Connect with us

Sports Radio News

Harlan Enjoys Telling Each Game’s Story

Jason Barrett

Published

on

“It’s first and 10. Morris to block. It’s wide open. The rumbling Kelce taking it to the house!”

Kevin Harlan, longtime national sportscaster, is shouting, his baritone voice resonating with excitement. And there’s more to come.

“It’s goal at the seven. Smith, Charles, the block by Kelce. The dive for six!”

Wearing his signature blue blazer and with a handkerchief neatly folded in the breast pocket, Harlan is calling play-by-play for the Chiefs’ season-opening game against the Houston Texans as part of the CBS Sports broadcast team. His emphatic vocal cadence is familiar to anyone who has watched NFL football during the last 31 years.

It’s something the Kansas City-area resident has been doing since 1999.

On Monday, Harlan will be behind the microphone again to call the Chiefs’ game against Green Bay at Lambeau Field, a place with which he is very familiar.

At 55, he is at the height of a career that got its start when he was a kid in Wisconsin.

“I kind of caught the bug,” Harlan said. “I would listen to games late at night on the radio that would come in from all over the country. … I didn’t have headsets, so I’d cup my hand to my ear and pretend I had a hand-held mic. I would go pretend to call games in the bathroom to perfect my voice.”

Harlan has always been surrounded by football. His father, Bob Harlan, was president and CEO of the Packers for 19 years. The oldest of three boys, Kevin took a stab at playing football and hockey, but “I knew I didn’t have talent on the field.”

Instead, Harlan turned to describing sports. His first gig was at his Catholic high school’s 10-watt radio station.

“I really wanted to be a commercial pilot,” he said with a chuckle, “and here was a way I could travel and be around sports, which I love.”

Once he got his driver’s license, Harlan traveled outside Green Bay to call high school games.

“Sports is so exciting,” Harlan said. “It’s a story that’s not been happening. You’re telling the story as it happens.”

His dad remembers those early days.

“When he was doing games in high school, I would sit at home and listen, and when he got home we’d go over the notes I took and he listened very carefully,” Bob Harlan said. “Once he made up his mind this was for him, he was driven.”

Harlan attended the University of Kansas at the suggestion of then CBS broadcaster Gary Bender, a Jayhawk alumnus whom Harlan knew through his father.

“I flew down, looked at the school and loved the school — that was it,” Harlan said.

By his freshman year at KU, Harlan was already broadcasting pre- and postgame shows for football; later came basketball games broadcast for the Jayhawks Radio Network (1983-1984). One of his KU classmates was John Holt, now an anchor at Fox 4 in Kansas City. The two worked together at KLWN-AM and FM in Lawrence.

“When you’re working for pennies as young college kids, you form a real bond,” Holt said. “It’s so fun to see that we’re both broadcast survivors and still love what we do all these years later.”

Harlan worked part-time at KCMO, then an all-news talk station that carried the Chiefs, Royals, Kings and indoor soccer teams. He became an essential member of the KCMO team, according to then-sports director Wayne Larrivee.

“We were the first station in the NFL to do a two-hour pre show, and Kevin produced it way beyond expectations,” Larrivee said. “That’s how he got started with us, and we recognized his ability, talent.”

Larrivee, who now calls the Packers games for its radio network, was impressed with the young Harlan.

“He seemed like he was far beyond a college senior in terms of his maturity,” Larrivee said. “As good as he was on the air, he was as good off the air. He had a vision of where he wanted to go.”

Mary Anne Murray worked with Harlan both in Topeka and then again at KCMO.

“Kevin was always so much fun in the newsroom,” Murray said. “He worked hard, was very resourceful. It was clear from the beginning that he was destined for greatness.”

Just a few days after getting his diploma KU, Harlan landed his first “professional” gig as the official voice of the Kansas City Kings NBA team.

Then came four years of broadcasting NFL games for Fox Sports. In 1998, Harlan joined CBS’ NFL broadcast team as a play-by-play announcer; this will mark Harlan’s 31st consecutive year. In 1999, he became part of the CBS Sports broadcast team for coverage of the NCAA Tournament, which Harlan continued through this year.

So does Harlan have a preference between the two sports?

“I like each sport in its season,” he said.

Harlan did Chiefs radio broadcasts for nine years, a stint he loved. It was during that time that he coined his signature, “Oh baby! What a play!” The expression came out during a Monday night game between the Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.

During Harlan’s extensive sportscasting career, he has called preseason games for the Chicago Bears and Packers (he still does for Green Bay). He’s also called preseason games for the Chiefs (on KCTV-5) and the Jacksonville Jaguars, plus several Super Bowls.

Earlier in his career, Harlan was the voice of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves for nine seasons. In addition, he has called action for NBC Sports, ESPN and the Mutual Broadcasting System and provides the play-by-play voice for the NBA2K video-game series.

Harlan uses an enthusiastic, rapid-fire delivery no matter who has the ball. He gets tremendous satisfaction working in television but has a real fondness for radio.

