Born in the 1920s, radio station KMOX grew into a 50,000-watt powerhouse whose signal reached across the country, launching the careers of a pantheon of sports broadcasters. Even as radio's signal fades, the station thrives as a touchstone for its city
THE VOICE sounds almost bored, its inflections few, if any. The accent is Midwestern, and therefore not an accent at all, and after so many years a crackling undertone permeates the tape.
By the 1930s, France Laux was known as the Dean of Baseball Announcers. He had called St. Louis Cardinals and Browns games since the 1920s, becoming an institution throughout the Midwest, and yet few today remember his name. He is no Jack Buck, no Vin Scully, no Harry Caray. But the story begins here, with him.
In the winter of 1938, Laux was in the middle of his nightly Hot Stove League radio program on KMOX, the primary radio station in St. Louis. Laux was waiting on a guest to join the broadcast. As the clock ticked, his producer, Larry Neville, realized that the guest was not going to show. Desperate for a fill-in, Neville ran into the hallway, in search of the station's longtime janitor, Sol Williams.
Williams was known around the office for his knowledge of baseball, and Laux needed someone, anyone, to eat up some airtime. Neville told the janitor his plan and ushered him into the studio. Laux, without a clue as to what had come to pass, looked up and, without missing a beat, announced, "Our guest for the evening is the celebrated sports authority, Sol Williams."
Williams's discourse was neither flowery nor polished, and it also soon became apparent that he was African-American—a potential point of contention in segregated St. Louis. But letters to the station poured in, praising the decision to have him on. Listeners loved Williams, and so he began to appear on Laux's program on a regular basis.
Though Laux would continue to host some of KMOX's sports programs, in time his dry tone would give way at the station to a more bombastic, theatrical style of broadcasting. KMOX became known as the 50,000-watt station heard round the country, the home of Caray and Buck—and later of Bob Costas, Dan Kelly, Dan Dierdorf, Joe Buck and more. Under esteemed and fearsome general manager Robert Hyland, who ran the station from 1955 until his death in '92, KMOX invented sports talk radio, and listeners across the country remember it as one of the powerhouses of a medium whose most powerful days are history.
In 1938 the station was a fledgling version of what it would become. It was progressive. It took risks. It talked sports with the smartest voices out there. It was the best.
KMOX WAS founded in 1925. Originally the owners hoped to use the call letters KVSL, with VSL an acronym for Voice of St. Louis. With those letters already taken, however, the owners settled for KMOX, with MO symbolizing Missouri and X added arbitrarily by the Department of Commerce. Five years later the station's wattage increased from 5,000 to 50,000, enabling listeners from as far away as, reportedly, East Africa and Guam to pick it up. In the first decade of its existence it covered Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight and triumphant return to St. Louis, as well the first post-Prohibition case of Budweiser's being shipped to the White House. In those early years KMOX broadcast Cardinals games sporadically, but in 1955 it gained exclusive rights to the team, piping games across the country, building a regional, if not national, fan base and solidifying its reputation as the best sports radio station in America.
RON JACOBER, KMOX broadcaster from 1969 to '70, 1987 to 2014 In the 1930s there were a few radio stations in the country designated as 50,000-watt Clear Channel for national defense purposes, so no other station could be on that frequency at that time. The signal, on a good night, gets into 44 states.
JOHN KELLY, son of renowned hockey announcer Dan Kelly I remember we had a cottage in Canada, and my dad would be on the back porch at night listening to Cardinal baseball.
JACOBER A lot of the [Blues] players' parents would listen to the games in Canada. After a game in Toronto, Dan Kelly and I got in a cab. He started talking. The cab driver turned around and said, "You're Dan Kelly. I listen to Blues games in my taxi because I don't like the Toronto announcers."
BILL WILKERSON, KMOX broadcaster from 1969 to '96 I was attending a Senior Bowl in Mobile one year. I went to a banquet the night before, and another guy and I reached for a seat at the same time, and I said, "Excuse me." The guy said, "I know who you are." I said, "I'm not from Mobile." He said, "I am, but I know who you are. You're from KMOX. I listen to you every night."
