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Stern, Bill


STERN, BILL (1907–1971), U.S. sports broadcaster, member of the Radio Hall of Fame, National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, and American Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Stern began broadcasting in 1925, when he was hired to cover football games for wham in his hometown of Rochester, New York. His dramatic flair as an announcer was bolstered by his experience in theater and vaudeville, most notably his appointment as Radio City Music Hall's first stage director when it opened its doors in 1932. In 1937, Stern was hired by nbc and was given his own nationally syndicated, 15-minute radio show, Bill Stern Review. The show, which featured Stern rifling off sports scores, telling stories of amazing coincidences and heroism (some true, some concocted), and interviewing famous entertainers, became a fixture of the radio. From 1939 to 1951, he hosted The Colgate Sports Newsreel, and until 1956, Bill Stern Sports. Stern's voice was also made famous by his calling Friday night fights for nbc, as well as narrating mgm's News of the Day newsreels shown in movie theaters from 1938 to 1952. Stern also played himself in the 1942 movie classic Pride of the Yankees. At the height of his popularity, Stern was selected for 13 consecutive years (1940–52) as the top sports commentator by a poll of American radio editors. Stern broadcast the first-ever televised sports event – Princeton vs. Columbia in baseball – on May 17, 1939, as well as the first televised football game between Waynesburg and Fordham on September 30, 1939. After a health-related hiatus in the late 1950s, Stern returned to finish his broadcasting career as sports director for the Mutual Broadcasting System throughout the 1960s. He wrote Bill Stern's Favorite Sports Stories (1946), Bill Stern's Favorite Football Stories (1948), Bill Stern's Favorite Boxing Stories (1948), Bill Stern's Favorite Baseball Stories (1949), Bill Stern's Sports Quiz Book (1950), and an autobiography, The Taste of Ashes: A Famous Broadcaster's Comeback from Addiction and Disaster (1959).

[Robert B. Klein (2nd ed.)]

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