College Football on Los Angeles Radio 1922-1942
This is an overview of some, not all, of the college football games that were heard on Los Angeles radio stations during broadcasting’s earliest years, until the start of World War II in the United States. I don’t get into the technical aspects of how the broadcasts were produced. Sports on radio was gradually evolving in those early years, with the skills of the sports play-by-play announcers also changing through the year. What did not change was the imagination of the listeners who could not attend the games in the 1920s and ‘30s, as they heard the roar of the crowd, the descriptions of the players and the announcers talk about the action on the football field.
However, some of the announcers had more skill and knowledge of football than others did in those early years of radio. But that didn’t seem to dampen sports fans’ enthusiasm to hear their favorite teams’ games on the radio.
I meant to have this article completed in 2007 for the 85th anniversary of the first Rose Bowl game on L.A. radio, and possibly the first football game on L.A. radio, too. Now that I have it finished in 2008, I’ll dedicate it to USC’s first national football championship team of 1928, from 80 years ago. Since a story about the radio coverage of USC football was featured on LARadio.com in September of 2007, I have wanted to shed some light on the early days of broadcasting football games on Los Angeles radio. This thumbnail sketch of some of those long ago broadcasts has taken time to put together and is far from complete. Along with some selected local and national/regional games, I try to include all the games from the USC-Notre Dame rivalry and the USC-UCLA games.
As far as I’ve been able to determine, the first time a college football game was heard on the air in L.A., was the Rose Bowl game on January 1, 1923. The teams were USC and Penn State and the game was broadcast over KHJ. USC won the game, 14 to 3 (the Rose Bowl did not feature Pacific Coast Conference/Pac 8/Pac 10 teams against the Big Ten until 1947). There was no information on who did the play-by-play description of that game. During most of the ‘20s, the airing of sports on radio was not a regular event until late in the decade, and that was still only the home games in most cases. Even into the 1930s, it was generally too expensive for local stations to pay for the phone lines to carry the out-of-town away games on a regular basis.
So far, I haven’t found any evidence of regular broadcasts of football games on L.A. radio between September of 1923 and December of 1925, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any during that time. I simply have not completed a thorough check to see if any other college football games were broadcast in Southern California during those years. I recently found evidence that some college football games were heard on L.A. radio as early as the autumn months of 1926. So, imagine you’re in your favorite easy chair next to your Atwater Kent, RCA, Grebe, Sparton, Gilfillan, General Electric, Zenith, Philco, Magnavox or other radios of the 1920s and ‘30s. We’ll go over some of the radio logs from the past, when your parents, grandparents or great grandparents tuned in on weekend football games in the Los Angeles area.
In Radio Doings magazine for the week of October 24-30, 1926, it was reported that KFI had made arrangements in connection with the Los Angeles Examiner, “to broadcast play-by-play reports from the more popular eastern football games each Saturday during the season.” These were most likely the “re-creation” play-by-play broadcasts put together using reports from the Western Union wire machine. The magazine also said KFI would broadcast play-by-play reports each Saturday afternoon during the football games at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. In addition, the station made plans to broadcast the USC-UC Berkeley game, direct from the field at the Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on October 23, 1926. Another 1926 program schedule for October 30 showed that KFI and KNX were both scheduled to air the USC vs. Stanford game back home in L.A.
The USC-Notre Dame Series is Established
Notre Dame University won the college football championship title in 1924, and was chosen to play in the 1925 Rose Bowl against Stanford, in a game which aired in Los Angeles on KHJ. Notre Dame won, 27-10. Their head coach, the legendary Knute Rockne, was offered the job as head coach at USC that year, but Rockne turned it down. He did however recommend that USC hire his friend Howard Jones, the head coach at Iowa. So, Jones became head coach of the USC football team in 1925, a job he held until 1940. The creation of the USC-Notre Dame series was likely influenced by their friendship and Jones trying to take USC to Notre Dame’s level in college football. His USC teams, known as “The Thundering Herd,” over 16 seasons won seven Pacific Coast Conference Championships and four national titles and all of the five Rose Bowls in which his Trojans played.
History was made on December 4, 1926 when USC faced the University of Notre Dame for the very first time at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times described the contest as “The West’s biggest intersectional football battle of the year.” The 2 p.m. game was broadcast on KHJ radio with Bill Henry at the microphone. The radio log in that day’s paper showed that the game was also heard on KFI and KNX, but because the newspaper owned KHJ, they pushed hard to tell their readers who owned radios to listen to the game on KHJ. The Times estimated that as many as 80,000 would attend the game, but the paper advised those who “failed to secure a ticket, tune in on KHJ and hear the big game play-by-play. With the roar of the crowd in your ears as it cheers a sensational play, you can visualize yourself in the mammoth stadium watching the struggle on the field below.” The 1926 season scores showed that USC was the stronger of the two teams offensively, while Notre Dame had the strongest defense. When it was all over, USC lost that first game to Notre Dame, 13 to 12.
