doing the game that night. It's a home game against the Nashville Predators," Kerber said live on the air. "I thought now would a good time to mention what we're going to do here… that game on Saturday, Alex Ferrario is going to do play-by-play for the St. Louis Blues."

Wait… WHAT?!

Are you freaking kidding me?

Did he say Alex Ferrario? Me?!

Those were the thoughts running through Ferrario's head when he heard Kerber's announcement. There hadn't been any previous discussions about this. And now, after being surprised with the news that a lifelong dream would soon be coming true, Ferrario had to put all his excitement and nerves aside and compose himself enough to do the intermission show.

"That was the first time I heard about it, when 'Kerbs' said it live on the air," Ferrario told stlouisblues.com. "Basically I had to do two intermissions and a postgame show still that night, and I had a lot of nerves. I was trying not to think about things like 'how am I going to prepare?' and 'do I have time to get ready for this?'"

On Saturday, Kerber will be receiving a Musial Award for sharing the broadcast booth with FOX Sports Midwest play-by-play announcer John Kelly during the Stanley Cup Final last June. Because national TV contracts prohibit regional television partners from broadcasting games beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kerber wanted to allow Kelly to broadcast a period of each game of the Blues' first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 49 years, just like his dad, Dan Kelly, once did.

While Kerber receives the award Saturday, he will again be turning the microphone over to another St. Louis native who is thrilled for the opportunity.

"It says a lot about 'Kerbs,'" Ferrario said. "I tell people all the time, you have to have mentors in broadcasting. You don't get into this business until you've got people who believe in you and give you chances. 'Kerbs' has been in my corner nonstop."

Video: Kerber surprises Ferrario with big announcement

Now that a few days have passed since his initial panic, Ferrario feels a little more ready for his debut as a play-by-play announcer in the National Hockey League. He grew up in St. Louis attending Blues games with his dad and watching games on FOX Sports Midwest or listening on KMOX 1120 AM and 550 KTRS. He grew up hearing the calls of Ken Wilson, John Kelly and Kerber, and was inspired enough by their work that he chose to major in broadcast journalism and mass communications while studying at Lindenwood University from 2011-15. He did a handful of play-by-play work for both college and high school sports events while in school, and a chance meeting with The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford eventually led to an introduction to Kerber, who brought Ferrario along as an intern in the broadcast booth from 2011-14.

In addition to handling a variety of behind-the-scenes task as an intern, Ferrario would also sit in the back of the booth, watching games on a TV and doing his own play-by-play to hone his skills. Eventually, he proved himself enough to earn a gig as a producer at KMOX 1120 AM and later, a part-time role hosting pregame and postgame shows on weekends.

Last summer, Ferrario was hired full-time by 101 ESPN to do pregame, postgame and intermission shows during Blues broadcasts. Until then, he had been working full-time for his dad's pest control company to make ends meet.

"When I got into broadcasting, play by play for hockey was my ultimate goal," Ferrario said. "I wanted to try to find a job in the ECHL or the AHL to get my foot in the door, but then I got the job at KMOX and I really started to like hosting shows, so I decided to go that route into the business instead. But in the back of my mind, play by play has always been there. That's what I want to do."

Since learning he would be calling Saturday's game against the Nashville Predators, Ferrario has replayed recorded games on his TV while turning the volume down so he can do his own call of the action. He also has been simulating Blues games using EA Sports' NHL 20 on Playstation 4, which gives him some added practice of doing games in which he doesn't know the outcomes.

This weekend, his wife, Katie, will be hosting a listening party with close friends and family at Ferrario's house.

"The cool part about calling the game on Saturday is I'm not competing for a job," Ferrario said. "Kerber is the guy. There's no pressure on me to be the voice of the Blues, I'm just stepping in and filling in for one night, and it's awesome. I was truly honored when 'Kerbs' asked me to do this. To be able to do it in St. Louis where I grew up, for the team I love and to cover for my mentor in Chris Kerber, it means everything to me."

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