from Pete Arbogast, the voice of the Trojans:
It has been, as many of you know, quite the week for me.
I found out last summer that I would be inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame this week. There was some planning ahead required to be sure. Making sure that everyone that wanted to know or could or should know about it did, without coming off as self-aggrandizing. But it IS kind of a big deal, so there’s some wiggle room for that.
Tickets sold, seating arrangements figured out—it’s quite the party and the men and women who put it on did a great job.
I had to cajole my brother Jerry into introducing me. He likes me well enough, it’s just that he is sometimes painfully shy and has (along with the majority of humans) a fear of speaking in public. Add to that the group of professional communicators and storytellers he would be speaking to made it a daunting moment for him, but he flew through it, as I knew he would. He was just great.
My long time friend Stephanie Truitt, a former member of the greatest marching band ever and great Trojan, wrote my piece in the program. My great friends Paul McDonald and Brian Kennedy bought flowery ads in the program, as did USC.
A large contingent of SC Admins, members of our broadcast team, Marshall Barristers, family, friends and fans were there, along with so man great friends and colleagues from the business.
Some were on the air, or away on business and could not make it, but the crowd was large.
Before the eating of lunch, there are a few awards handed out, and I feel pretty relaxed most of the time, but once in awhile get that little jump in blood pressure. I check to make sure I’m breathing regularly. It may sound funny, but it’s true.
And then all of a sudden, I’m on stage, and they’re standing and clapping for me. And I’m reading a speech that everyone later tells me was the best of the day. They could just be being nice, but I thought it was pretty decent.
I’m trying hard not to run long, so I self-edit about 20% of the speech out as I go along without making it sound disjointed. (Later, I think that it’s a once in a lifetime thing and if I ran over, then so be it. But at that moment I was thinking of being as respectful as possible)
There was a part I wish I had kept in: I was going to talk about teachers being the noblest and most underpaid profession, and that I love to mentor younger announcers and had been trying, so far with no luck, to teach a class at Annenberg in the only thing lacking there—sports play by play (which the guys all want desperately from what they tell me).
Instead, I made contact with the higher ups and LACC who are thinking about putting radio broadcasting back into their curriculum and wanted to know if I might be interested in being a big part of that. Well, yes, yes I would.
The speech rolls on, I catch eyes with Peter O’Malley, then Keith Jackson. Or Bob Miller. I’m not nervous while delivering, but sort of like the guy in ‘Perfect Game’ I see scenes of past radio jobs, and moments with friends in the audience in my mind’s eye while speaking the words from the paper.
My voice caught when I got the part about my parents, grandparents and godfather, all now gone, who were so supportive and proud of me when they were here. That’s a tough thing to talk about in a speech. Maybe the toughest. I was lucky to get through it. Or, if you believe in such things, they helped me get through it.
I thanked everyone I could think to thank, and apologized if I left anyone out…you know who you are.
And then it’s over, I get a nice plaque and a photo or two, and it’s back to the chair to breathe again.
Afterwards, so many well wishers and pictures with all of them and a group photo with other Hall of Famers, and for the first time, I’m invited to be in the shot.
It’s pretty special, an awesome honor to be included with these other men, these greats of this business. I told them early in the speech, that they were my best friends all of these years, even if they didn’t know it at the time.
And I also said that while this is a great thing to have happen half way through ones career, it brings with it the responsibility of continuing to be as good or better the rest of the way, and never rest on this laurel.
The outpouring of generous comments continues on social media: Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been making the rounds on local radio shows and did a podcast with GP today you might have heard. It doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
Yet today, I did the dishes and laundry and took out the trash, did a bunch of data entry at the Y for the kids’ basketball league that opens this Saturday. Just another day in the life.
But I’ll surely never forget yesterday. That sort of thing does not happen all the time.
While the basketball teams suffer in apparent mediocrity this season and await better days ahead, we look forward to spring sports certainly, but most importantly to Feb 4 which looks like once of the best classes perhaps in USC football recruiting history. Time will tell on that hyperbole, but in anyone’s book from where we sit today, it looks like a big one.
And it looks like it might finish with a bigger bang than the loud noises we have already heard, with some very big names heading to HOJO-Beek to practice this fall that will announce on live TV on signing day, much like happened last year.
The dark years are over, we are coming back now. Look out.
Nick Nickson and I were walking off the stage after a last photo and I said to him “Hey, we gonna get the Kings going or what?” And he said, “Hey, we’ve got ‘em right where we want to be, 9th place and out of it in January!”
Marshall at Eagle Rock hoops 4 pm tomorrow. No one else is going to beat these two powers of the Northern League, so the two games between ‘em will tell the tale. Makes the one at their place even bigger for the boys in blue!
Thanks again everyone for your kind words. I do this to make USC sports, and football particularly as entertaining, fun and exciting on the radio as I can. Following in the footsteps of the great Hearn, Walden and Kelly, who did it so well before me. Fight On!