The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 27, 2008

TV voice started in area

DETROIT — Nearly 30 years ago, Paul Steigerwald was a Red Wing.

That might be difficult to believe considering the Pittsburgh native’s lengthy career with the NHL’s Penguins, who lost to the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday at Joe Louis Arena.

Steigerwald, the Penguins’ television play-by-play announcer on Fox Sports Pittsburgh, actually got his start in radio calling games for the Johnstown Red Wings.

Those Johnstown Red Wings struggled through the 1979-80 season. But the Flood City and its hockey tradition had a lasting impact on Steigerwald. He used that sometimes chaotic and colorful season as a stepping stone to join the Penguins organization in the fall of 1980.

“I was looking for a job in the minor leagues and I had taken a job in Hampton (Va.) with a religious station that was only going to carry 22 games,” Steigerwald said prior to the Penguins’ Monday afternoon skate at Joe Louis Arena. “I got an apartment and was ready to move down there.”

Hockey fate intervened. Steigerwald learned of a radio play-by-play opening in Johnstown, where the newly formed Red Wings were part of the second incarnation of the former Eastern Hockey League. The NHL’s Detroit Red Wings ran the hockey operations, though the Johnstown team was under a local ownership group.

The former WJNL radio station in Cover Hill carried the 70 local Red Wings games.

“I played my audition tape, which happened to be a game between the Penguins and Detroit Red Wings,” Steigerwald recalled. “I taped myself in the balcony of the Civic Arena and actually had myself calling a Penguins and Red Wings game.

“I played my tape over the phone to a guy named Bill Confer who was working at the radio station WJNL in Johnstown. He knew of my brother (John) because my brother was on TV in Pittsburgh. The name rung a bell. He listened to the tape over the phone and said ‘It sounds good.’ ”

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