Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Voice

Growing up (there's much debate on that) as I did in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON there were entire seasons whereby I listened to at least a portion of very game the Detroit Tigers played. You might have noticed the verb "listened" in the previous sentence. Of course the medium was radio (and I still take my radio to games in Seattle to listen to the play-by-play broadcast as the contest unfolds in front of me).

In those days it was the voice of Ernie Harwell and his partner Ray Lane. Curling fans of a certain age at the western terminus of the 401 will recall those excellent broadcasters. Each time a foul ball entered the spectator areas he'd mention that it was caught by someone from East Lansing or Flint (how on earth did he know that the fan lived in those places?). Ernie was that familiar, trusted voice that brought much summer pleasure to me and countless fans of those Tigers of Detroit.

The Toronto Blue Jays from their very inception had the late Tom Cheek and his partner Jerry Howarth there to describe in expert fashion the triumphs and disasters that befell the Lake Ontario twenty-five.

Probably the most well known of the baseball voices belongs to Vin Scully who can describe the play on the field and make his listeners feel as though they are sitting beside him in a way that clearly sets him apart from his colleagues and he's been doing it for 66 straight season for the Dodgers of both Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

Iconic voices have brought many events of significance to us. Those voices become a part of our every day lives and without them, the day just doesn't seem to unfold the way it should.

Curling is no exception. This season marks the 30th campaign that curling's "voice" once again resonates in iconic fashion. Those vocal chords, to the legion of devoted followers of the roaring game know, belong to one Vic Rauter of TSN.

His original partners in the booth were Ray "Moose" Turnbull and Linda Moore. Today he's with people who I'm honoured to call friends, Cheryl Bernard and Russ Howard. They are supported on TSN's multi-platform offering by Cathy Gauthier and Stephanie Ledrew. Brian Mudryk of TSN rounds out the broadcast team.

Vic's voice has been the constant over those thirty years and winter for curling fans just wouldn't be the same without the rises and falls of his colourful and skilful call of the game. He knows most if not all of the answers to the questions he poses to Cheryl and Russ but he asks them on our behalf. Questions he feels the audience might ask, to learn more about the game from the inside.

Over his years Vic has become a trusted friend to Curling Canada, the players, the coaches and his media colleagues. Trust is an on air personality's greatest asset (along with the dulcet tones of his/her voice). Walter Cronkite was so trusted as he brought millions of watchers to CBS News that many felt he was the most trusted on air media personality of his generation. No argument from me on that! In the curling world, Vic is our Walter Cronkite.

At last year's Brier in Calgary, I had the honour of coaching the team from the Yukon. We made it to the play-in game as part of the pre-qualification tournament that now precedes the main Brier draw. We were pitted against a young, skilled and dynamic foursome from Prince Edward Island skipped by one of the really bright lights in curling, Adam Casey. Our game was part of the first draw of the Brier and we were TSN's TV game. The game went to an extra end before the island four proved to be the better team. But it's what happened after the game that I want to share with Vic's fans.

As we were packing our brush bag and other paraphernalia, I heard that "voice" over my shoulder as he expressed his professional and personal congratulations to both teams on a wonderful game that TSN viewers found entertaining. Vic didn't have to do that, but he did! It showed me that he's not only a class act on air, he's a class act off it as well!

Vic, on behalf of curling fans everywhere, keep that voice strong, the curling world needs to hear it for many more years!


  1. Another good article Bill, thanks for your knowledge and insight in and around the game !

  2. Great article Bill! Best of luck to team Yukon and yourself tonight! Hope to see you make it through!

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