Kenward’s story is one part Canadian dream and one part self-fulfilling prophecy.
He grew up in Nanaimo with a microphone firmly affixed in his hand. As a teenager, he managed to get his voice on CKEG radio as a high school sports reporter and his face on Shaw cable as host of the Nanaimo Clippers’ game of the month broadcasts.
“I can’t think of anything else I ever wanted to do in my life,” said Kenward, who grew up idolizing former Canucks play-by-play man Jim Robson.
Often he would attend Clippers games armed with a portable tape recorder and hone his play-by-play technique in a secluded corner of Civic Arena or Frank Crane Arena.
“I’d have a roster sheet in front of me and I’d just practice my play-by-play,’ he said. “Sometimes I convinced one of the healthy scratches from the Clippers to play the role of colour commentator.”
Around that same time, Kenward became a familiar voice to listeners of CKNW’s Sports Talk with Dan Russell, who dubbed Kenward ‘Clipper Joe’ because every Friday the Nanaimo teen would phone in his unsolicited reports on the happenings of the Nanaimo Clippers.
“It was a round about way to get on the radio and get to know Dan, an idol of mine and someone I still respect very much today,” Kenward said.
After graduating from Dover Bay Secondary in 1995, Kenward enrolled in the broadcast program at BCIT before moving on to radio stops in Kelowna and Swift Current, where he served as the radio voice for the WHL’s Broncos for three seasons.
Now that he has followed his hero Robson to the pressbox of Pacific Coliseum, Kenward wants to continue following his footsteps towards the National Hockey League.
“I certainly make no bones about wanting to be in the NHL one day and I’d love to be able to broadcast the Olympics, those are two goals I have set for myself,” he said. “But I realize there are really not a lot of jobs available and the people have those jobs are really good . . . In the meantime, I’m really happy to be here and I’m pretty lucky to have the opportunity to do a Memorial Cup next year (the Giants host in 2006) and maybe this year.”