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Chuck Kaiton's future with Carolina Hurricanes uncertain as team explores radio options

Hurricanes radio broadcaster Chuck Kaiton was named North Carolina sportscaster of the year in voting by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Hurricanes radio broadcaster Chuck Kaiton was named North Carolina sportscaster of the year in voting by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. cseward@newsobserver.com

Chuck Kaiton's future with the Carolina Hurricanes is uncertain with his contract set to expire next month and the team exploring other options for the radio broadcast.

The Hall of Fame radio announcer who moved to North Carolina with the Hurricanes in 1997 – and has worked alone in the booth almost that entire time – signed a one-year extension last summer and the expiration of Kaiton's contract and change in ownership has prompted a reevaluation of the team's broadcast strategy.

Among the possible alternatives to the status quo are Kaiton doing only home games – or none at all – while the team's radio affiliates carry a simulcast of the television broadcast.

"We haven't made a final decision on that yet,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said Tuesday. “We think it's important to continue to do radio. Radio is not a prudent financial decision. It's important, I think, to have it for the people that still want to listen to it, but it's something from a business standpoint that doesn't make a lot of sense.

“We talked to Chuck. There might be some other opportunities here if he wants so stay here. We've been talking to Chuck and will continue to talk to him and try to figure out what the best solution is.”

Kaiton said Tuesday that negotiations on a new contract were continuing and he remained optimistic something could be worked out.

"I still want to do radio in this organization, but negotiations are ongoing and I hope they will see it that way as well," Kaiton said.

In new owner Tom Dundon's hometown, the Dallas Stars have used a simulcast of the television broadcast on radio for decades, in part because of analyst Darryl Reaugh's popularity with fans.

Hurricanes television broadcasters John Forslund and Tripp Tracy both signed two-year deals last summer, although Forslund would be one of a select few candidates for NBC's national NHL position if and when Mike “Doc” Emrick steps down from that role.

Kaiton, 66, won the Hockey Hall of Fame's Foster Hewitt Award in 2004, recognizing excellence in broadcasting. He has also been the president of the NHL Broadcasters Association since 1986 and has been the franchise's only radio play-by-play announcer since it joined the NHL as the Hartford Whalers in 1979.

If Kaiton were to leave the Hurricanes, the expansion franchise in Seattle would be one potential landing spot for the veteran broadcaster.

Staff writer Chip Alexander contributed to this report.

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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