There are times where Keith Raad has to laugh at those who think he has a “glamorous” broadcasting job in professional sports.
One of those times is when the Chaminade graduate is sitting in the press box of the Hudson Valley Renegades, a Minor League baseball team in the South Atlantic League which often face the Brooklyn Cyclones, Raad’s employer.
The broadcast booth at Dutchess Stadium is slightly smaller than Hearst Castle.
“You can touch both walls if you put your hands out to the side,” Raad said with a chuckle.
Dead bugs are omnipresent, and the “booth” is mere inches behind the last row of fans, making seeing the action pretty difficult. When Raad calls a game there, he’s often asking spectators to sit down or move a little so he can describe what’s happening.
“It’s still a great job,” Raad said, “but sometimes it’s a little more difficult!”
Raad, 29, certainly makes it look and sound easy. The Valley Stream native and 2011 Chaminade grad has been moving up the ladder of sportscasting since graduating from the University of Dayton in 2015. He spent time with the Dayton Dragons and the Long Island Ducks, and did a stint with a club in Frisco, Texas, as well (“whenever people here complain about the heat, I tell them to try Texas in August,” Raad said.)
Four years ago Raad was hired as a radio assistant with the Cyclones, based in Coney Island, then was promoted to the head broadcasting job when Port Washington native Jake Eisenberg left to take another gig.
Suddenly Raad was the main guy, and he was thrilled.
“To get an opportunity, being a New York kid, to call games in New York City is really special,” Raad said.
The job has gotten a lot harder since Raad started; the Cyclones, which have the famous Coney Island boardwalk just beyond the outfield wall, used to be a short-season Class A team with a 76-game season, but in 2021 they moved up to high-A, which is a full 132 games.
In 2020 Raad also became a full-time Cyclones employee as he now handles communications for the team and sells tickets as well.
“When we’re at home I’m working 12-14 hour days with all my other duties, and we work six days a week,” Raad said. “On the road it’s a little easier, but there are a lot of long bus rides.”
But Raad cherishes the longer season for the opportunity to build relationships with players.
“You’re with these guys for so long, so much of the time, that you become friends with them,” Raad said. “And then they leave and you follow their career and get a chance to see them succeed, and that’s great.”
Raad’s love of sports was cultivated at Chaminade, where he said he learned to become a great storyteller and writer while working at the school newspaper.
“I tried out for freshman baseball at Chaminade along with 120 other kids for 25 spots,” he said. “That was the end of my athletic dreams.”
But he continued to want to be a writer until reaching the University of Dayton, where he joined the campus radio station.
One day he was given the chance to call a Dayton-Richmond men’s soccer game, and well, it wasn’t exactly a smashing debut.
“I have no idea what I’m doing, but still, I didn’t think it was that bad,” Raad recalled. “But even my parents, who are always so supportive, said to me after the game ‘well, you might want to try something else!'”
“But I’m a guy who always wants to succeed when it looks like I can’t.”
Eventually Raad’s parents came around as their kid got better at the profession, and listening to broadcasters like Michael Kay and Gary Cohen his whole life helped him as well.
When not doing Cyclones games, Raad is the voice of Wagner College football and women’s basketball. His dream, like so many other broadcasters, is to one day call Major League baseball on the radio.
“There aren’t that many of those jobs. but it would be the ultimate for me, so I’m chasing it,” Raad said. “I believe in myself and feel like I’m still getting better, so why not?”