Tuesday, October 23, 2018

In Brian Tosti the Texas Stars Have a Talented New Voice

When Brien Rea, the former PR Director and play-by-play man for the Texas Stars of the past four years, was offered a television broadcast position with the Dallas Stars, he had a guy in mind who could potentially maintain the high bar that he had set: Brian Tosti.

(courtesy of Brian Tosti)
For as long as he can remember, Tosti has loved hockey down to his core. “I learned to skate when I was about 3 or 4 years old,” he said. “My dad took me to an Albany River Rats game and I was hooked.”

Having grown up in Clifton Park, New York, about thirty minutes north of Albany, hockey was embedded into Tosti’s DNA with the glad support of his parents every step of the way. For him, though, it was much less about personal talent and skill level than it was about the feeling of being a part of something bigger than himself. “Being a part of a team was always the most satisfying thing. I love being a part of a collective group.” That desire would have a huge impact on his career many years down the line.

In high school, Tosti explored communications, taking two classes in journalism and broadcasting, which helped him fall in love with the field. To pursue it as a profession didn’t fully materialize as an option in his mind until he was out of high school thinking about a real career path.

“When you’re 5’6”, it doesn’t take long for you to realize that playing hockey at a high level probably isn’t in the cards.” Though he would go on to lace up his skates for the Division III club team at Oswego State, his alma mater, Tosti fully immersed himself in broadcasting during his second year in college.

“I was really into sports and music.” Tosti is a serious musician, being proficient in at least three different instruments. “I didn’t really care to pursue music as a profession and broadcasting was something that I became passionate about as I took more classes.”

At Oswego State, Tosti began finding his voice as an on-air personality and honing his craft. “Some people are just born with this great voice for broadcasting, and you can tell from just talking to them. Others have to really put in the work to find what fits their own voice, and how they can just turn it on when the time comes.”

After college, he landed an internship with the Rockford IceHogs, which led to his first full-time professional gig with the then Bloomington Thunder of the USHL. Through a combination of building relationships and working hard over two years, his growing resume parlayed into another two year stop in Greenville, South Carolina, doing play-by-play for the Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL. As with many professions, Tosti says that the challenge becomes going from more of a generalist to a specialist as you move up each level.

“That’s really been the challenge along the way. Your responsibilities change, and anytime you walk into a new office you’re trying to figure out they dynamics of the relationships and what your role is.”

Though he really loved his time in Greenville and benefited greatly from the experience, it wasn’t long before his reputation preceded him, which led to bigger things. When Rea called to tell him that there was a potential opportunity with the Texas Stars, Tosti was elated. “I really wasn’t looking to go anywhere. But as any person in this business will tell you, you always have to have your ear to the ground. When Brien [Rea] called, I jumped all over it. This is the AHL.”

On what he would say to his peers that are looking for the same opportunities, Tosti was clear. “Make yourself apparent and obvious. Build a website, and maintain your portfolio. You want people to be able to find you very easily.”

The Texas Stars organization vetted through a short list of candidates provided by Rea and ultimately landed on Tosti after an interview process that mainly allowed his audio portfolio to speak for itself. From there, it’s been a whirlwind of logistics--from finding an apartment in Cedar Park, to moving from South Carolina, and going on air within three weeks of pulling into Texas.

“It really was a quick turnaround. It was the same type of thing with the Swamp Rabbits. But with this being the AHL, just a step below the NHL, you’re expected to hit the ground running and operate at a high level.”

One of the biggest challenges in going from the ECHL to the AHL is the talent level and pace of play. “Players say it all the time when they move up another level that the speed of the game is so much faster. The same thing is true of broadcasters. It’s just a huge adjustment to have to put to words what is going on in a particular play while the game is going this fast.”

The first thing Tosti did when he got to Texas? Eat at a Whataburger. “I was told that I couldn’t be a true Texan unless I had eaten there.”

His things had to stay in boxes the first few weeks while he studied hard to learn the ropes of the new job, which included the players for the organization, not to mention the staff that he would be working with. When asked about his favorite thing about working with the Stars, he beamed about the new relationships he was building with people in and around the organization. Primarily, though, Tosti is fulfilling a desire that has stayed with him since playing hockey in grade school.

“There are so many parts to this job that bring me joy. But the most rewarding part is that I get to be a part of a team. This organization, from the top down, is tops in the AHL. For me to be a part of a team like this is one of the most amazing experiences.”

Filling the shoes of your predecessor is seldom easy, but Tosti is driven to succeed. He has his own personal plan for growth. “It may sound silly, but really I just want to watch as much hockey as I can and learn from other broadcasters. I think that at the end of the season I want to see something different about my performance. I want people to be able to listen to me from game one all the way to the end, and they can tell a difference.”

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