It’s not just a figure of speech for Kurt Ardron, the public address announcer of the Virden Oil Capitals.
“You can say that announcing really is in my blood,” said the 42-year-old Brandon product, whose grandfather, the late Archie Olson, was in fact, a broadcaster – and it played a big part in Ardron’s decision to pursue a career in the field.
“He actually announced in what I believe was known as the Southern Saskatchewan Senior Hockey League prior to World War II,” Ardron told oilcapshockey.com. “He was the radio voice of the Yorkton Terriers on CJGX Radio which is still a station today.”
Olson would later find himself employed by the Craig family and would eventually become CKX-TV’s first ever sales manager.
“My grandpa passed away in 1987 so he never heard me on the mic but I think about him a lot when I get to the rink and what he might’ve thought of the job that I do. It’s a special part of our family’s history and I like to think I’m honouring that every time I turn the mic on.”
Ardron’s career ‘behind the mic’ is a long and winding one that began at the station his grandfather worked at years ago at the now defunct CKX-TV.
“It was a wonderful after-school part-time job and it really got you involved in the local broadcast community,” he said. “Like so many others who have gone through CKX, it was a wonderful learning environment and from there, I think I had dreams of being on-air and maybe working in radio and in television.”
After graduation, Ardron headed south of the border to Bemidji State University, where he took his bachelor of science degree, majoring in mass communications with an emphasis in radio and TV. After completing two of what was a four-year degree, he ended up heading home, having to deal with health issues.
He’d later end up working briefly at CKLQ – which is nowadays known as 91.5 Q Country – working overnights and weekends before taking a full-time job in the newsroom. That was short-lived however as Ardron would once again endure health issues, which, in a sense, ended his full-time broadcasting aspirations.
“In 1997, I had a heart operation at the London Health Sciences Centre and that sort of put an end to my broadcasting career,” he said.
Knowing that he still wanted to utilize his communication skills, Ardron made a rather interesting career change, opting to get involved in the funeral services industry.
“Of course, I didn’t know if being a true mortician would be for me, but I was able to get my foot in the door at Brockie Donovan in Brandon in January of 2001. I’ve been at it ever since.”
Ardron, who has been a licenced funeral director for several years now, eventually left Brockie Donovan in 2010, and moved to Melita where he currently resides with his wife Wendy Jo and his daughters Elena and Adele. He currently works at Redpath Funeral Home in Melita as well as two chapels in Carnduff and Oxbow, Sask.
“We cover a lot of territory. It’s rewarding to be able to help people that are going through the most difficult of times.”
Despite all the changes in his life, Ardron never completely shut the door on his passion for announcing as he always made sure to find time to do what he loves. His resume includes PA work for the Brandon Bobcats hockey team back in the early 90s as well as the Brandon Marlins of the Manitoba Senior Baseball League.
“I owe a lot to the late Neil Andrews, who got me involved with the Brandon Marlins when we first started up in the mid 90s,” Ardron said. He brought me on board and was a coach of mine and a mentor for years and I was able to spend a lot of quality time at the ballpark.”
He also spent several years behind the mic at AAA hockey games before joining the Brandon Wheat Kings as the club’s part-time PA announcer along with the late Mike Adamski. When the Winnipeg Saints moved to Virden back in 2012, Ardron decided to join the Oil Caps organization and has been the PA ‘voice of the Oil Caps’ ever since.
Over the years, Ardron has stored away several highlights in his memory bank. One that comes to mind for him is the club’s inaugural season opener back in 2012.
“It’s a game I’ll never forget. Just the excitement leading up to it and the anticipation.”
He says the opportunity to watch players from the southwestern part of the province excel in an Oil Caps jersey – namely Melita’s Cole and Lucas Oliver from years past and current blueliner Justin Lee of Waskada – is also noteworthy. He also took the time to point out players like Zach Whitecloud, who signed an entry-level contract with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, eventually making his debut with the club later in the year.
“You definitely feel a sense of pride,” he said fondly. “We can’t really say as announcers that we’ve helped the on-ice performance in any way. But I think like every announcer, there are some players who might stick in your mind for the duration of your life.”
Another highlight for Ardron is this past season that saw the Oil Caps reach the MJHL championship, eventually falling in six games to the Steinbach Pistons.
“It was great to see so many people in the stands and in the standing room only areas well in advance of game time. The energy in the rink was really second to none,” he said. “We’ve got some of the best fans in Westman and certainly some of the best fans in the MJHL.”
He says being around the rink and a community of people that truly care about their hockey club is what keeps him coming back each year.
“I always like getting to the rink early and spending time with folks. I try to say hi to the guys who work the gate, the folks you see at the canteen, and say hi to the guys who drive the zamboni, because we’re kind of all in it together, trying to do what we can to be as professional and as dedicated as we can be to try to help the hockey club succeed,” he concluded.
For a clip of Kurt Ardron in action on the mic, click here.