FRANK ABSHER, KMOX broadcaster from 1979 to '83 Senator Tom Eagleton would tell us that when he was in Washington, there was an area [by the National Cathedral] where congressmen could pick up KMOX on their car radios to get Cardinals baseball.
JOE BUCK, KMOX broadcaster off and on from 1987 to 2006, son of Jack Buck My dad would get letters from people in Africa on a pretty consistent basis.
JACOBER The KMOX signal created a lot of Cardinals fans in Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky. If you look at license plates on the weekend for a Cardinals series, a high percentage are out-of-state. We've always felt that part of it was because of KMOX.
BOB COSTAS, KMOX broadcaster, full-time from 1974 to '81, then off and on until the early '90s The Cardinals were for a long, long time the westernmost and the southernmost franchise. People talk about regional franchises, and the Cardinals are perhaps the most regional franchise in baseball history.
ABSHER I, as a kid growing up in southern Illinois, can remember in the 1950s walking down the streets of the town, following Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck from house to house, through the screen door. Everybody felt that this was their team, because it was such an integral part of their lives.
COSTAS When I was a kid, my dad would send me out to the driveway. He was a gambler, and apart from the games that you could see on Long Island, the only way you could track bets would be to hope that on a clear night you could pick up other radio stations. There was KMOX in St. Louis, and I would try to pick up the Cardinal game or the occasional St. Louis Hawks basketball game. I would sit there twisting that dial, kind of calibrating it like a safecracker, at 10 or 11 years old. If the atmospheric conditions were right, sometimes clearly and sometimes crackling and static, you could pick up Harry Caray and Jack Buck doing the Cardinals.
LOU BROCK, Cardinals outfielder from 1964 to '79, in his Hall of Fame speech One summer night [in Collinston, La.] while searching the dial of our old Philco radio, I came across a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals. This game was being broadcast by Harry Caray and Jack Buck. I was so overwhelmed by this game that I thought I had tuned into another world, a world of genuine expression of feeling, in which life had no facade and that hurt and loneliness were not the natural price for being alive. Such a world was in total contrast to my surroundings.... Through KMOX, baseball fed my fantasies about what life offered.
Since the 1950s, the Cardinals job at KMOX has been regarded as one of the premier jobs in sports radio. When Hyland took over as the station's general manager in '55, a golden era began at KMOX in both news and sports. The station made CBS, its parent company, so much money that it functioned as a nearly autonomous entity.
COSTAS In the '60s and early '70s when I went to Syracuse, radio still mattered a whole lot. The idea of radio, the romance of it, the power of it, its primacy over television—it's hard to explain to a younger person today. The importance of radio to a sports fan has diminished because there are so many other ways to get stuff, but it was so powerful and so much a part of people's imagination.
WILKERSON KMOX was St. Louis. Robert Hyland lived and died for that station. The man worked on Saturdays and never took a vacation. He told all of us, he said, "This city is your life."
JACOBER The station was bigger then than it is now in terms of its prominence in the marketplace because there was no competition to speak of. FM radio wasn't as strong, and there was no ESPN, no SportsCenter, nothing like that. The station had everything.
COSTAS In the decades preceding me and well into the '90s, KMOX was truly like The New York Times of St. Louis and of the region. Radio stars at KMOX were bigger stars than on television in St. Louis.
KMOX in the 1960s, '70s and '80s was a behemoth. The station tackled national issues with authority, believing it was the voice of record for a region, not just a city. And with the talent the station had, Hyland figured he should make the most of his resources—even if that meant sending a broadcaster to two or three games in as many cities in one weekend.
