For all the decades of University of Hawaii sports on television, the mainstay play-by-play voices who have brought them to us have been few.
You’ve got Jim Leahey now and nearly forever, it seems, but also back, back, back in the day, Mel Proctor, Hank Greenwald, Gary Sprinkle, Joe Moore …
Fact is, it has been a pretty exclusive club over these past 40 years.
And, from the looks of it, one that is about to undergo major change.
When Oceanic Time Warner Cable debuts its UH TV channel this fall, indications are the days of one play-by-play face for all seasons will be over. Instead, what we’re likely to see is one for football, another for baseball, etc., taking in three or more figures across what has become a multi-sport UH spectrum.
Oceanic’s announced appointment yesterday of veteran Dan Schmidt to what had been advertised as its newly created position of general manager/executive producer figures to usher in an era of considerable change. Both from the way UH sports is packaged to how it is delivered as it moves from a quarter century of free, over-the-air TV to cable.
It is a venture likely unique in the country for a local cable distributor. And it was perhaps an indication of the task Oceanic is wrestling with that it said it canceled yesterday’s planned press conference “to take some more time to make sure we can put things together the right way.”
To be sure, Schmidt, 53, who spent 25 years at KFVE and its predecessors, has his work cut out getting the UH channel up and running in a little more than four months. Though many in the industry say if anyone can do it, Schmidt would be the one. “He demands excellence, no excuses,” said a longtime co-worker.
Apart from getting used to finding UH sports somewhere other than its long-running “home team” on channel 5, viewers will likely have to get used to a lineup of sportscasters.
“I can see the logic in it,” acknowledges ironman Leahey, who has done 100 events — or more — a year across seven sports for the better part of a couple of decades. It is an unparalleled run in local sports that has chronicled and mirrored the growth of UH sports.
Indications are the 68-year-old icon will have a place in Oceanic’s batting order, as he should. Though it might no longer be batting cleanup with football and men’s basketball.
One or more could go to his son, Kanoa, though Oceanic officials refuse to discuss candidates and say hirings, like several other areas, “remain up in the air.” Kanoa, along with Robert Kekaula, Howard Dashefsky and Jack Wiers are among the names frequently speculated upon.
Kanoa, 33, has distinguished himself, doing OC 16 high school events and the Diamond Head Classic for ESPN around his KHON sports anchor duties.
“I think any play-by-play announcer in Hawaii aspires to do UH sports, and I take a lot of pride in the fact that my grandfather and father have served as voices for this school and its athletic program,” Kanoa said. “To me, my father is still the guy and still the standard. It would be presumptuous of me to think it is my turn before I have had any formal conversations (with Oceanic).”
Said father Jim: “He’s ready.”
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.