Radio dreams after hockey

Senior Rachel Ramsey hopes to snag a career in broadcasting when her hockey days are over.

Women's hockey co-captain Rachel Ramsey fills listeners in on hockey-related news on Monday at KFAN Sports Radio. Ramsey, who will finish her hockey career this semester, has hopes of working in sports news in the future.

Juliet Farmer

Women’s hockey co-captain Rachel Ramsey fills listeners in on hockey-related news on Monday at KFAN Sports Radio. Ramsey, who will finish her hockey career this semester, has hopes of working in sports news in the future.

Grant Donald

As KFAN radio personality Paul Allen settled in to watch his niece play high school hockey four years ago, he noticed a six-foot defenseman on the other team.

He couldn’t resist giving the tall defender — Gophers recruit and future captain Rachel Ramsey — a nickname.

Allen nicknamed her “Pronger with a ponytail,” after former NHL defenseman Chris Pronger because the two had similar builds.

But little did Allen know, four years later he would be starting his daily KFAN show with the words, “courtesy of the nine-to-noon show which features today, Pronger with a ponytail and much more.”

After interning for Allen, Ramsey continues to work at the radio station frequently in her pursuit of working in sports media, even though she can’t be paid because of NCAA rules. On the air, she ranked the weekend’s biggest hockey plays, giving her expertise as a defenseman for the University of Minnesota’s women’s hockey team.

“I obviously always featured Gophers women’s hockey, and I always tried to get us up at No. 1 or No. 2,” Ramsey said. “That was really fun, and I kind of got the title of assistant producer, even though it is not real because I can’t be paid by KFAN.”

The Gophers captain also works part time at country radio station K102, DJing on some weekends.

Ramsey’s broadcasting opportunities started a couple of years ago when KFAN host Dan Barreiro had Ramsey, her teammate Hannah Brandt and her coach Brad Frost in for a routine interview.

“I enjoyed being in [the studio]. It is a very cool atmosphere, so I sent someone over there an email and squeezed my way into an internship,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey started the internship where she answered phones and uploaded podcasts soon after.

She loved seeing how things worked behind the scenes but had aspirations for bigger and better things.

And those aspirations were granted by the originator of her now station-wide nickname.

‘The proverbial fire’

After her time with Barreiro ran its course, Ramsey applied for another internship, this time with Allen.

When the radio voice of the Minnesota Vikings heard the news for himself, his mind started coming up with ways to get Ramsey some airtime.

“I immediately concocted a way to get her on the radio show, hockey season or not, because she has a vibrant personality. She is very outspoken, and she is confident,” Allen said. “The majority of [the radio] game is about not being afraid and not overthinking things and just doing it and perfecting it. I knew that was who she was.”

Allen created the segment called “five-for-five,” where Ramsey talked about the five biggest hockey storylines of the weekend.

And as Ramsey’s time became more available, she got the chance to host KFAN’s “Vox in the Box” during last season’s Minnesota Wild playoff run.

Though hosting a three-hour radio show is a lot of responsibility for an intern, Allen said he never doubted Ramsey’s abilities.

“You can’t just throw everybody into the proverbial fire,” Allen said. “But I know when I put her in a spot to make a play, she’ll generally make a play, and if she doesn’t, it will bug her, and she will come back and do it better next time.”

Radio broadcasting didn’t always come easy for Ramsey, especially when she dealt with sports other than hockey.

Ramsey accompanied Allen at Vikings training camp last summer, and there, she was challenged by him to conduct drive-by interviews.

But Ramsey made it through the task and said she’s a better media member because of it.

“It was one of those opportunities that [Allen] knows I’m not going to sound great, and I’m not going to know what I’m talking about,” Ramsey said. “He pushes me outside of my comfort zone so that I get the best out of me and [I’m] growing and not staying in the same place.”

Hockey work ethic translates in the studio

It could be easy for Ramsey, the daughter of former Wild assistant coach Mike Ramsey and a member of the ‘Miracle on Ice’ team, to have a sense of entitlement.

But from what her teammates and co-workers have said, that is farther from the truth.

“You can tell that she was raised to work hard, respect people, and also keep her eye on the prize and what she wants,” Allen said. “There is a way to get what you want and to advance and improve without stepping on others, and she is good at that. She’s very good at outworking the opposition.”

As women’s hockey players know, there are severely limited opportunities to play hockey outside of college. And because of that, it’s crucial their work ethic translates to life after the rink.

“All of our players are extremely realistic with what’s out there for them after college hockey, and there is not a lot,” Frost said. “I think that is one of the best things about the players in our program is they are dedicated to be the best student-athletes they can be so they can be the best employees as well.”

But Ramsey isn’t exactly satisfied.

She said there’s always more to learn and ways to improve, both in the studio and life.

And luckily for her, she has one of the best in the trade to learn from and bounce ideas off of.

“When I first got on [the radio], I was not someone who could keep a show going,” Ramsey said. “[Allen] has kind of showed me the insides of the trade. It’s more than, ‘Hey, I watched the game last night and here is what happened.’ It’s a lot of preparation, and he has taught me a lot about the industry.”