JOHN KELLY My father and I would drive down on Friday afternoon to [the University of Missouri in] Columbia. Saturday morning we'd get up and go to the game. I would spot for him at the Mizzou game, and then Mr. Hyland arranged for my dad to have an escort back in a state trooper car. He would get my dad back in time for the Blues' game that night. We would go home, get in the car, go to the hockey game. He would announce the game, and then on Sunday, we would get up and announce the [Cardinals' football] game at Busch Stadium. He would work three games in about 26 hours, and I was beside him for all three.
ABSHER It's a Saturday afternoon. I'm on air in the studio, and Bob Hyland had decided earlier that week that he wanted to broadcast three games at once. He had ordered in every game, and the phone lines had been set up. A producer sat in one room with one game going on. We had game number 2 on the air, and I had the third game in one ear and Mr. Hyland in this ear. Paul Grundhauser, an engineer, was running the board. Mr. Hyland would say, "What's going on in Milwaukee?" I would tell him. Then he'd say, "Take that game." So they'd put that game in my ear so we could do a clear join. I would say, "They're in the bottom of the third, two men on, and so forth. Let's go to Milwaukee." We broadcast three games simultaneously that afternoon. It was amazing. The adrenaline. No hitch.
WILKERSON No radio station in the world did what we did. Hyland took great delight in doing things no one else could do. The first thing he told me when I came there was, "This is the greatest radio station in the world, and you are privileged to be working here."
St. Louis was the perfect city for a station like KMOX, and for a good portion of its population, its staff, especially its sports staff, became like family.
TOM ACKERMAN, KMOX broadcaster, 1997 to the present There is no city quite like [St. Louis]. It's a different place. This is not really a transient city. Most people that come to the game, whether they're from St. Louis or not, they've been Cardinals fans for a long time. They've listened to the game since birth. Their parents listened to it. Their grandparents listened to it.
JOE BUCK I learned as a kid that when everybody else was opening presents on Christmas morning, we were producing a radio show out of our house. Come Christmas morning at six o'clock, some radio engineer was ringing the doorbell, and they were setting up radio equipment in the house. My dad and mom would have carolers and sports stars like Brett Hull and Stan Musial and Ozzie Smith come by. I had a segment when I was probably 12. It meant a lot to people who were shut-ins, people in an old-folks home, people who had no family.
SOME OF the biggest names in sports broadcasting got their starts or spent time at KMOX. Harry Caray broadcast the Cardinals from 1945 to '69, Jack Buck from 1954 to 2001. Bob Costas began his career broadcasting the ABA's Spirits of St. Louis on the station, and Dan Kelly, one of the greatest hockey announcers of all time, called Blues games for two decades beginning in 1968. Bob Starr worked for KMOX in the 1970s, and before Joe Garagiola became known for his roles on The Today Show and NBC's Game of the Week, he called Cardinals games in the 1950s and '60s. Joe Buck, too, got his start at the station, beginning with a "sports report" broadcast when he was 18, and football announcer Dan Dierdorf, who had a Hall of Fame career with the Cardinals, spent years calling games there as well.
Over time, many of these men—there were big-name women, too, like Anne Keefe, who did news and on-air interviews, but few in sports—moved on to national jobs, but even today, they still identify as KMOX alumni. Their tenures there left behind years' worth of unforgettable calls and thousands of memorable stories.
COSTAS I think all of us still think of ourselves as alums of KMOX. We ought to have a reunion.
ABSHER I have a photograph, low-resolution, of Harry Caray, Jack Buck and Joe Garagiola doing the play-by-play from the bleachers at Sportsman's Park. Joe's the only one wearing a hat, of course, because of his bald head.
COSTAS Harry Caray and Jack Buck were one of the greatest duos ever. They were so dynamic. They're two of the greatest baseball announcers ever, with distinctly different styles in the same booth and the same time at or near the peak of their powers.
JOE BUCK When my dad started, Harry Caray was the main man, and he kind of let my dad know in no uncertain terms that he was the main man. If there was something big going on in a Cardinals game, he'd tap my dad on the shoulder, and Harry would sit down and [call] it.
