It's been a wild ride for Bengals radio voice Dan Hoard, too
In a six-week span, Dan Hoard called the UC Bearcats ACC Championship game and the Cotton Bowl College Football Playoff game, then did two AFC playoff games and the AFC Championship with Bengals radio partner Dave Lapham. Now he's heading to the Super Bowl.
Like many of us, Bengals radio play-by-play announcer Dan Hoard wakes up in disbelief.
"The first thing I've said to my wife is, 'The Bengals are going to the Super Bowl!' with the proper tone of disbelief. It's unbelievable. It really is," says Hoard, the former WXIX-TV sports anchor who has done Bengals play-by-play since 2011 with Dave Lapham. He's also called University of Cincinnati men's basketball and football on radio since 2000.
"And I have a renewed respect and maybe sympathy for athletes who are asked immediately after a huge moment to describe how they feel, because I find myself doing a very poor job of describing how I feel," he says. "Words are supposed to be the tools of my profession, and I'm coming up short because it's so incredible."
Hoard's had a pretty amazing season, too. He called the Bearcats' undefeated football season, their American Athletic Conference championship game at Nippert Stadium, and UC's historic College Football Playoff semi-final game in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve.
A few weeks later, Hoard and Lapham called the Bengals' wild card round win at Paul Brown Stadium, followed by knocking off the top seeded Tennessee Titans in Nashville, and perennial Super Bowl contenders Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game at Kansas City.
Not bad for a guy who dreamed of being a Major League Baseball announcer as a kid growing up in western New York. He did two stints as a minor league baseball announcer, starting with the Syracuse Chiefs before graduating from Syracuse University in 1985. He continued doing Chiefs games around anchoring sports at WTVH-TV in Syracuse before coming to WXIX-TV as a sports anchor in 1996.
For Fox 19, he did TV play-by-play for UC, then switched to radio in 2000. He kept the UC gig when he quit Channel 19 in 2006 to call Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox for five years. He returned to Cincinnati in 2011 when the Bengals hired him to replace Brad Johansen as Lapham's radio partner.
"I think fate dealt me a favorable hand (with a football broadcasting career)," he says. "It's a much better life" than spending the majority of March to October on the road broadcasting baseball.
"Something that people underestimate about the guys who do baseball for a living is that even when you're home, you're not home," he says. "You go to the ballpark early in the afternoon, and you're there until midnight. Sure, you sleep in your own bed, but you're not home in any normal sense of it.
"And I loved it when I was doing minor league baseball, and doing the Reds pregame and postgame shows (on Fox Sports Ohio) but then when you're out of that life, and you can participate in normal activities, you realize that's pretty cool, too," continues Hoard, who was inducted into the UC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019. He'll do the Bearcats basketball game at the University of South Florida Wednesday night, then fly from Tampa to Los Angeles for the Super Bowl.
Hoard covered his first Super Bowl in January 1992, for his Syracuse TV station, when his childhood favorite Buffalo Bills played the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis.
Sunday's Super Bowl LVI will be Hoard's sixth. His radio booth mates again will be Lapham, the former lineman who has worked with all Bengals radio announcers; engineer Dave Abbott from WLW-AM's IHeartRadio; producer Dave "Yiddy" Armbruster, who also does all the Reds radio games; statistician Brad Ellis, a Felicity-Franklin Local Schools administrator; and spotter Dave Kelly, son of Jim Kelly, Hoard's UC football partner.
It's the third Super Bowl for Lapham, and his second as a broadcaster. He was a Bengals lineman 40 years ago, in Super Bowl XVI in 1982 in Pontiac, Mich., and in the radio booth for Super Bowl XXIII in 1989 in Miami, Fla., with original Bengals play-by-play announcer Phil Samp and former quarterback Ken Anderson on WKRC-AM.
"To broadcast a Super Bowl is pretty cool," says Lapham, who does a podcast called In The Trenches for First Star Logistics. "To have played in a Super Bowl, and then broadcast one, has to be very rare. There aren't that many. I don't know what the number is. It's got to be very small number. How lucky can you be?"