Sports Radio News
Blaha Reflects on Legendary Broadcasting Career
During the golden age of the 1950’s, it was Ray Charles’ soul music which dominated the radio. But Saturdays were reserved solely for college football.
And somewhere in this golden age, sports broadcasting icon George Blaha found a soulful voice of his own.
For the better part of the last four decades, that voice has come to represent years of Spartan football history — and just as many years of Detroit Pistons history.
But in all the years of uttering “Touchdown, MSU” or “Count that baby and a foul” it never gets old for Blaha, and there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing.
“I always wanted to be a broadcaster in a city that had hardworking, blue collar people and I am very, very fortunate to be a broadcaster in the Detroit area and in the state of Michigan because we have those kinds of people here,” Blaha said.
In 2002, Blaha was named an honorary alumnus of MSU. The honor was Blaha’s third alumnus achievement, as he received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame and his MBA from the University of Michigan.
His father, Vernon, was a doctor and stressed the importance of higher education, so Blaha attended prestigious schools. However, his dream of becoming a play-by-play broadcaster was always his number one priority.
“One thing you don’t want is somebody unhappy at their work,” Blaha said. “You can’t very well be successful that way.
“I think it was Vin Scully, in my opinion the greatest play-by-play announcers of my lifetime, who said ‘broadcasting is a great example of the old adage that says, find something that you love to do and if you can do that at your profession then you will never have to work a day in your life.’”
Blaha said his decision to attend U-M came down to a “coin flip” by his family.
“Notre Dame, on the other hand, was a very conscious decision,” he said, adding that it stemmed from his mother being raised Irish Catholic and her father loving the Irish.
But before the Fighting Irish or the Wolverines, Blaha unknowingly started where he would finish. In 1953, Blaha was in attendance when a school by the name of Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science played its first football game as a member of the Big Ten at the University of Iowa.
“Of course, I had no idea what a watershed moment that would be for me career-wise, but I knew that it was a big game and my dad was very kind to take me to the game,” Blaha said.
MSU won the game, 21-7, and would go on to win the Rose Bowl that year.
Since that day, Blaha has watched more than 400 MSU football games and the number of Pistons games he has broadcasted is upward of 3,000.
“And it really doesn’t feel like work to me, although there is a lot of preparation that goes into every broadcast,” Blaha said. “If I didn’t find it interesting and did not truly enjoy it then I might realize how labor intensive it is, but it really has all been a labor of love.”
The Spartan brand has been engraved into Blaha’s legacy, and along the way, the players he has watched have grown to be some of his best friends. Among them is 1979 NCAA National Champion and former MSU basketball star Greg Kelser, who today broadcasts alongside Blaha as the Pistons’ color commentator.
“It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to sit down and call a game, number one, but then to know that I am doing it with a person who has been at this for so long, yet I have not been able to. … I don’t think anyone could ever say they have seen a diminishing of his passion,” Kelser said.
To read the rest of this article visit The State where it was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports Radio News
Fred Toucher: ‘ESPN is Now Just 3 People’
“Stephen A. Smith is on in the morning. He’s on the radio. He does a podcast. He’s at all the games. He does the postgames.”
How deep is the talent rotation at ESPN? Not very according to Fred Toucher. The 98.5 The Sports Hub morning host has certainly noticed that the network is turning to a small handfull of stars to do the bulk of the work.
“ESPN is now like three people, and Stephen A. Smith is on in the morning. He’s on the radio. He does a podcast. He’s at all the games. He does the postgames,” morning host Fred Toucher said. “Imagine if we had a microphone in front of us 12 hours a day…The guy’s going to snap one time.”
That led to a new segment on Toucher & Rich titled “Stephen A. Smith is horny” with music by R&B artist Barry White playing in the background. Throughout the nearly 20-minute aside, the show played clips from Smith’s Cadence 13-produced podcast recently renamed The Stephen A. Smith Show, and spoke about how he is now giving dating advice to close out episodes of his show.
