During the course of last season, longtime New Jersey Devils PA announcer Kevin Clark announced that he retiring after 14 seasons with the organization. As a result, before the start of the season, the Devils were in search of a new PA announcer to replace Clark’s energy. They held a competition and narrowed it down to three finalists. One of those finalists was Joe Tolentino, a Fair Lawn, New Jersey native.
Tolentino had the odds stacked greatly against him, considering the fact that he didn’t have any prior PA experience. However, his passion and energy toward Devils hockey is what ultimately landed him the job. He was able to win the fan vote and is about to complete his first season as the Devils’ PA announcer.
The interesting thing about PA announcers is that they’re sort of the “voice of the fan base”. Because whatever happens during the course of the game, the PA announcer is trying to capture the fan base’s respective emotions. Whether it’s excitement or disappointment, usually a PA announcer is the unsung hero for getting fans into the game at any venue.
His love for the Devils began at an early age thanks to his cousin. Tolentino’s favorite player growing up was Patrik Elias. I recently had the opportunity to interview Tolentino for my podcast show “Locked On Devils” about his unique profession and his work so far this season.
Watch the full interview here.
A Discussion with Joe Tolentino
Question: You are basically the “voice of the New Jersey Devils”. You hear your voice throughout the entirety of the Prudential Center. Sometimes that picks up on a couple of clips…It’s gotta be so surreal just hearing your voice just shared onto that clip.
Joe Tolentino: “Surreal” is the perfect word. It’s been amazing to hear these clips here and there…It has been so surreal to be heard on those highlights when they’re [I am] announcing the three stars or things like that it’s so special.
Q: Did you do any PA work prior to the Devils signing you on? Or did you do any radio announcing, broadcasting, or something similar?
JT: No, this is my first ever PA announcing gig. This is my first ever professional voice work. Growing up, I took part in a lot of musical theater. I went to Fair Lawn High School and their musical theater program is through the roof. They’ve produced a lot of Broadway talent…those lessons and skills lend themselves to a potential career in broadcasting and announcing. I think I’m proof of that, it was an incredible experience.
Q: What was it like hearing that you won, and it’s like “Wow I’m about to become the next voice for the New Jersey Devils”?
JT: So, I called their first preseason game, and their preseason schedule still had to play out. It was a two-week waiting period for me. It was agonizing at times. So, when I first got the call that says, “Hey, you’re gonna become the next PA announcer congratulations. You received enough votes.” For a few seconds, I certainly blacked out for a bit and I lost a bit of time. Because of how excited I was.
Q: What’s your style as a PA announcer?
JT: That’s a great question. I feel like I’m still developing my style as a whole. What I can say for sure is that I’m clear, concise, and confident. I think the clearer I get the information out to the fans, the better their game experience will be…I develop fun ways to say some staples on the team. I hold out Nico [Hischier’s name] for a little while…I’m able to demonstrate my personality…I think for now I’m gonna continue to grow my style along the way. I think the most important thing is that I’m booming…I’m good at being loud, projecting, articulating, and giving the fans the information… Dougie Hamilton and P.K. Subban you can have fun with those names, and they pop up on the scoresheet a lot, but there’s nothing like announcing a Jack Hughes goal.
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Once again, Tolentino is close to wrapping his rookie year with the Devils organization and hopes to grow his craft moving forward. He hopes to help bring the excitement to the Prudential Center moving forward.