For Craig Amazeen, the road to become the Director of Broadcasting for the Arizona Cardinals started in Marlborough, Massachusetts. “When I was a kid, I would listen to Bob Wilson, the legendary Boston Bruins announcer. When they played the LA Kings, I’d have my little clock radio turned to notch one on the volume so my folks couldn’t hear it. They thought I was in bed for the last two hours sleeping, and here I was, listening to the Bruins play the Kings out west.”
There is no mistake when you listen to Craig, he is doing something he loves, and something he set out to do at a very young age. “It has always been what I have wanted to do. I have always loved the broadcast element of sports”, said Amazeen, who joined the Cardinals in 2000.
After graduating from Gettysburg College with a major in Broadcast Communications, Craig headed west to the small town of Breckenridge, Colorado. “I lived there for five years in a ski resort, and the only thing that took me away from that fantasy land was an opportunity in pro sports following up on my major.”
Amazeen makes no attempt to hide the fact that he was very lucky to get the opportunity he was given. “I was in the middle of anywhere from one year to lifelong hiatus in a ski resort, just absolutely living in an unrealistic world of fun in the snow. I got to know Shawn Hunter, who until a few weeks ago was president of the Phoenix Coyotes and prior to that he worked with the Avalanche. He was a big skier, he would come up and I got to know him on a personal level.”
When the Avalanche moved from Quebec to Denver, Amazeen saw the opportunity, and immediately took advantage of it. “I went down to see if there was a way, even at an intern level, to get in the door. He (Hunter) went to his broadcast department and said I have this guy, I know he is a great worker, good guy, I don’t know how much talent he has but, can you guys find something for him to do?”
With a new team coming to the organization, they needed the help and the situation worked well for Craig. “I covered both the Nuggets and the Avalanche. I did the interviews, got the sound bites for radio, and helped log features. I was as low on the totem pole as you can be.”
The Avalanche went on to win the Stanley Cup that season, and even though Amazeen did not have a huge role, it was a great experience for him. “During the Stanley Cup Finals, I would set up the press conference and basically plug everything in. It was nothing exciting, but I was learning how to do the easy stuff and doing it right.”
Hunter moved from the Avalanche organization to the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 1996 when the Winnipeg Jets franchise relocated. In August, Amazeen left the life of ski resorts and snow, and made his new home in Arizona. Craig then spent four seasons with the Coyotes before joining the Cardinals.
“It was an interesting proposition when I was offered the job because I had the opportunity to move up with the Coyotes as well. It was a tough decision.” Career wise, moving to the NFL was a huge step for Amazeen. “When I came over here, it wasn’t until after the first couple of weeks that I realized how big football is, in the sense of the magnitude of the league. It’s been pretty eye-opening.”
As the Director of Broadcasting for the Cardinals, the first thing Amazeen and his crew did was bring everything in-house. “That means all of our radio broadcasts, all of our TV shows and pre-season television, we own them in-house, we produce them all in-house, we hire the talent in-house, and we also sell all inventory in-house.”
The next step was to form partnerships with the over the air affiliates. FOX 10 in Phoenix, FOX Sports Net on cable TV, and the Cardinals radio partner, Sandusky Radio. “We combined ourselves with all of them, and were able to really project our electronic image on a much wider basis and also promote the team on a wider basis.”
For people who want to ‘Work in Sports’, Craig says sacrifice is key, but a little luck doesn’t hurt either. “You are going to need timing. I got lucky. The Avalanche moved at the right time. I was in the right place at the right time and I knew the right person.”
Even with the great opportunity he was given, Amazeen still had to start at the bottom, and he says to be ready to do the same. “You have to sacrifice. I had my chance and I started really low and was able to work my way up. In pro sports, when you are starting out, it does not pay a lot of money. I knew I wanted to do it, I knew there was a future, and I was confident in what I was doing. You can learn from a lot of people. Timing is a lucky one if you can hit it, but more importantly, be willing to start out low and just suck it all in and learn.”