Halby’s Morsels: Team and network travel; Vitale back for Indiana win over #1 Purdue; Chip Caray in STL

Our salutes to the voices of The NFL’s radio network television announcers

Which of the broadcasters deserve private flights from their network employers? I know this. Perks aren’t easy to nail down. In the 1980s Al Michaels‘ remuneration reached $1 million. That was quite a bit of dough then. Jim Spence, Roone Arledge’s lieutenant, confirmed so in his book. (Up Close and Personal). It created quite a stir then.

Private team charters started growing then. In 1973, one club, the New York Golden Blades of the WHA used Air Canada to fly them home from Quebec City. But the airline was never paid because the team declared bankruptcy. I can recall a flight in the early 80s that I took from JFK to Seattle on a Sunday morning. Frank Gifford was on the flight. We had to abort takeoff twice on the runway when emergency warnings in the cockpit started flashing. There was a luncheon the next morning in Seattle to celebrate the arrival of Monday Night Football and Frank told the frightening story dramatically. We eventually made it to the Northwest on a different aircraft. (The late Frank Gifford, left)

For years, ESPN’s Steve Bornstein informally banned lavish travel. One of the true network pioneers told me that Fran Tarkenton would stand on-line at airports to rent a car. Things have changed through the years with Dick Ebersol at the helm at NBC. CBS voices, especially football and golf talent, were treated first-class.

I was told by one veteran broadcaster to make sure your class of travel is confirmed by writing.

St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca didn’t like flying altogether. One day when he was still with the then ABA’s Nets, the club was stranded at LaGuardia. There was an option. Helicopter to Newark and begin the trip  there. Copters threw a scare into Carnesecca’s system. No way

Another trip, one from Denver, was celebratory and joyous. The Johnnies had earned their first trip to the Final Four. Someone in the cockpit asked me to introduce him to Looie. I said ‘sure’ and did. After the introduction, the pilot said, “Don’t worry coach, we’ll have you home before you know it.” Carnesecca responded quickly and with concern, “Hey, captain,” he said, “Don’t rush!”

The Knicks-76ers game last night was on ESPN with Ryan Ruokko. He’s weakish in my opinion. Lucky for him, he’s held in high esteem by the Bristolites. His voice is simply whiney and sounds it. He makes some good comments and expresses himself well with an impressive range of vocabulary. I see he does women’s basketball too for ESPN. Voice lessons by a real pro would help.

Did I hear something cute on a basketball telecast this weekend? For what it’s worth. With basketball about to dominate the sports landscape, a color commentator spewed, “If a full-press fails, just press his shirt!”

Happy that Dick Vitale was there to call to cover the eventful Purdue loss to Indiana. Heck of a win for Mike Woodson. Dickie V’s respect for the game after the last play showed a ton of respect. He said nothing, not  trying to steal the show at all.

It’s interesting to note that Dan McLoughlin was all of 23 when he was hired by Cards TV. Dan spent  25 seasons. But he’s been battling alcohol. Now he has to get his life together “I have spent the last several days reflecting on my steps towards addressing my health and the well-being of my family and me,” his statement read. “I have come to the conclusion that my sole focus needs to be on my recovery, which I have started, and that of my wife and (four) children.” We wish him a complete recovery. Addictions are tough.

Dan has been succeeded by Chip Caray whose dad, the late Skip, was the longtime Braves announcer on Turner. If Harry Caray was the progenitor in the 1930s, two great grandsons, Chris and Stefan Caray are broadcasting minor league ball and apparently on their way. That’s royalty! Four generations.

Fox’ college basketball includes the Big East. I love the fact that management dug into the archives and brought back the theme melody from the heyday of Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Marv Albert, Peter Vecsey and Bob Costas. Round Rock was composed by John Tesh, 70. If you’ll hear it, you’ll recognize it. It’s catchy.

A great performance Saturday night when North Carolina played one of its two annual games against Duke. Dan Shulman, so underrated and unheralded, walked into a booboo. In midsentence he had to correct himself. The Blue Devils became the Blue Jays. He’s generally flawless. In the summer though, he’s also the TV voice of the Toronto Blue Jays.

If the NY Football Giants were still in the playoffs, listeners would be been fitted with a less electric voice than that of the Jets. Bob Wischusen has more energy than the Jints’ Bob Papa. The latter is a gentleman, he paints a nice picture and never leaves listeners in a lurch. Still. embedding a little emotion along with his reliable description would be a big help.

The Mets number two man on radio, Wayne Randazzo, moves to Southern California and rakes in bigger bucks and more visibility, He’ll do TV there with the Angels beginning this spring. He impressed people in New York. His paycheck will be dispensed by Bally Media. He’s also the voice of Friday Night Baseball for Apple TV+ and will continue in that role. In New York, his broadcast partner was Howie Rose. Randazzo, 38, is a Chicago native. He began his career at Arizona State University and ultimately graduated from North Central College, graduating in 2007. ASU produced Al Michaels.

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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