Friday, June 04, 2021

Friday Questions

Starting to feel like summer.  Vax so you can enjoy it.  Here are this week’s Friday Questions.

Jeff leads off.

Ken, when you watch episodes of sitcoms you were involved with, do you sometimes recognize certain laughs coming from the audience?

Yes.  I recognize Jim Brooks (pictured above) on TAXI and THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.  He sounds almost like a donkey braying.  

Two distinct laughers on CHEERS were Phoef Sutton and the cackle of Bill Steinkellner.  I occasionally hear Jim Burrows’ laugh as well.  

Chuck Lorre’s laugh is somewhat distinctive and I can pick it out from time to time on one of his shows.

Alas, I am not a loud laugher.  Especially at my own jokes. 

Matt wants to know:

Who is on your Mt Rushmore of announcers. I know you will say Vin Scully (who wouldn’t) and you have just said Marc Albert. Who are the other two?

Vin Scully, Marv Albert, Chick Hearn (of the Lakers), and Bill King (Raiders, Warriors, A’s).    

I don’t think anyone has ever called a better, more exciting football game on the radio than Bill King.  He gave you chills.

Same for Chick Hearn and basketball on the radio.  Most basketball expressions (like slam dunk) were invented by “Chicky baby.”

And while we’re on the subject of sportscasters, Jahn Ghalt wonders:

Where do you stand on broadcasters as they start to lose it, even the legends? Should they be allowed to stay on forever or should someone nudge them to the door at some point, and if so, how do you do that respectfully?

I think to protect them and their legacy, when iconic sportscasters start to lose it they should gracefully retire.   It’s harder for broadcasters who have been with one team for many decades.  Phasing them out might be one answer.  Or if the announcer is really incapable of calling a game, someone has to make the hard call.   

Hey, it's not a Supreme Court Justice.  You're not entitled to these jobs for life. 

I think you appeal to his pride.  You want him to go out with dignity and remain beloved.  

As the old saying goes, it’s better to leave a year too early than a year too late.

That said, I bet Vin Scully, (at 92) could still call a better game than 90% of the announcers out there.

And finally, from Brian:

I enjoyed your episode on writing. Have you ever been plagiarized? If so, what steps did you take?

Not any TV writing that I know of.  Had that been the case I would consulted my attorney. 

Before I had this blog, I would write snarky Oscar reviews and send them to my contact list.  I found out that one radio talk show host on my list would go on the air and steal all of my material as if it was his own.  Once I learned that he was promptly off my list.  

In my disc jockey days, there was an LA DJ who listened to me in San Bernardino and stole my material.  I learned this when I applied for a job at his station and the program director accused me of stealing his jock's material.  That resulted in a very angry phone call from me.  

Flash forward a few years and I’m on TenQ in Los Angeles every Saturday night.  After six months on the air I got a call from that program director apologizing.  He said, after listening to me and the quality and amount of my content it was clear I was the original and his disc jockey had stolen from me.  

What’s your Friday Question? 


Honest Ed said...

Out of curiosity, what was your take on that Programme director? Respect for being big enough to admit he got it wrong and call you, or he's still a jerk?

John in NW Ohio said...

Ernie Harwell, man. He and Scully are alone on the very top shelf. Then you can discuss all the others.

John Sterling of the Yankees needs to be retired to to some kind of ambassador role. His stupid "Theeeeeeee Yankees win" thing makes me cringe. Can't find my mute button fast enough.

maxdebryn said...

I could frequently hear James Brooks' distinctive laugh while viewing The Mary Tyler Moore Show. A propos of Mr. Brooks, I watched his BROADCAST NEWS last night, and it still stands up. Both prescient, smart and very, very funny.

Pat Reeder said...

Speaking of radio comedy material being stolen, you know Laura and I wrote our own syndicated daily prep service called the Comedy Wire. Early one morning, I got a call from a guy at a station telling me it didn't come over the fax machine that morning and he needed me to resend it. I asked the call letters, looked them up to find the fax number, and couldn't find it. After talking to him a while, I figured out that his copy didn't come from me. It came from another station owned by the same company that actually subscribed, and every morning, they would take the material and redistribute to all their other stations that weren't paying for it. Oops! He'd let the cat out of the bag. I had to have a little talk with them before they got any more material from us.

Jim S said...

Best announcers. No Ernie Harwell? Man, he gave you shoes (to be fair not the shoes off his feet, but they were new shoes).

Keep up the good work.

Michael said...

John, to be fair, Sterling sounded that way when he started doing Yankee games. I've found to be awful for decades.

