The other day I was home eating lunch, watching the noon news and on comes a commercial for window blinds. I can't remember the company that was being advertised but I do remember the spokesman. The two were old rivals; radio and television wise; Paul James and Bill Marcroft.
For all my years growing up and into my middle 20's there were only three commercial television stations in Salt Lake; KSL, KCPX (now KTVX) and KUTV. Marcroft worked for KUTV and James (who had been on KCPX for years) switched to KSL in the mid-1960's with much fanfare. Both these sports figures were key to getting scores for high school football and basketball scores on Friday nights. But more importantly, James was the voice of BYU and Marcroft was the voice of Utah. KUTV had on the coaches shows for Ute football coach Ray Nagle (and later other various coaches who rotated in a short time through Utah's athletic department when they started their long losing streak to BYU) and basketball coach Jack Gardiner (then Bill Foster, Jerry Pimm, etc.). James hosted the Cougar show on KSL with their various coaches, the most famous of course being football coach LaVell Edwards.
On Saturday afternoons in the fall you could tell what kind of fans people were when they were out on those Indian summer days and had radios. James would be on one persons radio calling play by play on KSL for BYU. Another might be out in the yard working with Marcroft blasting out of their garage as they listened to the Utes games on KALL radio. Not all games were on television, but some big ones were. BYU and Utah was always on television every year, regardless whether it was a sellout or not. But I hardly remember any games between the two in basketball or football that weren't sell outs. On radio the BYU-Utah matchups were broadcast by both stations regardless of where they were played. On television it seems to me that when they were coming from the Utah campus they were broadcast by KUTV and when played at BYU they were on KSL.
Because I was a Utah fan and eventually went to school there, my recollection of broadcasts remain more clear of Utah than BYU, but still it's hard not to remember the excitement James got in his voice when Kresimir Cosic used to make some move to the basket or when Dick Nemelka would make a play that got him going.
Marcroft did the same thing. How many times I heard broadcasts when I was in junior high and high school with him describing the plays of Merv Jackson and Jerry Chambers. And then listening to him on a transistor radio as I sat in the Special Events Center watching Mike Newlin cruise and bruise down the lane toward two more points. Later I remember him lauding Danny Vranes and Jeff Jonas, as well as dozens of other players who Ute fans came to regard as a close friend to themselves through the voice of Marcroft.
Seeing the two of them together on the screen that day at lunch brought back a lot of memories; a time when you didn't have to have a special television station to watch a WAC game like you do the Mountain West games. It was a time when those two guys in some ways defined the rivalry between the two schools; no broadcasters that do games today are like that. KUTV and KALL were so red and KSL was so blue, being on one side or the other you almost hated the stations as much as you did the opposing school.
While the BYU-Utah rivalry remains, it's just not the same for us baby boomers without those two. And games aren't the free fun they once were either. Game tickets are pricey, I think the radio coverage is not near as good as it was in those days and generally the television coverage has gone the way of pay TV.
Oh well. I guess that is just part of getting old.