JOHN ROONEY, Cardinals broadcaster, 2006 to the present Harry Caray was bigger than life. Sometimes what he said and what people were watching might have been two different things, but he had that sense of adventure, that sense of anticipation.
The biggest of the names at KMOX was and always will be Jack Buck. He was the station's biggest star, and for what he did on the airwaves and in the community, he was the second-most-adored man in St. Louis—behind only Stan Musial. Everyone has his or her own Jack Buck story.
COSTAS When I met Jack Buck, his first line to me was, "How old are you, kid?" I was 22, and I looked like I was 11. I told him, and he said, "I have ties older than you."
ACKERMAN My first day at the station, I walked into the office, and I said, "Mr. Buck, I'm Tom Ackerman, and I just started here. It's a pleasure, sir. I'm honored. I've been a big fan my whole life." He stands up, sticks his hand out, and there's this hand that's shaken the hand of all these famous people. He looks at me, and he goes, "What kind of pizza do you like, kid?" I said, "Pepperoni." He said, "I'll buy it if you go downstairs and get it."
JACOBER Jack had a very good expense account with Anheuser-Busch when he was doing the games. You could never ever pick up a check anywhere you were with Jack. You'd go to a restaurant after a game or even on the road—I've seen a bowl of soup cost him $400. But even more significant than that is, Jack always knew the cleaning people's names. He knew everyone's name. He'd shake hands with an intern, and they'd find $50 or $100.
He would read incessantly on the road, but he would never read sports books. It was biographies. He would do a lot of talk shows back in those days, a nonsports talk show. The guy could talk about anything. He knew everything.
In its heyday KMOX's broadcasts—and broadcasters—were always memorable, but they weren't always perfect. With such big personalities and the freedom to ad-lib came many an opportunity for humor—sometimes planned, often not.
ABSHER [In 1977] they had three announcers [for Cardinals games]: Mike Shannon, Buck in the middle and Bob Starr, Bob being the funniest man I've ever met in my life. There would be two announcers on duty during any inning. The third one could go to the bathroom. One day, the St. Louis Master Bakers Association brought in this cheesecake to talk about bakery week, or something. This woman, Miss Cheesecake, brought this huge cake, and the chair that was open was Bob Starr's. Starr hears none of the promo, and as Miss Cheesecake is leaving, he's coming back into the booth. He sits down and looks in front of him and sees this cake she's left behind. Here's what the listeners heard on the radio. Buck: "Bob Starr, see Miss Cheesecake there?" Starr: "I'll tell ya, I'd like to try a piece of that right there." There's a long pause, and Shannon just absolutely loses it. Starr thought they were talking about the cake. And then Buck goes right back into the ball game.
JOE BUCK It was my 18th birthday, and my dad took me to New York. It was Joe Magrane's major league debut and Whitey Herzog's 1,000th win. I was in the back of the booth, and I had been practicing broadcasting into a tape recorder. My dad says, "Now, to take us to the fifth inning, the birthday boy, Joe Buck." I'm begging him no, silently, but he and Mike got up and left the booth. I had to run down there and do the inning of play-by-play, which was the quickest, thank God, in the history of the game. I did it, got through it, and Colin Jarrett, who was a longtime radio engineer from Trinidad, he had this heavy accent, is waiting in the back of the booth. I said, "Well, Colin, what did you think of that?" He said, "Lacked description."
At KMOX baseball was religion, but its celebrity broadcasters weren't limited to baseball. At various times over the years the station held the rights to Missouri football and basketball, the NBA's St. Louis Hawks, the ABA's Spirits of St. Louis, St. Louis Cardinals football and the St. Louis Blues. The men whose voices traveled over KMOX's airwaves narrated generations of memories, and even today it's hard for many of them to go anywhere in St. Louis without being recognized.
JOHN KELLY I probably was nine or 10, and they asked my father to come to speak to my class. I didn't really think anything of it. He came, and he talked about the Blues and broadcasting and whatever, and the kids were just clamoring for autographs. I felt like at the time, "Wow. He's my dad."
