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Q&A: Meet Panthers New In-Arena Host Dennis McCamery

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop /

SUNRISE, Fla. - A new voice will be leading Florida Panthers fans in cheers this season, as veteran emcee Dennis McCamery has been tapped to take over lead in-arena hosting duties during home games at the BB&T Center in 2017-18.

A longtime veteran in the world of entertainment, McCamery has previously leant his immense talents to a wide variety of outlets, including Walt Disney World, Six Flags, ESPN and the NBA's Orlando Magic.

While pursuing a MFA in filmmaking from Miami International University of Art and Design, McCamery, also knows as DMC, auditioned for acting roles and worked as the Community Relations Coordinator for the YWCA.

He has appeared in various acting roles on Broadway as well as appearances on both USA's Burn Notice and VH1's Tough Love Couples.

On Wednesday, McCamery sat down with to talk about his first slippery steps into the world of hockey and how he plans to keep Panthers fans pumped up and radiating energy throughout the entire season. How did you break into the world of hosting?

McCamery: It all began when I was on the radio in college. After that, I moved to Miami to get my MFA in filmmaking, which helped me get my first job as an emcee with Walt Disney World. It all sprouted pretty fast. After Walt Disney, I moved to Los Angeles to work with VH1. After that, I moved to Baltimore, where I was a producer and host for Six Flags America. I also spent some time as a host for the Orlando Magic, then the PBA (Professional Bowling Association) on CBS Sports Network and ESPN. Then, after that, I became a Realtor at Masters Realty. That's my journey. In your experience, what has been the biggest difference in working for a global organization like Walt Disney World compared to a sports franchise like the Magic or Panthers?

McCamery: The only difference is that it's Disney. I hate to say it like that, but it's where dreams come true [laughs]. Then you look at a place like Six Flags and it's a theme park. Then you look at an arena like with the Orlando Magic and it's a place where people want to come and enjoy a basketball game. The common denominator in all of those, including the Panthers, is that fans, just like guests at a theme park, want to have the opportunity to escape their reality. That's the whole purpose of entertainment. They go to the theme park to enjoy rides, to just get away from home, bills and jobs. They want to escape. That's what these theme parks and arenas provide. Whether it's the Magic or the Panthers, they come to the game to be part of the game, to try to live as the players and fantasize if they were on the court or the rink what they would do. It's just a blessing to try and give fans that opportunity to try and escape their reality. As an in-arena host, what do you kind of see as your job in terms of making that happen?

McCamery: I feel like I'm an orchestrator for that. That's my role. As the emcee, I try to orchestrate and give fans that opportunity. I try to feel their beat, their pulse. If there's a moment in a game where we're down and there's three minutes left in the game, well, are we going to come back and win? There's a possibility there and the only way we're going to do that is if we get the pulse, the heartbeat of the team, which happens to be the 6th man, the fans. We have to get the fans in order to accomplish the goal. When you're trying to generate that pulse and get that heartbeat going in the crowd, is there a certain move or trademark you have to get that done?

McCamery: Oh yeah. I always do "Whose house is it!?" or "What time is!?" or "On the count of three, I want all my fans to get up on your feet and make some noise!" I do those, but I do them in a way that no other host can do. Everybody has their own passion and their own energy. For me, I really try to dig deep down and project to the point where they feel the vibration in my voice through the P.A. during whatever chant I'm doing. "Stomp your feet. Make some noise. Let's get behind the Panthers." I like to create it on the spot as well. It depends on the vibe and the energy of the game. How excited are you to break into the sport of hockey?

McCamery: How excited am I? It's raw. It's organic. It's different, but I love the challenge. I'm just going to keep it real. This is crazy. I love it. My number one sport is football. I worked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. The fans there, you talk about energy excitement, the rawness, it's there. It's football. It's an aggressive sport. But if you think about, hockey is the same exact thing except on ice and inside of a building. So when I first stepped foot into the arena during the preseason, I felt that. It was raw. The hardcore hockey fans were there. How excited am I? Out of all the opportunities I've had, even when I first started working with the Orlando Magic in 2013, this right here is the most excited I've been to work with an organization because there's so much to learn and so much to grow from it. What does it mean to be joining the Panthers?

McCamery: I'm excited to really just be a part of the Panthers family. It's real, it's authentic and it's raw. That's how I am. I may come on the ice with my hat backwards and say, "What's up Panthers fans?" because that's who I am. I'm going to be able to connect with every demographic. I think that's the beauty of my experience. You have to be able to connect and feel people. I'm the real deal. I'm not going to fake it, not going to front. When we need that upbeat energy, I'm going to bring it. You've worked on the hard court and the gridiron, but last week's preseason games at the BB&T Center was your first foray into the world of ice. What were those first few steps like?

McCamery: The first time I stepped onto the ice during the game, I was really scared that I was [going to fall]. I really was. They kept telling me "It's cut up now, it's not going to be as bad. You'll be ok." But when I first stepped onto the ice, there's that yellow hump along the boards and I slipped on it…. But I caught myself! I almost fell, but I tried to play it off. I was nervous, but that's the excitement about it. You've got to take a leap. I never would have imagined I'd be hosting on ice. That's the beauty of it.

Fans can stay in touch with Dennis by following him on Twitter @hostdmc.

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