Since 2002 Paul Allen has called Vikings games on KFAN and the Vikings Radio Network. He loves sharing "SKOL Stories", so here are some from his first year on the mike through now...
Yeah, 2002 was my first full-time season calling Vikes games on KFAN, and I was wild, more emotional than even now and verbally lived and died with those games. Not kidding. Maybe we'll have Madproducer1 play some back if this Pizza-eating Pandemic goes on and on and on.
Anyway, the emotional ups and downs got to a point my first two years on the mike doing Vikings play by play one of my bosses -- either Gregg Swedberg or Doug Westerman -- pulled me to the side multiple times and shared something to the effect of "Dude, you can't get so down on the radio when they are losing. You sound like someone ran over your dog in the third quarter, and people will tune out. Stop, please."
Box. But I couldn't stop. It just became more refined with game reps.
Seriously, though, I was so excited to FINALLY have the job, I'm sorry, God guided me that way. In 2000 I called 17-ish Vikings games for Vikings.com because their radio flagship at the time wasn't doing internet broadcasts. The Vikings wanted fans world-wide to have a chance to listen via the dot com. So, when KFAN was in Bloomington, a bunch of us were sitting around table -- pre social distancing, obviously -- and Swedberg entered the area, shared the dot com-related news and said "who wants to do the play-by-play?" I immediately said, "I'll give it a whirl."
Bet settled, training races underway. First non horse racing-related play by play endeavor of my life. Cool. I'm 34, making about $30k a year at the 'FAN, needed to take a swing, wanted to take that swing, was left wide-eyed when actually taking said swing. Called home games from a cramped booth in the baseball press box at Metrodome, did most road games from a conference-room TV in Bloomington BEFORE high definition, producer Chad Abbott jerry-rigged an end-zone suite at Silverdome in Detroit to pump out that beauty, and at Lambeau we were in some coat closet the night Antonio Freeman won the game off the Chris Dishman deflection.
Crazy-ass times, man, trying to jumpstart a dream off TV and from a Green Bay coat closet. LOL.
Job opened in 2001 when the Vikings jumped to KFAN and our vast-and-ever-expanding family of radio stations, and I had tape from the internet year. Chip, chair and chance, right? Damn, key bosses liked my audition tape, too. Nope, dream dead! Beaten to the wire by Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton, who had called Chargers and USC games, and had a powerhouse radio show in SoCal. He had national appeal, and I was sans much experience with two-chin appeal.
All good. Got beat. On to the next race. But, alas, hold your horses! 'Saw allegedly said some things on his radio show that perturbed the NAACP, and he was OUT like two games into the preseason. So, the Vikings needed me on two days notice to play by play a preseason home game against the Steelers.
I did. God took over, felt I did a quality, energetic job, and chip, chair, chance turned into me peeking at pre-flop pocket aces. The Vikings Guccis felt that way, too, and a few days after the game was told to be prepared to head to Winter Park because I'm going to be the next play by play voice of the Minnesota Vikings.
Phone rang an hour later. Paraphrasing, "Hold up here, Red's not happy the way the Hacksaw ordeal went down and is making the call on the announcer."
Me: "So, don't come to Winter Park?"
Gucci: "No. Let's hold on a bit."
Me: "MOTHER #$%^&*."
Dream dead ....AGAIN! Red went with a chap who was the son or of one of his best friends, and the cat was calling New Mexico basketball games in the International Basketball League. Ok, pocket aces cracked on the river by a gut-shot straight. Wow.
So, all of the 2001 season I did the KFAN pre- and post-game shows, and it mostly was all good. I was hurt but handled the loss with aplomb every time I cracked the mike, even if I didn't think the guy was very good and kind of boring. Key here -- pardon the preach -- was because I never ripped or chided him on the KFAN weekday radio show and, indeed, supported him however I could, I gained respect with bosses at KFAN and the Vikings. Said Vox didn't make it to year two, and they gave the job to me like April of 2002.
The rest is purple-and-gold history. Now you can see why I was so crazy on the mike at times in 2002. Who wouldn't be coming from my spot? No college degree, no real radio play-by-play experience, beaten at the wire TWICE when I thought it was mine.
So, that's how it started, and I have loved all 300-plus games I have been blessed to describe. The preparation, the old-school friendships I still have, and the anticipation and excitement in my heart at the BOOM of every, single game is what still gets me going into my 19th season.
In the coming days I'll start sharing some game-related "Skol Stories" because I have a million of them.
And if there's a sad "Skol Story" to be shared, bosses, I promise to not get too down.