Meet Brian McCormack, New Voice of the Rampage
Brian McCormack joins the San Antonio Rampage from Boise, Idaho, where he spent the last 3 years working for the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL as Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations. We sat down with him to get his first thoughts on joining the Rampage.
Alright, we’ll start you off easy. When did you know you wanted to be a broadcaster?
Well when you play hockey for 17 years growing up, obviously there are going to be a lot of influences. But in ‘96 I was six years old and my dad took me to a playoff game at Madison Square Garden: Canadians vs. Rangers. The game went to overtime and my dad said that we could miss the next train back to Long Island and stay to catch the end of it.
Vincent Damphousse scores, the Rangers lose, and six-year-old Brian is devastated. But since we had missed the train we had an hour to kill before the next one, and my dad’s high school friends just happened to be sitting in the row behind us. For that hour in a quiet, empty Madison Square Garden, I got the best history lesson of my life. Stuff like, "Brian Leetch scored the first goal of Game 7 right there in ‘94, and Mike Milbury beat a guy with his own shoe right there, and the GAG line was the best line to ever play in this city" and so on.
After that hour, I knew I had to find a reason to come to the rink every day for the rest of my life. Of course, back then I told my dad I was going to be a defenseman for the Rangers in the winter and center fielder for the Yankees in the summer. That didn’t happen, but things seemed to work themselves out in their own way...
So since the pro-hockey playing career didn’t pan out, how did you get your start in broadcasting?
In college. After I finished playing junior hockey, I was a 21-year-old freshman enrolled at Geneseo State in Western NY, entering at the same time as my 18-year-old brother, Casey. We both loved hockey, but since we weren’t playing anymore we had to find another outlet for it. The school had a radio station and a Division III team, so we started our own NHL talk show and after a while, they invited us to do the games. I did three years of play-by-play and Casey was my color commentator for two of them. That’s where I put together the broadcast samples that eventually got me a shot in Idaho.
Having been with the Steelheads for 3 years now, has there been a standout moment for you?
I was really fortunate in Idaho that I was surrounded by really great people who were willing to give me a chance and also let me make the broadcast my own. Calling the ECHL All-Star Classic last year was special because it was a great event and being able to do something that was on national TV was a great learning experience. But the best moment in the booth in Idaho was probably Game 7 this past spring against the Allen Americans when the Steelheads won 4-1 to become the second team in ECHL history to survive a 3-0 series deficit. The momentum turns of that series and the way that Game 7 seemed to play out like a script really made it a surreal game to call.
How are you feeling about moving up to the AHL and working with the Blues organization?
Reaching the AHL has been a goal since I realized a broadcasting career was something I could do. To get that chance in San Antonio where the organization places a lot of value in the position and gives you the resources to give the fans a great show, it’s a blessing. I had a great relationship with the fans and staff in Idaho but now is a chance to make those connections with a new fan base and a new hockey community and to do it with an organization that is well-known for their professionalism with every entity. One thing that’s unique is that there is a new affiliation, a new coaching staff, and some other new faces joining the Front Office. So while I might be a new guy, there are a bunch of us coming in fresh and eager to contribute to something great. The affiliation with the Blues has the potential to be something special because when you look at their drafts in the last eight years, there are a lot of homegrown prospects reaching the NHL with the Blues or becoming productive high-level AHL players, and that’s not limited to the first round. A team that produces home-grown talent and drafts well can mean a lot of good young players make their way through San Antonio.
Dan Weiss has been the Rampage broadcaster for nine years. What are your thoughts about taking over that legacy?
I know I have big shoes to fill in Dan’s place. He was working an All-Star Game just this past season, so respect for his talents clearly stretches league-wide, and he has a special bond with the fans here. I’m glad that the reason this opportunity is available for me is because something wonderful happened for Dan, as he steps into an even more prominent role with the Spurs. My hope is that Rampage fans will enjoy my style and sense of humor, and everything I bring to the booth. There’s a high standard to meet when Rampage fans turn on the radio, and I intend to continue raising that bar. Dan has already been a tremendous help to me in my transition to a new team, and I think knowing he’s still in the building and a big part of SS&E will make this transition even smoother for everyone.
What's one thing you want Rampage fans to know about you?
I’m a hockey guy, and that’s not just when the microphone is on. Pretty much every waking hour, I’m watching, reading, or talking hockey. My girlfriend can only handle so much of that before she tunes me out, so I hope fans won’t be shy about reaching out and saying hello. There’s a very strong chance I’ll be just as eager to small-talk about the game as they are.
OK, we’ll finish this off on a fun note: What's the most embarrassing song on your playlist?
Well for some reason it’s become a societal rule that we’re not allowed to like Nickelback, but I’ve got plenty of their stuff on my playlist. In college, there was a prank going around that the spring concert was Nickelback and Creed, and when it turned out to be fake I think I was the only one disappointed instead of relieved.
But as far as songs the guys would probably give me grief for, I do have a Carly Rae Jepsen song on there. And it’s not ‘Call Me Maybe.’ Everyone should give ‘Run Away with Me’ a listen because it’s phenomenal.