New York Islanders play-by-play radio announcer Chris King came and discussed the transition of the team’s location, his beloved career and his journey getting there on March 10 to a room of college journalists, some of whom aspire towards sports reporting.
King graduated from East Islip High School and was a hockey fan. After high school, he went to SUNY Geneseo and majored in communications for four years as an undergrad, when he broadcast over 100 NCAA games. He then attended SUNY Binghamton for a graduate degree in computer science.
After Binghamton, he got a job at a rock radio station called WRCN and worked there for five years. He had been a Boston Bruins fan growing up but quickly transitioned to being an Islanders fan when the team was established in 1972. The Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups in the 80s, and those four years, for King, were quite special. “The four years of Stanley Cups were my four years in Geneseo,” King said.
Alongside being the play-by-play radio announcer for the Islanders, King has also broadcast for the Long Island Ducks. This summer will mark his 17th year with them.
King answered several questions regarding the Islanders move from the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. There has been a large drop in the attendance during Islander games, and King explained that it’s because most of the new Brooklyn fans haven’t seen hockey before.
“You have 33 percent of the the fans that come from Long Island,” King said. “Another 33 percent come from Manhattan and Brooklyn and the other 33 percent are from elsewhere. It’s taken a while for new fans to learn the game.”
The Islanders’ original lease at the Barclays Center was 25 years, but the talks have now been changing to it being potentially four or five years. King is a radio “junkie” and is one who is happy with what he does. “I love going to my job every single day,” he said. He said repeatedly that hockey is one of the difficult sports to broadcast because “the players are moving at 30 MPH and the puck is going 100.”
King takes three hours of preparation before every game. There are three things, he said, that need to be studied. Broadcasts need to be 1⁄3 based on stories, 1⁄3 based on statistics and 1⁄3 based on analysis.
King is a passionate individual and loves what he does. He isn’t frustrated with many aspects of his occupation, but there is one thing that really irks him.
“Being away from my wife and kids,” King said. “It’s the worst feeling in the world when Dad can’t be there.”
Since King is an Islanders fan, he knows he wants to be enthusiastic, but he needs to be neutral and not show too much bias for his team. “When you turn that microphone on, don’t forget that there are two teams out there,” King said.