BLOOMFIELD, NJ – It’s always pleasing to see good things happen to good people. Kevin Burkhardt is a good person who has climbed to the top of his field.
Burkhardt, a 1992 graduate of Bloomfield High School, can be seen every Sunday afternoon calling football games for NFL on FOX Sports. During baseball season, Burkhardt hosts a studio show alongside Alex Rodriquez for MLB on FOX and FS1.
Before working his way into the national sports broadcasting scene, he certainly paid his dues.
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After graduating from Bloomfield High School, Burkhardt enrolled at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. He joined the university’s television station, WP-TV, which is see on campus and on cable in five surrounding towns in Passaic County.
That was where I met Burkhardt. At the time, I was doing play-by-play of WPU sporting events on WPSC, the university’s 250-watt radio station heard throughout North Jersey. Burkhardt was in the adjacent press box doing play-by-play on television broadcasts.
Early on, we weren’t really given much direction.
“Those were great times and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that,” said Burkhardt. “We had no idea what we were doing. We’d show up to call a football game at 6 o’clock with a roast beef sandwich. We had no idea what preparation was and that the guys in the (production) truck were there at 10 in the morning setting up. It was an eye opener being a clown out of high school who knew nothing and realizing that you actually have to work at this.”
Burkhardt and I were soon paired together on WP-TV to call football, baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer games.
“It’s so cool because so many of the people that we did this with are successful in the field and I run into them occasionally,” Burkhardt said. “So many of the teachers and professors we had helped tie it all together. They were good times and I think about that a lot.”
While at WPU, we were students in a broadcasting class instructed by adjunct professor Spencer Ross, a legendary radio and television sportscaster and play-by-play man for MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL.
“It was great because he taught us about preparation,” Burkhardt explained. “It’s all about that. He taught us how to study and how to lay out your (roster position) charts.”
“That’s the wonderful thing about being where we were so close to New York, we had so many people at William Paterson who had experience, who had done the job in the field and brought that experience to us. That is unmatched anywhere by any university of any size.”
Ross called play-by-play on radio and television for almost every New York area franchise, including the Nets, Knicks, Yankees, Giants, Jets, Devils, Rangers and Islanders. He did soccer and horseracing, hosted shows on WFAN and did sports updates on WINS.
“I have so many good memories from William Paterson and all the people and the lessons learned there,” Burkhardt added. “I attribute a lot to where I went to school.”
While still attending classes and working at WP-TV, we both got an early start on our professional careers working together at WGHT Radio in Pompton Lakes, NJ. We did hourly sports updates during the week and provided commentary for college and high school football, baseball and basketball games on weekends.
Burkhardt went on to work at WJUX doing Jackals minor league baseball, reported on the Jets for WFAN, did sports updates on WCBS Radio, worked on SNY-TV for the Mets, and did play-by-play for Dallas Cowboys games on America’s Team Radio Network.
“At each stop along the way, you learn a little bit more,” Burkhardt said. “You pick up certain things and you meet more people.”
Burkhardt, who now resides in California, came full circle and delivered the commencement address at William Paterson in 2014.
If a lesson can be learned from this former Bloomfield Bengal, it’s that hard work certainly pays off.