Go behind-the-scenes for a day in the life of KFAN's Paul Allen.
ST. PAUL –Utter the name "Paul Allen" around Vikings fans, and they'll know exactly who you're talking about. Vikings supporters are well-accustomed to the "Voice of the Vikings" colorful play-by-play of games and his quirky 9 to Noon show each weekday morning on KFAN. We've all heard the iconic "He's Loose!" call of running back Adrian Peterson's breakaway touchdown, and there's no question Allen bleeds a deep purple.
But what about the guy behind the microphone? What goes on for him during the Vikings offseason? If there's one thing we know about Allen, it's that he rarely slows down – so let's take a look at a day in the life of the infamous P.A.
Thursday, March 10
8:50 a.m. (CT) –It's "Vox in the Box" day on *9 to Noon, *which means Allen is broadcasting live from the penalty box at the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild.
Originally started in 2009, Allen's "Vox in the Box" bit has been a fan favorite for seven years. The word "vox" is Latin for "voice," and Allen received the nickname from Tom West, Vikings assistant director of public relations.
"No one else in the country does anything like it," Allen says of the segment. "It's tough finding unique angles in an over-saturated business, and what we do is amazingly unique."
Allen sits in the front row of the stands, carefully pouring over notes he's taken to prep for today's show. Of course, he writes in purple ink.
9:00 –There's a bit of irony to Allen stepping voluntarily into the penalty box, usually reserved as the "timeout chair" during a hockey game.
"Isn't this great?" He says, smiling.
9:02 –Allen and co-host Brandon Mileski welcome Wild Head Coach John Torchetti to the penalty box. Torchetti chats casually about that evening's game against the Oilers, sporting green-and-black tennis shoes with his initials – JT – written in faded green marker on the midsole.
9:34 –Following a commercial break, Allen and Mileski prompt producer Eric Nordquist to imitate Torchetti's Bostonian accent. He obliges, answering two questions over the air in a near-perfect rendition of the head coach.
— Lindsey Young (@LindseyMNSports) March 15, 2016
9:49 –"We call that a fast hour," Allen says, quickly prepping for the next segment.
"It's different every day," Mileski says of hosting with Allen.
Mileski, who first worked with Allen at Canterbury Park, has known the KFAN personality for 10-plus years.
"P.A. has fun on the air," Mileski tells me. "He's passionate, and he brings energy to every single show – he's pretty consistent with that. I get a little energized off of his energy."
9:52 –Allen leans back in his chair, crosses his arms behind his head.
"We're here watching hockey, thinking about the Minnesota Vikings," he says.
10:04 –Allen gives positive feedback to the Vikings offseason approach.
"The Vikings treated free agency while playing from ahead," says Allen. "It's plug-and-play mode, man. It's plug-and-play."
10:14 –*Star Tribune *writer Michael Russo joins the penalty box as Allen's next guest as Wild players take the ice in the background for their morning skate. Russo, who has done a bit with Allen for five years, laughs and says Allen originally "stole me from ESPN."
Allen comments: "[Michael] is the best beat writer for a team not only in town, but in my 20 to 25 years of either working in newspaper or radio, he's the best beat writer with whom I've ever worked in my life."
10:55 –Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman calls into the show to talk free agency. True to form, the first question Allen asks is how much food new Vikings guard Alex Boone ordered at dinner the night before signing his contract.
"He ordered half a cow, to be honest," Spielman says, laughing.
11:13 –For the second time during the call, Spielman's cell phone can be heard alerting him of a text message.
"Who is that texting you?" Allen asks playfully. "[A player's] agent?"
As he asks, Allen gets my attention and shows me his phone screen. I can see he's sent consecutive – unanswered – texts to Spielman. They say simply, "Hi."
Allen said he's glad his working relationship with Spielman allows him to play on something as minor as his phone being within earshot of the call.
"It allows me to wrap up the segment with a good, catchy, quirky bit," Allen says.