The popularity of the annual New Year’s Day Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena grew enormously when the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) decided to broadcast this college game for its very first coast-to-coast broadcast on January 1, 1927. Carl Haverlin, an announcer who soon became sales manager at KFI, suggested the idea to the network officials in New York. KFI’s remote equipment was used for this historic radio sports event, when NBC’s Graham McNamee and Carl Haverlin announced this Rose Bowl contest between Stanford and Alabama. The next year, 1928, saw a bit of controversy when KNX owner Guy C. Earle secretly got his station to air the Rose Bowl game, even though KFI was supposed to have exclusive rights for the broadcast. According to the USC Football Media Guide, the USC home games were heard again on a regular basis on Los Angeles radio during the 1927 season. Those games were broadcast over KHJ by Bill Henry, Glen Rice on KNX, Bert Heller on KPLA and Carl Haverlin on KFI. Some of those same radio sportscasters were calling the local college football games during the 1928 and 1929 seasons.
On November 26, 1927, USC met Notre Dame again at Soldier Field in Chicago as a huge crowd of 120,000 watched. The game started at 1:30 p.m. in Chicago and the national broadcast over the NBC network was heard at 11:30 a.m. on KFI in the Southland. KFI also arranged for some members of the USC Trojan band to play atop the Packard Building, home of the KFI studios, at the KFI roof garden starting at 11 a.m. The band was also set to perform over KFI between halves of the game, to provide some local atmosphere for the hometown listeners. At the end of the game, the local fans in Southern California were disappointed again. Just as in 1926, USC fell to Notre Dame by one point, 7 to 6.
The home game in L.A. that afternoon was UCLA taking on Drake. The 2 p.m. game was heard on KHJ, then at 740 on the AM radio dial, with Bill Henry doing the play-by-play. Henry is described on the radio page as a veteran sports writer and the Sunday editor of the Los Angeles Times. The game from the Coliseum was also broadcast on stations KFI-640, KNX-890 and KPLA-1190.
On December 1, 1928, KFI carried the morning broadcast over NBC featuring Army vs. Stanford. But the big game was at the Coliseum at 2 p.m., the third meeting between USC and Notre Dame. Just as in the previous year, the game was heard in Southern California with Carl Haverlin calling the action on KFI-640, Bill Henry on KHJ, which had recently moved to 900 on the radio dial; Glen Rice on KNX, now at 1050; and Bert Heller on KPLA-570 (which shared time with KMTR for several months. Twelve months later, KPLA was sold to Earle C. Anthony and the KFI owner changed the calls to KECA).
This time, USC beat the Fighting Irish 27 to 14. It was not only the first win for USC in this famous series rivalry, but the Trojans won their first national football championship in 1928. In fact, from 1928 to 1932, USC also won the national title in 1931 and ’32 while Notre Dame claimed the championship in 1929 and 1930. The 1928 Trojan victory over Notre Dame was also the only game they won out of the five times they faced Notre Dame from 1926-1930, while Fighting Irish Coach Knute Rockne was alive.
The program schedules from Radio Doings magazine for Saturday October 19, 1929 list the stations carrying the game at the Coliseum that day, plus the announcers and some of the sponsors. At 2 p.m., USC faced Occidental College and 6 stations were scheduled to broadcast the game. Jack James called the game on KMTR-570. KFI-640’s play-by-play man was Carl Haverlin. The Associated Oil Company sponsored the game on KFI. KHJ-900 had Lindsay MacHarrie at the microphone, with the W.P. Fuller Company sponsoring the game. On KFWB-950, former KHJ announcer Bill Henry did the play-by-play. Another veteran football announcer, Glen Rice, did the play-by-play of the USC game for KNX-1050. A special article on “Gridiron Broadcasts” in Radio Doings, points out that the football games on KNX each Saturday were sponsored by Pacific Wholesale, Inc., Southern California distributors for Sparton radios. Finally, KEJK-1170 in Beverly Hills (which later became KMPC in March of 1930) assigned announcer Morley Drury (1903-1989) to call the action. After doing a bit of detective work, I discovered that Morley Drury was a former running back for the USC football team from 1925-1927, and is in the College Football Hall of Fame and was a member of the first All-America Team. He was the first Trojan player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in 1927 (1163), a record unbroken until 1965. This is one of the earliest examples of a college or pro-athlete going into radio or tv sports announcing, though I’m not sure how long he was in radio. He was likely chosen by KEJK to announce the game due to his fame at USC and knowledge of its football program. I found out Drury was later on KFWB a couple of times a week with his own show, but it appears he soon got out of radio and had a successful business career.
