Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TSCSF Q & A with Steve Mears

Steve Mears ("Mearsy") is quickly becoming another one of my favorite Penguins broadcasters / personalities. I've been enjoying his work on the Penguins new HD2 radio show as well as appearances he makes on shows like the Penguins pre-game show that I'm pretty sure will have a long career ahead of him with the organization - he's just a really great guy that has had an interesting career so far (and still stays pretty gounded).

For those of you who may not know, Steve Mears is a hometown guy who is incredibly knowledgeable about not only the Penguins, but all the NHL teams and hockey in general. Prior to returning to Pittsburgh to work with the Penguins this season, Mears was the play-by-play announcer for the NY Islanders since 2006. He was previously the voice for the CHL Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs for four seasons beginning in 2002 after graduating from Bowling Green where he was voice of the Falcons for three years prior to that.

His selection as the "CHL Broadcaster of the Year" in 2005 is one among many of his accomplishments.

I wanted to know a little bit more about him and his career prior to returning home to work with the Penguins, so I decided to ask if he'd mind answering a few questions for me [the blog]. He was nice enough to accept, so I'm posting his answers here to share with all of you. I'd like to thank Steve for his taking time out of his busy schedule to do me this great honor and answering my questions (big time for such a little blog!)!! THANK YOU, Steve!!

  • TSCSF: How did the opportunity come about for you to work with the Penguins (was it originally the radio station?)? And who's idea was the radio station (was it something that you 'pitched' to the Penguins organization?)?
    • Steve Mears (SM): I had heard of the HD Radio station idea at the annual NHL Broadcast meetings and thought it was an amazing idea. When the Islanders decided to cut costs and move their radio to a simulcast, I was looking for a new opportunity and the Penguins were the first team I wanted to talk to. The HD Radio station was really intriguing and I'm thankful that they wanted to bring me to Pittsburgh to be a part of it.

  • TSCSF: You and Tom Grimm have great on-air chemistry [on the new Penguins HD2 radion station]! Did you and he know each other previously or is that something that develops as you work with him on the station?
    • SM: No, we met only when we first started working for the Penguins. It's been a lot of fun working with him and the chemistry is always a work in progress. He works hard and does his homework and that always helps. He's a great partner to have for the show and brings a different perspective than I do, which is perfect.

  • TSCSF: How do you prepare for the Live show (and is that something you do daily for each show?)?
    • SM: I usually prepare the night before and "map out" which segments we're going to do and the order we'll do them in. Usually, if the Pens have a game, that dictates the direction of the show.

  • TSCSF: I read you'll be the new host of "Inside Penguins Hockey," how did that come about and do you enjoy working that side of it (getting more one-on-one time with the players?)?
    • SM: Once I started with the Penguins, they wanted to get me involved with a couple of TV shows they were producing. So far, it's been a blast and yes, having a more informal show with the players makes it great. It's not your usual "press conference" type setting, so we have a lot of fun with it.

  • TSCSF: How does your current job with Pittsburgh differ, if at all, from the one you had with the Islanders?
    • SM: Well with the Islanders, I was the play-by-play voice of the team, so that's a big change. But, following a team closely and working on a game-to-game basis is the same thing. Instead of broadcasting the games, I broadcast Penguins Live every morning.

  • TSCSF: I just caught the first Dan Bylsma show (LOVE IT!) -- who came up with the ideas for the different segments?
    • SM: I think our producer Chris Devivo had a lot to do with the format. What makes that show great is the fact that Dan is entertaining, informative, and willing to share so much with Penguins fans. I know I learned a lot after doing the first show!

  • TSCSF: I know you can skate (I saw that on the DB show!), but did you ever play hockey (or any other sports)?
    • SM: I played hockey as a kid in Murrysville and still play when I get the chance. I always liked baseball, but hockey was my favorite...either on the ice, driveway, roller rink, etc.

  • TSCSF: Who was the most interesting player you've ever interviewed and why?
    • SM: That's tough. I'd say Bryan Trottier because of his amazing career and outgoing personality.

  • TSCSF: What sports personalities (players, announcers, others) are you fascinated by and why?
    • SM: Any of the great play-by-play broadcasters are a joy to talk to. Me getting to work with Mike Lange with this job is like a young player coming to the Penguins and talking to Mario Lemieux about hockey.

  • TSCSF: Who would you most like to interview and why?
    • SM: I've actually never interviewed Mario before, so he would be the guy since he's always been my hockey idol.

  • TSCSF: How much, if any, time do you spend with the players? Have you worked with any of them prior to working in Pittsburgh?
    • SM: I was with Guerin and Fedotenko when I was with the Islanders. Both guys are great and Billy is truly one of my favorite people in hockey. We get to see them after practice and we chat with them in the locker room. Not much beyond that, but it's always fun to just talk with them and see what they're thinking.

  • TSCSF: I read that you started watching hockey in the 90's (we have that in common), what exactly was it that drew you in that made you want to turn it into a career?
    • SM: The hockey aspect was because the Penguins were so good right when I started following it (1991). The broadasting aspect was simply because of Mike Lange and because he was so good.

  • TSCSF: What goals do you still have as far as broadcasting / your job is concerned (or have you achieved them / what are they?)?
    • SM: My ultimate goal was just to broadcast games in the NHL and I'm really fortunate that I had the chance to do that when I was 26. Now, I'm just enjoying being a Penguin, being back home, and doing some different things outside of play-by-play, which I did for 10 years at various levels. Between the TV shows and Penguins Live, I've been really busy and I'm having a lot of fun. And the Penguin fans that I've met have treated me incredibly well. Not that I'm surprised! :)

  • TSCSF: I know the Islanders are pretty liberal with media, etc., and heard about their "bloggers box" for bloggers to sit at during games. Are you familiar with how that worked (was it a good thing for the organization?) and do you see something like that working with the Penguins?
    • SM: As far as the Blog Box, it was an interesting idea and definitely some "outside the box" thinking by the Islanders. I know they encountered some obstacles, so I don't think other teams should do it exactly the way they did it. But some variation could definitely be successful.


usbzoso said...

Excellent post! love Steve, Tom and their morning show! Thanks!

Stephanie said...

THANKS so much for that!! I'm a HUGE fan too - they do an awesome job with the morning show!!

Life_As_A_Redhead said...

These are really good question, not like some of that other "canned" stuff, you get in regular media releases.

Awesome, Stephanie, and A HUGE THANK YOU to Steve Mears, for going out of his way to do this.

Val said...

I loved this post because of the great questions and answers. You asked really interesting ones, Stephanie, and he seemed so genuine in his responses. He has done a lot for such a young whippersnapper :)

Thanks again for doing this, it's fabulous@

raymond asfar said...

i just saw you on the nhl network. i just attended a sports banquet in johnstown, pa. the featured speaker was a steve meats. was that person your dad. i had heard so much (good) things about him in johnstown. the reason i leave a comment was the intent of matt cooke to injure a ranger player (brad richards) no mention was made of this. that is not right. matt cooke is a dirty player, and he will never change.