Section: Sports,  Page: B2

Date: Friday, May 21, 2010

Ari Wolfe finished out last century in the Capital Region as a late-twentysomething jack-of-all-trades broadcaster, calling radio games for Saint Rose basketball, Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs baseball and Albany Firebirds arena football.

His versatility and ambition has served him well. A Philadelphia native who grew up in Madison, Wis., and now lives in Los Angeles, Wolfe, 39, is popping up on televisions across the country.

His current gig is as a sideline reporter for Arena Football League games on the NFL Network. Wolfe's main role is as a play-by-play announcer of football and basketball for the Mountain West Sports Network (known as the Mtn.) and Big Ten Network. He also is beginning his fourth season of play-by-play for Minnesota Vikings preseason games. If that's not enough, Wolfe has called a number of sports (table tennis, rowing and gymnastics among them) for Universal Sports (seen locally on WCWN 45.2), a branch of NBC.

Wolfe stayed put long enough this week to answer a few questions about his career.

So your departure from Albany in 2000 was tied to the Firebirds' move to Indianapolis?

"Exactly. Joe Hennessy, the general manager, offered me a position to move to Indianapolis, and that kick-started things. I got to do some TV, and I got some tapes in. ... Moving to Indianapolis, looking back, that was a pretty big moment, and it wasn't my doing that (the Firebirds) left. I was very fortunate."

Your arena football work must be interesting, standing on the field with a microphone trying to talk to a coach after he sends in a play. Is that different than most stuff you've done?

"Oh, yeah. You don't usually get that kind of access. I was an NFL sideline reporter for six years. You would never get a chance to talk to a coach during the game."

What do you remember about your time in Albany?

"The most special thing is that I was with one winner after another. I was with Charlie Voelker when he was the GM, I did maybe a half package of the Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs. They won it all. I was at Winnipeg for the finals. That was exciting. The Firebirds won it all in '99. When I was with Saint Rose, we made two trips to Louisville for the Elite Eight, and one year losing in the Final Four.

"I got to be around such great people with a chance to call games on the radio. People were passionate about it. I felt the same thrill. There was a kid on the basketball team, his parents would drive to wherever they could pick up the radio signal. They would be in the car with their younger kids, and they would listen to the games. The next home game, the mom would be so grateful."

How much time do you spend on the road?

"There's a lot of time on the road. It's pretty consistent once we get into football season. You leave on Thursday or Friday morning, and you come back on Saturday or Sunday. I happen to love the lifestyle. I enjoy the travel. When you're with people on game day, that's usually their favorite day of the week. It's fun to show up at places and be a part of the best day of the week."

Pete Dougherty is the Times Union's sports TV/radio columnist. He can be reached at 454-5416 or by e-mail at Visit his blog at


Sound bytes

1More proof of the NFL's grip on television: ESPNews and the NFL Network (still a rumor to Time Warner subscribers) will carry the announcement of the 2014 Super Bowl site live at 3 p.m. Tuesday from the NFL owners meetings in Dallas. The NFL Network has a 90-minute special planned. What's next? "Live From the Cowboys' Game Room?"

2Lost in the hoopla (bad pun unintended) of the NCAA Basketball Tournament expansion to 68 teams is a weakening of the National Invitational Tournament field. ESPN, beaten out by CBS/Turner in the NCAA bidding, has yet to renew its NIT contract. You would think the value has slipped a little.

3"Fox Saturday Baseball" experiments with a prime-time edition this week, offering Yankees-Mets to most of the country. The network may consider more Saturday night games next season, which, if nothing else, would keep the telecasts from running into NASCAR racesWeekend's best

Today, 7 p.m.: Major league baseball, N.Y. Yankees at N.Y. Mets (SNY, YES). It's a rare chance for fans of one team to hear different set of broadcasters.

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: Pro soccer, UEFA Champions League, championship match, Bayern Munich vs. Inter Milan (Fox-23): College softball on ESPN will get a bigger U.S. viewership.

Sunday, 2 p.m.: Pro golf, LPGA Match Play Championship (Golf Channel). Catch the LPGA when you can. There doesn't seem to be much of it.

Sunday, 8:30 p.m.: Pro basketball, NBA playoffs, L.A. Lakers at Phoenix (TNT). This is only Game 3. These guys get more time off than Joe Buck.

Monday, 7 p.m.: Major league baseball, Boston at Tampa Bay (ESPN). Forget the Yankees. The Rays are the team to beat in the AL East.



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On the Web

For the entire interview with Ari Wolfe, go to