“In TV, the picture is No. 1, the analyst is No. 2, the graphics and bells and whistles are No. 3 and play-by-play is fourth,” he said. “On the radio, the play-by-play announcer is the top dog.”

To read the rest of this article visit the Kansas City Star where it was originally published

Sports Radio News

NESN’s Dave O’Brien Says National Networks “Blew It” By Not Hiring Dennis Eckersley

“I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”

Published

on

Dennis Eckersley

On Monday, Dennis Eckersley decided to make it known that this season would be his last with NESN in the booth. He mentioned that after 50 years in baseball, it was time to go be with the grandchildren in San Diego.

His broadcast partner for a lot of those years in the NESN booth was Dave O’Brien. On the latest Sports Media Mayhem podcast, O’Brien joined show host Alex Reimer to talk about the retirement of Eckersley. Reimer pointed out that it took awhile before Eckersley became the main color analyst for the team. O’Brien remembered the time well.

“When he started, he was pre- and post- and he did that most of his career at NESN,” said O’Brien. “It was really, only the last six or seven years that he really started to get on as a game analyst.”

O’Brien was named the lead play-by-play announcer for NESN’s Red Sox coverage in 2016 which is about the same time Eckersley slid into the role of game analyst. In the time since, O’Brien has seen the work of Eckersley up close and is floored that he was working for a regional sports network and not somewhere more nationally prominent.

“I think the national people totally blew it on Dennis Eckersley,” blurted O’Brien. “And that includes Turner. They had an opportunity, I can say that because a lot of those people there now didn’t make the decision. He should have been the lead analyst doing national games. He should have been on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball or FOX. I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”

Continue Reading

Sports Radio News

Sal Paolantonio Not Interested In Trying Ayahuasca To Better Understand Aaron Rodgers

“Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately.”

Published

on

Dan Patrick is a very good interviewer. He asks the questions he knows his audience wants answered. He also makes a habit out of throwing out questions to his guests that they never see coming. That was the case on Tuesday for ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

Paolantonio joined the Dan Patrick Show to discuss Pro Football Hall of Fame voting and the new NFL season. That is not what the host hit him with out of the gate.

The first question from Patrick to Paolantonio was “Just to relate to Aaron Rodgers, would you be willing to try ayahuasca?”.

Paolantonio was left speechless. All he could do was laugh and say “you got me on that one, Dan.”

Halucinagenics have been at the center of a lot of conversations about Aaron Rodgers lately. The Green Bay quarterback recently said on a podcast that experimenting with ayahuasca opened him up to be ready to succeed both on the field and as a leader. He credits the experience with laying the foundation for his 2021 MVP season.

Patrick pushed the issue challenging Paolantonio to beat Andrea Kremer to the experience.

“My money is on the fearless Andrea Kremer,” Paolantonio shot back.

For the record, Kremer responded to the challenge on Twitter.

Continue Reading

Sports Radio News

Paul Finebaum: ESPN, FOX Have Power To Tank EA Sports College Football Video Game

“Paul Finebaum had high praise for what the video game has meant to college football.”

Published

on

Paul Finebaum

The power brokers in college football now are the media. In particular, it is ESPN, who is set to take over the SEC’s media rights and FOX, who controls the Big Ten’s media rights. Paul Finebaum said recently on the Dynasty Mode podcast that those relationships give the two networks major control over college football.

Dynasty Mode is a podcast about EA Sports’ popular college football video game series hosted by BSM writers Arky Shea and Demetri Ravanos. Finebaum told the pair that if either ESPN and FOX or the Big Ten and the SEC don’t want to work together, the video game, which will return to store shelves in 2023 after a ten-year absence from the market, could be doomed.

“We’re a year removed from an absolute certainty, that was a 12 school playoff for the CFP, getting shot down for the very same reason,” he said. “So if they can shoot down the most important entity in college sports, I think they can shoot down this.”

Paul Finebaum had high praise for what the video game has meant to college football. He told Shea and Ravanos that he hopes power brokers at schools and networks realize that.

“I think it’s been very important and I don’t know how many people that are in those power five seats think about stuff like that.”

In the early 2000s, Tony Bruno brought a fictionalized version of his radio show to EA Sports’ Madden NFL series. Finebaum said he had not been approached yet by EA to do something similar for the new college football video game.

“I’m really surprised they haven’t because it would be a big money-making operation, at least for me. I don’t know about for them, but I am happy to participate,” Finebaum joked.

He added that the real value to EA Sports would be his audience. They could give the game a level of authenticity that many fans have missed as college football becomes a more corporate entity.

“You can replace me, but you can’t replace the callers. They are the most unique, and I think it takes a lot of work to nurture callers like that. I’m not campaigning for EA because I have people to do that for me,” he said. “Point being, what makes college sports what it is? It’s the fans. It’s not the fat cats that buy the one million or two million dollar suites. It’s not the people sitting with the president. It’s the rank and file that probably never get to campus.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.