Brendan Burke, formerly the play-by-play announcer of the Utica Comets, has been tapped as Howie Rose’s replacement for Islanders games on MSG Networks. The 32-year-old Burke inherits a seat that’s been occupied by two legendary broadcasters – Rose and Hockey Hall of Famer Jiggs McDonald – for longer than he’s been alive, but he’s ready to make his own mark on the New York Islanders.
“I’m okay with being known as the new Howie Rose for a while,” Burke said. “It’s an incredible honor to be sitting in that booth and being the next guy in line from guys like Jiggs and Howie and I hope to continue that tradition and I hope the fans will love me as much as they’ve loved those guys. This is a dream job for me and the only place I want to be and the only place I want to be in the future. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a very long and great relationship between myself and Islanders fans.”
Burke sounds like a natural, with a deep voice that was destined for a microphone and an audience. Other kids wanted to be on the ice, but for Burke, being in the booth has been a life-long dream.
“I wanted to be a broadcaster long before I had the voice to match it,” Burke said. “I originally got interested in it as a nine-year-old kid and never lost that passion to try and do it for real.”
The spark came when his nine-year-old self spent a night sitting between New York Yankees’ broadcasters John Sterling and Michael Kay during a game. Once he realized it was actually possible to have such a dream job, he was all in.
But while baseball was his introduction to broadcasting, hockey was his passion. He played from five-years-old all the way through college on Ithaca College’s club team and has an intimate knowledge of the game.
“My understanding of the game and how to call it comes from playing the game,” Burke said. “I was never the fastest guy on the ice, I was never the biggest guy on the ice, but I thought I saw the game pretty well as a player. Those things that I learned playing, I didn’t know it at the time, but it really helped me with my broadcasting career along the way, trying to bring an authentic voice to the game of hockey because I love it, appreciate it and really enjoyed playing it and broadcasting it.”
Burke, who was born in Milwaukee but was raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, has been calling games professionally for 10 years. He spent his first two seasons with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers, five seasons with the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis’ affiliate) and the next three years with the Utica Comets (Vancouver’s affiliate), winning the league’s “most outstanding media member” award in 2014-15.
He’s spent nearly all of that time working in the booth alone, but over 10 years has developed his personal style and voice. He says don’t expect a lot of shtick or catchphrases.
“I try to match the energy to my call of the game,” Burke said. “I don’t think I’m over the top, I am not a screamer or a yeller, but I am a guy who tries to bring the excitement of the game through with the energy, the inflection and the tone of my voice, as opposed to the volume of my voice.”
Burke said he’s had conversations with Butch Goring and is looking forward to working with the Islanders’ legend. Burke said it still hasn’t totally hit him that he’s finally realizing his dream and doesn’t expect it to until the cameras are rolling and mics are live on opening night.
“No one is happier than me today,” Burke said. “It’s still sinking in and I’m not sure when it’s actually will sink in. Maybe on opening night when I start looking around see guys like Chris King, Sam Rosen and Kenny Albert and those guys at Madison Square Garden maybe then it’ll sink in. Right now it’s hard to wrap my mind around it or put it into words how incredible it is to be the next voice of the Islanders.”
BRENDAN BURKE PRESS RELEASE