Jacks' Kenny Albert has voice to call his own


February 23, 1991|By RAY FRAGER

First things first: He doesn't sound much like his father.

That may be what people want to know most about Kenny Albert, voice of the Baltimore Skipjacks on WLIF (1300 AM) and son of Marv Albert, voice of football, basketball, hockey and boxing for NBC and other broadcasting outlets.

Kenny has that droopy-lidded Albert look, but, hearing him on radio and forgetting his lineage, a listener would surmise only that the Skipjacks are fortunate to have a fine, young announcer who happens to come from New York.

More than most, perhaps, Albert, 23, has been preparing for this job practically all his life.

"When I was 5 years old, I got a tape recorder for my birthday from my parents," Albert said. "Right away, I started to do games from television. I set up my room like a studio. It was more like a television studio that happened to have a bed in it."

Later, young Albert would accompany his father to assignments at Madison Square Garden, taking a tape recorder along to do his own play-by-play.

"Growing up, I never thought about doing anything else," Kenny Albert said.

His first real broadcasting work came while he was in high school, when Albert started calling prep and small-college sports for a local cable company in Queens. Moving on to NYU, Albert was the radio voice for the school's basketball team and popped up regularly on New York radio and television broadcasts, principally on hockey. That's not counting the statistical work he did for seven years on New York Rangers games and four years on New York Knicks games, both of which feature his father on play-by-play.

Some would say he is riding his father's coattails to a career.

"In terms of people saying I got this job because of him, I don't agree with that," Albert said. "He never made any calls for me. I wouldn't want to get a job like that. The way it helped was because of all the people I was able to meet."

As it turns out, though, Albert said he didn't meet anyone associated with the Skipjacks before pursuing the job here last year.

"I wouldn't want them to hire me if it was a bad [audition] tape just because of the last name," he said.

I don't know how that tape sounded, but Albert's work now is far from bad. Calling hockey may be the toughest of play-by-play jobs because of the rapid, end-to-end nature of the sport. But Albert carries it off well, even finding time occasionally to slip in a light touch that is so much a part of his father's style.

"I don't either try to sound like him or not sound like him," Albert said. "I sound like me, I guess."

Which is what Kenny should be doing, Pop says.

"I think he should really try to find his own way," said Marv Albert. "I think he understands he might have gotten a little break, but if he doesn't have it, he's not going to keep it."

Kenny -- who, with his father and uncles Al and Steve, puts the Alberts one up on the three-generational Carays (Harry, Skip and Chip) -- said he expects to stay in Baltimore two to three years, after which he hopes to move into a National Hockey League play-by-play job, maybe with one of the expansion teams.

"As Tom Ebright, owner of the team, says, the team is here not only to develop players, but also other people," Albert said.

D8 Even those who came here with good announcing genes.


Start saving now: The commissioners of the National Football League and National Basketball Association say pay-per-view telecasts could arrive soon.

"We're still looking at it," the NFL's Paul Tagliabue said during a taping of ESPN's "Outside The Lines" (Sunday, 8 p.m.). "I don't think that we are that much closer except for in terms of exploring concepts. I don't think you'll see it in the 1991 season. Perhaps we will experiment in the last two years of four-year current contract, 1992 and 1993."

"I would say in the next couple of years," the NBA's David Stern said.

Stern, though, said leagues can't see pay-per-view as a savior.

"The most important thing is not to simply go out and grab more revenue to feed a system that is out of control," he said.

It seems clear that the networks are going to start damming up that flood of money flowing to the leagues. Accountants at CBS and ESPN probably need new red pencils after last baseball season, and all sports are subject to the flat advertising market.


Big Eight basketball games start at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time Tuesdays on ESPN, and Southeastern Conference games begin about two hours later. Big Eight teams are playing 6:30 p.m. local time, but SEC games in the Eastern time zone begin at 9:30 local time, meaning student-athletes are up playing almost until midnight. Why not reverse the time slots? ESPN says this is the way the conferences wanted it. The SEC requested the later slot, and the Big Eight didn't mind being first.

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