The boy had a dream. And it seemed a very attainable dream.
Before calling the Stanley Cup Finals, the NFL, the Olympics, Major League Baseball, the Knicks and the Rangers, Kenny Albert had a much smaller dream.
He wanted to work at the Dairy Barn on Port Washington Blvd.
“We would drive by all the time and I remember they used to have a sign that said you can’t work here unless you’re 16 years old,” Albert said in a long phone interview last week, in a rare break in his schedule. “And I would say to my mother (Benita) that that would be the best job, and I can’t wait until I’m 16 to get it.”
Albert, the son of broadcasting legend Marv Albert, never got to sell half-gallons of milk and ice cream to Port Washington residents. But it’s safe to say he’s done OK since.
The 55-year-old has done it all in a broadcasting career, currently calling all four major professional team sports for different networks, along with his “local” gigs of calling New York Rangers hockey on radio and occasional Knicks games as well.
He’s a fixture on FOX TV on fall Sundays calling the NFL, and just finished a run as the lead play-by-play broadcaster for TNT’s coverage of Stanley Cup Playoffs hockey.
The man never seems to take a break, which makes one wonder how he found time to write a book. His new memoir, to be released on Oct. 10 titled “A Mic for All Seasons,” published by Triumph Books, only got done because Albert finally had to take a breather, like the rest of the world did during the Covid pandemic.
“I was home for 146 consecutive days, and a book was something I’d talked about and thought about writing for about 10 years, and finally my wife and daughters said I should just do it now, when you have the time,” Albert said. “And I have so many stories that I tell at broadcasting camps and schools and places like that that I thought I should finally get them down on paper.
Albert is universally loved and respected for his kindness and professionalism, and two sports legends, Wayne Gretzky and Walt “Clyde” Frazier, pay tribute to him in forwards for the new book.
“To see Kenny have the knowledge he does for the NHL—as well as the NFL, NBA, and MLB—speaks volumes to how dedicated, prepared, and knowledgeable he is at his craft,” Gretzky wrote.
“When people ask me what separates Kenny from the others, it’s his preparation and tenacious work ethic (like his father always had) that has catapulted him to the top of the business,” wrote Frazier. “He is in-depth in what he studies and brings up nuggets of information that others wouldn’t even think about.”
Albert decided against using a ghostwriter for the book and admitted it was difficult stretching writing muscles he hadn’t used for decades.
“I wrote a lot of it (during the sports Covid pause) but then last year I was writing and editing on planes, hotel rooms, wherever I was,” Albert recalled. “I had some 12-14 hour days, but I’m really proud of how it turned out.”
In the book Albert talks extensively, and fondly, about his childhood in Port Washington, with a famous father who was rarely home but always took him on fun excursions.
Albert was born in New York City, then lived in Woodmere until age 6, but really grew up on Old House Lane in Sands Point, and he remembers riding his bike to Daly Elementary School as a kid.
“We were nine-tenths of a mile away from Daly, which meant I was one-tenth too close to get a bus to school,” Albert said with a laugh.
His memory of events in his own life and in sports is encyclopedic (he somehow remembers the exact date he and his family moved from Woodmere to Port Washington: “Aug. 26, 1974!” he said), and he never thought it was strange that Dad was always going to Madison Square Garden or 30 Rock, where Marv was the longtime sports anchor of the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news.
“It was what my family did, that was our business,” said Albert, whose Uncles Steve and Al were also sportscasters.
As he grew up in the early 1980s, Albert began writing stories at age 12 for the Port Washington News and the Mailer/Reporter about local sports and making $5 per story. Benita would drive young Kenny to the newspaper offices on Main Street on weekends and he’d slide his typed story under the office’s front door.
When he got to Schreiber High School in 1982 Albert got two fortunate breaks: First, he met a teacher named Jamie Barchi, who had built a small television studio in the Port Washington school, a place where Albert and other students could learn to do newscasts, edit video, and other tricks of the trade. (Schreiber’s outstanding broadcasting classes continue to this day, led by teacher Jeremy Klaff)
“He was so far ahead of his time, Mr. Barchi, and was so great in giving us the chance to really feel like we were broadcasting,” Albert said.
His second break came in 10th grade, in January 1984, when Great Neck-based Cox Cable came to Schreiber to broadcast a girls basketball game. The school athletics director, Tom Romeo, introduced Albert to the Cox producer and Albert was asked if he wanted to do play-by-play.
“All of a sudden they clip a microphone to me, I get one of my buddies to be my color analyst, and I announced the game,” Albert said, still dumbfounded at the memory. “And then for the next few years, Cox let me do high school games around the area, and a few college games. It was an incredible opportunity; I probably did 75-100 games for them.”
Since then Albert has done just about every sport imaginable and has no plans to slow down anytime soon. Writing the book has reminded him about how much passion he still has for his occupation.
“I never feel like I’m actually going to work, because I love everything I’m doing,” Albert said. “I’m going to Canton (Ohio) in a few weeks for the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions, and I’ve never been there so I’m excited about that.
“I hope I can keep doing this for a lot longer.”