Rochester Americans Hall of Fame broadcaster Don Stevens has been named the winner of the 2018 Gary Smith & George Beahon Sports Media Excellence Award. Stevens will be honored among several other winners at the upcoming 69th annual Rochester Press-Radio Club Day of Champions Children’s Charities Dinner on Monday, June 18 at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center. The event will be headlined by Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Thome.
“It’s such a tremendous honor, especially to receive an award named after Rochester media icons like Smith and Beahon,” said Stevens, who recently closed the books on his remarkable 32nd season as the radio and TV voice of the Amerks. “To be categorized in that group, and the group of media people in Rochester is an incredible honor. I’m truly humbled by it.”
Stevens has seen many changes in the AHL since he first put on the headphones and called his first Amerks game at the old Rochester War Memorial for the start of the 1986-87 season. Known as the “Dean of AHL Broadcasters,” Stevens has witnessed the overall expansion of the League, which will see an all-time high 31 teams beginning with the 2018-19 season, as well as the explosion of media coverage of the AHL in general.
The “Voice of the Amerks” calls games on the new radio home of the Amerks, 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester, in addition to calling select home games live on the MSG Network. He currently teams up with color analyst and former Buffalo Sabre Ric Seiling to bring AHL games to the City of Rochester and around the country. Stevens also had the distinction of covering the Amerks on multiple occasions over the NHL Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, introducing Amerks hockey on both a national and international level.
Following the 2012-13 season, Stevens’ 27th as the Amerks play-by-play man, he was awarded with the AHL’s prestigious James H. Ellery Memorial Award for excellence in radio coverage for the second time in his career.
In 2009-10, Stevens called Rochester’s historic 2,000th franchise win as the Amerks joined an elite club, becoming just the second team in the American Hockey League and eighth overall in North American hockey history to achieve the feat. He was also behind the microphone for five of the 11 goals scored by an AHL goaltender, most recently in 2010-11 when Binghamton’s Chris Holt became the 10th netminder in league history to a score a goal with his empty-netter against Rochester.
Stevens’ most memorable season with the organization came during the 2010-11 campaign, his 25th with the red, white and blue. Stevens’ years of dedicated service to the club was acknowledged with his enshrinement in the team’s prestigious Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011. As the 50th member of the Hall, and just the second broadcaster inducted, Stevens joined an elite group of individuals whose tireless contributions and commitment to the franchise matches those of the original 1956 Rochester Americans.
From 1996-2009, Stevens maintained a dual role while also serving as the broadcaster for the Rochester Rhinos (United Soccer League). With the Rhinos, Stevens was part of back-to-back regular season championships (1998-99), three A-League championships in four years (1998, 1999 and 2001), the 1999 U.S. Open Cup and 14 consecutive playoff runs during his tenure. In 1998, he even covered an Amerks hockey game and the Rhinos’ championship game on the same day. Stevens was inducted into the Rhinos Hall of Fame on Sept. 24, 2016 during halftime of the club's final regular-season home matchup, becoming the first broadcaster in Rhinos team history to earn the honors.
Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards for his work on radio and television. In 1993-94, he won his first AHL James H. Ellery Award, given to the person that has made outstanding contributions to the progress of the AHL for his work on the former Amerks Radio Network. Stevens has also won a national ACE Award for Cable Excellence as the host of the weekly television show, “Amerks Report,” and received the Rochester Press-Radio Club’s Louis MacMillan Award for sportscasting excellence. In 2003, he was inducted into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame in the media category. The Walk of Fame is located inside Frontier Field and features the names of fans, players, contributors and local media throughout Rochester’s sports history.
With the Amerks, Stevens has broadcast seven Calder Cup Finals and the Spengler Cup in Switzerland, winning a pair of Calder Cup championships in the process. Stevens has taken the AHL to its highest level during the course of his career and has shown his true professionalism by working with younger broadcasters throughout the league. Each season he has made it a point to “promote the Rochester Americans and the American Hockey League,” from his seat in the radio booth to the podium at numerous charity events.
The Amerks’ broadcaster has also served the team in numerous capacities during his tenure, including public relations director, TV host, radio talk show host, and TV and radio play-by-play broadcaster. In addition, Stevens founded the AHL Broadcasters/Writers Association and served as its president.
During his career, broadcasting has taken the Wainwright, Alberta, native all over the United States, Canada and Europe. He has worked in such markets as Seattle, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Rochester.