The 7 Sports Broadcasters You Should be Listening To
Part II in our Series; Make sure to clean out your ears for these broadcasters.
A Gift to Our Ears.
Last week we published Part I of our unscientific ranking of sports broadcasters. We focused on the worst and judging but our traffic and social media engagement, you agreed with our list. We’re not full-time haters. Every once in a while, we congratulate. Here is Part II of our rankings, the 7 Best Sports Broadcasters Right Now. They can entertain you reading a telephone book, even though phone books don’t exist anymore.
We Love ♥
.@Kevinharlan @realgranthill & @realchriswebber are joined by @andre on the sidelines to bring you live coverage of #KickstartRisingStars – underway now @NBAonTNT #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/YKNrsxbrxt
— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) February 17, 2018
If you don’t recognize the name, you’ll recognize the voice. USA Today’s For the Win wrote Harlan is “an on-air legend, having spent over 30 years with his iconic voice being heard during Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Timberwolves, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and NFL broadcasts.” We certainly agree. Harlan’s passion for sports is infectious and his signature calls, “Up High and Down Hard” and “With no regard for human life,” are fantastic.
Kevin’s personality explodes off the screen, he can improvise on a dime and has a great sense of humor. Listen to his call of “some goofball in a hat” that ran onto the field during a matchup between the Rams and the 49ers in 2016. Aside from his broadcasting greatness, Harlan produced an amazingly talented, intelligent and beautiful daughter, Olivia. She is a sideline reporter for ESPN. We expect she’ll be on this list in the near future.
Kevin Harlan is a national treasure: pic.twitter.com/CQFjPxkTMX
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) September 13, 2016
The jobs of a play-by-play broadcaster (like Kevin Harlan) and analyst are different. Play-by-play talent needs to bring excitement, tell a story and make us laugh. Less is more for an analyst. A good analyst doesn’t make the call about themselves. He or she enhances the game in front of them with a unique perspective. It one of the reasons we enjoy Chris Webber. Hey, even the good ones confuse amphibious with ambidextrous.
Let’s keep it real, Webber has been through the college basketball and NBA wars. He failed on the biggest stage as a member of the Fab Five, was drafted to the NBA as a savior, became an All-Star, and was moments away from the Finals. Webber has also been involved in scandals, so he’s got plenty of experiences to draw from. He speaks clearly, avoids taking cheap shots at players, and his insights into big man play is spot on.
He told Vice Sports, “I’ve been the best player on a team who receive[d] the bulk of the criticism, so I have no problem criticizing a player in the same position. I also know what it’s like to take the last shot on the final possession, all the pressure that goes with it. I’ve been there many times, so I can give an honest account.”
Kelly Nash and Heidi Watney
Let’s get it out of the way first. Nash is a world-class beauty. But don’t label Kelly Nash just a beautiful face in the crowd. The co-host of “The Rundown” on the MLB Network and studio host for the NHL Network earned two Master’s degrees in under four years. One is from Clemson University and her second Master’s is in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Miami. Nash started her career as a sideline reporter Fox Sports Florida for the Tampa Bay Rays, Orlando Magic and, Tampa Bay Lightning. Nash knows her Xs and Os. She grew up playing baseball/softball and now coaches youth baseball teams in the Northeast.
Nash doesn’t take herself too seriously and has a great competitive streak. She has serious swag and loves sports, even when a baseball almost struck her while filing a report from the Green Monster. Plus you can’t hate on someone who’s walk-up song would be “Hypnotize” by the Notorious B.I.G.
Finding top-tier on-air talent is hard enough, but in an industry dominated by men, women face a lot of crap. Ever heard of the #MeToo Movement? Female broadcasters are lumped into two groups on sports television. They’re either not ‘hot enough,’ or considered eye candy with no talent. Kaitlin Collins, the White House correspondent for CNN and huge Crimson Tide football fan had a great take on the topic. Guys, here’s some advice–women don’t want to date or be harassed by the dirty old men they typically work for.
The MLB Network knows how to pick’em. Watney is an accomplished sportscaster and host of their nightly highlight show, “Quick Pitch.”
The Californian was a National Merit Scholar who graduated with honors from the University of San Diego in 2003. Watney started her broadcast career as an anchor and host for KMPH-TV and KFIG-AM radio in Fresno, CA, then moved to New England to cover the Boston Red Sox for NESN from 2008-11. She’s covered futbol too, reporting on the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer for Time Warner Cable SportsNet. We’ve seen Watney’s hosting ability in person and can attest, she commands a room. Genius, check, versatile, check, knowledgeable and personable, check. Watney is a total package.
Esta noche es el programa especial para conocer a los nominados a los premios Univision Deportes. Ahí les diremos cómo votar. Los esperamos @Paco_Villa_ @RamsesSandoval @EnriqueBorja9 pic.twitter.com/S67D82JPbg
— PABLO RAMIREZ GOMEZ (@GOLAZODEPABLO) November 26, 2017
Even if the World Cup wasn’t taking place this summer, Ramírez would rank high on our list. Pablo “La Torre de Jalisco” (The Tower of Jalisco) Ramírez is known around the globe for his famous “¡Gooooool!” call and his tall stature. He has been Univision’s lead play-by-play announcer for futbol since 2002. That includes the CONCACAF division, La Liga MX and FIFA World Cup.
