Ramblin’ Rick


911? I think we have a problem

Listening to football and basketball games on the radio is the next best thing to being there.

It’s a roller-coaster ride of emotions as I listen to the games, unable to see what is going on and trusting the announcer to be my eyes.

I’ve become adept at filtering out the local bias — otherwise I would be forced to call 911 on most nights.
“Emergency dispatch.”

“Hi, this is Rick White from the Clovis News Journal. I wonder if you could send a police officer to the Portales High gym to check on the Clovis High girls basketball team?”

“What seems to be the problem?”

“Well, I’m listening to the radio, and it sounds like there might be some sort of mugging or felony being committed. I know it’s just a basketball game, but the announcers keep saying Walker and Blackmon are getting mugged, and the Lady Wildcats are getting killed.

“And ma’m, the announcer keeps saying the Lady Wildcats are getting robbed.”

Radio has a way of creating heroes and villains — usually meaning players in purple and not purple, respectively.

Heart palpitations and suspense are part of radio, as a second of silence seems like an eternity as I wait for Joey Reed or Joe “Bang” McDaniel to let me know if the pass was complete or the last-second 3-pointer connected.

Hearing the shouts of Clovis coaches J.D. Isler and Miles Watters reverberate across the gym make me feel at home.
Like writers, every announcer is different.

The always excitable Reed on KCLV sounds like he’s having so much fun I wonder if he is paid or pays to do the games. Reed bleeds purple.

Ron Pierson on KICA has a classic radio voice and a hometown view. McDaniel is a hardcore Lady Wildcats’ fan.

In a not-so-scientific experiment, I switched between KCLV and KICA every quarter of Saturday’s championship game of the Gene Messer Tournament of Champions.

Two minutes into a quarter was the longest either broadcast team dipped into a quarter before crying foul about bad refereeing.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of listening to the Baltimore Bullets on my AM-FM alarm clock radio. Baltimore was more than 600 miles away, but for some reason the $9.99 GE radio I received for my sixth birthday could pick up the signal.

Accompanied by a constant electric hum, I would fall asleep listening to Gus Johnson, Wes Unseld and Kevin Loughery doing battle with the likes of then Lew Alcindor-led Milwaukee Bucks and the Willis Reed-led New York Knicks.

I would listen to the hometown Waterford High Lancers on the local radio station, dreaming one day that local radio legend Dave Connors would one day be calling my name while I dribbled up the floor.

Years later, my mother was livid with the way Connors broadcast one of my games.

She called him a “homer,” I think.

There are worse things to be called.

CNJ Sports Editor Rick White can be reached at rick_white@link.freedom.com.