Paul Rogers has been the “Voice of the Cards” with WHAS for the better part of 40 years. His unmistakable voice, professional delivery, and consistent approach makes him one of the best in the business.
A lot has changed over the years with the higher availability of games on TV, internet, and mobile devices, but that hasn’t stopped Louisville fans interest in hearing Paul Rogers call a game when they can. I caught up with Paul Rogers to unlock some stories from his 40 years on the job.
Rolling back to the early 70’s, Paul recalls being hired by radio legend Caywood Ledford. “When I was in college, I sent him a few tapes to critique. In 1973, WHAS had an opening. I applied and when the phone rang, it was Caywood saying ‘Boy, you have really improved’. He called me in to talk, and was going on and on about all the things we were going to do. I was sitting there a little confused, so I had to ask him, ‘Am I hired?’ He was a great friend, mentor, and boss. He was a professional and a real gentleman.” As Paul spoke of Caywood, it was easy to see that he missed his good friend.
During forty years of broadcasting, plenty of coaches have come and gone. Paul had radio broadcasts with nearly every one. Like most people, I wondered who he enjoyed interviewing the most. “All the coaches have been cooperative and fun. I always give Howard Schnellenberger a lot of credit. We used to have a daily interview show, sometimes we would record a few in a row on the same day, but never once did he blow off the show. He would always come up with something interesting to say. Pitino is a lot of fun, keeps you on your toes, although sometimes after a loss it can be hard. The most fun I had was with John L, everyone felt the same way about John L though.” He mentioned that the coach who holds information closest to the vest was current head coach Charlie Strong. Many might expect Coach Petrino’s name to be mentioned here. “Charlie is a wonderful human being, and a fantastic coach, but every coach is a little different.”
Louisville has enjoyed some great wins over the years. In football, the win over Texas in the 90’s was monumental. I wondered if a big regular season game was just as fun to call compared to a big bowl game, like the Sugar Bowl win over Florida. “It was. There are plenty of landmark games like national championships and Bowl games you remember as being fun to cover, but sometimes the games that help get you there were just as much fun, and Texas was one of them. When Cardinal Stadium got loud, and the noise was bouncing off the roof, and that ole rickety place got to shaking–– those were great games to be a part of.”
Paul always seems to have a game under control when he calls it, so one has to wonder, what he does to prepare. “I do what all fans do, read and absorb as much as I can,” Paul explains, “then as game-week closes in, I will spend a lot of work on the pre-game, which is a 90-minute show. The preparation, interviews, and editing can be time consuming. After that, you learn about the opponent’s team and all the names and numbers. I will keep a chart that shows Louisville’s offense vs. opponent’s defense, and vice versa.” He threw in that the season starts, he has a great handle on Louisville’s program, so most of his energy is learning about the opponent from week to week.
It can’t always go right, and this job has pitfalls like any other. I asked Paul what he worries about going wrong in a game. “Are we on the air was always #1, more so years ago than now. Thankfully, I now have an engineer with me , but I used to be in charge of fixing those issues. Another would be staying composed when things get crazy in a game, because there is someone listening that is depending on you to let them know what is happening. There are some stadiums where sight lines aren’t very good. So it is hard to read players numbers.” Paul went on to mention how in last year’s Louisville football game against Rutgers, the special uniforms Rutgers broke out––black jersey with silver lettering–– were nearly impossible to read from the both, making opponent play calls really challenging.
Wanting the inside scoop, I asked if he had anything funny happen to him on a broadcast, although the story he shared sounded more painful in nature. “Calling the Notre Dame game last year (went to five overtimes), I made a costly mistake. At half time, I decided that I didn’t need to use the restroom for one of the few times this year. That turned out to be a problem, because there are no provisions for commercials in overtime. I couldn’t leave the microphone, so I went the whole game, and 5 overtimes without a break, and that was getting pretty uncomfortable.”
There have been a lot of changes in sports over the years. Paul noted some of them. “In basketball the style of play has become so physical. In football the speed of the game has really changed. In all of college sports it has become so big, almost corporate. Everything is big sponsors, and media coverage. It’s really big business.”
Paul does get a chance to enjoy himself, he isn’t all radio. Playing golf, spending time with family, going out to dinner, and horse racing are passions of his. He still tries to bet one or two races a day to stay in touch with it since he covers that for WHAS as well.
As Louisville will be moving on to the ACC in 2014, it is yet another change Paul will be involved with. I asked him what his thoughts are for Louisville’s future were in the ever changing landscape of conference re-alignment. “I think Louisville is on solid ground. The only concern I would have are with people’s expectations to be too high too early. We may not challenge for a title coming in in the first year, it might take some time to adjust to the new league.”
The “Voice of the Cards” Paul Rogers isn’t ready to retire yet, and that is good news for Louisville. Louisville Athletics seems to be queued up for many good memories to come, and Paul will be there to make the call. If there is any wisdom we can apply to our daily lives from his 40-years of experience it would be this; be sure to use the restroom at halftime, because you never know when a game will go to five overtimes.