Normally, I try to keep myself out of the articles I write, but I can’t help myself this time around. This past Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of my going on the air in Dallas at KRLD. Thinking about it has brought back a flood of memories, almost all good ones. And all remarkable, given how much our games and the radio business have changed since then.
My first day on the air saw the end to Randy White’s acrimonious, training camp-long holdout. Think about it – in this era of free agency, what veteran player holds out and takes it to the end of camp or even into the season? Or crazier yet, holds out for an entire year? You can count the number on one hand. My second day on the air was the day Tom Landry was so nervous announcing that Gary Hogeboom had beaten out Danny White to be the Cowboys starting QB, that he couldn’t pronounce Hogeboom’s name (It should be noted that Landry ALWAYS struggled with Hogeboom’s name, but it was seeing the unease in his making the announcement that was startling). And then two days after that, the Rangers fired Joe Klein as their General Manager, and elevated Tom Grieve. I wondered if every week in DFW sports was going to be like this.
Well, they may not have all been quite like that, but rarely do multiple days go by before we have something to REALLY sink our teeth into. The Cowboys, as dominant a presence as they were in 1984, are even more so today. Where KRLD was “The Cowboys Station” and basically had a monopoly on all things Cowboys, that isn’t the case anymore. There are now three all-sports stations, who likely spend likely to 80 percent of their broadcast day trying to tell you things about the Cowboys. Again, all-sports radio didn’t even exist in 1984. It started in 1987 in New York and didn’t make it to Dallas until January, 1994 when The Ticket went on the air.
In 1984, the Cowboys missed the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years. The Mavericks had just come off of “Moody Madness” in their first ever playoff appearance, giving us all a taste of what was to come. The Rangers were less than a year away from bringing in Bobby Valentine to pump energy into a moribund franchise. The Stars were nine years away from moving here. College football was highlighted by Jim Wacker’s “UNBELIEVABLE” TCU team shocking everyone by starting the year 8-1, and moving into the top 10 before losing to Texas and A&M to end the season (and winding up in the Bluebonnet Bowl). And one of the most bitter Texas-OU games ever was played. A 15-15 tie, in a driving rain, decided on a Jeff Ward FG on the last play of the game but only after officials (incorrectly, as it turned out) ruled Keith Stanberry had not intercepted Todd Dodge on the prior play. Incredible, indelible images.
In 1984, KRLD was the unquestioned giant of sports on radio in DFW. The only station in America comparable to it was KMOX in St. Louis. I worked with, and learned from, some of the most amazing radio talent put together in once place both in sports and news. I was hired, site unseen, by Brad Sham who was starting his first year as the play-by-play voice of the Cowboys. His intensity, passion, attention to detail and news sense are traits I have tried to carry through to this day. The incomparable Frank Glieber did our morning drive sportscasts. His pacing is still something I try to emulate (but rarely succeed at). And “Ask Tex Schramm” at 6:15 on Monday nights during the season was absolute gold, as Frank would take him down whatever path the day would bring. Art Hains is now the long time voice of Missouri State (In his hometown of Springfield, MO) and does the pre-game and post for the Kansas City Chiefs. Brian Briscoe was as smooth on the air as he was off the air; I loved how he could stay so calm. Later on Craig Way, George Dunham and Craig Miller all joined our staff. It was just such an embarrassment of riches.
I’m so fortunate to have lived in one place for so long (save for that little blip in Philadelphia) and have so many more people to thank (beyond the ones listed above) it would take hours for you to read through them all. But I also have you to thank for your support, good wishes, and, yes, criticism. I like to believe I have learned from it all. And wondering what it all will look like 30 years from now.