A loyal Bears listeners’ bittersweet goodbye to John Walton

Dear Washington Capitals Fans,

The Caps Blogosphere is abuzz with the recent news of John Walton’s call-up to the Big Club.  There are tons of articles and blog posts out there telling you how deserving this promotion is, and how it was only a matter of time before John realized his dream.  This is not one of them.

As a long-time Hershey season ticket holder and die hard fan, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to John call the Hershey Bears away games for years (never the home ones, as I’m always there).  What you’re getting in Mr. Walton is not just good, it’s amazing.  And we Bears fans want to make sure that you appreciate the gem you’re receiving in the radio booth.

You see, Bears’ games are not televised (unless they’re deep into the playoffs).  If you can’t get to the game to see it in person, you can either drop some money to watch online, or listen to the radio (or stream the audio broadcast on the internet).  What many of us in Hershey have known for years is that you don’t need to watch the game to know what’s happening.  With John Walton behind the mic, you can visualize each pass, stride, goal, and even fight on the ice as its happening.  Mr. Walton has a rare gift for being able to keep up with the play, paint a full picture of the action, and yet keep his diction and pronunciation flawless, crisp, and easy to follow (even the older, hard of hearing fans will attest to that).  In fact, it’s not uncommon to find fans scattered in the seats of the Giant Center with headphones – listening to John’s broadcast as they’re taking the game in.  Yes, Greater DC area, you are certainly getting the best of the best.

But that’s not all.  John has always been incredibly accessible to Bears Nation.  Whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, Email, blogs, or around town – he always takes the time to respond to questions from curious fans.  He was a key player in starting up the Old Barn Hockey Show, The Saturday night post game fan call-in radio show, and the Hershey Bears directives in Social Media.  It’s only fitting that this fan-friendly media guru would be called up to continue those roles with the NHL organization that holds the same beliefs and mindset regarding new media and the involvement of grassroots blogs.

So embrace what you have, Caps fans.  Listening to the radio just got a whole lot more exciting.  And if you take nothing else from this, please remember this key piece of advice – if you choose to listen to a broadcast while driving, the high energy and excitement of John calling a short-handed, come from behind, game tying goal may cause you to suddenly veer off the road (I know this from experience).

Now on to try and figure out my new dilemma… mute Joe B. & Locker to listen to John Walton, or just watch the CSN broadcast?  In a 3 period game, it’s hard to decide how to evenly distribute fair listening time to all of the quality broadcasters covering the Caps…