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Marv Albert Talks About His Life In Broadcasting

Jason Barrett

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There may no sportscaster in history who has better combined all the necessary ingredients — voice, knowledge, presence, style, timing, wit, humor — than Marv Albert. The man is a national treasure, and he is still going strong.

Albert, 74, is entering his 18th season calling NBA games for TNT and nearing 50. The eight-time Emmy Award winner, Curt Gowdy Media Award winner (through the Basketball Hall of Fame) and National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Famer has done just about everything through his 50-year career, but his heart is with pro basketball.

The Brooklyn native recently stopped calling games for the NFL and the NCAA basketball tournament — “had to drop something,” he says — but is doing one or two TNT games a week through the NBA season. Albert also is calling prime-time boxing for NBC once a month.

Marv isn’t the only Albert to make his mark in sportscasting. Brother Al has been television voice of the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers. Brother Steve is currently TV voice of the Phoenix Suns. Son Kenny works New York Rangers’ games on radio as well as play-by-play for FOX’s NFL and major league baseball coverage.

I caught up with Marv shortly before he boarded a plane in his native New York bound for Portland, where he will call the Trail Blazers’ Thursday night matchup with Memphis at Moda Center.

“From New York to Portland is like going to Czechoslovakia,” he cracks. “Portland is one of my favorite stops. I love the vibe of the city, but it’s such a long ride.”

Our Q&A:

Tribune: So many media personalities go by stage names. Your real given name is Marvin Philip Aufrichtig. When did you change it and why?

Albert: I changed it as I entered Syracuse. My brothers Al and Steve did, too. Aufrichtig was a little unwieldy. My parents agreed. An aunt of ours who I’m very close to — she’s still doing well in her 90s — convinced my father it would be a good idea.

Tribune: Your family owned a grocery story in Brooklyn when you were growing up. What led you into broadcasting?

Albert: That was all I wanted to do, for whatever reason. I was interested in writing, too, so it was either sportscasting or sportswriting. In high school, I’d turn the sound down on the TV and call the game. I was able to get access to college games at Madison Square Garden. I’d bring my tape recorder and get a spot in the high press box area and do the games.

Tribune: What’s it like to be part of sportscasting’s first family?

Albert: We all annoy each other, basically. Al and Steve got interested in it because they saw how much I was enjoying it. At first, they worked for me in writing and production. As they progressed, they became very good at it. Then my son, Kenny, picked it up. I have a daughter, Denise, who writes a mom’s blog that has led to lots of TV, and she has a radio show on Sirius.

Tribune: Where did your signature call “Yes!” come from?

Albert: From the great old referee Sid Borgia, who should be in the Hall of Fame and will be eventually. He was very theatrical, an animated official in the style of today’s Joe Crawford. A player would score and get fouled, and Sid would yell, “Yes, and it counts!” When I was growing up, a friend would use the phrase during our schoolyard games. After I started doing the Knicks, it just happened to seep in one day. I remember the play — a Dick Barnett fall-back baby jump shot that banked in during a playoff game vs. Philadelphia. For whatever reason, it caught on. I’m very judicial about using it. It has to be a certain type of shot. I make that judgment a split-second decision.

Tribune: You recently worked a pair of boxing matches on NBC with Bob Costas and Al Michaels. Wasn’t that a lot of gray matter to have in one room?

Albert: All three of us are from New York. Al and I have been very friendly over the years but had never worked together. It was fun. When I go to Los Angeles, my wife and I get together with Al and his wife. Bob lives a couple of blocks from me in New York, so we get together occasionally.

Tribune: What’s your favorite sport to work?

Albert: Easily the NBA. It’s not even close. I’ve always loved football and have done a lot of that and hockey over the years. But the NBA has always been my favorite, and it’s better than ever now.

Tribune: Greatest game you ever called?

Albert: I think more in moments. I was fortunate enough to be part of the era where NBC was calling Michael Jordan’s games. The move he made switching hands against the Lakers. The six 3’s against Portland in the playoffs. Doing the “Dream Team” in ’92. They were the greatest group ever assembled in a team sport. It was chilling to see that particular group of players. And very early in my career, the Willis Reed moment for the Knicks in Game 7 in 1970. The game itself was a blowout, but everything leading up to it for their first-ever championship was unforgettable. I did the Knicks broadcast on the radio. There was no live TV. We got one of the all-time highest radio ratings.

Tribune: What’s the assignment you’ve enjoyed the least?

Albert: At one point early in my career at NBC, they thought I should do track and field. I wasn’t really qualified. I gave it a shot, but I didn’t feel comfortable. It was a wonderful assignment, but it wasn’t for me. I always feel you have to know your limitations. I knew it early in track and field.

Tribune: You mentioned you like Portland. Why?

Albert: It is a terrific place to do games. The way the crowd is, particularly in the really good years … it’s unbelievable to sit there. It feels like a college atmosphere. The fans are so close to the court. And the people — everybody is so nice.

Tribune: When you get away from sports, what is your favorite pastime?

Albert: I read a lot. My wife and I are movie and theater goers. I used to play a lot of tennis, but I’ve pulled back on that. I still work out. You have to stay healthy. Being in New York, you have a lot of choices of things to do.

