Kevin Sylvester offers a voice that every Buffalo-Niagara sports fan knows.
1. Give us a little background on who you are, where you grew and where you did your schooling.
I was born in Dunkirk, NY, lived there as an infant, lived in West Seneca until I was 2, and then moved to Waterloo NY (Tom Coughlin’s hometown) where I grew up and graduated high school. I attended SUNY Fredonia, graduating in 1995.
2. How did you decide on your career path?
I loved sports growing up and would watch any and all games that I could. I also played football, basketball, and baseball in high school. I had some opportunities to play Div. III football and baseball, but chose not to play (wish I would have at least one of the years). Knowing that I wasn’t going to make it professionally on the field, I figured announcing sports would be the next best thing. I jumped right in my first day of college at the campus station and have never looked back.
3. By our calculations, you’re something of a nomadic broadcaster. Are you ever in the same place for long?
That’s an interesting observation, and perhaps some fuzzy math. I think of nomadic as where one resides. I’ve been in broadcasting for 21 years and have lived in Buffalo for 19 of those years (and still continue to do so). As for the media outlets in which I work, that may be a fair point. When I first started in the business at WGR in 1995, it was the beginning of deregulation in broadcasting and stations we being bought and sold constantly. I had a different owner the first five years in the business. I started at WGR, was transferred to WBEN, and then back to WGR. I then was contacted by a station in Charlotte, NC (WBT) in 2000 and took the job as Sports Director and host on the Charlotte Hornets Radio Network. It was a great 2 years in Charlotte, but I was lured back by WGR in 2002. After 2 and half years on morning, I was put on waivers, and picked up by the Buffalo Sabres in April of 2005. I just completed an 11 year stint there, so that’s where I take exception with the nomadic part. Of course, I haven’t included the freelance work over the years, and now my role with the PGA TOUR. Nomadic, maybe. Never boring, yes!
4. Tell us about your interest in golf and how it began. How’s your game these days?
I became interested in golf in high school, but couldn’t join the golf team because they played the same season as football. I did have a season pass to the local course (Silver Creek), and would play at least 4 days a week. I didn’t play very well. I became serious in 1998 when I convinced WBEN to let me do a golf show on Monday nights for an hour. I met Gary Battistoni and asked him to be my expert and co-host. He invited me for a few lessons, and since I worked mostly early mornings, I would go to his golf center and beat balls as much as possible and then head home to South Buffalo and play Caz. I had a similar schedule in Charlotte, and would play nearly every day after my morning shift. It afforded me the time to work on my game, play some great courses, and get the handicap down to a 7. These days, I’m right on the 9-10 border. That means I shoot anywhere from 76-86. I haven’t played much this season yet, but plan to pick that up and get my game in shape.
5. You’ve had a golf show in western New York for year, Tee To Green. How did that project come about?
I had done golf radio (I believe I started it in Buffalo in 1998) for many years, and in 2006 after my first season on television with the Sabres, I figured I could make golf work for a local TV show. Being on MSG gave Jim Toellner at Channel 2 some evidence that I had more than a face for radio. Jim and his production team showed and extreme amount of faith in me and my crew to make it happen. We delivered 13 original episodes and sponsors and viewers responded positively. It’s been a great relationship for the past 11 years and counting. I love that show and the partnership with Jim and WGRZ.
6. Recently, you’ve started doing some radio work for the PGA Tour on Sirius, right? Is that something you chased down or did they come to you?
I work for the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR RADIO. Folks should download the PGA TOUR app, so they can listen for free or listen for free on PGATOUR.com, and we’re also on Sirius/XM. Many people had told me I would be great at announcing golf. After thinking about, I reached out to some connections to research the possibilities. As you can imagine many, many announcers want the gig. It was a process to even get an opportunity to audition. Luckily, I did in 2014 and worked a few events that year. In the fall of 2015, the PGA TOUR called me and said they would give me a chance in Vegas and Sea Island, GA. I passed the test and now work at least a tournament a month, sometimes two. I’m one of the new guys, so I’ll take whatever I can get. I’m just thrilled to be part of the team, and pinch myself everytime I’m out there. The job is as awesome as it seems! Inside the ropes describing the shots on the PGA TOUR! I love it, absolutely love it! I work with some great people from all over the country, and make new friends at each event. Now, I just need to figure out how to play those great courses.
7. What have you learned about the professional tour players that would be unknown to most of us outsiders?
They make some of the same swing/shot mistakes we do. They just recover a whole lot better. They also practice A LOT! The work they put in before and after the round is daunting, but that’s why they’re playing on the TOUR.
8. Do you hope to use this as a stepping stone to more Tour golf radio work, or is it simply a temporary gig?
Another Nomad question? I’m kidding. I hope to do this as long possible. I’m just starting, so I’d like to think this is the beginning of a long career announcing for the PGA TOUR on Radio and possibly on TV. I also have a lot to learn and plenty of room for improvement.
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you would like to answer? Ask it and answer it, please.
People ask me about my book, THE MARRIED MAN’s GUIDE TO GOLF, and where they can get it. I have sold out of hard copies, but you can download the E-book from Amazon, I-Tunes, and the Nook, with links on my website www.kevinsylvester.com. The audio book will be available within the next month, after my next recording session.