Evaluating the great national sports announcers, for both material and strength of voices

Reassessing America’s wonderful announcers and how they are graded.

These are not necessarily the best storytellers. Their voices are or are among the all-time best or distinct.

Strongest overwhelming voices

Dan Kelly helped put the NHL on the TV map in the 70s. His overpowering voice galvanized sports fans in St. Louis where Dan was hired by KMOX Radio in1968. The Blues’ Scotty Bowman recommended Kelly to KMOX and was hired by station GM, Robert Hyland. Getting great praise immediately, Dan was hired when the network got the rights in the 70s. His resonating voice, love of hockey and knowledge made him a star. In addition to his towering voice, he built the popularity of a league that a year earlier had only six teams.

Kevin Harlan – Introduced himself with a sepulchral throat and grew on both TV and radio.

Jon Miller – He grabbed the attention of national fans on ESPN TV and radio with a soft warmth and piercing delivery.

Ron Franklin – Resonant, a full-bodied Mississippian, leaves years of memorable football, college amd the Houston Oilers

Verne Lundquist – Son of a minister, Verne enrichened CBS fans, with a broad, strong chuckle.

Charlie Jones – Before ESPN, America knew him for his golden years on NBC football.

Charley Steiner – A gem in the studio, his big-play calls bounced from his heart.

Merle Harman – Your friend at the game, college or pro, he vocalized with a blast.

Ted Husing – Among sports’ broadcast pioneers. Considered the first specialist in football.


Soothing, versatile and terrific

Jack Buck – Different from son Joe – Jack served as a cogent tutor.

Sean McDonough – Silver-tongued with the command of a drill sergeant – Superb.

Jim Nantz – Sturdy voice inflected with a touch of firmness. He’ll be missed on hoops.

Tim Ryan – Versatile and unobtrusive Canadian. He, Kelly and Emrick are top network NHLers ever.

Vin Scully – Everyone’s idol. Who can’t be? His voice is known for its wonderful sweetness.


A dozen announcers who command the mic:

Marv Albert – Brought style and emotion, using a loved staccato format from radio to TV.

The young Buck, Joe with deceased dad, Jack

Joe BuckA voice of confidence and today’s version of concise broadcasting, labeled as such by the most underrated of all, Tom Verducci.

Mike Emrick – The language of the royal on the run. Enlightening and boundless.

Dick Enberg – Mentor to many, invariably uplifting by sharing catchy stories, not topped by many.

Curt Gowdy – Built NBC Sports’ menu in the 60s and 70s growing an avuncular relationship with America.

Keith Jackson– A southern gentleman, assigned to the World Series, but hated to miss even one college football game. ABC flew him him home privately to New York one Saturday afternoon after he called a Texas-Oklahoma college game in Dallas. The Bronx is burning. Private jets for announcers then weren’t frequent then, (1977).

Al Michaels – Curt Smith said it best, “The cynosure of NFLcasts.” Needs healthier games next season. Please NFL!

Mike Patrick – Never got his fair shake. His ESPN call of SNF in the 1980s was admired.

Chris Schenkel – The late 50s, through the early 70s, Chris’ rhythm was familiarly emollient.

Ray Scott – A slow, dry and weighty delivery, emitted preciously and economically.

Dick Stockton – Never overbearing, always prepared. a dulcet tone and never overtalked.

Pat Summerall – An understudy to Ray Scott, then partnered with John Madden on game call.

David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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