|(Credit: Texas Stars)
"I've had a lot of things going on in my life and a lot of changes in the last eight and a half years," said Mason via phone last week. "It was just time to go."
He never planned to get into a PA gig and certainly not for a hockey team. His day job is on a morning radio show on 98.1 KVET here in Austin. He got started in radio at 15, and it was always a passion for him. Announcing at Texas Stars games was almost a fluke. Mason headed out to the then-Cedar Park Center for the ribbon cutting and announcement of the first event, a George Strait concert.
On a lark, he asked a Stars' front office member if they'd selected a PA guy yet, and the answer was no.
"He asked me to cut a tape so they could see what I sounded like. I had no idea what a hockey PA guy sounded like. I put together a tape of me doing silly stuff because I just had no idea what it was going to be. I sent it to them, and they had me do a tryout on site."
Rob got to put his unique spin on player names as he announced goals and starting lineups each night. Some of his favorites were Greg Rallo (Greeeeeeeeeg) and Maxime Fortunus (Fortooooooonus) for the fun emphasis he could put on their names.
"Also, I got a lot of people who would comment on the Plucker's power play [announcement]. When we first started doing it, my script said, 'It's another Plucker's power play!' I just decided saying 'another Plucker's' was too dangerous and might come out as something else completely."
The intermission host role was also in Mason's purview for 8 plus years.
|(Credit: Texas Stars)
"Human bowling was always my favorite. They had the interns who worked for the team stand at the far end, and they said, 'Oh, you just stand there and make sure everything goes alright' but really they were there as human battering rams in case things didn't go well!
"One of the times the guy went shooting down the ice and got one of the interns. I announced, "You got six pins and an intern!'. For me it's more fun when something goes wrong. Saturday nights are more fun because the contestants have more lubrication, you might say."
With a morning show, late night overtime games and shootouts were always a time crunch but Mason makes his home in Cedar Park, so it wasn't as much of a hassle to get into bed after those games.
"The arena wasn't that far away so that was good. But it seems like these past two seasons there have been a lot of weekend games. It meant I didn't have to get up for work but it meant that I would work five days a week and then there were weekend games too so it seemed like I never got a weekend."
The thing he'll miss most are the fans and his fellow off-ice officials, who are locked in the space between the penalty box with the PA guy for up to 4 hours. " I have to get in the booth before warmups and I'm stuck there until the end of the game, so we spend a lot of time together!"
He added, "When I was leaving, the fans have said such nice things. Unfortunately I didn't get to know the players, but the fans are my favorite part. They've had such nice things to say and so many of them I've been seeing since the very beginning."
And speaking of fans, he's looking forward to being one. Even as a PA hype man for goals and starting lineups, Mason was an AHL employee and there is a strict no cheering policy that comes with that role.
"The thing I'm looking forward to now is going back as a fan. Sitting in the stands, eating some pizza, having an adult beverage and cheering! So it will be great to scream and yell and cheer!"