Halby’s Morsels: The Good and bad; Dulcet voices: Ones that carry; Gus Johnson pursues PHD


charley steinerCharley Steiner is cutting back. Tim Neverett is getting more takes. Has the basics and experience in a big market, Boston. Last couple years, Los Angeles, Couldn’t be bigger. It’s more challenging Steiner and partner Rick Monday are comfy together. After all these years, Charley’s penetrating voice and hearty laugh at 73 are figuring it out on play-by-play. His best national years glistened at ESPN. (Steiner)

Chuck Swirsky was out for the Bulls final game, the loss to the Heat. “It was due to an allergic reaction,” Swirsky told me. Believe it or not, given the fact that Chicago bowed out, it would have been a tough ride homw. I don’t think how Chuck would have handled it happily, Which local announcer would? Not after presiding over a lugubrious finish.

Gus Johnson is somewhat better prepared and less haughty. We know he’s an ear-popping yeller when he turns it on. The Detroit born kid has a good voice, is upbeat and studying for a PHD. Johnson won’t be the first. Remember Doc Emrick and Dick Enberg, both PHD crowned. If I scratch this old brain on my head hard enough, I’ll come up with more names. Detroit bred Gus Johnson. He sounds more authoritive.

Tom Hoffarth, a former writer with the LA Times and LA Daily News is making plans for a thorough bio of the late Scully. Vin never wanted a bio.

Trust that Eric Nadel is picking himself up off the mat. He grew up in New York, embraced MLB immediately and loved hockey. He’s out now to get some issues in order. I’m glad he’s gone public with the emotional bouts he’s been facing. “I now find myself dealing with anxiety, insomnia and depression which are currently preventing me from doing the job I love,” he said in a statement released by the team

NBA on TNT, particularly in studio, the trio of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaq make most viewers chuckle before they doze off. Ernie Johnson, Jr. keeps the trio together as only he can.

Most annoying team play-by-player on radio in the NBA on radio is still Matt Pinto. Tolerating him requires patience and beond. Anyone who can digest a tenth of the numbers he emits is Albert Einstein in roller derby shoes. Impossible! He doesn’t understand his audience.

Bill Raftery is underappreciated, sharp as a whistle still has it all at age 80. Humor like Jay Leno, a quick release on analysis and an inviting smile.

Knicks radio’s Ed Cohen, likey didn’t do what Marv Albert did in 1967 when hired by the team. That’s fall on the floor and cry in joy  He paid City fans back and made a great career for himself. Cohen doesn’t have that same opportuity. The Nets were born in 1967, same yearb as Marv. Spencer Ross came to the fore himself with charisma. Unfortunately, the ABA’s New Jersey Americans played in a delapidated arena and had to -forfeit their games.

NBA games in the late 1960s and 1970s weren’t on radio for every game. Early on, even the Lakers and the Warriors in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively couldn’t be heard all the time. The Knicks famed title game #7 in Madison Square Garden on May 8, 1970, was on a delayed broadcast over ABC.

Eli Gold has been having some health issues. A New York kid who’s made it big in lots of places, particularly Alabama. Mel Allen went the other way. An Alabama native, became a famous Yankees’ announcer with those southern roots. Get well soon. (Gold)

Ed Kennedy broadcast the Cincinnati Royals games from 1959-60 through 1967-68 on several Cincinnati stations. In 1968-69, there was limited coverage (approximately two-three games per week) by an announcer whose name I don’t recall. Beginning in 1969-70 through 1971-72, the announcer was Dom Valentino. Following the 1971-72 season, the franchise re-located to Kansas City-Omaha. He later did the Yankees, Nets and Islanders.

I caught this on a public forum, written ten to fifteen years ago. (verbatim)

First. A hoops junkie whose name I don’t have, added this a good number of years ago. Not many care about the trivia he details. What’s important is that all teams struggled to find consistent radio homes. The Celtics with irrepressible Johnny Most did the best.

It demonstrates the long suffering of the league in the media world. No popular FM yet, limited TV, poor signaled AMs and certainly no wild dreams of SiriusXM or streaming.

“The NBA Royals were heard on several Cincinnati stations during their years here. (moved to Kansas City in 1972 and to Sacramento in 1985). In 1959-60, there were some games carried on WKRC, 550-AM. In 1960-61, the Royals were again carried by WKRC, broadcasting all of the games except those in Los Angeles. In 1961-62, the Royals were on WCPO 1230-AM & 105.1-FM. (During conflicts with UC basketball games, UC was heard on AM and the Royals on FM). In 1962-63, the Royals were heard on WKRC and WCPO-FM. (If there was a conflict with UC games – as the Bearcats were now on WKRC – the Royals were aired on WCPO AM & FM). In 1963-64 & 1964-65 the Royals were on WLW – 700-AM. For the seasons of 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68, the Royals were on WCKY – 1530-AM. During all of these seasons, all games were covered except those on the west coast. In the 1968-69 season, there was no immediate radio coverage when the season began. Starting in approximately December, an announcer (whose name I don’t have record of) came into town and did approximately two or three games a week on WKRC Radio. For the final three seasons of: 1969-70, 1970-71 and 1971-72, the games were heard on WLW 700-AM.”


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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