Bye now! RIP Ken Beatrice

Another voice from Washington’s broadcast past went silent on Sunday with the death of Ken Beatrice. From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, Beatrice’s SportsCall was heard on WMAL-AM (then a real local radio station and not partisan ramblings) when it wasn’t pre-empted by Ron Weber calling the Washington Capitals or some other game. I listened to Beatrice many times coming back from football or basketball practice — I can see the old AM radio in my dad’s Chevy Nova with the orange line on the left side of the dial. I would also listen to Beatrice on my clock radio, despite that I’d wind up having Harden & Weaver wake me up the next morning.

Somebody uploaded a call to Beatrice about the Phoenix Cardinals on youtube:

FROM 2011: What Ken Beatrice has been up to

Beatrice had guests on occasion, but as he frequently reminded us “SportsCall is your show!” with discussions with listeners being the primary content. He was patient with all callers, including children. I called in a few times and so did my brother. Most calls began with “YOUR NEXT!” and ended with “BYE NOW” in Beatrice’s thick Boston accent. He had other sayings that inspired much affectionate parody, (especially by Mike O’Meara of the Don & Mike Show):

“If it’s and buts were candy and nuts, oh what a party we’d have”

“God love you, you keep those phones lit up every night…”

“FOOOOOUUUUURRRR THREE-TWO, DOUBLE-U EM A EL – don’t forget to be a TWO OH TWO in front of it to keep the phone company happy”

“The people who are to hockey games for the fights are the same people who go to auto races for the crashes”

“I simply don’t have the resources to scout high school sports”

Some of Beatrice’s other sayings were tied to his testimonial advertising for local Arby’s franchiser Bernie Streeter (CityPaper) perhaps one of the more successful examples local advertising in DC radio history.

“I love Arby’s milkshakes but on account of a heart attack, I had to limit myself to one or two a month.”

“My favorite is Jamocha!”

and of course…

“curly fries, now I don’t eat the curly fries, but I’m told they are very good.”

SportsCall was decidedly unpretentious with simple production values and the only “music” I recall being the sound touch-tone telephone buttons forming notes that sounded like W M A L.

Not content with just having a 3 or 4 hour show, Beatrice reminded viewers that they could “CALL ME IN MY OFFICE” during the afternoon if they had a question, giving out his office number regularly.

Beatrice had his critics though, notably Tony Kornheiser (CityPaper), then a reporter at The Post, who uncovered some exaggerations by Beatrice in a hatchet job. Beatrice went off the air until public support convinced him to accept WMAL’s offer to come back.

In 1995, WMAL let Beatrice go, but he was picked up by sports station WTEM, lasting another five years. He retired to the Warrenton area and served as a lector in Catholic churches – Beatrice was profiled by the Arlington Catholic Herald in 2011

Here are videos of him discussing his career in 2012 with Lee Shephard and Chuck Langdon:

Beatrice also did pre & post-game coverage of the Redskins when they were broadcast on WMAL. Once the team bolted for WTEM, WMAL began it’s decline from an important DC radio station to it’s current situation.

Once the DC media gets around to posting obits about Beatrice, I’ll add them here.

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Steve Repsher wrote a tribute on DC Sports Bog

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