Steve Bell Back to Call the Spitfires

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Steve Bell Back to Call the Spitfires

There has been at least one sense of normalcy during the 2021-2022 Ontario Hockey League season that has, at times, seen games suddenly canceled and rescheduled due to Covid protocols while other games have been played before few if any fans in the stands at all. Steve Bell, aka Beller, is back as the full-time play by play announcer on Windsor Spitfire broadcasts on AM 800 CKLW.

Veteran broadcaster Steve Bell is the full-time broadcaster for the first time in over a decade as he replaces Mike Miller, who retired near the end of the last full Ontario Hockey League season in 2019-2020. Ironically, it was Miller who had replaced Bell in the broadcast booth in 2008 when CKLW, for whom he had worked for decades, first as a night-time disc jockey and then as the station’s Sports Director. CKLW eventually decided that Bell’s time with the station was spent better as the sports guys during the station’s Morning Show then as the play-by-play guy with the Spitfires.

And in yet another ironic twist to Beller’s long and colourful career story, he was let go by the radio station last year during a corporate restructuring that same many long-time local broadcast icons also shown the door after decades of service.

Bell was not out of work very long, though, as he was immediately scooped up by the Spitfires to serve as their full-time radio commentator. The 61-year-old Bell also joined Team Goran RE/MAX Care as their Realty Care Ambassador.

Make no mistake about it, Steve Bell’s strongest passion is the Windsor Spitfires and calling the team’s games with his enthusiastic – and unabashed homer – flair.

And while the semantics of calling junior hockey games is generally the same as it was when the now 61-year-old Bell first started on the Spits broadcasts last century, there are some not so subtle differences.

“It’s pretty much the same game game of hockey, although the players are certainly bigger and stronger,” Bell offers. “And of course there is little or no fighting in the games today as opposed to years ago when there were some pretty big donnybrooks, especially when the Spits played at the Barn (Windsor Arena) against teams like the London Knights.”

And in 2022 Bell has to do more than just sit behind a microphone in a press box and tell listeners what’s going on on the ice.

“Back in the day there was a lot less that people like me had to do during a game,” he admits.”Now I might have to send out or respond to a tweet in the middle of a game or during a commercial break.

“There was no Internet back in the 1980s where information is relayed instantly like it is today,” he continues.”I’ve got to keep on top of the news not only in the sporting world but in the world that we live in today.

“There were no pandemics back in the 1980’s.”

There is a big reality of life during the current season that Bell has had to contend with and hopefully does not have to any more as Covid seems to be lessening its grip on the world.

“Calling a game in an empty arena is the absolute worst,” he claims. “There’s very little atmosphere in the building because there are very few people in it.

“The teams don’t feed off the fans when there are no fans,” he continues.”It’s always fun to inject some levity into the broadcasts by telling your listeners when something unusual is what is going on in the stands – maybe it’s the kiss cam or there’s an entertainer going around the building or someone is proposing to someone else.”

Bell did have to broadcast Spitfire games earlier this season when there were very few or even no fans in the stands both at the WFCU Centre and during road games. But as of March 1, the OHL is allowing full capacity at games.

“It’s going to be fun watching some fans react to their first taste of live action at the games not only this season but for the last couple of seasons,” Bell contends. “I’m sure that barns are going to be rocking around the OHL very soon.

“And hopefully things will stay that way for a very long time now.”

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