Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where Are They Now: Paul Roper

WSOU's been doing its thing for 61 years now, and we've had some of our staffers move onto some pretty great things. As of a few weeks ago, recent WSOU alumn Paul Roper has a new job - after a year of announcing for the Trenton Devils of the ECHL, he's moved to Erie, PA to serve as Media Relations Manager and Broadcaster for the Erie Otters of the OHL!

Here's a recent article about his new gig:

New broadcaster Roper gets to know Otters
Paul Roper has nine hours to pass during Thursday's bus ride to Sudbury.

He hopes his Internet card works on the road. He has more to read about the Erie Otters and the OHL.

That's how he has spent every spare minute lately. Even before learning he would replace Mark Jeanneret as the club's play-by-play broadcaster, Roper has studied the team and league inside and out.

Now with Friday's season opener three days away, "I have to prepare very meticulously," said Roper, 23, who also will serve as media relations manager. "I don't want to really waste a minute of that (time) doing anything else on the trip. ... I'm going to try to get as much information as I can about the Otters so I can provide an entertaining and informative listening experience to the fans here in Erie."

He moved to town this past weekend. But he already has a strong sense of Erie's hockey tradition -- from the Blades to the Panthers and now the Otters -- and what lies ahead.

He has seen the championship banners and former Otters great Brad Boyes' retired No. 16 in the Tullio Arena rafters. He knows about the club's recently completed lease and planned arena renovations.

"I'm glad to be a part of it," said Roper, who initially didn't like his odds of earning the job.

But as Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky once said, "100 percent of the shots you don't take won't go in the net," Roper said. "So I figured why not apply and see where it goes."

Roper had one year of professional experience, as Director of broadcasting and media relations with the ECHL's Trenton Devils last year.

In comparison, one finalist spent five years as a No. 2 broadcaster in the AHL. Another was a two-year AHL intern with a recommendation from an NHL broadcaster.

Yet, Roper was cautiously optimistic. Then while searching the Internet, he discovered an article stating that Shawn Waskiewicz, Otters assistant general manager of administration, had spoken to candidates.

"After that, I didn't think I had a shot at it," Roper said, "because I wasn't one of those candidates."

A few days later, Waskiewicz called him. He discovered that Roper knows about former Otters like Boyes, Carlo Colaiacovo and Corey Pecker and much more, Waskiewicz said.

"He's an encyclopedia of information with all the stats and different teams and leagues and players," Waskiewicz said. Roper has been a junior hockey fan for years.

Although his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., wasn't known for it, The Hockey News was a young Roper's source of information on junior leagues and NHL prospects. Back then, he knew the importance of the Otters' move to Erie in 1996, since the Detroit Jr. Red Wings (now Plymouth Whalers) were the league's only United States club at the time.

Waskiewicz was intrigued. "I could have easily given the job to somebody who has five years experience," Waskiewicz said. "But somebody took a chance on me. How do you know how good the guy is if you don't take a chance on him?"

On Friday, Roper displays his on-air talent for the first time. "Hopefully I'll be prepared enough," he said. "Hopefully I can shake off the cobwebs and provide the fans with a good broadcast."

VICTOR FERNANDES can be reached at 870-1716 or by e-mail. Paul Roper has a different on-air style than his predecessor, Mark Jeanneret. Find out more on Shootout, the Erie Times-News' hockey blog, at

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