Aaron Cooney
Gulls play-by-play announcer Aaron Cooney

Growing up in Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood, Aaron Cooney played street hockey at parks, recreation centers and at “dek” hockey rinks.

“It’s called dek hockey back east, and spelled without the c, but it’s essentially outdoor street hockey with lots of running instead of skating,” Cooney told Times of San Diego.

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According to Cooney, in various Pittsburgh neighborhoods, you will find dek hockey rinks complete with flooring, rink boards and seating for fans. At these rinks, leagues will organize games for various age groups and skill levels.

“Hockey has always been my favorite sport,” said Cooney, who is the new voice for the San Diego Gulls hockey team. Cooney’s voice will be heard during the Gulls’ 2023-2024 season as the TV and radio play-by-play announcer for all preseason, regular season and postseason games.

The Gulls, who play in the American Hockey League, will begin their upcoming season on Friday, Oct. 13 with a road game against the Ontario Reign. Home games are played at the Pechanga Arena on Sports Arena Boulevard in San Diego.

Cooney is ecstatic with his new job.

“This is an incredible opportunity to live my dream,” said the 33-year-old. “For a while there, I thought my broadcasting career was over.”

Since his college days at Point Park University in Pittsburgh (2009-2012), Cooney has wanted to be a hockey broadcaster.

In college, he earned awards from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System for Best Radio Sports Update and Best Play-by-Play. He provided play-by-play commentary for the university’s basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball teams. He also served as host of “Pioneer Sideline,” Park Point’s weekly sports TV program featuring analysis, highlights, stories and updates on the school’s athletic teams.

“Because Point Park didn’t have a hockey team, I had to find something,” he said. “So, I started with games with travel teams, ages 10 and under, where family members would hear my play-by-play broadcast over their computers.”

After internships with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the local National Hockey League franchise, and a sports-talk radio station, Cooney’s big break came in 2013 with the Erie Otters of Erie, PA. The Otters are one of 20 teams, and one of three American teams, in the Ontario Hockey League.

Cooney spent nearly eight years with the Otters as the team’s director of broadcasting and media relations. In that role, he oversaw all play-by-play commentary for home and away games while managing day-to-day communications needs. During his final three years in Erie, he also served as the team’s director of marketing and partnerships, opening new avenues for revenue growth while maintaining the team’s broadcast contracts and media obligations.  

Then, in 2021, Cooney visited California for the first time in his life and joined the Gulls as director of communications and broadcasting, overseeing external media and public relations while serving as the executive producer of “Gulls All Access,” a magazine-style TV show that aired on KSWB-TV Fox 5 San Diego. He then spent the 2022-2023 season with the NHL Los Angeles Kings in a public relations role.

“While working in PR, I really thought my days with the microphone were over,” Cooney said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to live my dream again with the Gulls. I am overjoyed the rejoin the Gulls and immerse myself in San Diego’s incredible hockey community once again. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity ahead of me and it’s a true honor to be named the club’s next broadcaster.”

In addition to his TV and radio play-by-play duties, the Gulls said Cooney will be a frequent contributor on all of the Gulls’ digital platforms. He will host team-focused podcasts and video features, which will be available on the team’s website, social media platforms and mobile app, and will contribute written features to the team’s website and game-day program. Cooney will also represent the club at community events that help connect the team to the community.

“I am thrilled to welcome Aaron Cooney back into the organization,” said Matt Savant, Gulls’ president of business operations. “We believe he is the perfect fit for our hockey club, combining his wealth of experience and knowledge with an engaging, fun personality that will resonate with San Diego hockey fans and connect to our community.” 

Cooney, who succeeds Andy Zilch, will join Gulls color analyst B.J. MacPherson in the broadcast booth, with MacPherson having called 234 home Gulls games. This will be MacPherson’s eighth season as the Gulls’ color analyst.

MacPherson played 774 games of professional hockey in the AHL, West Coast Hockey League and International Hockey League from 1994-2001. He scored 345 points as a member of the WCHL Gulls from 1996 to 2001, when the team won Taylor Cups.

Gulls games will air on KSWB-TV Fox 5 San Diego, AHL TV and the Gulls Audio Network, the team’s 24/7 audio streaming network available on the iHeart Radio app. The schedule for televised games is expected to be released at a later date.

Raindrop’s JuneShine Ad Campaign Includes TV News Spoof

Raindrop, a San Diego creative marketing agency, said it has been selected to coordinate a one-month advertising campaign for JuneShine, a San Diego maker of canned alcoholic drinks.

The campaign’s creative include a one-minute video that has drawn more than 402,000 views on YouTube, as well as views on Instagram and TikTok, said a Raindrop spokesperson.

The video, a spoof of TV breaking news, promotes JuneShine’s low sugar content and its $20,000 giveaway. Appearing in the video are two JuneShine Southern California ambassadors, including Austin Keen, a professional world-champion skimboarder, and artist Jonny Alexander, who has designed art for JuneShine cans.

Consumers can enter the money giveaway by visiting www.juneshine.com/sugarsucks. Raindrop said 40 people will receive $500 via the Venmo mobile payment service after the ad campaign ends on Sept. 5.

JuneShine’s products, including hard kombucha and cocktails, are available at more than 1,500 retail locations across San Diego, Raindrop said. Founded in 2018, the alcohol brand operates tasting rooms in San Diego, Los Angeles and Brooklyn, N.Y.

KSON-FM to Host Hawaii Benefit Concert

San Diego radio station KSON 103.7-FM will host a benefit concert to raise money for victims of the devastating wildfires in Lahaina on the island of Maui, Hawaii.

“Music for Maui” will begin at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Moonshine Beach, a Pacific Beach country music concert venue, 1165 Garnet Ave., San Diego. General admission is $10 (standing room only). 

Performing will be Brian Kelley, Chase Matthew, Runaway June and Tim Dugger. Also appearing will be KSON personality Kimo Jensen, nicknamed the “Smilin’ Hawaiian.”

KSON said 100%t of ticket sales and bar proceeds will benefit the Maui Contractors Women’s Auxiliary, a nonprofit that has helped Maui’s children and needy in their time of distress and crisis since its founding in 1984.

For information and ticket purchases, visit www.audacy.com/kson.

SDSU Grad Jobeth Devera Joins NBC 7’s ‘California Live’

The NBCUniversal-owned TV stations in California, including KNSD NBC 7 San Diego, has announced the addition of Jobeth Devera as a correspondent for “California Live,” a half-hour, lifestyle and entertainment show that airs weekdays at 11:30 a.m.

Devera, an Emmy Award winning journalist, most recently served as the host of NBC’s national news show, LX News, a position she held since 2020.

Prior to joining LX News, she was part of the Hawaii News Now team where she held roles as reporter and anchor. In 2018, she helped launch “HI Now,” a lifestyle show where she won her first Emmy Award as host and producer. 

A California native, Devera began her career in journalism as a producer for Nebraska TV News and went on to hold positions as reporter and anchor for KETV in Omaha.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in public relations from San Diego State University.

“After being away from home for more than a decade, I’m excited to be back in the beautiful state of California,” said Devera. “I look forward to working alongside this talented team and discovering new adventures with our viewers.”

“California Live,” co-hosted by Jessica Vilchis and Danielle Nottingham, highlights the latest trends in lifestyle topics, pop culture and entertainment in the Golden State. The show is produced in Universal City. In addition to KNSD, the show airs on KNBC NBC4 in Los Angeles and KNTV NBC Bay Area in San Francisco.

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.