From childhood passion to full time profession, Jason Shaya
goes from watching hockey games to calling them
By Ashourina Slewo
With a lifelong passion for hockey, it was only a matter of time before Jason Shaya carried his passion into his broadcasting career. While Shaya’s broadcasting career started in 1997 when he was only 17 years old, it was only after receiving his broadcasting career that he realized he wanted to be a sports caster.
After high school, Shaya attended Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts where he earned his broadcasting degree. From there, Shaya then went on to receive his Bachelor’s degree in radio and television communications from Madonna University. Following his graduation, he found himself at WDIV, the NBC affiliate, in Detroit, where he worked as a sports producer for one year.
“There [at WDIV] I worked with Fred McLeod who at the time was did play-by-play for the Detroit Pistons,” said Shaya. “I saw Fred’s passion for calling games and it was infectious. I wanted to share the same enthusiasm so I decided to work for the one sport I truly enjoyed.”
It was then that Shaya decided that not only did he want to be a sports broadcaster, but he wanted to call hockey games. According to the Charlotte Checkers’ website, “He began his hockey career in the United Hockey League with the Motor City Mechanics and then the Chicago Hounds before moving on to Charlotte in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and the American Hockey League (AHL).”
In 2007, Shaya became the official voice of the Charlotte Checkers and has continued to reach many milestones, calling hundreds of games and even filling in as a goaltender for the team in November of 2017. It was on December 19, 2017 that Shaya reached a major milestone that he won’t soon forget.
Shaya was called up to call his very first game in the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected above others to fill the full in role because the Charlotte Checkers are the top affiliate of the Hurricanes. Shaya would begin preparing for the Toronto game one month before his debut. “It was very satisfying but also quite daunting,” explained Shaya. “I had a month or so to think about it before it happened so I went through a lot of preparation to ensure I was ready.”
Shaya contributes his ability to truly pursue his passion to his father. “I dedicate my NHL game to the greatest man I ever knew, my father Shafiq Shaya,” said Shaya. “Because he had the guts and foresight to raise his family in a different country from where he was born and raised, it gave me and my siblings a chance to live a much more fulfilling life. He taught me the necessity of hard work and the importance of studying in order to become successful.”
“It was incredibly stressful but also very exciting,” said Shaya. “I’m very happy with my work for that game and I am looking forward to my next broadcast on February 6th in Raleigh against the Philadelphia Flyers.”
Looking to the future, the Detroit native’s aspirations remain the same. “My full-time job is to be the Voice of the Charlotte Checkers in the American Hockey League,” explained Shaya. “My goal remains the same however, to become a full-time NHL broadcaster. Occasionally, at this point, I will continue to work [Hurricanes] games when needed.”
Shaya’s advice to broadcasting hopefuls, in and out of the Chaldean community, is to remain focused on the goal, no pun intended, and work hard as the industry can be difficult to break into.
“My message would be the same to any up and coming broadcaster: if you work hard enough and are a upstanding person with integrity, you can accomplish your goals,” said Shaya. “This is a very difficult business because there is almost no turnover. Getting a job in the NHL is extraordinarily rare. Practicing your craft and meeting the right people is essential to advancing.”