ROONEY I hadn't been here but three months in 2006, and I was in Best Buy. An older gentleman, a farmer, came up to me, and he said, "Are you the guy who's doing the Cardinals?" And I said, "Yes, sir, I am." He said, "You replaced Jack Buck," and I said, "Not necessarily." His response: "You ain't Jack Buck." I said, "Well, sir, neither are you."
THE DRIVING FORCE behind all of this—the broadcast talent, the innovation, the power—was Robert Hyland. A St. Louis native and the son of the Cardinals' team doctor, Hyland had a simple mission when he took over at KMOX. He wanted his station to know everything so that he would know everything. And though KMOX was a generalist radio station at its core, Hyland loved sports, and he poured resources into coverage. He wasn't always the nicest man, but he was powerful and fair, and if he liked you, you were golden.
JACOBER He was the intimidating factor: tall, handsome man with a glass-topped desk with nothing on it. There were people who were working there for 20, 25 years, and their knees would shake when they'd walk into that office with him.
COSTAS He looked like central casting sent in a judge or a senator, six-foot-two, always in a gray or black suit, silvery hair, an authoritative figure. He was very handsome. Deep voice. There was a voice-of-God quality to him.
I never called him Bob to his face. I called him Mr. Hyland. Even when I was 40 years old, I said, "Hello, Mr. Hyland."
JACOBER I called him Boss. Nobody called him Bob except for Jack Buck.
COSTAS Hyland was Babe Ruth, the person who made KMOX what it was. He'd come into work every day at three o'clock in the morning. He'd leave and go across the street to the Old Cathedral to mass at 7 a.m. He'd come back, and he'd leave at about a quarter to six. He'd do the same thing on Saturday, but he'd leave at noon, and then he wouldn't work on Sunday.
JACOBER The station was his mistress, his hobby. It was everything. If I needed his total, undivided attention, I would set the alarm for three o'clock in the morning and call him.
In 1960, Hyland bucked the trend of playing hours of music on the air each day. He gave away the station's music library and launched a series of listener call-in shows. He is credited with creating the first sports talk radio show, and though the format is so popular now, Hyland's idea was met with skepticism from most of his colleagues. Their system was working just fine as it was, they believed, and would people even want to call in? Plus, KMOX already dominated its market, so many people wondered why they should bother to shake up such a good thing.
JACOBER People said he was out of his mind. It would never work. Now the format is all over the world. We believe Sports on a Sunday Morning is the longest-running sports show in radio history. It's been on the air for about 55 years on KMOX. It was a show that captured the imaginations of listeners because of how we geared it. It was not really a sports talk show. It was more of a magazine show.
ABSHER Mr. Hyland would do a Sports Open Line roundtable, and sitting around this table just chewing the fat, we'd have Jack Buck, Bob Starr, Dan Kelly, Dan Dierdorf, all of these powerhouse people just talking about sports. It was the perfect thing for a sports nut, and even for the people who weren't nuts about sports, it was entertaining.
JOE BUCK One of the main reasons [it was successful] was that they were willing to reach out and listen to what the listeners had to say. When I was a kid, I think I realized early on the respect you had to have for the listener and the listener's opinion, even when the opinion differed from the host's or was out of leftfield. I would sit there with my dad and watch him do call-in shows—that's what we called them in our family—and I remember him sometimes rolling his eyes about what people would ask or say. Then I would hear the words come out of his mouth, and they'd belie the look on his face. It was respectful to the person who was calling in.
Talk radio in Hyland's day was more about offering listeners options than force-feeding them one-sided opinions—and KMOX has retained much of the more balanced style it pioneered in the 1960s.
COSTAS I think KMOX is still more or less on the civil side of things. There's a difference between having an opinion that's well-grounded and thoughtful and is rendered in a civil way, and just these kind of ad hominem things and potshots that are everywhere. It's certainly what sports has become.
ABSHER On real talk radio on KMOX back in the day, people had to think. Talk radio that forces you to think has now been relegated to NPR. Our goal at KMOX those days was to provide information to the people so that they could make their own decisions.
