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Mehring Monday: Broadcast Idols
12/03/2012 11:32 AM ET
New Page 1

I was driving on Thanksgiving and trying to find something on the radio that would kill a few hours.  Fortunately, I found WTMJ's "A Tribute to Jim", a program about Jim Irwin.

Irwin was the voice of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks, Wisconsin Badgers, and just about everything else in the state of Wisconsin.  Irwin passed away earlier this year and Dennis Krause put together this show.  You can read about the show and listen to the interviews
at this link.

The Timber Rattlers have been showing clips of Jim Irwin from his time in Green Bay on Blast from the Past.  There will be a few more coming up over the next few weeks, but you can check the videos
here, here, and here.

Irwin has been a topic on
Flashback Friday, too.

He was one of the voices on the radio that drew me to sports and sports broadcasting.  There are plenty of others.

I was fortunate enough to be able to tune in the transistor radio to Vince Lloyd call the Cubs in the afternoon, Merle Harmon and Bob Uecker call the Brewers in the afternoon, and spin the dial to pick up a Tigers, Cardinals, or White Sox game when the other games were over for the night.  Those voices - along with Irwin's - formed the template.

But there were two other voices that had nothing to do with baseball that really got me hooked. 

Eddie Doucette is the first voice I remember listening to on the radio.  He was the announcer for the Milwaukee Bucks for sixteen years.  I wanted to either follow in his footsteps or go to
MBTI (Manpower Business Training Institute).

Did I mention that he gave Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's hook shot the name "Skyhook"?  Don't believe me? 
Here's Kareem:

"I could not have been more fortunate than to have Eddie Doucette as the play-by-play announcer when I played for the Milwaukee Bucks. Eddie's announcing style was always candid, humorous and insightful. It was an honor to be associated with him. It was Eddie that named my signature shot, the 'Skyhook', in the most appropriate way."

Unless you were a long time listener, you would be looking for a decoder ring to understand some of the terminology that he used.  The Bucks and the local bottler of a national soda published Doucette's Dictionary.  You can see some of the terms at this article about him at nba.com. 

Examples:

6. The Toaster - The area in front of the basket where the players pop up and down.
7. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams - When a guy drives to the basket and has it rejected.
8. Broadway - I used that initially way back in '68 to describe the lane.
9. The Equator - The midcourt mark.
10. Cyclops - The center jump circle.

Doucette is best known for is the term "Bango!"  He would say it after a big shot by the Bucks dropped through the net.  This is where the name of the Bucks mascot started.  I have not found a way to work "Bango!" into a big Timber Rattlers play.  But, if I ever do, you'll know where it originated.

Read the link to the nba.com story and you'll see just how random getting the big break can be and a few other things about Doucette and Bucks history - like how Don Nelson got into coaching with the Bucks because he failed at being a referee. 

Doucette,
a member of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame, made the games fun to listen to on the radio.  That's the main reason why he is one of my broadcasting idols. 

Hockey is a sport that I enjoy watching.  But, there wasn't much on TV in my formative years.  It wasn't until college that I discovered Chicago Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley.

Even then it was tough because the NHL was on something called SportsChannel America.  That was not available on the campus cable system.  But, being a broadcasting student paid off for the first time because knowing the chief engineer of the campus TV station gave me a bit of an in to watch the Blackhawks.  A couple of friends and I would meet at Pioneer Tower a bit before the drop of the puck.  The engineer would dial up the game on the satellite for us to watch the game in the control room.

The first game I heard Foley announce was amazing.  He was sarcastic, funny, and a complete homer.  But, he was also an incredible announcer. 
See and listen to his legendary BANNERMAN! call and you will understand.

Then, I discovered that Foley did a simulcast.  His broadcast was on both TV and radio.  One of the first games of his I listened to was on a Sunday afternoon as I drove back from La Crosse.  (WBBM has a strong signal).   Listening to him call the game made that drive seem like a run to the corner store instead of touring Highway 61 through Boscobel, Fennimore, and Lancaster.  It felt like I was there at Chicago Stadium.

After Foley called a Blackhawks goal and he let the roar of the crowd and the huge pipe organ take over for about 15-20 seconds, I yelled out: That's what I want to do!

I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I try.

Foley also manages to get a few editorials into his broadcasts.  For example, here's his famous putdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs: If you've only got one day to live, come see the Toronto Maple Leafs. It'll seem like forever.

I have managed to steal from honor Foley in my broadcasts.  I use either: I hope you enjoyed the broadcast, if not the result or I hope you enjoyed the broadcast. I know you enjoyed the result as my signoff line.  That is how Foley ended his broadcasts. 

Thanks, Pat.  Thanks, Eddie.  I owe you both a drink if I ever meet you.

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