It’s Friday night and you’re driving around, playing radio in your car. As you flip between stations, you end up on that one station that usually plays a bunch of bands you have never heard of. But this time, it’s not The Decemberists’ latest track coming over the airwaves, but rather the excited voice of a hockey announcer. What you are listening to is a live broadcast RIT Men’s Hockey on WITR 89.7, RIT’s own FM radio station. During the broadcasts, the main voice you hear is that of Ed Trefzger, WITR’s main play by play broadcaster.
Trefzger has been broadcasting hockey for more than 30 years and joined WITR as a student member in 1979. “I’ve been involved with hockey since we started doing the broadcasts in 1982.” In those days, he was working mostly in the production of the broadcast, but as time went on, he started filling in as a play by play announcer. From there, he built up to being the voice of RIT Men’s Hockey on WITR. “This is the eighth season I’ve been the primary play-by-play guy,” says Trefzger.
When you tune into WITR to catch a hockey game, Trefzger and his team make it seem effortless to get everything running smoothly, but being the voice of RIT hockey is not without its challenges. “We’ve got it down to a science so it seems easy,” said Trefzger, “but one of the more difficult things is getting the names right on the opposing teams.” This was even more of a challenge before the Internet. Trefzger remarked that “It used to be difficult in the Division III days to get a lot of information on the opposing teams.” Taking the show on the road to places as far as the team’s matchups against Air Force in Colorado also presents a challenge. “The biggest difficulty of travel is the time commitment,” says Trefzger. “There are usually 16 road games a season so eight or nine weekends.” While some of these trips are shorter than others, He stressed they spend quite a bit of time on the road. “Some places you’re there and back” he said, “But usually it’s traveling on Friday and staying the night.”
Why go through all this trouble, you may ask? It’s worth noting that Trefzger and the other broadcasters are not paid, and do this out of sheer love. He fell in love with sports broadcasting for a number of reasons. “People are hanging on everything you’re saying. It’s very much in the moment” he said. When asked about his favorite part, Trefzger responded that “people really appreciate it. We hear from parents of the players, we hear… from the people who come to the games” about how much they enjoy the broadcasts. “It’s really rewarding to hear that.”
As the play by play commentator for the team, Trefzger gets to watch a lot of hockey “By this point in the season, I’m so used to our guys, not just numbers, but even how they skate.” When asked for his thoughts on this year’s RIT Men’s Hockey team, he remarked that “The first and second line has been solid all the way through, and [head coach] Wayne Wilson has been trying to find combinations to work on the third and fourth lines.” This experimentation has paid off, and Trefzger noted the strength of the third line combination of Freshman Ryan Kruper and Shawn Cameron with Senior Danny Smith. He stated that the RIT team had the potential to be “the best team in the league,” and that “this team is nowhere near as good as it is going to be.” If this prediction is true, RIT is in for a very good rest of the season.
Trefzger also spoke about highlights from his career with RIT hockey. “My absolute favorite game to have broadcast and to have watched was when RIT beat Denver in the regional semi-finals in 2010 on the way to the Frozen Four” he said, “It was totally unexpected and to go on and demolish New Hampshire the next night was even better, but that Denver was one of [my favorite games].” Longtime RIT hockey fans may remember the 2010 season, which is considered one of the Tiger’s best in recent memory, especially after making it all the way to the Frozen Four after such an upset.
Trefzger made sure to say that even though he is the main commentator, broadcasting is far from a one man show. A number of people come together to make sure that RIT hockey is broadcast smoothly. “The top of the list of unsung heroes are the board ops back at the station,” referring to the student members of WITR who diligently run the soundboard from Studio X for every single game. He talked about the WITR Engineering department and how much the broadcasts relied on “Josh Singh and Ben Reynolds, and their predecessors, [who] make sure that we have the equipment and that it’s maintained.” He added that “They’re terrific.” Trefzger also talked about how much help they had received from “The various people in Student Affairs that help us with travel arrangements,” which is always one of the most difficult parts of the broadcast. “We have had really terrific support over the years from the Athletics Department” said Trefzger, as well as “people in sports information, even Wayne Wilson and his staff taking the time to talk to us.”
This veritable ballet of people are what it takes to keep RIT hockey on the airwaves. This is the unsung RIT Tigers team that comes together every week, working through any obstacles that may arise, to bring the RIT community something great in the form of a 89.7 megahertz broadcast.