COSTAS Harry Caray was a bombastic guy, and Jack Buck had a sense of humor, so it wasn't like this was a meeting of the librarians club, but a lot of that [civility] has diminished.
JOE BUCK There's just not a lot of niceness left in talk radio.
As talk radio transitioned, KMOX also aged. Sure, it brought in new, young talent like Joe Buck, Ackerman and others to adapt, but by 2002 the two men whose names were synonymous with the station, Hyland and Jack Buck, had passed away. Hyland went first, in 1992, and after his death nothing was ever quite the same.
WILKERSON Camelot ended then. The great ride was over. I wish I had treasured that time more than I did, because everything I really loved about it was gone.
ABSHER CBS desperately wanted to gain control of KMOX, and there were people at the network who were vying to come in here when Hyland was gone. They couldn't force him to do anything; he was making so much money for the network. He did what he wanted, and that was why we loved working there. He protected us from all of the junk and all of the garbage.
[Hyland] had done things for KMOX that an outsider would look at and say, "What on earth?" He put these billboards all over town that just said, kmox. No dial position, no nothing. He knew it was an institution, that it was of the community. It was just a reminder. The first thing [new general manager] Rod Zimmerman did when he came in was cancel all those contracts, the choicest billboards in town.
JACOBER About two or three weeks after [Zimmerman arrived], he wanted to have a meeting of the sports staff. I made the mistake of inviting everybody, even the people we had part-time. [Zimmerman] walked into the conference room, and his eyes were as big as saucers. He couldn't believe we were paying that many people. About a week later he called me into his office, which was Hyland's office, and he slid a piece of paper to me. There were [eight] names on there. He told me to get rid of them. I had to call [Post-Dispatch columnist and part-time KMOX staffer] Bob Burnes and [former Post-Dispatch editor Bob] Broeg and all of those guys, and Bob Costas, Dan Dierdorf. Those guys were on that list. The next day, it was the story on the front page of the sports [section] of the Post-Dispatch.
Buck's passing was even harder for the city of St. Louis, as many people saw him as one of the last remaining links to the old days.
JACOBER We knew it was going to happen. He had been in the hospital for several weeks, and I remember asking his son, "Joe, I'd like to go by and see Jack." And he said, "No, you don't. He doesn't want you to see him this way." It was inevitable, and we were prepared. But the reality is, it's still hard.
In 2006, KMOX suffered the biggest threat to its business since Hyland's death. After more than 60 years, Cardinals majority owner Bill DeWitt Jr. decided to move the team's broadcast rights and invest in a station of its own, KTRS. Fans across the Midwest—and even fans in the St. Louis suburbs, if conditions were especially bad—at times struggled to hear their team.
JACOBER They had been with us over 60 years when they left. Somehow, someone convinced DeWitt that it would be better to own part of a radio station and make it the Cardinals'. They said he'd make a lot of money or have more exposure. None of it was true, I guess.
ABSHER The Cardinals' front office made a huge, stupid decision. They were thinking only about the money, and frankly, that turned off a lot of people. There are people for whom baseball in St. Louis was sacred, and suddenly it was no longer for the people. It was for the money.
BILL DEWITT III, president of the Cardinals I don't want to say CBS, which owns KMOX, forced our hand. But when we were looking to renew and chose KTRS, [CBS was] saying it wouldn't pay a penny more than value on a rights deal, and we were getting courted by a much more lucrative approach.
JACOBER You can't program sports against Cardinal baseball in this town. You just can't do it. I was doing Sunday mornings during that time, and we would have the Cardinals general manager on. We covered the team almost like we still had the broadcast: pre- and postgame stuff, but not the game itself.
ACKERMAN We came together closer as a group internally, because we knew that a business decision was made and that we had a responsibility as a business, we're not going to stop doing what we do. I was really proud of that first year. I really loved our coverage of the 2006 Cardinals. That was our first year without them, the year they won the World Series. We actually won an award for our World Series coverage.
