The Penguins’ new HD radio channel will carry broadcasts of three pre-season games this week, starting with Monday’s 7:30 p.m. game at Montreal.
And the guy behind the microphone will be living a dream.
Steve Mears joined the Penguins organization this year as the host of the new “Penguins Live” show on Penguins HD radio (105.9 HD2), but for three games this week he’ll also be calling play-by-play action – something he’s dreamed about since growing up as a Penguins fan in nearby Murrysville.
“I was 12 years old in 1992, when the Penguins won their second Stanley Cup – and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a hockey announcer,” said Mears, now 29. “Listening to Mike Lange, it seemed like it was the greatest job in the world. So, literally, from that time on it became my goal. I watched, studied, listened, tried to learn as much as I could. Being here now, I can tell you it’s a little surreal."
|Steve Mears, left, and Grimm, right, host the daily show "Penguins Live" |
Mears’ pursuit of his goal took him from Franklin Regional High School to Bowling Green University, where he was the voice of the Falcons’ hockey team for three seasons. He then spent four years calling play-by-play for the Bossier-Shreveport (La.) Mudbugs of the Central Hockey League before catching his big break in 2006, landing a job as the radio voice of the New York Islanders.
His first NHL game came against Wayne Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes. Before his first game against the Penguins, he walked up to Lange, introduced himself, and said, “I wouldn’t be here without you.
“For a kid who wanted to be a hockey broadcaster, growing up in Pittsburgh and following the Penguins was an amazing experience,” Mears said. “Mike Lange. Paul Steigerwald. Bob Errey. Phil Bourque. I learned a lot from all those guys.”
The Islanders decided to consolidate their broadcasts into a TV-radio simulcast before this season, so Mears – who’d done Isles’ radio play-by-play for three years -- had to look for a new opportunity. There were no openings for a play-by-play announcer at the NHL level, but he was intrigued by the Penguins’ commitment to the first exclusive HD radio channel in the NHL.
When the channel “officially” launches on Oct. 1, Mears will host a daily show, “Penguins Live,” from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon. He’ll also conduct post-game interviews at home games on the team’s regular-season radio broadcasts and will host some of the Penguins' supplementary TV shows.
“It’s really exciting because the HD radio channel is a blank slate,” Mears said. “It’s breaking new ground. With the interest in the Penguins, with the passion of the fan base, I think we’ve got a great opportunity. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
The Penguins’ pre-season games at Montreal Monday, at Toronto Tuesday and at Columbus Thursday all will be carried on the HD channel and streamed live on www.pittsburghpenguins.com
, with Mears and Bourque calling the action. The final pre-season game at Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 27 will be carried on the Penguins’ flagship radio station, 105.9 The X (WXDX-FM), with Lange and Bourque describing the play.