Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 24, 2014

Storytelling element draws Fitzgerald to Jays’ radio

BLUEFIELD — What do Marv Albert, Dick Stockton, Mike Tirico, Tony Caridi and Kevin Fitzgerald all have in common?

They are all products of the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University.

Albert, Stockton and Tirico are nationally-known sports broadcasters. Caridi is the play-by-play announcer for West Virginia University for more than 15 years.

Fitzgerald is taking his first steps in the profession. This summer he is cutting his broadcasting teeth calling Bluefield Blue Jays games on Live and Local radio station WKOY, Eagle 100.9 and online at bluefieldjays.com.

The 2014 SU grad just completed his first road trip with the Blue Jays, all road games and six home games will be broadcast this summer, a total of 40 in all, and Fitzgerald brought excitement and energy from Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tenn., to listeners in the two Virginias.

A sports enthusiast from his earliest recollection, Fitzgerald is melding two of his passions, athletics and journalism.

“I always had an interest in being on the air and really anything involving sports, anything covering sports, watching sports, playing sports, just being involved in any way,” Fitzgerald said. “I always had an interest in the communications side and the on-air part of it, the radio, TV, and Syracuse obviously is a great place to start a broadcasting career.”

At Syracuse, Fitzgerald was able to broadcast the Orange football and basketball games and work at various campus media outlets.

“I was able to quickly jump in and get some work done at a couple of local campus radio stations we have, the campus TV station as well, and other places where I could write,” Fitzgerald commented. “I kind of engulfed myself in the whole media world up there. We had great athletic programs at Syracuse which made it fun, made it entertaining, and it turned out to be a great four years. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time up there.”

Fitzgerald did more than “spend time” in upstate New York. His work behind the microphone earned him this year’s Jim Nantz Award from the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America (STAA) and was named the nation’s best collegiate sportscaster.

A native of central New Jersey, Fitzgerald grew up listening to sportscasters from his favorite teams, all from New York, the Mets, Giants, Rangers and Knicks.

“I was always intrigued by the storytelling element of the game. I could sit and watch those NFL Films documentaries on great games and Super Bowls. I could do that 24 hours a day. It was always the narration of the event that I was always drawn into to. How are you building the drama? That always intrigued me,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t know if when I was at such a young age I said, ‘OK, I want to be a broadcaster.’ I always liked to hear how sporting events were told in different ways.”

The first action Fitzgerald called were his playing of video games.

“If I was by myself, occasionally, I would be commentating the game,” Fitzgerald recalled. “A little crazy, but it was always fun to kind  of be around the action, announce the action. I was interested and drawn to it.”

Oftentimes the hardest job for a broadcaster is finding a job. Fitzgerald explained how he ended up in Bluefield.

“I was reaching out to a few teams in this (Appalachian) league, knowing that I was going to be in Syracuse until May.  I wanted to look at some teams that were short season minor league teams,” Fitzgerald commented. “The last couple of summers I was working for the Orleans Firebirds up on Cape Cod, the Cape Cod Baseball League. I knew I wanted to be in baseball this summer and subsequent summers and I reached out to the Blue Jays, got an e-mail back from Trey Wilson. He said he took a job with the Lansing Lugnuts. He said, ‘We have an opening, go talk to our general manager.”

Fitzgerald will call the action for 34 road games and six home contests. For the other 28 games at Bowen Field, Fitzgerald will be behind the microphone — as public address announcer.

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline, Twitter @bdtredd

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