The Mt. Rushmore of announcers could be the ones who most influence the one making the selection, and those four would be the ones for Ken, I suspect. Nationally, I'd think of people like Bob Costas, Howard Cosell, and John Madden to go with Vin. But then, Vin was a pup out of Red Barber, and so his influence is everywhere (including, by the way, with Cosell). But I'm glad to see Bill King get the attention. He was great on three major sports and a Bay Area god, and he didn't get the Frick until a few years ago and STILL hasn't gotten the NFL or basketball ones, mainly, I think, because he didn't do network games or promote himself much.

By the way, as for distinctive laughs, this isn't a laugh, but on the old game shows Joker's Wild and Tic-Tac-Dough, Barry-Enright had some guy in the audience who would make a sound at a big moment, and it sounded a LITTLE like a Marv impression. My dad had the theory they had a guy sitting there and to make the noise, he'd hit himself in the inseam with an encyclopedia.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Early 70s, we would get Lakers games on Armed Forces Radio up here (Anchorage). Chick Hearn was the man. Not sure I've heard better play-by-play for basketball.

If he didn't coin "dribble drive", he sure made it his own. I've never heard any one else use this one.

For Honest Ed:

On his podcast Ken praised the Program Director for calling many years after the fact.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Who are your four (or more) worst announcers? Have to include Ken Harrelson.

Mike Bloodworth said...

There was a very distinct female laughter on "Married With Children." I'm not sure who she was, but you could hear her on most of the shows. Although, there is a possibility that she was added to enhance the audience reaction.

I was so in tune with Chick Hearn that as I like to say, even when he wasn't making any sense you knew exactly what he meant.

I don't pay that much attention to Ken to steal his jokes. Well, maybe subconsciously. KIDDING! If Ken ever said anything funny I would definitely steal it. Reworded of course. KIDDING!


Michael Todd said...

Hello Ken,

Thank you for mentioning Bill King and firing Angel Hernandez. One of the greatest and the worst, respectively. I grew up in Northern California listening to Bill doing Warrior simulcasts and Raider games. I've never heard anyone on radio describe what was happening on the court the way Bill did. Of course I didn't get to hear Chick Hearn very often. When Bill started doing A's baseball with Lon Simmons, it was heaven. Whether I'm watching old Raider highlights or Moneyball, it's stirring to hear Bill's voice.



Tom said...

On "I Love Lucy" reruns, you can sometimes hear Desi Arnaz laughing off-camera.

ScarletNumber said...


I agree with you and not @JohnInNWOhio about John Sterling. It's like listening to a game being called by your grandparents, with Suzyn Waldman as grandma. You don't listen to them for technical accuracy; you listen to them because you love the Yankees and they do too.

It's funny how you have both John and Vin on your Mount Rushmore because in the early 80s CBS decided to move Tom Brookshier from color to pxp and promote John Madden to being the top color analyst. The only question was who to pair him with. So CBS had both Vin and Pat Summerall work with John during the 1981 season, with Vin working with John when Pat was calling tennis and Pat working with John while Vin was calling baseball on CBS Radio.

Obviously Pat won, but CBS handled it poorly by congratulating Vin on being given the 1981 NFC Championship game with Hank Stram. Vin was so insulted by this that he quit CBS to take the lead pxp baseball role for NBC.

Shrike said...

Unsurprisingly no hockey announcers were mentioned, but there are several outstanding ones that come to mind, some of whom worked extensively south of the 49th. Jim Robson for my Vancouver Canucks, Dan Kelly (St. Louis Blues), Bob Miller (LA Kings), Jim Hughson ...

Jeff Boice said...

The part on broadcasters in decline- I remember in the early 1990's when the Tigers fired Ernie Harwell (saying he was slipping) and replaced him with Rick Rizzs. I wonder if Mr. Rizzs ever talked with you about what it was like to try to follow Ernie Harwell- it did not go over well in Detroit. After a year or two, the Tigers were sold, and the new owner brought Harwell back.

Also reminded of Myron Cope, the color commentator on Pittsburgh Steeler broadcasts (and the inventor of the Terrible Towel). He told a close friend to listen to the broadcasts and to let him know if he was slipping. One day in late 2004 the friend told him "Myron, you're slipping". Cope sat quietly, then said "OK, I'm retiring". He stayed retired, even when in the following season the Steelers went to the Super Bowl and there was a clamor for the station to bring Cope back for the game.

Bob Paris said...

This question is actually from a friend of mine who is a communications lawyer. Since cable does not have the same stringent decency standards of broadcast TV, she wonders if it would make sense for the four networks to produce G and PG/R rated versions of each episode. The G version would be broadcast over the air and the PG/R version would be carried by cable companies.