‘Baltimore remains a special place to me’
One of the most talented broadcasters in sports is Kenny Albert. Nationally recognized as a member of the Fox Major League Baseball “Saturday Game of the Week” broadcast team, as well as for his play-by-play of the NFL on Fox, Albert also is in his 17th season as the radio voice of the NHL’s New York Rangers. He also fills in on the Madison Square Garden Network doing a select number of NBA games for the New York Knicks.
But Albert has very distinct ties to Baltimore and holds a fond place in his heart for this city.
A native of Sands Point, N.Y., he attended New York University, graduating with a degree in broadcasting and journalism. It was after NYU that Albert and Baltimore got to know each other.
Recently, I had the chance to chat with Kenny. We talked about his early career and how Baltimore played a key role in his development as a broadcaster.
JT: How did you get from NYU to Baltimore?
Albert: My goal was to become a hockey broadcaster. So I did what every young announcer does, I sent out tapes and started making phone calls to every minor league team in sports. It turned out the Baltimore Skipjacks, who were the Washington Capitals’ minor league team, had an opening. The Skipjacks liked my work, and I got the job as the play-by-play voice of the team starting with the 1990-1991 season. So it was off to Baltimore.
What were your early days in Baltimore like?
The Skipjacks job was really my first time away from home. I grew up on Long Island and went to college in Manhattan so I wanted to find a place in Baltimore that felt like home. Some friends from NYU told me about the great Jewish community in Pikesville and Owings Mills. So I found a place in Owings Mills and spent a great deal of time in Pikesville, and I made plenty of friends who remain good friends to this day.
How important was the Baltimore community to you in the early days?
I was just out of college, and the Skipjacks job required me to do … some public relations and sales. That meant when I wasn’t on the road with the team or doing the games at the [1st Mariner] Arena, I was out in the community. I met Jerry Coleman, who is now a sportscaster for 105.7 The Fan. He graduated from Pikesville High School and went on to get his communications degree at Ithaca College. We became very good friends and neighbors in Owings Mills. He made sure I always had seats for the Jewish holidays at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. A few years later, he would introduce me to another Ithaca grad, Barbara Wolf, from Parsippany, N.J. She would become my wife in 1996. I am very proud to say that Barbara and I have two beautiful daughters — Amanda, who is 13 and was bat mitzvah last September, and Sydney, who is 10.
Let’s talk about your big break in 1992.
I got a call from Home Team Sports [now Comcast SportsNet] to do the Washington Capitals games on TV. They really gave me a huge break, as I was able to do NHL, fill in on some Orioles broadcasts and do lots of local college sports. HTS General Manager Jody Shapiro and producer/ director Bill Brown gave me the freedom to do a number of sports that I had not done before, which was great for my career. It was my work at HTS that would later help me get the job at Fox Sports.
So you left Baltimore and moved to the Washington area?
Yes, I moved to Rockville to be closer to the HTS studios, and I also became a sports anchor at WTOP radio in Washington. I lived just down the street from the JCC, where I worked out and played basketball when I had the time. Then in 1994, I got the call to be the radio voice of the New York Rangers. That had always been my dream job. So as much as I liked this area, I just could not pass it up.
Do you still get back to the Baltimore-Washington area?
Yes. I come back often with the Rangers when they play the Capitals. Plus, I have been back to do Orioles, Nationals, Ravens and Redskins games for Fox. With the success of both the O’s and the Nats, I hope to be back to the area even more often this season. Of course, the Ravens are the defending Super Bowl champions, so perhaps I will get one of their games when they play on Fox.
Author’s Note: Albert comes from a long line of successful broadcasters. His father, Marv, is a broadcasting icon in New York and considered one of the best-ever basketball broadcasters. Marv is also a member of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. His uncles, Steve and Al Albert, are also nationally recognized sportscasters.
Jim Williams is an area freelance writer.