s
s
Sections
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone

We’ve all done it.

Shooting hoops on the driveway, counting down the imaginary clock, describing the ankle-breaker against the imaginary opponent followed by the game-winning shot. We might even have mimicked the roar of the imaginary crowd.

Rylan Kobre did it perhaps with more verve than most.

As he and his friends played driveway basketball or backyard baseball or heck, ping pong, Kobre would do the play-by-play.

“I would have running commentary,” he said. “Whether we were playing whiffle ball or whatever it is.”

Kobre, a 2014 Montgomery High graduate, is still doing commentary and he’s still running.

A senior this fall at Boise State, Kobre is spending the summer in Wisconsin as the play-by-play radio guy for the Kenosha Kingfish in the Northwoods League, a premier summer league for college players.

When the regular season closes later this month, Kobre, a communications major, will have called 72 games in 76 days. All solo.

He travels by bus with the team, is being housed by a volunteer host in Kenosha and is working 12-hour days at a regular clip.

And the working conditions?

“We have the smallest press box in the league, the oldest field in the league,” he said.

Kobre is in the tight box with the camera guy, the woman who does video, the public address announcer and a few others.

“It’s hot and it’s humid,” he said. “You can’t move.”

And he loves it.

“I’ve gotten used to the daily grind of it,” he said. “I’m starting to get a taste of what it’s like in the future and as difficult as it is some days, I want more.”

And in Kenosha, he’s been given the keys to the proverbial Kingfish car.

“I format everything,” he said. “I get to do everything how I want to format it.”

So he does a 15-minute pregame show, a postgame show, a stat-of-the-night insert. While the players are taking batting practice, Kobre is poking around for updates, for a good story, for information on a streak or trends or patterns with the players and the team.

He does a once-a-week sitdown with manager Duffy Dyer, catcher for the Mets when they won the 1969 World Series.

“Some of the guys are probably like, ‘Why is this guy always asking questions?’” he said.

Kobre said the work he does before he ever sets foot into that steamy press box is what makes for a good broadcast.

“I have learned prep, prep, prep and now I’m learning to call the game,” he said.

And Kobre has to resist the temptation to drop everything he knows, the answers to all of those questions, onto his audience.

“You don’t want to just vomit what you prep onto the audience,” he said.

“Early in the year, I was probably over-talking,” he said. “There is a huge learning process of letting the game breathe. That is what Vin Scully does so well. You want to have the listener feel like they are at the park. If I’m talking the whole time, they are not going to get that sense.”

Kobre, a standout basketball and baseball player for the Vikings, said he’ll often text his dad in Santa Rosa — sometimes not about a game itself, but how it was called.

More and more, Kobre listens to games not only for entertainment, but for tips.

“I’m almost listening to the play-by-play more than what’s going on,” he said. “I’m evaluating what he’s doing.”

It’s the thoroughness and commitment that sets Kobre apart, said Bob Behler, the award-winning radio play-by-play voice of Boise State football and basketball.

Kobre interned with Behler last semester.

“I think it speaks for itself, being willing to go to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to go where nobody knows you, doing something much like the players — where you are going to be judged by how you sound,” Behler said.

“I love his passion for it,” Behler said. “Every time I’ve seen him, he’s always been extremely prepared.”

Behler and Kobre call them “reps.” Like a college player who heads to a summer league looking to tweak his game — get better at this, drop that bad habit — Kobre is doing much the same thing.

He’s working on his preparation, working on his delivery, figuring out how to sound fresh after a long game and a three-hour bus ride.

Behler said he can hear Kobre’s evolution just this summer.

“I think he cares and wants to be good,” he said.

And he works to be good.

“It gets hard, it gets tedious and it gets tiring. You’ve got to want it,” Behler said. “I see in him a person that can make it.”

Kobre’s schedule doesn’t slow down much when he heads back to Boise.

He is the general manager of the college radio station. Last winter he called the Idaho state high school basketball championships. He’s dabbled in Boise State softball.

There is no radio major at Boise State, so Kobre has to get his gigs where he can find them. And he does.

He started a postgame analysis that he broadcasts after every Boise State football game.

“I was very impressed,” Behler said. “I wouldn’t want to be in there, by myself, assessing what happened. I’m just thinking to myself, ‘This kid has potential.’”

Although he’s drumming up as many on-air opportunities as he can, wherever he can, he has a long term goal of doing baseball play-by-play.

The pace of the sport, the fact that baseball has no clock and the feel of a ballpark in summer all pull at Kobre.

So in the meantime, that means more bus rides, more late nights, more sweaty days.

“I want to go through the minor league system next year, maybe some single-A jobs,” he said. “You are kind of like a player in that sense — you have to go through the ranks.”

Whereas the daily grind of being a journeyman might grind up a less-hearty soul, Kobre seems invigorated by it.

He had the bug before, but now he’s building the chops to get it done. He’s a long way from his days of calling whiffle ball. Behler can see it.

“He’ll know what it takes to get the job done,” he said. “He’s coming back a broadcaster.”

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

Show Comment