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Content Is King

by Doug Ward / Los Angeles Kings

“Content,” visionary media mogul Bill Gates famously once said, “is king.”

With LA’s hockey team developing into a perennial Stanley Cup contender that televises every game, it can also be said the Kings are content. In addition to wall-to-wall coverage of 82 games this season - replete with pre and post-game shows - Kings fans can follow their favorite team away from the rink thanks to the debut of FOX Sports West’s Kings Weekly.

The magazine-style show, which is hosted by Alex Curry, launched Oct. 9, and will air 25 original episodes during the 2013-14 season.

“Kings Weekly gives us an opportunity to showcase guys and their personalities away from the game,” said Jack Wilson, the show’s producer.

Beneath all that gear and behind those visors, hockey players are, almost without exception, salt-of-the-earth members of the community. Kings Weekly’s mandate is to highlight the personality behind the player.

“Hockey players seem to be very relatable,” Wilson said. “We want to showcase that side of them.”

With an outgoing style and a willingness to engage in participatory journalism, Curry is able to unlock those personalities. Curry, who already has practiced yoga with Jarret Stoll, spent an afternoon at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with Justin Williams, had lunch with Martin Jones, line-danced with Matt Frattin and this week she shares dessert with Marian Gaborik, infuses the show with an infectious energy.

“I love adventure,” Curry said. “I’ll do anything to highlight a side of an athlete you don’t normally see.”

Curry also believes her days as a club soccer player at San Diego State helps her relate to players, and vice-versa.

“It helps me a lot,” she said of her athletic background. “I know what it’s like to compete and leave it all on the ice or, in my case, on the field. You do whatever it takes.”

In addition to following players away from the rink, Kings Weekly has a segment called The Kid in Me, in which a junior reporter interviews local youth hockey players, and “Coffee with Bob,” in which Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Bob Miller sits down with a player for a wide-ranging interview that touches on - among other things - a player’s formative years and his interests away from his profession.

“In the ‘Coffee with Bob’ segment,” Wilson said, “Bob conducts long-form interviews. Bob talks to players about their roots and where they grew up without getting into hockey.”

The segment is shot at “Java Man” in Hermosa Beach, and guests so far have included Stoll and Ben Scrivens, who recounted how he and his wife, Jenny, met when they were playing goaltender at Cornell University for the men’s and women’s teams, respectively.

The show’s inaugural season coincides with the Kings rise into Los Angeles popular culture.

“Kings players have become much more visible in the community,” Wilson said. “Casual hockey fans in LA now recognize Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown when they see them in the community.”

It’s fitting that a show about a sports team in the entertainment capital of the world straddles both of those worlds. As sports and entertainment become increasingly interconnected, Kings Weekly has made it a point to blend the two entities.

“I see sports as one of the top entertainments in the world,” Curry said. “With Kings Weekly, we try to draw a broader audience, because once fans feel connected to the players, they will want to watch the games and we will gain a bigger audience.”

Curry, who dedicates an hour a day to social media, also encourages fans to offer up suggestions for stories via twitter.

“I consider myself a liaison between the fans and the players,” Curry said. “I am interactive on twitter, asking fans what they want to see.”

When it comes time to engage players with one of those story ideas, Curry said they are always amenable.

“Hockey players are generally easy going,” Curry said. “I have worked with every kind of athlete and hockey players are the most mellow off the ice. I think it’s because they can fight and they are able to leave it all on the ice.”

Curry said meeting “new, amazing, talented people” is one of the best perks of her job. She said she was the kind of kid who was always putting on shows and loved performing.

“Alex is awesome because she is down for any idea and any story we want to do,” Wilson said. “Alex will try anything and she always pulls it off.”

Curry said hosting the show is an around the clock proposition.

“I work every day,” she said. “There are no days off, so you have to be prepared for that. It’s a continuous cycle of being prepared. Preparation is everything.”

The show’s production team is prepared to deliver 25 total original episodes dedicated to showing fans something they have not seen before.

“The format, and the way these shows work,” Wilson said, “is we have 25 half-hour episodes to fill with original content. We get creative to show players in different ways. With Williams, for example, Curry rode with him in his car, and it got him to open up.”

Curry’s own favorite piece is a story she did last year showcasing the home life of roommates Drew Doughty and Trevor Lewis. The story began as kind of an Odd Couple story before evolving into piece about an unconventional family, which Curry believes is what the Kings are.

“The Kings really are a family. These guys all live within four blocks of each other in Manhattan Beach and are together all the time,” she said.

Thanks to Kings Weekly, diehard fans are now invited to spend a little time inside that inner circle.

Kings Weekly airs Thursday’s following Kings games all season long on FOX Sports West.

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