Legendary baseball announcer Curt Gowdy once described his relationship with his broadcasting partner by saying "it's a long season and a small booth."
If you don't get along with your partner, chances are it's going to be painfully obvious to the audience. That's why Marty and Joe have been such a great listen for more than three decades while Al Michaels and Boomer Esiason were a disaster together.
I've been lucky. Of the many analysts I've worked with in baseball, basketball, football, hockey and lacrosse (yes lacrosse), I can honestly say there's only been one I didn't enjoy working with. He'll remain nameless, but his baseball commentary once included the observation that a ball "was hit so hard that you could HEAR it was a home run. In fact, Helen Keller would have known it was a home run!" He wasn't the least bit fazed when I pointed out that Helen was not only blind, she was deaf.
Then there are the guys who have been an absolute joy to work with. In 1988, I spent a summer calling baseball games with a hollywood screenwriter named Ken Levine. He's written for such shows as "M*A*S*H", "Cheers", and "Frazier", and once named a character after me in an episode of "The Simpsons" (for you trivia buffs, I was a baseball announcer in an episode named "Dancin' Homer"). His episodes of "M*A*S*H" included a famous one told from the point-of-view of a wounded soldier, while his episodes of "Cheers" included the one in which Frazier and Lilith's son Frederick speaks his first word. It was "Norm!"
Ken and I have remained good friends and were reunited this summer when he joined me in the booth for two Pawtucket Red Sox games. If you're interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the business of screenwriting or just like to laugh, check out his blog at kenlevine.blogspot.com.
One of the reasons why I enjoy being the Bearcats play-by-play voice is my relationship with my color analysts--Chuck Machock and Jim Kelly Jr.
Chuck's ties to UC go all the way back to when he played for the Bearcats. Who could forget the night he and Oscar Robertson combined to score 56 points against Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden (Oscar 56, Chuck 0). As an analyst he's a treat to work with because he's knowledgeable, funny, and passionate about the Bearcats. A bit too passionate, it turned out, when he got the boot from that NCAA tourney game against Gonzaga. One of my most prized possessions is an autographed photo of Chuck being hauled off by a security guard.
Jim also played at UC where his father is one of the most revered figures is the athletic department's history. Jim's incredible knowledge of football is a tremendous asset to our broadcasts, but the biggest reason I enjoy working with him is his eternal sense of optimism where Bearcat football is concerned. Plus, he plays a mean guitar in the popular local band "Oo La La and the Greasers."
Now I can add Deontey Kenner to the list. As the newest member of the Bearcat radio crew, Deontey has already made several observations that were a total revelation to me. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he's picked it up quickly. Anyone who can pass for 407 yards against Southern Miss AND get his golf handicap down to 3 is probably good at anything he sets his mind to.
Hopefully, my friendships with Chuck, Jim and Deontey help make our broadcasts both entertaining and informative. Give us a listen this Saturday at 3:00.
I'd love to hear from you. If you have questions or comments, you can e-mail me here!