George Brown College is pleased to announce that veteran broadcasters Dick Howard and Dana McKiel will have the call at the 2018 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Men's Soccer Championship.
The experienced duo will head to Esther Shiner Stadium to lend their knowledge and sportscasting prowess on Saturday, Oct. 27, for the day's bronze medal match at 12 pm, followed by the gold medal match at 3 pm.
With OCAA roots going back to 1982-84 and his time as a student-athlete with Centennial College, McKiel comes by his Ontario collegiate credentials honestly. His professional credits include 29 years as a play-by-play commentator with Rogers Media, working everything from Canada Basketball home games to OFSAA football. In addition, he is the author of Hang Time, a self-published bestseller celebrating Toronto's rich basketball history which was later developed into a three-hour digital presentation.
McKiel's partner on the day in Dick Howard needs no introduction. A fixture of the Canadian soccer scene, the former goalkeeper made his debut for Canada at the national A level in 1972, and has served on multiple Canada coaching staffs, as well as numerous FIFA Technical Study Groups. The Canadian Soccer Hall of Famer's insights have been shared the world over, courtesy of his extensive work as a journalist, analyst, commentator and podcast co-host.
Origin stories are all the rage, and the story of this particular broadcasting duo goes back nearly 30 years, to 1989 and McKiel's first year hosting a local cable show called Time Out. Already a well-known soccer commentator, and at the time a columnist for the Toronto Sun, Howard was invited on to talk shop.
True to form, McKiel was ready for his guest with an incredible intro: A highlight tape of the infamous 1985 European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus, which had been called by Dick Howard and Mike Povey.
"We had that tape," said McKiel. "And so we played that tape just as we were getting into the interview with Dick Howard, and wow, was that some dramatic moments and a great way to lead off in knowing Dick Howard."
The rest, as they say, is history. A guest appearance on Time Out has turned into a long-lasting friendship, with both men echoing the sentiment of seeming to have known the other forever.
"We carry on like we've known each other all our lives, and we have pretty much now," McKiel said. "Dick and I, outside of broadcast, we're very good friends."
Every broadcasting partnership has its own chemistry and character, and the pairing of Howard and McKiel is no different. There's an ease, or fluidity as McKiel described it, which comes from both knowing each other for as long as they have, and together having worked a diversity of events, whether it be Toronto Lynx soccer or judging a CNE beauty pageant.
"His knowledge and enthusiasm make it easy to interact during the course of a game," Howard said of McKiel via e-mail. "We share a similar sense of humour which brings a lightness to the commentary."
Of course, their success as sportscasters goes far beyond familiarity with one another. Of greater importance is familiarity with the source material, knowing their craft and the hard work it entails. Preparation, in a word.
"When you're preparing for a broadcast, people don't realize just the amount of time that goes into each broadcast," explained McKiel, who can take credit for the 'eight hours prep for every one hour on-air' cliché oft heard in broadcasting circles. "Any younger broadcaster, people like Nathan Downer of CP24 or Lance Winn with Rogers and The Score or Mark Masters with TSN, those guys trained with me, and they realized at that time that there's a lot of homework that's done in advance of an actual presentation.
"The presentation of an hour or two hours on-air is just a small part of the bigger picture."
It would be a mistake, however, to think that eight hours is all the preparation which goes into a broadcast. That too is but the tip of the iceberg, a drop in the vast reservoir of knowledge which comes from lived experience, from seeing and telling stories which eventually become the foundation of knowledge upon which new stories are told.
As McKiel put it, "The work starts a long time ago."
And so on Saturday, these two shall step into the broadcast booth as they have countless times before, ready to delight, describe and inform. After decades of experience, of broadcasts similar and different each and every time, what are the goalposts for a job well done?
"If the broadcast has managed to combine the sounds of the game and if our commentary has helped to create a pace and energy combined with information that is unusual and of interest to the viewer," said Howard, "then we will be satisfied that it was a job well done and we made a valuable contribution."
For the full championship schedule, click here.