John Ramsey, a longtime local radio personality and comedian, has joined the ESPN 680 radio lineup. He’s a staunch University of Louisville fan with the knowledge of the local sports scene to quickly become a force.
He’s going to provide a strong counter-punch to Matt Jones, the biased University of Kentucky fan, blogger and commentator, who delights as much in disparaging UofL athletics as he does in covering UK sports.
One difference is that Ramsey, a Ballard grad, actually played sports, including football and track. And he’s knowledgeable, with a quick wit and a wide assortment of skills
Ramsey strongly favors UofL even though he was once a member of UK’s track team. “What I didn’t like was the whole elitist thing with UK where they didn’t want to play UofL for so many years, like they were so far above us,” he said Monday on his 10 a.m. radio show. “It’s all about relationships with me. I got to know UofL coaches like Denny Crum, Howard Schnellenberger and other coaches over the years, and I’m a UofL fan.”
Among Ramsey’s considerable talents are his skills as an impressionist, often mimicking Howard Schnellenberger, Muhammad Ali and the late Howard Cosell. He had the hosts in stitches on ESPN’s Early Birds show with a recent Schnelly call-in. Ramsey and Ali are, in fact, close friends. Watch for his exposure to quickly expand at ESPN.
He continues to host WAVE 3 Listens Live daily at noon on TV, and has worked for several local radio stations over the last 15 years. He also is vice president of marketing and government affairs for the Ali Center and has worked in sports marketing at UofL. He also has performed at the Comedy Caravan.
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.
Earl Cox, who played a pivotal role in local sports coverage for over five decades, recently decided to call it quits, a retirement that almost went unnoticed unless one subscribes to the Voice-Tribune in St. Matthews.
Cox, who is 83, was the former sports editor at the Courier-Journal where he had worked for 33 years. He retired from the C-J in 1978, joining the St. Matthews weekly newspaper for another 25 years.
A native of Irvine, Ky., Cox had a huge affinity for University of Kentucky athletics and the sports pages of the C-J and the Voice Tribune often reflected his enthusiasm for the Lexington school. Not that he ever shorted the University of Louisville, Cox equally committed to in-depth coverage of UofL sports.
During his tenure and afterwards, the C-J has always been harshly criticized by fans of both schools for favoring the rivals. Visitors from another planet could easily have surmised that Louisville was home of two universities. Personally, I’ve always believed the hometown university should be given precedence over a school 70 miles away. But that’s what you get when hire a journalist from rural Kentucky overseeing sports for a metro newspaper.
The rumor about Kevin Ware being suspended from the University of Louisville basketball team during the summer originated from a University of Kentucky fan site.
Should have been the first clue that there was little substance to the report.
Later Rick Pitino denied it, saying he was having too much fun celebrating UofL’s third national championship to suspend anybody. But with Rick no one really knows for sure but Rick.
Ware shoveled dirt on the rumor during Media Day activities at the KFC Yum! Center Saturday.
“As far as I know, I saw it on a (University of Kentucky fan) website,” he said. “That’s when my sister brought it to my attention. I wouldn’t say they started it for sure, but that’s the only thing I can think of. Just the whole UofL-UK thing. That’s as far as it goes for me.”
In other words, a UK fan site is not a good source for news on UofL athletics. Plentiful source for rumors, however.
Another sweltering day, a lightly-regarded opponent, and an early kickoff.
Players and fans rolling out of bed early, disgruntled by a noon start, going through the motions. How much money does the football program get for an ESPN3 game, one that’s available only on the Internet? Not nearly enough. Noon kickoffs scheduled the next two weeks, and who knows how many more after that.
Give plenty of credit to all the fans who made it, all 53,647 of them, comprising the fifth largest crowd in University of Louisville history. An impressive showing, hopefully indicating that fans are solidly on board in spite of who UofL may be competing against in a given game, especially impressive so early in the day.
UofL was a 40-point favorite going into the game, which when translated means the odds makers were expecting UofL to win by 50 or 60 points. Charlie Strong could have threatened his players within an inch of their lives but there was no way they weren’t going to have a letdown against Eastern Kentucky.
A great opportunity for EKU, playing one of the nation’s top 10 teams for the first time ever, the adrenaline flowing, every reason to be highly motivated.
EKU was psyched enough to expose a familiar weakness in UofL’s kickoff returns and coverage, the Cardinals gaining only 23 yards on their one return while Eastern Kentucky appeared menacing at times, racking up 176 yards on six returns, the last possible tackler making the stop on a number of them.
Meanwhile, UofL’s running game appeared almost non-existent, with the home team managing only 78 yards while EKU was putting up 107 of them. The longest runs of the game were eight yards each by Senorise Perry and Dominique Brown. Michael Dyer’s best was a six-yard carry.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater sensed some lethargy on the offensive line and, at one point, felt compelled to pull them aside on the sideline, trying to get them motivated, wanting to get the running game going. Still the protection was good enough for him to complete 23 of 32 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns — two to DaVante Parker, one to Damian Copeland, and another to Gerald Christian.
Another noon start next week at the University of Kentucky, which passed for 413 yards in dismantling Miami of Ohio, 41-7 on Saturday. The Wildcats will be highly motivated and wide awake, with every intention of surprising their highly ranked arch rival.
Louisville had better be wide awake and ready to rumble after still another early wakeup call.