Tribune: How much longer do you want to keep broadcasting?

Albert: As long I feel I can stay at this level. I’ll know if I am ready to stop. The travel is still OK, because I read a lot on the plane. Usually when guys give it up, travel is the reason. I’m in good shape. I feel as long as you’re hearing the same broadcast you usually do, it’s fine.

To read the full article visit the Portland Tribune where it was originally published

Sports TV News

FOX Doubles Ad Price For Premiere US World Cup Matches

FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of USA/England.

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The 2022 World Cup is underway and the opener received a gigantic ratings increase for FOX Sports. Now, according to a report from Front Office Sports, the network has doubled its ad price for the USA match versus England.

USA/England will air in a lucrative window, at 2:00 PM ET on Black Friday, and FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of the match. That price, according to Front Office Sports reporters Michael McCarthy and Doug Greenberg, is double what the network had asked for from advertisers for other matches.

While the event opener saw a sharp increase, the first match featuring the United States saw a decline from previous World Cup openers for the country. 11.71 million watched the match in the US between FOX Sports and Telemundo. In 2014, 11.1 million watched on ESPN and in 2010 13 million watched the first US match on ABC.

Analysists have predicted FOX Sports could garner nearly $125 million in ad revenue for the duration of the tournament.

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Sports TV News

Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz Announcing World Cup, NFL Thanksgiving Games For 18 Straight Hours Thursday

With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

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With the World Cup happening at an unprecedented time, there were bound to be scheduling conflicts. The conflicts for Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz, however, might be the real unprecedented nature of the event being played in November.

Gurwitz works on Telemundo’s coverage of the World Cup while calling matches as the secondary play-by-play announcer. Beginning at 11:00 AM in Doha, Gurwitz will work the network’s coverage of the event.

But as the soccer day turns to tonight, Gurwitz will call Telemundo’s broadcast of the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings game from Qatar. With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

He will also do the feat again on Sunday, as he’ll broadcast World Cup matches for the network during the day and then announce the Packers and Eagles game for Sunday Night Football.

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Sports TV News

Kevin Burkhardt: ‘Honor To Be In People’s Homes’ During Thanksgiving Broadcast

“There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool.”

Ricky Keeler

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On Thanksgiving, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen will call their first Thanksgiving Day game for FOX when the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET). It’s been a memorable year for Burkhardt and Olsen in their first year as the A broadcast team for FOX that will end in the duo calling the Super Bowl in February.

Burkhardt was a guest on The Season with Peter Schrager podcast this week and talked about the honor of getting the chance to be on the call for a Thanksgiving Day game.

“The whole job is big and we are doing big games every week. There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool. One of them was Dallas-Green Bay, which turned out to be epic a couple of weeks ago.

“The playoffs and the Super Bowl will be great, but Thanksgiving Day. Growing up in a football family, it was kind of eating around both games. Catch the early game, halftime, go throw the football in the street, eat the meal between games, then the Cowboys game comes on, you watch that. Maybe halftime you watch or maybe you throw the football again. Watch the rest of the game, you have dessert after the game. That was the day.

“It is an honor because you are in a lot of people’s homes every week. I feel like you really are in people’s homes…. You are kind of like hugging everybody. I think it’s beyond awesome, I really do.”

Burkhardt mentioned to Schrager that he and Olsen knew they had big shoes to fill after taking over for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (both now at ESPN) and it felt like walking in to a new job, but the A crew at FOX helped them and he liked that he and Olsen got to do it together.

“It’s been awesome. It really has. When you go into a situation like this, Joe and Troy were there for 2 decades, that’s a long time. People have long-standing relationships. Even though I’ve been at FOX for 9 years and Greg was there last year, we are the new guys essentially.

“You walk in, you don’t know how they are going to react to you, what they are going to think of you, if they think you are any good and all that stuff. From Day 1, it was like welcome to the family, we love you. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s been awesome. It felt like we’ve just fit right in. I think there’s been some cool symmetry, the fact that Greg and I got to do it together because we have such a bond.

“The fact that we got to jump in together I think has kind of been fun and helped us both because he knows me really well and I know him really well. Then, it was just getting everyone else to know us and vice versa.”

The one thing that Burkhardt did have to adjust to was a different style of show and that each production team has different viewpoint and creativity.

“The crew I’ve been on my whole life with Pete Macheska and Artie Kempner, they do a different show than Z (Richie Zyontz) and Russo (Rich Russo) do it. It’s not good, bad, or indifferent. Everyone has different viewpoints and creativity. I think it was just getting used to each other in terms of that, but it’s felt like I’ve worked with them for 25 years. It’s felt seamless. It’s felt fun.”

Even though Burkhardt is now the lead NFL play-by-play voice for FOX, that doesn’t mean he is going to change how he does a game.

“I’m not going to change my style or who I am. I’m not saying I’m not open to critiques and wanting to get better and to get coached. The basis of what I do and how I do it, I’m not going to change that now because I’m on the A crew. They liked me enough to put me here, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe tweaks here and there, but if I radically changed now, I’d be a moron.” 

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