The New Republic called the Univision’s Spanish language team of Ramírez, Jesús “El Profe” (The Prof.) Bracamontes, Félix “El Gato” (The Cat) Fernández, and Enrique “El Perro” (The Dog) Bermúdez, “hysterical.” We agree. Their knowledge and passion for the beautiful game are infectious. Plus, there is a great rhythm to their broadcast, as if they were a band playing an amazing samba. Even if you don’t know the language, it’s a great listen.
Andrés Cantor might be more well-known in the U.S., but for our money, Ramírez is a better listen.
Readers may call us biased, but our next picks have close connections to the New York Mets. Kevin Burkhardt grew up in New Jersey and first hit the New York airwaves on WFAN. During the NFL season, he was the Jets beat reporter. Thankfully, Burkhardt left the FAN for the greener pastures of SNY, the home of the Amazins. Can you blame him? It was the Jets.
Burkhardt was an on-field correspondent and member of the Mets broadcast team for five years. Fans sampled his laid-back demeanor, sense of humor, and knowledge. Burkhardt had a smooth interviewing style that got compelling insights from players. Plus he was able to keep up with the trio of Gary, Keith, and Ron. Its sports right, its supposed to be entertaining.
Burkhardt joined Fox Sports as a play-by-play announcer for its NFL coverage in 2011. Paired with John Lynch and Erin Andrews, they progressed to become the Fox B team, right behind Buck and Aikman. In addition to his NFL on FOX duties, Kevin joined the Major League Baseball on Fox in 2015. Since then, Burkhardt has become the face of FOX Sports’ pre-and postgame coverage and one of the most respected voices in the industry. In May 2017, Burkhardt and the MLB on Fox team won their first Sports Emmy for Outstanding Studio Show. You see, persistence does pay off.
Gary, Keith, and Ron
Gary, Keith, and Ron in their Friday Best… pic.twitter.com/DdWEhwk76m
— Big Mets Fan (@bigmetsfan1) September 2, 2016
The pace of a baseball game allows broadcasters to display more of their own personalities and quirks. So if you call baseball games, it sucks if you’re boring ‘af.’ The SNY Mets broadcast trio of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez definitely aren’t boring. They are widely acknowledged as one of the best broadcast teams in the sport. The trio’s Instagram feed has over 35,000 followers, but what exactly makes them so good?
It goes without saying, they know the sport. But, it’s their chemistry and improvisation that makes them special. The game ends up sounding like three buddies getting together to swap war stories. Cohen has been broadcasting on radio and television for most of his adult life and is a living encyclopedia of baseball and the Mets. He’s like the Ringmaster of a circus. As the Wall Street Journal wrote:
Darling, a Yale graduate, brings a professorial aura built from his hours studying before every nightly broadcast. Hernandez, the most whimsical and loose-lipped of the bunch, is a dogged history buff who also amuses fans with a bevy of personal stories: one day about his weekend activities in the Hamptons and another about his struggles to pass high-school chemistry.
From Keith’s musings about NYC traffic heading to the Island, his lost memories from the 80s, and Ron’s meticulous breakdown of pitching and the rest of the MLB (he also broadcasts national games for TBS) this team is gold, Jerry.
Sam Rosen & Mike “Doc” Emerick
We’ve gone around the globe and up to this point hit every major sport, except hockey. Well, hockey fans don’t fret, our personal favorite sportscasters are MSG’s hockey play-by-play man Sam Rosen and the venerable “Doc” Emrick. In addition to his hockey duties, Rosen is part of the NFL on FOX broadcast team. Emrick has also done play-by-play for CBS, NBC, ABC, TNT, ESPN, and others.
For nearly twenty years Rosen was part of a two-man booth with former New York Rangers great Jon Davidson. Between Rosen’s “he shoots, he scores,” “it’s a power play goal” and Davidson’s “ooh baby,” Rangers games were a delight. When Davidson accepted a management position from the St. Louis Blues, the duo’s reign as the most tenured broadcast team in the NHL ended.
Emrick’s been all over the league, calling games for the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils. He is widely acknowledged as the voice of hockey in the U.S. Sure, he displays passion and enthusiasm for the big moments, but he’s also an academic, so there’s a genius to his word usage and inflection. In an interview on NPR, we learned that a hockey fan once counted 153 verbs that Doc used in one game to describe the movement of the puck.
Sam Rosen has been inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and is a Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner from the Hockey Hall of Fame. “Doc” Emrick is a founding member of the NHL Pronunciation Guide, which is used as a guide for all NHL broadcasters. He’s the Vice President of the NHL Broadcaster’s Association and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Listening to Rosen and Emrick should be on every sports’ fan bucket list.
So there you have it, our list of the seven (or so) best sports broadcasters in the game. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section.