GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Bob Kaser
, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ vice president of community relations and broadcasting, has been named the recipient of the American Hockey League’s 2009-10 James H. Ellery Memorial Award in the radio category, in recognition of his outstanding coverage of the league.
After 10 seasons, Kaser’s play-by-play of Griffins hockey on Newsradio WOOD 1300 AM remains the gold standard in Michigan sports. Since 2002, his broadcasts alongside color commentator Larry Figurski
have received five Michigan Association of Broadcasters awards and three Michigan Associated Press awards.
Last season, Kaser was instrumental in putting nine of the Griffins’ games on ESPN 96.1, a new all-sports FM station, and he instituted a new feature to his broadcasts profiling former Griffins and other AHL graduates now playing in the NHL. He also made frequent appearances on local TV and radio shows to promote the Griffins, the AHL, alumni with the parent Detroit Red Wings, and the team’s numerous events in the West Michigan community.
In addition to his broadcast duties, Kaser directs the Griffins’ community relations efforts and was instrumental in the organization garnering the AHL’s 2008-09 Western Conference award for community service. Under his leadership, the Griffins have helped generate more than $2.4 million for local charities over the last eight seasons, including nearly $330,000 during the 2009-10 campaign alone.
Kaser, who founded many of the team’s innovative community programs, also serves as president of the Griffins Youth Foundation, chairman of the foundation’s annual golf classic, co-chair of the Great Skate Winterfest, and director of the Griffins’ youth hockey camp.
A Kalamazoo native who grew up in Flint, Kaser has been involved in hockey since 1979, most notably spending 10 seasons (1990-2000) as director of communications and broadcasting for the International Hockey League’s Kansas City Blades. He was twice awarded the Bob Chase Award as IHL Broadcaster of the Year (1993-94 and 1997-98), and his public relations staff earned recognition as the best in the Western Conference on four occasions (1994-95, 1995-96, 1997-98 and 1999-00).
In his free time, Kaser assists with several worthy causes in West Michigan, serving as a board member for Southern Little League baseball and Cornerstone University's Champions of Character program, and a member of the Advancing Excellence committee for East Grand Rapids Schools.
Kaser becomes the fourth local winner of an Ellery Award for outstanding media coverage during the Griffins’ nine seasons of AHL membership, joining Fox 17’s Tim Doty
(2007-08), former Grand Rapids Press sportswriter Joe Conklin
(2002-03), and WOOD TV-8 (2001-02). No other AHL market has been home to as many Ellery winners or has had honorees in every category (radio, TV, newspaper) during that span.
This also marks the fourth time in the last four seasons that the Griffins’ front office has been recognized with an AHL award. Last season, in addition to the community service honor, Grand Rapids won the league’s Western Conference award for overall ticket sales growth, while senior director of public relations Randy Cleves
won the 2006-07 Ken McKenzie Award as the outstanding executive in public relations and marketing.
This year’s other Ellery winners are Pete Dougherty
of the Albany Times-Union (newspaper) and sports director Tony Zarrella
of WOIO-Channel 19 in Cleveland (television).