If you’ve ever caught a Senators game on TSN 1200, you’ve likely heard Dean Brown drop his infamous “SCRAMBLE!” He’s called every Senators game on TV or radio since the club’s inception in 1992 alongside his colour analyst, Gord Wilson.
From opening night to the Sens Stanley Cup Playoff run in 2007, Dean’s seen it all with the Ottawa Senators. If there’s one thing you can guarantee when you tune in to Dean and Gord’s broadcast on TSN 1200, they’re having fun. The two have formed a special relationship that translates over the radio when they call games.
Dean was born and raised in Manitoba, where he started his broadcasting career as an overnight newsreader for CFRW in Winnipeg. After a stint in London with CKSL, he moved to Ottawa to become the Rough Riders play-by-play voice for CFRA.
When he’s not covering the Sens, Dean likes to explore the countryside, search for a nice diner, or spend time with his dogs. We sat down with Dean to talk about his broadcast career and best memories when it comes to the Ottawa Senators.
Why did you get into broadcasting?
Well, it really was almost by accident. A reporter interviewed me after a junior football game I had played in. He asked if I ever thought of going into Radio. He gave me a number to call, and I went in and did an audition. They offered me a job, and I took it. I was going to go to University, but I thought it might be cool to do this first. My first job was reading overnight news at CFRW in Winnipeg, and I never did end up going to school.
You’ve been the play-by-play voice for the Senators since day one. What are some of your best memories?
I think the best two memories are the day the franchise was awarded and the first regular-season game. There were so many people who thought Ottawa could never get a team; it was an amazing day when the announcement was made. Gord was down in Florida covering it, and I was back in Ottawa anchoring our coverage. It was a day that changed our city forever.
I will and have forgotten many things, but I will never forget that first game. A baby can only be born once, and that’s the day the Senators were delivered. There have been many Sens teams better and more talented, but none will ever be as important as the very first team.
How have you enjoyed working alongside Gord Wilson?
One of the greatest parts of my career has been my relationship with Gord. I have been fortunate to work with some great colour guys on TV over the years. Most are still very good friends, but my relationship with Gord is special. He is extremely good at what he does. No one knows more about what is going on with this team than Gord does, but he is never in your face about it. He gets me, and I get him. We don’t do a traditional broadcast. You can’t do that unless you have two guys who know each other, like each other and understand the personality of the other. Gord is the best part of our broadcast every day. He knows his stuff and knows how to make the broadcast fun. I’m lucky to sit beside him.
Who are 5 Sens players you’ve enjoyed interviewing over the years?
As a play-by-play guy, I don’t really do much of the interviewing. But some of the guys I’ve loved talking to over the years are also great interviews.
Brad Shaw – always insightful and fun.
Jason Spezza – so smart and current.
Daniel Alfredsson – never cliché.
Chris Neil – no buffer.
Mark Borowiecki – a human scope reaching far past
What comes to mind when you think about the 2017 playoff run?
I think of how good that Sens team was. I think of how badly that series was officiated and how frustrated Bryan Murray was with that. I remember them putting a video together to show the series supervisor the number of uncalled penalties, and the League just ignored them.
I remember thinking this team is so good; they’ll be back in the final next year. It never happened, and that’s when I really learned how hard this league is.
What’s your game-day routine look like?
Gameday actually begins the night before unless you are calling another game. The night before, you start working on your prep so you aren’t jammed up on game day in the morning; you get to the rink to watch both teams have their morning skate. That’s when you get to talk to the coaches and players. Then it’s back home to finish up the homework. In the shower, put on the suit and go back to the rink. I try to arrive two hours before game time for final preparations and pay attention to anything that has changed or anything going on in the rink. Then call the game, pack up, and go home or head to the airport for the next one.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not calling hockey?
Friends, family, dogs, travel. I haven’t done much travelling the last couple of years because of Covid but looking forward to more of that.
Where are some of your favourite places to go out around Ottawa?
We have a beautiful city, and there is no shortage of things to do and see.
I love the ByWard Market, just getting in the car and driving through the country near Almonte and Pakenham. We like to take the dogs to some of the great dog parks. Restaurants. Too many great ones to mention, but we love some of the great eateries, which all now need our support more than ever. We have a special love for greasy spoon diner-type places for breakfast. I’m a sucker for good old bacon and eggs.
What do the Sens need to do to make the playoffs next season?
First and foremost, they have to have a far healthier season. Just too many important players injured for very long periods of time. Two bouts of Covid going through the team was also brutal. Better health will lead to better results. Continued improvement and experience for the young core. I think they are right on the verge of breaking through.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned during your career?
The importance of having fun. Not just because it makes the job more enjoyable for you but also for the listeners and viewers; people have fun when they hear other people having fun. This is a great job; it’s a fun job. Don’t be scared to have fun, and don’t apologize for it. This is not accounting or Astrophysics. It’s sports. It’s hockey. Fans came to love it because it’s fun to play, watch and listen to. So just enjoy the ride and appreciate what a great job and career this is and how lucky you are to ride it.