The 1929 game between USC and Notre Dame took place on November 16 at Soldier Field in Chicago. It drew another packed crowd of 112,912! The game was heard in Los Angeles on KHJ via the CBS network at 11:30 a.m. KFI also carried the USC game via the NBC network, with a start time of noon. It looked like both teams were again evenly matched, but USC lost once more by just one point, 13-12.
Also on November 16th, 5 L.A. stations were scheduled to broadcast the game between UCLA and St. Mary’s from the Coliseum. Those who carried the 2 p.m. game, according to the newspaper radio log page, included KMTR, KFI, KHJ, KFWB and KNX.
Heading Into the 1930s
Longtime Los Angeles sports broadcaster Jim Healy once remarked during one of his shows that during the 1930s, “big-time” sports in L.A. started and ended with USC and the Santa Anita racetrack. This remark holds true, when looking at the radio program logs during the college football season in the 1930s. Between 1929 and 1939, USC was still the main attraction for college football fans in the L.A. area. In fact, the Los Angeles airwaves were saturated with USC football on anywhere from 5 to 7 stations each Saturday that USC was playing at the Coliseum. If the Trojans were out of town, UCLA was sometimes carried on one or more stations in the '30s. Each station usually had separate play-by-play announcers and sponsors.
By now, some of you may be wondering about the famous match-up between USC and UCLA. This cross-city match-up between the Trojans and Bruins began in 1929, but after the 1930 game, the meeting between the two teams didn't take place again until 1936! That’s because UCLA was badly outmatched at the time by USC’s team. In 1930, the SC-UCLA game took place on September 27th and it was heard on KFI, KFWB, KHJ, KMTR and KNX. USC won 52-0. The Trojans did even more scoring on the Bruins the year before, winning 76-0!! It would take UCLA a few more years to be ready to play USC again.
Also, from the autumn of 1930, here's a brief look at the games that were heard on Southern California radio on Saturday October 11th.
Starting at noon, KECA-1430 carried the NBC network feed of the game between Navy and Notre Dame. On KHJ-900, listeners heard Stanford vs. Minnesota, probably sent to KHJ from the San Francisco Don Lee station, KFRC. At the same time, KMTR-570 in Hollywood decided that they would also broadcast the Stanford-Minnesota game, but as a "re-creation" between 12:15 and 3:15 via the Western Union ticker! At 2 pm, the USC-Washington State game was broadcast by KFI, while KFWB and KNX carried the UCLA-Pomona game. KHJ served up the contest between Cal and St. Mary's.
The following week on October 18, 1930, the late-morning game from the east coast, Harvard vs. Army, was heard via KECA (NBC) and KHJ (CBS). At 2 pm, the USC-Utah game was heard over KFI-640, KMTR-570 and KNX-1050. At the same time, KHJ, via KFRC, aired the Stanford-Oregon game. The night before, Friday October 17, I was a bit surprised to see that UCLA was playing a night game at the Coliseum against St. Mary’s. The game was also broadcast between 8 and 10:30 p.m. on KMTR-570, KFWB-950 and KECA-1430.
Moving ahead to November 8th of the same year, KFI via NBC carried the morning east coast game featuring Notre Dame and Penn, while the featured game, live from the Coliseum at 2 pm was USC taking on California. This game was heard simultaneously over KFI, KFWB, KHJ, KMPC, KMTR and KNX. I suppose listeners in different parts of the L.A. Basin could tune their radio dials to any of these six stations to get the best reception, since the transmitter locations and output power varied.
On December 6, 1930, USC faced Notre Dame at the Coliseum. KFI-640 and KHJ-900 began covering the big game at 1:15 that afternoon. The other stations that joined the action at 2 p.m. included KFVD-1000, KFWB-950, KGER-1360, and KMTR-570. This time, the Trojans failed to score against Knute Rockne’s players, and Notre Dame won the game 27 to 0.
On the first day of the 1931 college season, the Los Angeles Times radio column of September 26th, written by John S. Daggett, had the headline, "FOOTBALL GOES ON RADIO TODAY." After describing the morning game on KHJ-CBS from West Point, Daggett wrote about the games to be broadcast locally:
"Returning to the Coast, this afternoon will find USC battling St. Mary's at the Coliseum. A battery of microphones from several local stations will be faced by prominent local sports announcers and celebrities. The order of their taking up the story on the air follows: 2 p.m. – KNX, KFI, KMTR, and KHJ. At 2:15 p.m. – KFWB. The array of sports announcers includes Braven Dyer, Don Wilson (future announcer for Jack Benny radio and TV shows), Curtis Benton, Tom Wallace and Stuart Buchanan. Listeners can depend on getting a brand of sports description satisfactory to the most exacting, with a choice like that. It is to be hoped, however, that football fans will write in to the individual radio station after this initial game, stating just what they liked about the broadcast and what, in their opinion, could better it."
