Paul Rogers was already involved in sports broadcasting in his early twenties, his distinctive voice and love of sports making him a natural behind the microphone. More than 40 years later, he has been inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.
The likable Louisville native, who was hired by WHAS Radio soon after graduating from college, has called hundreds of Churchill Downs racing events over the years, including several Kentucky Derby and Breeder’s Cup events, and numerous Kentucky State High School Basketball Tournaments. He is best known, however, as the Voice of the Louisville Cardinals, calling UofL football games since 1992 and UofL basketball since 1995.
Among Rogers many admirable qualities is that he is so down to earth, never resorting to the in-your-face approaches so typical of so many radio personalities these days. His emphasis, first and foremost, has always been on accuracy, respecting the coaches and athletes for their accomplishments, never diminishing individuals or teams he has been entrusted to cover. He’s very approachable, the notoriety never having gone to his head. A model for other sportscasters to emulate, respected for his humble attitude and his considerable abilities.
“When I first learned I had been voted into the Hall of Fame, I had a mix of reactions,” he said in his acceptance speech Wednesday. “I was humbled, honored, overwhelmed, and mostly I felt supremely unqualified. I asked if they were adding a non-athletic section to the wall at the KFC Yum! Center. Not that I was a total klutz. I mean I did play several sports growing up, and was even good enough to be a part time starter on a high school basketball team (at Eastern) … I realized I was not an elite athlete, but I sure liked being around athletes and talking about sports. So I put those two things together and it was obvious…I would be a sportscaster”
Rogers was a sophomore at the University of Kentucky when Don Wheeler, who ran the student radio station, hired him to do a daily sports show and call UK football and basketball games. After graduating he was interviewed by Cawood Ledford at WHAS and hired Rogers the next day. “To come straight out of college and have the opportunity to work for, and with, a legendary man like Cawood, and at a station with the history, tradition and clout of WHAS was way more than I could have hoped for,” he said. “Van Vance was part of the sports department and he welcomed me with open arms, and guided and encouraged me, as did many others along the way.
“That was nearly 41 years ago and here I still am…stuck in the same job. I just can’t seem to get a promotion,” he said. “Heck, how can you be promoted when you start at the top. While I have covered virtually every sport over the years, my primary circuit eventually evolved into University of Louisville football and basketball, and thoroughbred racing, mainly at Churchill Downs.
“This is what I always wanted to do, only it’s worked out even better than I could have imagined. I’m often asked which sport do I like best. And truthfully, the answer is, ‘whichever one is in season.’ I mean, you call a Sugar Bowl win over Florida and think how can it get better than that. Then a few months later you call a national championship basketball game, and think, how can it get better than that.
” Then a month later you’re hearing the crowd roar as you call the Kentucky Derby and you wonder how can it get better than that! I shake my head in wonderment that I have been able to call Kentucky Derbies, and Breeders Cups, and to be along for the ride as the University of Louisville reached previously unimaginable heights in its athletic prowess.”
Other members of the 2014 class were Susan Bradley-Cox, Stan Hardin, the late Rudell Stitch, Bill Miller and Charles Redd Crabtree. The Valhalla Golf Club was also inducted as an institution.