Recreating baseball: Tulsa Oilers broadcasts in the '70s

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I received an email of appreciation about the BatesLine entry on Radio's Online History Resource, and I was asked how I find this stuff. In this case, I had done a Google search for Hal O'Halloran -- his name had come up in an email conversation among a group of us who were regular listeners and callers to Hal's sports talk shows in the late 1970s and early 1980s on KXXO, KTOW, and KELI.

As it happened, the reader who asked the question, radio veteran Chuck Fullhart, had worked with Hal in the 1970s, and he had an interesting story about one Tulsa station's broadcasts of our minor league baseball team at the time, the Tulsa Oilers of the American Association:

I had the pleasure of working with Hal doing the Oiler broadcasts one season. If memory serves me correctly, it was the time after he had left 8 and had started doing the talk shows.

My job as PD at KBJH, later KCFO was one of the more interesting and challenging that I held while worshipping at the Shrine of The Golden Transmitter.

And working with guys like Hal made it a real pleasure.

The station income went into a black hole in the college books somewhere (the licensee was American Christian College-Billy James Hargis's school that he founded), and we were constantly looking at sports events and anything that we could peddle to make money in the afternoon and evening hours.

What you heard was what you got with Hal. Really just a nice guy, and extremely knowledgable as a broadcaster and sportscasster. That was 8's loss.

We just provided Hal with a mixer and mike, and made sure that the phone line was installed, and Ma Bell managed to put a few gray hairs on my less that plentiful head of hair by getting the installation done an hour before an away match started.

KCFO also made a deal with the devil, A. Ray Smith, to carry the Tulsa baseball games for about 2 seasons.

I didn't have to deal directly with the gentleman, but I had heard the stories about him for years.

Terry Green was the announcer on the payroll at the time with the team.

The first year, it was just putting in the phone lines to the away games, and selling the time.

The second year, after looking at the costs, someone made the decision that we would not carry the away games,since the cost of the phone loops were to expensive, and that the away games had to be recreated.

This was a real challenge for a station with no sound library, and a relatively primitive setup with equipment. Lots of mikes, and a couple of studios, but not much else.

We finally went to a few of the games, recorded the background sounds, bats cracking, cheering, etc. and put them on carts.

When Terry was in the studio for the away games, he would crack a bat, or the guy on the board at the time would crack the bat, and make sure that the crowd cheered, etc.

It was hard to believe that we were actually doing that in the early 70s, when it probably had not been done since the mid 50s.

One of my most prevelant memories is Terry's recovery after asking some ball player a question during the pre game or post game when he would interview and spotlight the various players, and there being nothing but dead air for 30 seconds while the highly paid, athletically talented but either not too interested or just bored player would either not respond or just grunt a yes or no. That's the best training in the world, and I think all three people listening at the time realized it.

Many thanks to Chuck for allowing me to share this story on BatesLine. For more of Tulsa's sportscasting and baseball history, be sure to check out, where you can find some of my reminiscences about Hal O'Halloran, too.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 8, 2010 9:53 AM.

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