JACOBER It was a euphoric day [in 2010] when the Cardinals announced they were coming back.
DEWITT I think it was a combination of wanting to return for the history and tradition, [and] the fact that the KTRS model that we pursued frankly wasn't wildly successful economically.
Today KMOX is without Hyland and without Jack Buck, without Costas, Dierdorf and Joe Buck. Jacober retired in the spring. Even so, its 50,000-watt signal prevails, and it's still possible to catch a Cardinals game on KMOX on a summer night in Michigan or on a spring afternoon in Jupiter, Fla. With television having trumped radio years before, there will never be another station like KMOX in its prime, a fact that leaves veterans of the station feeling both proud and bittersweet.
ACKERMAN There's definitely more competition today. There's Internet. There's 24-hour sports television. There's more radio, satellite radio. But there's something about, in this town, having the game on and listening to KMOX. It feels like home. It feels right.
JOHN KELLY I think it's still a very powerful, respected station. My mother, whenever you walk into her house, KMOX is on. I think that especially with the older generations, you get up in the morning, and you turn on KMOX. That's just the way it was in St. Louis. It's obviously not the same with younger people.
ACKERMAN The high standards of the station have stayed the same. We've always had the high expectation of being the station in town and the Cardinals' station, and there are all those legends that have been there. It's a place where when I started, you knew who you were following, so you immediately had to prove yourself and really work in so many different areas, to show a lot of respect to the guys who had done it before you.
COSTAS You're just playing in a higher league, and you've got to step it up. You're surrounded by these people who are masters of their craft, and by osmosis you're going to get better just being around them.
WILKERSON We were in a special place at a special time, and it never was going to be that way again. I don't listen [anymore]. It's just too painful. I don't want to remember the way it was. I don't want to be the old guy who's always talking about back in the day. I try not to live in yesterday. But quite frankly, I enjoyed the way things used to be. It was what we said it was.
JOE BUCK Radio was king, and now it's not king. It's barely a prince.
SINCE THE 1950S, THE CARDINALS JOB AT KMOX HAS BEEN REGARDED AS ONE OF THE PREMIER JOBS IN SPORTS RADIO.
"I NEVER CALLED HIM BOB," SAYS COSTAS. "I CALLED HIM MR. HYLAND. EVEN WHEN I WAS 40, I SAID, 'HELLO, MR. HYLAND.'"
WHEN HYLAND CREATED THE FIRST SPORTS TALK RADIO SHOW, "PEOPLE SAID HE WAS OUT OF HIS MIND," SAYS JACOBER.
WITH TV HAVING LONG AGO TRUMPED RADIO, THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER STATION LIKE KMOX IN ITS PRIME.
Photograph by Dilip Vishwanat For Sports Illustrated
BROADCAST VIEWS From the booth at Busch: For almost 80 years KMOX's broadcasters have called Cardinals games for listeners around the world.
ST. LOUIS MEDIA HISTORY FOUNDATION
HOT SEAT Laux (opposite) called Cardinals games in KMOX's early years, but it was Jack Buck (weathering another St. Louis summer day at Busch Stadium) who came to embody the voice and soul of the station.
[See caption above]
ST. LOUIS MEDIA HISTORY FOUNDATION
TOP DOGS Under the visionary leadership of Hyland (opposite), KMOX broadcasters, including (top, from left) Dierdorf, Costas and Caray, became St. Louis icons, eclipsed only by Musial (above).
COURTESY OF KMOX RADIO
[See caption above]
ST. LOUIS MEDIA HISTORY FOUNDATION
[See caption above]
ST. LOUIS MEDIA HISTORY FOUNDATION
MIKE AT THE MIC After an eight-year career playing for the Cardinals, Shannon has called the team's games since 1972.
DAVID E. KLUTHO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
FAMILY BUSINESS From his father, Joe Buck (right) learned the importance of a broadcaster's listening to his listeners.