Remembering One of the Greats
21 January 2016 Views From The Booth
Greetings from the booth! With the impending “Snowmageddon” on the way, please have a safe weekend. Enjoy the AFC & NFC Championship games (provided you have power), play a board game, have some hot chocolate or something stronger, and otherwise “hunker down.”
With the tragic deaths recently of music icons Glen Frey and David Bowie, the passing of a sports broadcasting icon with local ties may have gotten under your radar. The great Jim Simpson died recently at age 88. Jim was born in Washington, DC, and worked locally as a sports broadcaster on WTOP and WRC.
He would move on to national fame as the radio play-by-play voice of Super Bowl I, and was the number-two play by play man (behind the legendary Curt Gowdy) on NBC’s AFL football broadcasts.
In 1979, in the early stages of my career, I was working in the Hagerstown, Md., radio market, and was asked to attend an event at Antietam Cable. The event was a “kickoff” reception for local media to highlight the addition of a brand new network on the cable system. The network was ESPN, four letters which have become a part of our language and pop culture. On that day, no one was sure how a network was going to fill 24 hours of sports programming. Little did we know that ESPN would have multiple networks and reach it’s tentacles all over the world and into most every sport (except dodgeball–there is no “ESPN 8, The Ocho”).
But I digress. At the aforementioned reception that day was none other than Jim Simpson, one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve ever met. He was one of the first broadcasters on the fledgling “four letter network”, and would give ESPN instant credibility with his professionalism & solid style of broadcasting. He wasn’t flashy and didn’t have a catch phrase or “schtick”. He was simply personable and smooth.
As I developed a passion for sports play-by-play, Jim Simpson certainly played a part. He has to be included among those who influenced me in my formative years. When I heard Jim Simpson on my TV, I knew that an AFL game was on and George Blanda was probably kicking a winning field goal, or Bob Griese was firing a TD pass to Paul Warfield.
Jim Simpson was one of the greats, and he will be missed.
Until next time from the booth, be safe, and GO HORNETS!