“My man can’t help getting horny on it every single episode,” Jon Wallach said. “He is trapped with a microphone in front of him 18 hours a day – he really is. He’s on TV and the radio and podcast. It doesn’t stop.”
Because of Smith’s busy schedule across ESPN programming – including First Take, NBA Countdown, NBA in Stephen A’s World and guest appearances on shows such as SportsCenter and Get Up – he seems to be over the airwaves more often than not. On top of that, he hosts new episodes of his podcast at least three times a week. He has said the network did research that found he had reached 1.7 billion people on ESPN’s YouTube page last year, and that the number is expected to hit 2.4 billion at the end of this year.
The Boston morning show surmised that since Smith hardly has moments away from his profession, he cannot help but to talk about topics such as dating advice to vary the content.
“He just loves to drop into that sexy – ‘We’re going to do dating advice because everyone’s reaching out for dating advice from Stephen A. Smith,” Toucher said.
Sports Radio News
Evan Roberts Says WFAN Found Next Star in Audition This Week
Evan Roberts thinks he has heard the future of WFAN. The co-host of Carton & Roberts said Tuesday afternoon that an overnight audition he heard on the station is going to yield big results.
Roberts said he could not sleep on Monday night, so he turned on the station to hear a new voice on the air and he was impressed.
“Alvin was on the air from midnight to two, and I’m going to make your prediction. He will be full-time here in the next three years,” he said. “Very good. He was tremendous.”
The Alvin in question is Alvin Cintron. He is a listener that Carton & Roberts explained would make videos and send them to program director Spike Eskin with a note asking when he would get his shot on WFAN.
“I listened to about 45 minutes of it,” Roberts said. “First radio show ever! I think the story is Spike literally found the guy on social media and said, ‘You know what? I’ll give you a shot.’”
Cintron posted a video on Facebook of himself listening to the segment. He called it “surreal.”
Craig Carton joked that if Evan Roberts thinks Alvin Cintron is going to be part of WFAN’s full-time staff in the next three years, that means he has someone on the staff getting fired and that Alvin is going to jump ahead of the current WFAN part-timers working towards the same goal.
“I didn’t put anybody down,” Roberts answered. “All I said was I thought he was brilliant last night, and I’m making a prediction. I think within the next three years, he’s full time.”
Sports Radio News
Binnie Media Brings VSiN to New Hampshire
“Their programming is best-in-class and the support from the VSiN team goes well beyond the content we air on the station.”
VSiN is going to New England. Content from the sports betting network will be heard on Binnie Media’s 106.3-HD2 in Nashua. The station will be branded VSiN Radio 106.3-FM HD-2.
“We’re thrilled to team up with Binnie Media to deliver the real-time news and insights New Englanders need to inform their wagering decisions,” Brian Musburger, founder and CEO of VSiN, said in a press release. “New Hampshire was one of the first states to embrace legal sports betting and, with Massachusetts recently legalizing, there has never been more interest in the informative and educational sports betting programming VSiN delivers every day. We are excited to bring our team of betting experts to Binnie Media’s passionate sports audience, especially in Massachusetts, the home state of VSiN’s parent company, DraftKings.”
In addition to the long-form content on 106.3-HD2, VSiN will also have a presence on other Binnie Media stations. Brent Musburger’s Action Updates will be heard on eight other stations in the group. They will run twice a day, giving the network a multi-format presence across the state.
Binnie Media is the largest privately owned and locally managed media company in Maine and New Hampshire. It owns fifteen radio stations as well as digital and outdoor marketing brands.
“Sports betting is quickly becoming part of the daily conversation. As we evaluated the options in this space, we landed on VSiN,” added Heath Cole, VP of Programming at Binnie Media. “Their programming is best-in-class and the support from the VSiN team goes well beyond the content we air on the station. From the short-form Action Updates to the digital content the VSiN team creates for our listeners, we think this content is, by far, the best in the space. We’re very excited about the opportunity to bring this programming to our listeners.”