Hear how voice of the Atlanta Hawks got started behind the microphone at the age of 12!

In this video

Hear how voice of the Atlanta Hawks got started behind the microphone at the age of 12!

– On this episode of C Level, I talk with Bob Rathbun, announcer for the NBA Atlanta Hawks. So Bob, thank you for coming down. – My pleasure. – So, I know a little bit of your background but for the small percentage of people that don’t know you, give me your story, how did ya get started out and…? – Sure, I grew up in Salisbury, North Carolina. – [Chris] Okay. – My dad was transferred in the company he worked for, and it turned out to be probably the greatest thing that ever happened to the family and to me. And one day, when I was 12 years old, I don’t remember being prodded by my parents, I just did it on my own, I picked up the telephone and I called the radio station in our hometown. – At 12? – [Bob Rathbun] At 12-years-old. – Okay. – WSTP, Salisbury, North Carolina. And I told the announcer on duty, now remember this is a teeny, tiny station. And the announcer on duty, a gentleman with the name of John Bulser answered the phone, and this is a thousand years ago, right? And I said to him I love the station and I like listening to sports and all that. He said, “Well, come on down, I’ll give you a tour.” So my mom and dad took me down and I got a tour of the station and instantly fell in love with it. And that turned into an every Sunday ritual, where John would be announcing and I would go down and I would do stuff that 12 year old kids would do, took out the garbage, you know. – Do what you could, sweep the floor, right? – Right, exactly. And did things that now, nobody knows what you’re talking about. I filed records. – [Chris] Oh wow, yeah. – And I cleared the wire. You say that to somebody today, cleared the wire? – What are you talking about? Right. – But, you know, those of us who know, it’s the teletiming, and that’s how the news came in. So that’s what I did and one Sunday, the sportscaster showed up and he said, “Well, if you love sports and you love radio, help us broadcast these American Legion baseball games.” We had a great team, a state championship team. Everybody in town loved them, high school kids. And they packed the park to watch them and that’s why the games were bring broadcasted on the radio. And I would keep stats and get the guy a hotdog and that was it until one day, at age 12, the announcer says, “Well,” and I’ll tell you his name in a minute. He said, “Are you ready to make your debut?” And I said, “Well, I guess I am.” and I got the mic in the bottom of the seventh inning of this baseball game. And this team hit three home runs all season, two inside the park and one when I had the mic. Our first baseman, big left-handed hitting guy named Joey Brown turns on. Oh this is forever ago, and he turns on one and skys it over the fence, over the scoreboard, over the Coke sign, gone, home run, and I got to call it. I have no idea what I said. – It’s the excitement. – The announcer got the mic back at the top of the eighth inning and he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been waiting all season to call a home run.” He said, “When we hit one, I got this 12 year old kid on the mic.” – That’s awesome. – And that’s how it started for me. The announcer was Marty Brennaman. And if you’re, any baseball fans in the audience know him as the Hall of Fame announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, who is going to retire in 2019 at age 77. Still going strong, but he’s gonna finally call it quits. And he was just beginning his career at that point, coming out of college, and so that’s how we got linked at that age. And my voice was a little higher than him – Just at 12, you know? – The news guy called the, we had a female police dispatcher in Salisbury. Our news guy would call her every morning to get the recs of whatever happened in town that night. And she said, “Warner, did you listen to the American Legion ball game last night?” Yes. Well who was that little girl Marty had on broadcasting the game? And that was me! And that’s how it started. Now I didn’t go back on the air of course ’till I was done with high school. In fact, I was a sophomore in college, and I worked at the station. I worked at the newspaper in town. And the beginning of my sophomore year, I started at UNC Charlotte. And I got a call from the station. They said, “Hey, this sports guy is leaving, do you want the job?”

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