Bob Blackburn (announcer)
Bob Blackburn (October 14, 1924 – January 8, 2010) was the original play-by-play voice of the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association. He called games for the team on KOMO radio and KOMO-TV, and later on KJR radio. His tenure with the SuperSonics included the team's first season in 1967-68 and its NBA Championship run in 1979, when the SuperSonics beat the Washington Bullets four games to one in a best-of-seven series.
Blackburn grew up in the Los Angeles area. As a child, he was bedridden with tuberculosis. While listening to college sports broadcasts, he dreamed of being behind the microphone. Blackburn's uncle had told him his strength was in his "loud voice," so a career in broadcasting seemed like a good idea. He managed to land a job at a California radio station and worked his way up. Eventually, he landed a job with the Portland Beavers Pacific Coast League baseball team, and was part of the Beavers' broadcast duo with Rollie Truitt on station KWJJ for 18 years. During that time, Blackburn was also a play-by-play announcer for University of Oregon and Oregon State University (OSU) football games in Portland, over the Tidewater Oil Company's sports radio network. In 1953, he became the sports director of KEX a station where he also had his own afternoon disc jockey show. In 1957 he moved to KPOJ also doing the afternoon shift. In 1958 he moved to KXL and then back to KPOJ in 1959.
When OSU created its own sports radio network in the late 1950s, Blackburn became the radio voice of Oregon State football and basketball. He was employed by the network flagship station, KEX of Portland. In 2002, Blackburn was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for his Special Contribution to Sports in Oregon.
When the SuperSonics joined the NBA in 1967-68, the team needed a play-by-play voice. Blackburn applied, along with 110 other applicants, and got the job. Blackburn called most SuperSonics games solo during his first 20 years behind the microphone. During the 1987-88 season, KJR added Kevin Calabro to the broadcast team and the duo shared play-by-play responsibilities. In 1992, Blackburn left in what he described as a "forced retirement." Apparently, as good as Blackburn was, Calabro was the new, young blood and just as talented. Typical story of a young buck forcing out the old (not by Calabro's choice). At that time, Calabro became the sole play-by-play voice and the team's second solo play-by-play broadcaster.
During his nearly 60 years on the air, Blackburn called over 7,000 sports events and 2,359 NBA games; the vast majority with the Seattle SuperSonics. As a broadcaster, Blackburn received comparable honors for his contributions to the SuperSonics over 25 years and, since he didn't actually have a "number" to be retired, the SuperSonics retired his microphone.
- Raley, Dan (February 15, 2006), "Where Are They Now? Blackburn gave Sonics a voice", The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
- Hammil, Bruce, "Famed Sports Announcer Blackburn Remembers His FUHS Roots", Fullerton News Tribune, archived from the original on 2011-01-30
- "Hanging From the Rafters". Retrieved 2008-04-25.
- Evans, Jayda (January 10, 2010), "Longtime Sonics broadcaster Bob Blackburn dies", The Seattle Times, archived from the original on 2010-01-12
- McNerthney, Casey (January 10, 2010), "Bob Blackburn, former voice of Sonics, dies", The Seattle Post-Intelligencer