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SHEBEST: NEW K-WINGS BROADCASTER READY FOR THE SEASON AFTER A BANNER SUMMER

Wednesday, October 9th
SHEBEST: NEW K-WINGS BROADCASTER READY FOR THE SEASON AFTER A BANNER SUMMER

October 9, 2019

SHEBEST: New K-Wings Broadcaster Ready for the Season after a Banner Summer

BY PAM SHEBEST

The summer of 2019 will be a hard one to top for John Peterson. He was honored by the ECHL, toasted at his bachelor party in Las Vegas, married two weeks later and took a new job.

Peterson was named the Kalamazoo Wings Director of Public Relations/ Broadcaster July 22, becoming the new “Voice of the K-Wings.”

“I’ll never forget that week (in June) because, coincidentally, my close friends were in Las Vegas that weekend to celebrate my bachelor party as my wedding was two weeks after the ECHL league meetings,” he said. “So we crammed a lot of fun events into a very short amount of time and all of this happened a month before I came to Kalamazoo and took this job.

It’s been a banner summer and one I’ll never forget. I am very blessed.”

One of those fun events in Vegas was receiving the ECHL’s PR/ Broadcaster of the Year award while he was still with the Tulsa Oilers.

He had no idea at the time he would be joining the K-Wings. Ironically, the award was presented to him by Toni Lentini-Daniels, K-Wings Governor and Business Operations Director.

“It was really an honor to see him win that because those accolades are voted on through his peers,” Lentini-Daniels said. “It isn’t anything that a team President or Governor has a hand in. John earned that through his hard work.”

When Isaac Berky left the K-Wings, Lentini-Daniels said Peterson was an easy choice to replace him.

“We had hundreds of applicants because a lot of people want to be a broadcaster,” she said.

One thing that helped Peterson stand out was his four years of experience in the ECHL and seven outside the league.

“To me, having that experience and relationships that already existed in the league and with teams within the league, it was a no-brainer,” Lentini-Daniels said.

One draw to Kalamazoo is the travel to road games, Peterson said. “It takes its toll on you mentally and physically,” he said. “You’re on the road so much and that’s part of the business, but sometimes the travel is a big reason for burnout.”

“In Kalamazoo, most of our travel is pretty close. You have Toledo, Fort Wayne and Indy. Cincinnati is pretty close and Brampton is not too bad.”

While several ECHL cities are within four hours of Tulsa, there are some grueling rides.

“We bused almost everywhere,” he said. “When we went to Rapid City, that was an 18-hour trip. Boise was a 24-hour trip during the playoffs. Toledo was 14 hours or so. Utah was a 20-hour trip. That’s where it can take a toll. That being said, part of minor league hockey is being able to do that.”

WHERE IT BEGAN

Growing up in Minnesota, Peterson was a fan of the Minnesota North

Stars, but the team moved to Dallas when he was young. That left him watching hockey on ESPN, where he said he learned to appreciate broadcasting.

“I think deep down, maybe that’s what triggered my interest in journalism and broadcasting without knowing it at the time,” he said.

Peterson played youth hockey, but opted for football in high school. “That’s where I really got a love for journalism through one of my mentors at the high school,” he said. “I ended up being editor of my high school yearbook my senior year which all transitioned to wanting to go to Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.”

He was accepted into the program and did some play-by-play for the campus radio station in a volunteer role. “That’s where I found out I was good at it and enjoyed it and got an adrenaline rush every single time I put on the headset,” he said.

Peterson started his career doing play-by-play at a country music radio station in Warroad, a tiny town in northern Minnesota.

“It was a town of about 1,700 people,” he said. “There was one stoplight and two hockey rinks. Its rival community 20 minutes away, Roseau, had two stoplights and three hockey rinks, so that just tells you how passionate they are about hockey. It was a good place to start. I learned a lot of good things about broadcasting a number of different sports, from volleyball to softball to baseball, basketball, hockey and football.”

After three years there, he “stumbled upon an opportunity in the North American Hockey League with the Austin (Minn.) Bruins, where I was for two years.”

THE ROAD TO KALAMAZOO

Since the Austin job was part-time, he also worked in ticket sales for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, which opened the door for his first ECHL position with the Evansville IceMen.

“When Evansville opened up in the summer of 2015, the only reason they hired me was because I had sales experience with the Wild,” he said.

When Evansville went dark after that year, instead of sitting out, Peterson got the OK from management to take the job in Tulsa.

“I was (in Tulsa) for three years,” he said. “I met my wife (Kerrie Monahan-Peterson) there pretty early on and she’s been with me for the last three years of this crazy broadcasting journey.”

When they met, his wife was earning a master’s degree in art history with a focus on Native American art from the University of Oklahoma. The move to Kalamazoo put both Peterson and his wife closer to family.

Peterson’s family is still in Minnesota, but his wife has an aunt and uncle and a grandmother in the Kalamazoo area, plus family in the Detroit area.

Peterson’s immediate family includes their 2-year-old, 75-pound Great Pyrenees/Australian Shepherd rescue dog named Gunther, from the TV show “Friends,” and an 8-year-old black short-haired cat named Hemingway. But more went the decision to take the job in Kalamazoo than just the family connection.

“I’ve heard so many good things about the K-Wings and how the organization is run from the top down, about the ownership and how great they are in the community,” Peterson said. “I never wanted to get to that point where I lost the passion for what I was doing, so I was at a point where I had to make some tough decisions. This opportunity has really invigorated that passion again.”

Peterson also said that he is impressed by the K-Wings’ history.

“I know there are so many fans who have been here since Day One, since before I was even alive,” he said. “That’s eye-opening to me. I appreciate the fact that this team has so much history and to be a small part of this history is an honor. I’m excited to bring the action to the fans.”

Lentini-Daniels said Peterson has already settled in, listing his many attributes. “First is his professionalism, his knowledge of the sport, his eye for detail,” she said. “John is also responsible for all of our social media and our interactions with the media in general. We want more people in the building and at the games, and he’s already doing that and he hasn’t even called a game for us yet.”

“I’m really looking forward to that goal call because that’s something we’ll be hearing often this season,” she said.

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