11:21 –Former Gophers hockey player Rachel Ramsey, nicknamed "Pronger with a Ponytail" by Allen after former NHL defenseman Chris Pronger, joins for her recurring segment on "Vox in the Box." Ramsey, now a weekend DJ for country music station K102, says she owes a lot to Allen.
"It's been awesome," Ramsey tells me. "I started out interning [at KFAN], and P.A. was the first one who really gave me a shot to get on air."
Ramsey calls Allen's personality "out there."
"He's all over the place," Ramsey says. "You know what you're going to get with P.A., but it's always a treat to get to come in and work with him."
11:31 –Allen continues his weekly tradition of trying to distract opposing players during their morning skate. He tapes three $100 bills around a hole in the glass, challenging players to shoot a puck through the opening.
"When they take their gloves off and try to reach in and try to get [the money], the 'Distraction Factor' has worked," Allen says.
11:37 –Fox Sports North reporter Audra Martin joins Allen to talk about free agent safety Michael Griffin.
"First and foremost, Vikings fans, you can rest assured that your team [is getting] a good one," says Martin, who previously covered the Titans. "He is a great guy, great player, amazing locker room presence and leader. I was extremely happy to see him get a chance at a 10th season."
Martin says that Allen played a big part in introducing her to the fans when she moved to Minnesota.
"He's been so great as far as helping me adjust to Minnesota and telling me the ins and outs of sports in the Twin Cities," Martin tells me. "I owe him a lot. He's been a great friend."
11:38 –Minnesota Wild executive chef Jason Steidle delivers a sampling of food to the penalty box. Today's selections include macaroni and cheese, grilled vegetables, fried shrimp and steak.
Allen immediately grabs a shrimp by the tail.
"I thought you weren't eating," Ramsey says.
"I wasn't going to," Allen admits. "That was before I knew he was bringing shrimp – now I have to!"
11:43 –Allen ups his 'Distraction Factor' tactics, holding shrimp through the glass to tempt Oilers players away from practice.
"Welcome to Minnesota, my friend," says Allen as he dangles the shrimp above the ice.
"If I drop it, they might not let me do this again," Allen says, laughing.
11:48 –A handful of Oilers players come over to investigate, but no one takes the bait.
12:10 p.m. –Allen packs up and leaves Xcel Energy Center, another successful 9 to Noon under his belt.
During the football season, it would not be unusual for Allen to head back to the Vikings practice facility in Eden Prairie.
"When the Vikings are winning and I'm down at Winter Park four or five days a week, and I'm doing the radio show and Vikings GamePlan, and I'm calling games, that's honestly as good as it gets," Allen said. "But I've been blessed with different levels of excitement year-round."
For those who might think Allen doesn't have much to do during the offseason, you're mistaken.
"When you're bred to work and raise kids, the way I am, then when you get to raise your kids and work seven days a week, I don't want anything else," says Allen.
1:30 –Allen goes home and pulls out his laptop. He has time to scroll through his Twitter notifications and respond to fans who commented during today's show before setting the lineup of his fantasy basketball team.
"I've played in a league with people from NBA TV and NBA.com for about 15 years, and we're in our final week," Allen says. "Russell Westbrook [is my star] – I took him sixth overall. And don't think I don't know he had 20 assists last night."
2:15 –Writes a blog post for the Allen's Page section of KFAN.com.
2:45 –Planning for tomorrow, Allen talks with Friday co-host Paul Charchian to discuss the "Friday Football Feast" layout.
3:30 –Takes his son, Derek, to get his phone fixed at a store in Eden Prairie Center.
4:30 –Drops off his daughter, Nicole, at dance.
5:00 –Enjoying some down time, Allen relaxes on the couch and blasts his *Best of the Eagles *CD while texting with some sports industry friends.
6:00 –Vacuums the house.
6:30 –Picks up Nicole and her friends at dance class and makes them dinner at home. On the menu tonight from Chef Allen is spaghetti, Italian sausage, tilapia and broccoli.
7:00 –To wrap up the evening, Allen settles in to watch the Wild take on the Oilers while perusing Twitter and keeping up with Fans.
And after the Wild game?
"Go to bed early and start it all over again tomorrow," says Allen.