Mon. Aug 20th, 2018

Strickland Rising In St. Louis

The playoffs are a busy time for Andy Strickland, who is in his 16th season of covering the Blues in a wide variety of capacities.

He currently is in his second season as a contributor to Fox Sports Midwest’s Blues pregame shows, and also is a sportscaster at KTRS (550 AM) plus he appears Friday mornings on Frank Cusumano’s show at WGNU (920 AM).

What with the Blues having a late game Thursday night and a 6:15 a.m. airtime looming Friday at KTRS, where he is filling in on the early shift while Jim Holder recovers from ankle surgery, he wasn’t counting on getting much sleep before his radio shift.

“It’s a quick turnaround, but I’ll be on adenine in the morning,’’ he said Thursday. “It will be a long day, because (later) I’ll be at the rink for practice as well as on Frank’s show. But it’s great.”

Strickland doesn’t mind all that, because he has made covering hockey his professional life — most likely to his detriment in a baseball-crazed market. He doesn’t dispute the notion that he has been pigeon-holed into being thought of only as “a hockey guy” by management at many stations.

“I definitely have been,’’ he said. “I think it’s my own fault because of my passion for hockey. I’ve been around the game for my entire life, growing up playing it and having coached with our Triple A St. Louis Blues — the top youth hockey organization in St. Louis — for 10 years. And I’ve really been into covering the NHL. It’s almost my own fault because it’s not a traditional hockey market, yet I put myself in that position years ago.”

Strickland, now 38, got his start in 2000-01 season when he was working behind the scenes at KMOX and impressed Dan McLaughlin — who without management’s approval let Strickland start coming on the air. McLaughlin, now FSM’s longtime Cardinals play-by-play broadcaster, was working weekends then at KMOX.

“I knew he loved hockey, I knew he wanted to be on the air,’’ McLaughlin recalled. “I also knew I probably wasn’t supposed to give him a particular segment, but I didn’t care because I knew he had a passion for it.”

Strickland put together prepackaged interviews and features, then after they aired he and McLaughlin would discuss them.

“It was all him,’’ McLaughlin said of giving him the opportunity. “He had earned it, worked hard. I thought it was a smart thing to do then, I think it’s a smart thing to do now. I think it’s the responsibility of people like myself or others who are on the air that if a guy shows initiative and is working hard, why wouldn’t we give him a chance?”

Strickland, a Parkway North High graduate who has worked in many low-profile jobs in local print, radio and TV, was pointed toward finding his niche. He eventually met with Tom Langmyer, who then ran KMOX. Langmyer asked him about his career goals.

“I said, ‘I want to be the best I can be at covering the National Hockey League, I think there’s a need for it in St. Louis,’” Strickland recalls saying. “There really wasn’t anyone (in local broadcasting) doing it, I felt there was a void. I thought I could jump on it. Here we are 16 years later, and I always think about that.”

He made a name for himself, especially in Canada, with his in-depth coverage of the Mike Danton case. Danton was a Blues player who was charged in 2004 with conspiracy to commit murder, leading to a wild saga that made international headlines.

“That vaulted me,’’ said Strickland, who still appears on hockey radio shows across North America.

He also became prolific with written hockey coverage, especially online, and wasn’t afraid to throw out things he had heard or got from anonymous sources — a more undisciplined blog style than mainstream media uses. But he has given that up because of his FSM ties.

“I really had to re-invent myself in terms of how I cover the St. Louis Blues because, now working for Fox there are certain expectations in terms of how you handle yourself around the rink,” he said. “So I stopped writing in general because I didn’t want to get myself in trouble, No. 1. And No. 2, I’m not covering the team the same way that I used to. Obviously 95 percent of the information that I gather I can no longer report. … I still do a lot of reporting, but I don’t always release that information.

“But I wouldn’t have it any other way, either,’’ added Strickland, who said Blues owner Tom Stillman has been instrumental in his job growth. “This has been a great opportunity for me and I’m trying to take advantage of it.”

Like most St. Louis radio sportscasters, Strickland has worked at numerous stations in the market and now does several shows at KTRS. But Strickland, a man of many roles, has a new favorite one.

“I really like doing the TV thing,’’ he said. “I knew I would like it, but I like it even more (than I thought I would). There’s a big difference of being on TV (as a guest) and doing TV (as a regular). The people have been great to me. I really enjoy this.”

Credit to STL Today who originally published this article

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