Category Archives: Radio

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.

MORE

Steve Repsher wrote a tribute on DC Sports Bog

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Sam Huff is off Redskins radio, Herzog thinks he was fired

Sam Huff is out of the Washington Redskins radio booth, leaving Sonny Jurgensen as the lone member of the Sonny, Sam & Frank glory days of Redskins radio. (After nearly 50 years as a player, coach, and broadcaster, Sam Huff retires from Washington Redskins) For a generation Washingtonians watched the game with “the sound turned down and the radio” to hear Huff and Sonny Jurgensen add commentary to Frank Herzog’s play-by-play. The trio was broken up in 2004 when Herzog was dumped for V.P. of branding or some other B.S. title, Larry Michael.

Herzog went on WTOP radio this weekend and suggested that Huff was fired - Hall of Famer Huff retires, Herzog questions move. It seems Herzog’s claims were based on his intiution that Huff would never give up and not any actual conversations. Perhaps Herzog was just trying to get some attention, but it is worth considering.

Huff had a reduced schedule last season, a concession to age. Barry Svrluga, described it in
Sam Huff won’t broadcast Redskins opener for first time since 1974:

Linebackers, over time, lose a step. The proof shows up on game film: Tackles are missed, yards are gained, games are lost. Radio announcers, too, wear down, and the proof is right there for fans to hear. Such inevitable drop-offs are almost imperceptible from game to game or even season to season. Yet at a certain point, they are undeniable.

Huff will still join Jurgensen and Michael in the booth for the Redskins’ eight home games as well as two on the road, against the rival Giants and Cowboys, but his curtailed schedule is an acknowledgment, in a roundabout way, that he has lost a step in recent years. “Everything ends in sports,” he said recently, and lowered his voice. “Everything ends in sports.”

That doesn’t mean he’s at peace with the decision. “I don’t understand it all,” he said one July day, not long after the Redskins’ flagship radio station, ESPN 980, announced his reduced schedule.

Huff’s departure from the booth is shocking only in that it took so long for it to happen. Dave McKenna wrote about Huff’s decline for years in the CityPaper. From November 2007: The Final Countdown? The decline of Sam Huff and Redskins radio

This Hall of Famer has spent most Sunday afternoons this fall appearing befuddled by the simplest on-field action. It’s impossible to ignore all the accusations that the game he once mastered has passed him by, and even diehard Skins fans have stopped defending his flawed performances. Many hope he goes away before he puts a permanent hurt on his local legacy.

In September 2010, McKenna wrote about Huff again Sam Huff: From “The Violent World” to His Own World

…has seemed wobbly in the booth for a while.

But by now that wobbliness has reached a level of consistency that makes the audience stay tuned so as not to miss whatever wackiness will come next.

He’s thrown so much crazy stuff out there this year, partners Larry Michael and Sonny Jurgensen have to be on clean-up alert whenever their beloved cohort’s microphone is on. During an exhibition game against Baltimore, for example, the refs dropped a penalty flag as the Ravens offense was approaching the line of scrimmage.

“Its gotta be holding!” said Huff. Michael and Jurgensen pointed out the ball hadn’t been snapped.

So, the end of Huff’s tenure has been a long time coming, but it is reasonable to say that his status as a Redskins icon kept him around longer than merit as a broadcaster and analyst.

NOW WHAT?

I don’t know how long Jurgensen is going to keep going and Michael is probably here forever unless he parks in Dan Snyder’s special parking space or something similar. Back in 2010, I suggested that John Riggins and Joe Theismann would make a great Redskins radio team. That seems highly unlikely though, because I don’t see Riggins coming aboard. Riggins has shown a great deal of antipathy for Snyder, but also seems to have removed himself from football completely (John Riggins on Alfred Morris: “Never Heard of Him…I Don’t Watch Football” – Hogs Haven) in favor of his outdoors show, Riggo on the Range. Theismann, who had national announcing jobs for years, might be willing to move into Redskins radio booth if offered. Rick “Doc” Walker has worked the sidelines for a while and could make his way up to the booth as well.

SONNY & SAM, MORE THAN TEAMMATES

The Redskins produced a long documentary on Huff and Jurgensen, who arrived in 1964 from the New York Football Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. They’ve been best friends since those trades.

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Inside the booth with Charlie & Dave – The Summoner explained

I woke up this morning to two great videos of Washington Nationals radio broadcasters Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler. The first, featuring Slowes, is inside the booth while he calls Ian Desmond’s Thursday evening home run.

The second video is a longer feature in which Jageler explains how he developed his interest in broadcasting and talks about The Summoner.

As I have said countless times, Nats fans are blessed to have such a great team of radio broadcasters in Slowes and Jageler. The know the game, they know the medium and they have such enthusiasm for it. As I have said years ago, the Nats need to give these guys tenure. Drive dump trucks full of money up to their houses if necessary, I want them around forever.

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Vin Scully on Bryce Harper into the wall: The only good thing about it is it knocked his beard off

There has been a lot of discussion and pixels generated over Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper‘s collision into the right field wall the other night. All of this talk about toughness and such (I’m guilty of it too) has overshadowed the the actual story — a fairly inexperienced outfielder took a bad route on a fly ball and in trying to catch up to it, ran so hard he didn’t see the wall.

Prior to last night’s Nats 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Charlie Slowes of the Washington Nationals Radio Network interviewed legendary voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully and Harper’s wall collision came up. Scully reminded us all of the real story:

Charlie Slowes: Speaking of shoulders and knees and collisions, how about Bryce Harper into the wall last thing last night.

Vin Scully: The only good thing about is it knocked his beard off …and I was delighted to see…(Slowes heard laughing in the background)…I went down to the clubhouse because I admire his play and there he was clean-shaven, uh stiches under the chin…such a fine young man and an outstanding player…and it’s none of my business but I hope he stays clean shaven.

I’m sure somebody will get the audio into embeddable format, but until then MLB Gameday subscribers can here it by going to this page, clicking on the WJFK link and starting to listen around the 12:00 mark.

UPDATE: Legendary Dodgers Voice Vin Scully ‘Delighted’ Harper’s Clean-ShavenCBS DC
The audio is now available from the link above.

The interview also touches on the current Dodgers, the movie “42″ and his start on the radio at WTOP in Washington when he lived at 29th and O Street for $15 a week. Good stuff, but what else would it be? The interview, between to New Yorkers and Fordham graduates) could have been something like:

Vin: Charlie, nobody outside of New York knows how to fold a newspaper

Charlie: Can’t good hard rolls either, Vin

and it still would have been good.

OTHER NATS NEWS

Clayton Kershaw out-dueled Dan Haren (The Post), but with the lineup the Nats put out last night, how wouldn’t he?

More troubling – Harper is feeling nauseous which suggests he has a concussion.

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