Ed. Note: Bumped from the FanPosts. - BG
WGR550 announced yesterday that longtime local television sports anchor and radio voice of the Buffalo Bills would be leaving television for a daily, Bills-focused radio show.It got me thinking about John Murphy's career and stature, and about the role of the radio play-by-play man.
The position of Buffalo sports radio always seems to begin and end with the Buffalo Sabres' play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanerett, but for me the Bills' former voice Van Miller was not just a close second to Jeanerett, he always seemed his equal.
Most of it, I'm willing to wager, lies within the comfort zone created by first exposure during youth and fond memories. Van Miller's voice, for example, instantly recalls two things: the excitement the area had for the Jim Kelly-era Bills, and long fall drives "in the country" my family would take.Two very different, but equally sweet associations.
There's a very special connection, I believe, between the play-by-play man, the sport he describes, and the community he tells that sport's story to. For the hockey fans here, just think of how weird it is to hear Kevin Sylvester call the Sabres games instead of Rick Jeanerett.
I'm 31 years old, and I've been familiar with Murphy's voice for just as long as I've known Van Miller's and Jeanerett's, so hearing Murphy call Bills games is a smooth transition to my ears. It's hard to be objective when emotions come into play (and yes, the fans' connection to the radio voice is an emotional one), but I'd want to say that Murphy does a very nice job in this role. I especially like the way he calls fumbles, with an emphatic, "WHO'S GOT IT?" And I also really like that when he gets excited, it sounds like his head is about to explode.
Murph's a real pro, a guy whose mental preparation and knowledge about the game he calls are both solid. When Van Miller began to slip in his last few years, and would get down, distance, and yard-lines mixed up and confused, John Murphy was always present as his color man to fill in the gaps. With Mark Kelso now serving as his color man, he works with Kelso seamlessly.
Radio is tricky. I, myself, only really listen to the radio in the car, and while I enjoy the medium very much, I don't seek it out when I have the option of using the internet. Radio play-by-play is another animal altogether, because chances are, 95 percent of people interested enough in a Bills game to listen to it, will find a way to watch it instead. I'm sure there are many Bills fans who have never listened to Murphy and Mark Kelso call a game.
That said, I'm sure there are many who caught the game on the radio when they couldn't watch it on TV because they were working, driving, or blacked out and they just had to know if the Bills could beat Tim Tebow's Denver Broncos last Christmas Eve.
Radio play-by-play requires more of an artist's touch in description, giving listeners enough descriptive detail so they can imagine and dream the game as it's being described. There's nowhere near as much room for the idle chatter that dominates most NFL broadcast booths (I swear they live by the mantra: "NEVER HAVE TWO SECONDS ELAPSE WITHOUT TALKING, COMMENTING, BLATHERING, LAUGHING, GIGGLING. EVER.")
In short, I love the storytelling aspect to radio announcing, but I still wouldn't choose it over the convenience and beauty of watching the game, and I think John Murphy is a talented and classy announcer, and I hope the Bills' do well enough this year that his voice will get some national play on highlight clips and such.
I would love to hear your thoughts on Murph, Van Miller, and radio if you got'em . . .