NHL

Alex Faust was hired by the LA Kings for TV in’17, dropped in ’23 and touted by Alex Trebek for Jeopardy!

 

When Alex Trebek announced he would leave Jeopardy!, he suggested to his bosses that his own successor be Alex Faust, not exactly a national star.

But for Faust it never eventuated. In 2017 he was bestowed the new television voice of the Los Angeles Kings. The play-by-player unquestionably had the rhythm required for NHL telecasts and Trebek a penchant for the game. Alex Trebek grew up in Canada and attended Kings’ games in Southern California. When he died in 2002, there was a parade of guest-hosts who filled in for him until the chosen were selected.(Faust)

All good, but no successor was ever named immediately for Trebek. Joe Buck was good the one week that he showed his wares. While Joe was smooth and impressive on stage, America  first thinks of Joe for football. He might have been pigeonholed by his reviewer?

Can Jeopardy! be laboring financially? It took more than a year and a half for the house to replace Trebek. Two faces are visible on the stage now, Mayim Bialik, a game show host and actress, and Ken Jennings, the celebrated record-setting Jeopardy! winner. It also became evident that  Faust never really had no chance at all.

Many of us though were surprised by the news two weeks ago that the Kings weren’t renewing Faust’s contract. How can that be? Touted one day for Jeopardy!? Now it’s clear that he lost his potential on Jeopardy too. Just a few years ago, he was mentioned seriously to succeed the legend, Trebek.

Born in 1989, Alex graduated Northeastern, outside Boston and was considered somewhat precocious. Faust’s career first began gathering strength in financial institutions, before shifting into sports broadcasting. He then succeeded through the tough early waters of broadcasting. Alex comfortably earned respect, and got assignments from NBC Sports, NESN, ESPN, and Westwood One. He grew his career upward through versatility, focus and an ability to learn quickly. Faust followed Kings’ legendary voice, Bob Miller  at age 28. Not easy.

What caused the club not to renew Faust? A major factor could be money. I imagine that Alex was paid substantially. He joined the club in 2017 and the cable industry keeps losing subscribers. But foreseeing a drop in reduced rights and a cut from from cable purveyors, the Kings are looking to shave costs. Meanwhile, streaming is conquering cable. 

In the summer of 2021, I asked Joe Buck how he’d do as a contestant on Jeopardy: “I would fare poorly. The clues get more difficult as they go down the categories. Maybe, three down at best. I could surprise myself and the rest of the world by getting somewhat further down the columns. But for the most part I would say three down is about as far as I can go if I’m being totally honest.”

It reminds me of what the late Dick Enberg shared with budding young announcers. “Voices don’t own their booths in stadia or broadcast tables in arenas. They only rent them.” 

Meanwhile, Nick Nickson, 69, had been with the Kings for 42 years, first as Bob Miller’s sidekick on a Kings’ simulcast, starting in the early 80s. Then, the simulcast was split. Bob Miller got TV and Nickson radio. In 2016, Miller retired and Faust got the TV gig. Dick remained on radio.

Radio began to collapse for LA’s hockey team. The Kings couldn’t find a decent radio station to carry its games unless the team paid it a fortune for the block of time. With declining cable revenue, the club had to condense all costs. Dial in and Nickson will fill the role; TV, and audio of sorts. They’ll probably pay him less than they did Alex Faust. He’ll be on TV, radio-satellite and cable of sorts. Well deserved for a team veteran in Nick! (New LA Kings Voice for TV and Audio, Nick Nickson, above, far right)

Next season, Nickson will preside over a revived TV/Audio simulcast. Nick will be the true voice of any and all Kings’ play-by-play broadcasts. Good for him! Nick Nickson, a Connecticut kid, will never have it better. He earned it. 

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David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Michael Green
11 months ago

I’m sad for Faust and glad for Nickson (who also put in some time doing PA for the Dodgers, I believe). I think the costs were the main reason, and that’s really a shame–a nickel and dime approach if ever there was one.