Discovery: Sports Storytellers on the Radio

"coltssaints355" photo by Paul J. Everett

The rest of Indianapolis has moved on from the Colts’ attempt to win another Super Bowl on Sunday, February 6, 2010.  However, I had an artistic gestalt that night and now that I think I may have my home computer working again, I would like to record a few more thoughts about my “discovery” of the performance art of Bob Lamey and other sports storytellers.

Most of the world does not call them that, of course.   They call them sports announcers or radio hosts or commentators or something like that.

Whatever you call them, you can not deny that the good ones bring unique skills and impressive knowledge to create an exciting, in-the-moment spoken interpretation of what is happening on the field.

That Night

Let me back up and share part of what I wrote on Lou Harry’s Arts & Entertainment blog on ibj.com the morning after the Super Bowl:

I only decided to follow the Super Bowl at the last minute when I was trying to write a theatre review Sunday night and my laptop stopped cooperating.  I don’t have TV, either, so finding Super Bowl coverage at the last minute at home was a bit of a scramble.  I kept trying unsuccessfully to find some website that would let me follow the game on my iPhone.

A social networking friend suggested I listen to radio station 97.1, aka Hank FM.

I am so glad he did!  The two guys announcing each play of the football game were WONDERFUL! I could SEE the game happening through their descriptive words, feel the excitement of the action through the emotion in their voice, share their disappointment when the game didn’t go the way we wanted it to go…

The game was exciting, but even more exciting to me was that I felt as if I had discovered a whole new spoken word performance art.  It was a treat!

Who knew that radio sports announcing could be so riveting?

The Next Morning 

After the game, I looked at the Hank FM website but I couldn’t figure out who the sports announcers were, so I called the station and was transferred to the Operations Director, Bob Richards.

He told me that it had been Bob Lamey and Will Wolford “calling the game.”   He also told me that they are employees of the Colts organization and that they “call” all of the Colts games.

I suspect that “calling” can sometimes be as inadequate a word as “telling.”   A good oral tradition storyteller transports his or her audience.  A good sports caller does, too.  My listening experience that Sunday night was so much more than someone merely calling out “Hurray, there’s a touchdown!” or “Darn, he dropped the ball.”  It was richly informative and cathartic.

Mind you, there were two visuals that I usually pay attention to on the rare occasions when I watch a football game that these announcers did not provide.  They did not say a word about the design and fit of either team’s uniforms, nor did they comment on the physical attributes (and sexiness thereof) of any of the players themselves. 

But hey, complete satisfaction is rare in any art form.

Not Just at Home, Not Just the Colts

Another social networking friend told me that even when he goes to Colts games in person, he still loves to listen to Bob Lamey on headphones while he watches the action.

My father says that he knows a lot of people who do that: watch their favorite sport in person whenever they can, but listen to their favorite radio announcers at the same time to enrich their experience.

Beef-and-Boards actor Eddie Curry, when he saw what I wrote on Lou’s blog, told me I would also probably enjoy the work of Mark Boyle, the announcer for the Indianapolis Pacers basketball team.  I will try to find time to give him a listen, too.

Other Arts Radio News?

I really only called 97.1 Hank FM to get the names of my new performance art heroes, but Bob Richards seemed open to questions, especially after I confessed that I was a blogger focusing on live theatre and storytelling in the Indianapolis area, so I ducked into a phone booth and changed into my Curiosity Girl cape and tights while we talked.  I.e., I kept asking questions and he kept answering them.

I’ve slept since then, but I think he said that the people (Vectron Network?) who own and/or sponsor 97.1 Hank FM also own 1070 The Farm and 93.1 WIBC radio stations.  He said that they were planning a twice daily “arts vignette” series that would begin this spring, around March 1, on WIBC.  The series will be hosted by someone special but he couldn’t give me that person’s name yet.  (Remember, this was back on February 8.)  He also said they planned to launch a companion website where arts organizations and everyday people could post information and reviews about arts events.

That all sounded good to me, so I gave him my email address (amarylliswriter at gmail dot com) and asked if he would add me to the distribution list for media releases as they became available.  He said that he would.

I have not heard back from him yet, however, so maybe those plans had to be pushed back a bit.  I still enjoyed our conversation, though.

One Other Word about the Super Bowl Game

I would have been delighted if the Colts had won, of course, but I have friends in New Orleans, and that gorgeous city has been through a LOT in the past several years, so I didn’t begrudge the Saints the win at all.  I appreciate both teams for providing all of the fans a Super Bowl game that was… well, yes: it was dramatic!

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

(“Coltssaints355” photo, above, taken by Paul J. Everett.)

Follow @IndyTheatre on Twitter.com, too.

2 thoughts on “Discovery: Sports Storytellers on the Radio”

  1. Hopie, I completely agree with your observations of game-calling as the art of storytelling. When we moved to Rochester NY in the early 1990s, we knew no one and had no TV. For entertainment, we spent many nights listening to John Sterling and Michael Kay do play-by-play calls for the New York Yankees games. I wasn’t a baseball fan, and certainly wasn’t a fan of the Yankees, but their storytelling – their raw passion for the sport and for these players – converted me. It’s an art, and not often recognized as such.

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