The first time I heard a sports broadcaster, I knew that was what I really wanted to do in life. It was just that kind of moment.
In the late 1920s, when I was a little kid, the broadcasting of radio sports was just coming into its glory. I got to witness the development of the medium and the early sports broadcasters firsthand.
And you know what? I would have to say that the broadcasters of those days were better than those of today because they offered the total feel and emotion of what was happening. Truly, they were the eyes, ears and sense of the action. They had to lay it out so people could see exactly in their mind’s eye what was happening. That is why I have always believed that radio is the greatest medium. It required broadcasters to create a more vivid picture.
On the radio you can tell stories – and sometimes really embellish them – and make the action really exciting.
There were Graham McNamee, Bill Stern and Clem McCarthy. Don Dunphy would do the fights from Madison Square Garden. They were the ones I heard first in my childhood.
McNamee and Stern were the voices of football; Stern had a dramatic delivery, but he sometimes missed plays. Stern would cover his mistakes with laterals and fumbles, figuring, I suppose that the listener could not see what exactly had happened. McNamee had the classic delivery of a high-paid preacher.
McCarthy and Dunphy would wring out your emotions with their blow-by-blow accounts. Especially exciting was Clem’s call of the Kentucky Derby stretch run. Once McCarthy called the wrong winner at Churchill Downs and was reminded of it later by Stem from the dais at a sports dinner in New York.
“You’re right, Bill,” Clem responded, “but it’s mighty difficult to lateral a horse!”
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