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New Broadcaster Settling in Nicely with Knights.

June 12, 2012

Kevin Burke is Creating His Own Voice as Play-by-Play Man

New Broadcaster Settling in Nicely with Knights.

by Kevin Hampton, Gazette-Times

Brooks Hatch was impressed when he first sat down and listened to Kevin Burke's audition tape.

The Corvallis Knights were looking for a new radio play-by-play man to replace Mike Parker and Hatch, the Knights director of public relations, was working with president/GM Dan Segel to get the job done.

It didn't take long before they knew it was Burke.

"It sounded like he had a great delivery and was knowledgeable about baseball and was pretty passionate about it," Hatch said.

"We sat down and listened to it three or four times to get a feel for his voice and the stories he told."

The Knights offered Burke the job about a week after Thanksgiving.

"I immediately accepted it," Burke said. "So I've been looking forward to coming out here since December."

It's another step for Burke on what has been a crystal-clear career path.

Although he's only 22, Burke has been working toward his ultimate goal of becoming a Major League Baseball play-by-play announcer, either for a team or network.

It started when Burke was about 10.

He spent all his time in the living room, playing Madden video games and broadcasting the action.

Finally fed up with constantly telling Burke to go play outside, his mother suggested that he should announce his brother's Pee-Wee football games.

"So I started doing PA for Pee-Wee football games and I loved it," Burke said. "And people were like, 'You have a good voice.' "

In high school, Burke announced freshman and junior varsity football and varsity basketball, and did Little League and tournament games in the summer.

Living in Leesburg, Va., an hour away from Washington, D.C., allowed Burke to follow the area's pro teams on the radio.

As a Virginia Tech fan, Burke spent many Saturday afternoons listening to Bill Roth, the voice of the Hokies, call football games.

Burke knew he wasn't a great athlete but wanted to stay close to sports, so he tried his hand at umpiring, scorekeeping and coaching.

Broadcasting stuck.

Burke went to a sports broadcasting camp in Baltimore and met some ESPN personnel, including Sal Paolantonio.

Paolantonio was watching when Burke and the campers did some live standups at the Baltimore Ravens' M&T Bank Stadium.

"Afterwards he pulled me aside and said, 'You were the best of the bunch. Keep doing this and you're going to go some places,' " Burke said.

Any doubts Burke had about pursuing broadcasting evaporated.

Burke followed in his parents' footsteps to Virginia Tech.

It was there that Burke began a strong push toward a broadcasting career.

He did PA work for baseball and some Olympic sports for the Hokies.

He spent two summers with minor league baseball teams, the Frederick (Md.) Keys in 2009 and the Salem (Va.) Red Sox in 2010.

Then Burke landed an internship with IMG College, the group responsible for the Virginia Tech radio and television broadcasts.

He would be working with Roth.

"He's the guy I try to emulate in nearly every broadcast," Burke said. "I'm nowhere near his standard right now."

Roth cautioned Burke that to break big in the business takes talent and knowing the right people.

Roth told him to relax and have fun with the broadcasts and emphasized the importance of doing research before the games and to have some stories at the ready.

"You're talking to people that you can't see and they can't see what's going on, so you've got to tell them that story," Burke said.

"He just gave me a lot of lessons to put forward in my career."

Burke has brought those lessons to Corvallis.

He has spent time with the Knights outside the ballpark so he can give the listeners more than just balls and strikes.

"There's 59 games, so I have to provide new material every single game," he said. "I can't be saying the same stuff or people will stop listening."

You won't hear a 'Holy Cow' out of Burke. Even though he's listened and learned from the best of broadcasters, such as Roth, Joe Buck and Jon Miller, Burke wants to find his own voice.

"I'm just trying to create my own niche," he said.