Harnarayan Singh likes to add a little masala, an aromatic spice used in many Indian dishes, to his broadcasting style.
One of the on-air voices of the Punjabi-language Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) crew, Singh has been using his unique goal calls and colourful style while broadcasting National Hockey League games in Punjabi for the last nine years on OMNI, which is part of Sportsnet– alongside some of the top play-by-play personalities across the league.
Singh and his HNIC team spoke to students at L.A. Matheson Secondary School Friday afternoon, sharing their struggles and experiences with becoming the first South Asian HNIC broadcasting crew. They spoke about the perseverance and determination it took to reach their Canadian dream.
Singh, Bhupinder Hundal, Harpreet Pandher and Amrit Gill commentate all the Canadian HNIC games coast to coast and have seen the interest in their program skyrocket within the South Asian community.
Many South Asians who in the past may have had only a passing interest in the games are now becoming avid fans because of the Punjabi broadcasts.
And Singh’s animated call of a Nick Bonino goal during the San Jose Sharks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins game in the 2016 NHL playoffs catapulted the crew into the mainstream hockey world and into the large U.S. market, even getting them an invitation to Pittsburgh for the Penguins’ Stanley Cup parade.
Singh was also recently asked to be part of the on-air team on the english HNIC broadcast, becoming the first South Asian broadcaster to wear a turban on the show.
“My parents moved to Brooks, Alberta in the ’60s as school teachers and I was the only Indian kid in school,” said Singh. “My dad wasn’t able to vote at first because the polling station was in the Legion and they didn’t allow turbans.”
Singh is now thrilled to see the changes taking place in many professions, especially the broadcast media, and the ethic diversity that is coming to the forefront.
“Passion transcends different languages and those goal calls and the energy that my colleagues and I bring to the show – that’s why it works,” he said.
Fellow Punjabi HNIC analyst and producer Hundal, who grew up in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, said his message to students is to find their passion and follow their dreams.
“It’s up to you to take advantage of your opportunities. Anything is possible,” he said.