Monday, 27 August 2018

Feels Like Home

With school being back in session next week, seeing the image to the left tweeted out by the Manitoba Bisons warms my heart as we begin to get back to broadcasting Bisons men's and women's hockey and Bisons football on UMFM. There have been a number of changes to the broadcasts on the Bisons women's hockey side, and I have a feeling that you should be made aware of some of these changes. After all, we do broadcast these games for fans like you.

First and foremost, you'll notice a distinct difference in how the broadcast sounds as UMFM's play-by-play guy TJ Phillips accepted a position with the University of Alberta. As you may be aware, Edmonton and Winnipeg are a bit of distance apart, so TJ will not be calling games this season unless something rather dramatic happens in his life whereby he moves back to the Manitoba capital.

There had been some discussion among the sports staff at UMFM and at Bisons Sports, and these two groups made it a mandate after TJ left to find the best qualified candidate to replace him. The only caveat? UMFM is dedicated to representing the diverse campus and community in which it operates, so there was a significant push, with the support of Bisons Sports, to find a woman to fill TJ's chair.

It is with great honour that I introduce former Manitoba Bisons forward Kyleigh Palmer as the new play-by-play person for Bisons women's hockey on UMFM! Kyleigh spent five years with the Bisons program before graduating from the Asper School of Business, and she was named as a 2013-14 Canada West Women's Hockey First Team All-Star for her efforts on the ice after posting 14 goals and 15 helpers in 28 games in her senior year. Kyleigh's hockey knowledge and knowledge of the Bisons program will certainly be a great asset to the broadcasting team, and I'm excited to work with her after having had the pleasure of calling some of her games as a Bison!

Second, if you're a fan of us calling the games on the radio and via the internet stream while wishing the University of Manitoba televised the games, you're not alone. During the U SPORTS National Championship last season, Bisons Sports received some valuable feedback from listeners of UMFM and viewers of the internet telecasts, and there was a decision made by Bisons Sports to provide the same coverage on both broadcasts. What does that mean? If you want to watch games via Canada West TV, you'll get the same broadcast on that medium as you'll hear on the UMFM airwaves and internet streams! The Canada West TV and UMFM broadcast team will be one and the same, so Kyleigh and myself will be your voices for the Bisons no matter how you tune in!

Third, all the broadcasts will now be done in full digital quality. On some of our brodcasts last season, we had a phone line connection back to the studio where the game would be broadcast over the airwaves. There was a distinct difference in the quality of the sound between the games broadcast on internet stream and via the phone line, so management of UMFM went ahead and made the decision to broadcast all the games in digital format. What this means for you, the listener, is that you'll get the highest quality audio we can provide for all games - hockey and football - at all times. It also means greater control over commercials and ads that we run and over the entire gameday production. In short, UMFM and, in turn, Canada West TV broadcasts will sound good.

Now all of this may change nothing in the way you consume the games, and that's ok too. If you enjoyed the radio broadcasts, we're not changing how we do those broadcasts aside from a few minor tweaks to the language we use. If you enjoyed the Canada West TV broadcasts, you're going to get more stories, more information, and more statistical analysis with Kyleigh and I doing the broadcasts since we both have a significant investment in Bisons women's hockey. Regardless of how you catch Bisons women's hockey this season, it will sound as good as it did last season when TJ and I called the gold medal game at the U SPORTS National Championship!

Some of the fun stuff we did last season will continue. The pregame, on-ice player interviews will still happen on UMFM, and we're working with the other seven schools in Canada West to make sure that we get contributions from them as well. As much as we cover the Bisons, there are some outstanding players on the other teams that you should know about and we should be introducing you to, and for us not to do that is a disservice to them, their schools, and the game itself.

We'll still do a rundown of other games between periods as well as try to feature more player interviews from the Bisons, and we'll talk about standings and what the Bisons need to do to make the playoffs, secure first-place, or whatever the situation is in the pregame show as well. Like I stated above, not much is changing in how we deliver the broadcast, but there will a few new wrinkles.

On top of these segments, we're looking at adding a couple of fun segments to the broadcast as well. We still need 100% confirmation that these will happen or whether they will be on a game-by-game basis, but these additions should hopefully add more value to what we believe is the best university hockey broadcast in U SPORTS.

All in all, it should be another big year for Bisons women's hockey as the reigning U SPORTS National Champions, and UMFM will be right alongside them in their quest for a repeat championship. Our first preseason broadcast will be Saturday, September 22 when the Regina Cougars visit Wayne Fleming Arena as part of the Bisons Preseason Invitational Tournament, so mark your calendars for that. Officially, we will bring the banner raising ceremony to you as part of the October 5 broadcast against the Calgary Dinos, so that too should be a big night that you'll want to be tuning into UMFM for as the Bisons hang both the Canada West championship banner and the U SPORTS National Champions banner.

I'm already excited for this season, and I can't wait to be back in my normal spot between the benches!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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