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Isles, Hofstra are radio partners

Here is a story I wrote explaining in more detail the unusual new radio deal between the Islanders and Hofstra's WRHU.

It's a great deal for Hofstra, which will get a recruiting leg up on the likes of Fordham and Syracuse.

I didn't work for my college radio station, and it certainly didn't cover major pro sports. But Keith Olbermann did work there as a senior when I was a freshman, so that's something, I suppose.

As usual, there were many things that landed on the cutting room floor.

Some of the snipped snippets:

WRHU Professional in Residence Ed Ingles said the offer from the Islanders came "out of the blue" only two weeks or so before the season, and the sides quickly agreed on the basics, including the on-air participation of students.

"That was a little surprising," Ingles said. "They said, 'We want your people deeply involved.' How deeply depends on the talent level."

Ingles said one of the challenges is that because the station does not have Hofstra hockey games to cover, its staff has more experience in other sports.

But eventually three students were chosen from the sports staff of about 35 with the knowledge, experience and poise to talk about the sport alongside play-by-play man Chris King.

"All three, we felt, could do the job," Ingles said.

What about the fact none of them is a former pro hockey player? "They may not be John Davidson, but they're smart and we do a lot of games here."

The Islanders' senior VP of marketing and sales, Paul Lancey, said the motivation was in large part to connect with a new, younger fan base in addition to improving the signal of the team's flagship station.

"You have to sort of look at the world,'' he said. "It is a stronger, wider-reaching signal. And it is a demographic that any team that’s trying to expand its base needs to reach."

A key part of the deal, not yet in place, is to stream audio of games on hand-held devices.

Lancey said it is wrong to make assumptions based on the students' youth.

"You can't discriminate based on age," he said. "If they have one of the leading broadcast schools, with hundreds of students, they have some real talent there."

Lancey also said, "I recognize we have an aging fan base and our next fans will come from the Hofstras, the Nassau Community Colleges, the Adelphis."

Play-by-play man Chris King, who is in his 22nd year covering the team on the radio in a wide variety of roles, said the students are taking their tasks seriously, understanding "how big an opportunity this is for them."

The most difficult role, he said, is color analyst. He has advised the three students filling that job based on his own 11 years as the Islanders' radio analyst.

The three focuses, he said, are statistics, stories and analysis. "The game determines how those percentages change," he said.

Isn't there more of a burden on King, trying to call the game and bring along partners with extremely limited experience?

"I don’t view it as burden," he said. "I’ve always enjoyed working with the students . . . They're so anxious to do well and so eager to do well."


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