George Ofman has heard a lot of stories.
That’ll happen when a career in sports media spans nearly five decades, including stints with vaunted Chicago media outlets like The Score, WBBM Newsradio, WGN and more.
Any conversation with Ofman often involves anecdotes from his 47 years in the industry. But after leaving WBBM last summer, Ofman is in search of new stories, and he hopes to find them with his new podcast, “Tell Me a Story I Don’t Know,” a weekly series that Ofman launched last week.
His guest on Tuesday’s show will be a familiar name, face and voice to Blackhawks fans: Eddie Olczyk, the veteran of 322 career games with the Blackhawks who now calls games along with Pat Foley on NBC Sports Chicago.
“When you listen to Eddie, the first thing you’ll notice is that his stories are not short,” Ofman said of the episode with Olczyk. “It’s hilarious and almost tear-jerking. He’s talking about funny episodes but he’s also talking about beating cancer and he’s also talking about horse racing. That’s up and down — but that’s Eddie.”
Ofman’s initial guest was Chicago native Michael Wilbon, who now works for ESPN. Upcoming guests include several other media personalities with ties to Chicago including Mike Greenberg, Chuck Swirsky and Sarah Kustok — a former part of Blackhawks home broadcasts.
The episode with Olczyk is far from Ofman’s first foray into hockey and the Blackhawks, though. He grew up listening to famed Blackhawks announcer Lloyd Pettit call games on the radio in the 1960s and 1970s. By the end of that decade, he was covering the team professionally.
“When I started covering them in 1979, the stadium was half full,” Ofman said. “There were more fights in the stands than there were on the ice. It was that bad, that ugly. They were in tough shape. But then they drafted (Denis) Savard and they got (Al) Secord and (Steve) Larmer and Bob Murray and Doug Wilson and became an extraordinarily exciting team. If not for the Edmonton Oilers, they would’ve won Stanley Cups in the 80s.”
As the team found its stride in that decade then continued its success into the 1990s, Ofman said he relished any opportunity to cover games at Chicago Stadium, the Blackhawks’ home before moving to the United Center in 1994.
“It was raucous,” Ofman said.
Ofman remained a fixture in Chicago media as the Blackhawks faded to relative anonymity around the turn of the century and then re-emerged in the 2000s with the arrival of Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and the hockey dynasty that ultimately won three Stanley Cups in the 2010s.
The moment that first came to Ofman’s mind when asked to recall his favorite from that dominant run went back to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
“I was working with WGN and the day before they asked me if I wanted to cover Game 6,” Ofman said. “Within two seconds I said, ‘What do you think?’”
The Blackhawks clinched their first Stanley Cup in 49 years that evening in Philadelphia, and Ofman had a front-row seat for the postgame ceremony.
“Because I was part of the broadcast team, they brought us into the hallway during the intermission between the third period and overtime. Within 30 seconds of the game being over, I was sitting on the Blackhawks bench and eventually watched them lift the Stanley Cup. For me, it was surreal. I’m working, so I am concentrating, but I’m looking at the Stanley Cup within inches of me being hoisted for the first time in 49 years. So that was very cool.”
But those are all stories that Ofman knows, of course, having played a first-person role in all of them. He’s hoping that, through this podcast — which will consist of three seasons with 13 episodes each, released on a weekly basis — the listeners get to hear new stories just as frequently as Ofman will.
“I hope they’re entertained,” he said. “It’s very entertaining to hear these stories because each person telling them is really genuine. You’re hearing the genuine articles from each one of these people.”
The podcast is available across all podcast platforms, including iTunes and Spotify.