Toward the end of that season, Saturday November 21, 1931 had a full schedule of college games on the air. The big game on the morning schedule from South Bend, Indiana was the 6th meeting of USC vs. Notre Dame at 11:15 am, which was heard over KHJ-900, KECA-1430 and KNX-1050. This was the first season that the Fighting Irish played without Knute Rockne as their head coach. He had died in a plane crash the previous March at age 43. USC came from behind to win the game 16-14. It was reported that the victory parade in downtown Los Angeles to welcome the Trojans home drew a crowd of 300,000. USC claimed their second national championship title at the end of the season.
Also on November 21, at 1:45 p.m., UCLA vs. Oregon was broadcast on KFWB-950 and KFAC-1300, while the same game started on KNX at 2 p.m. KFI and KHJ chose to air the California vs. Stanford game at 1:45 pm. that day.
Saturday September 24, 1932 was the first day of the college football season. At 10:45 a.m., KHJ carried the CBS broadcast of the Columbia University-Middlebury College match-up, from Baker’s Field in New York City. Early CBS sports announcer Ted Husing was at the microphone.
Los Angeles Times radio columnist Doug Douglas said that with this game, “Southland radio will get its baptism of battles between the goalposts.” Seven stations carried the afternoon game between USC and the University of Utah. Douglas wrote, “First up to the dial comes KHJ at 2 p.m., with Gary Breckner, KHJ’s ace of sports broadcasters at the mike. At 2:15, radio stations KMPC, KFAC, KRKD, KNX, KFWB and KFI swing into the battle, each equipped with an excellent announcing staff.” For those radio fans who weren’t interested in football, Douglas suggested that between 2 and 5 p.m., they would be stuck with whatever was on KMTR-570, KTM-780 and KECA-1430. A bit further down into his radio column, Douglas says that Stuart Buchanan, Mark Kelly, and Frank Bull were three out of the six other announcers handling the USC-Utah game for their respective stations, though he didn’t specify which radio station any of them were working for. I later found out that Frank Bull was on KRKD-1120 at the time. (Also, by the end of the decade, Gary Breckner was working for KNX).
The previous night, September 23, 1932, KRKD carried the evening broadcast of the game between UCLA and the California Aggies (UC Davis).
A month or so later, the radio log for Saturday, October 29, 1932 indicates that KECA and KHJ carried network feeds of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game at 10:45 a.m. At 1:45 p.m., KFWB and KHJ started their coverage of the game between UCLA and Stanford at the Coliseum. At 2:15 p.m., the same game was also heard over KFAC, KFI, KMPC, KNX and KRKD. It appears that USC was out of town that weekend, as no L.A. stations carried the USC game.
On December 10, 1932 at the Coliseum, USC hosted Notre Dame in their annual series. This year’s game between the Trojans and Fighting Irish was heard in Southern California over KFI, KFAC, KFWB, KHJ, KMPC, KNX and KRKD. USC shut out Notre Dame 13-0, on their way to their third consecutive national football championship.
A story in the June 14, 1933 edition of the Los Angeles Times gave the impression that broadcasts of some or all away football games in the Pacific Coast Conference would not be heard in Los Angeles. The article by sports reporter Braven Dyer, who was sometimes heard doing play-by-play on L.A. radio, reported that the home team usually felt that away game broadcasts of USC and UCLA would hurt the home attendance of a local game at the Coliseum. It’s interesting that the feeling at the time was that a broadcast of a home game would not hurt the local ticket sales of a game, but an out-of-town broadcast of another local university’s game would keep people away from the Coliseum.
Later that fall, on November 25, an interesting situation cropped up affecting the broadcast of the football battle between USC and Notre Dame from South Bend, Indiana. Apparently, it was first announced that the broadcast of the Army-Navy game would interfere with the complete broadcast of the S.C. game. According to Times radio columnist Carrol Nye, “This situation created such a furor that the (County) Board of Supervisors and the City Council of Los Angeles were importuned by the USC Alumni Association to petition network officials to change the set-up. As a result, Southland listeners will hear a broadcast of the USC-Notre Dame game from the opening kick-off to the final gun, while partisans of the Army and Navy will have to be satisfied with a direct broadcast of the first portion of that game over KHJ, and a telegraphic account of the remainder of the contest over KECA and KNX.”
On the newspaper’s radio log page, the highlights show that under “football games,” the USC-Notre Dame game was to start at 11:15 a.m. via the CBS and NBC networks, over KHJ and KFI respectively. USC came out on top with a 19-0 victory.
At 1:45 p.m., KHJ, via the CBS network, was scheduled to air the traditional “big game” in the Bay Area between Stanford and California. Back at the Coliseum at 2 p.m., the game between UCLA and St. Mary’s was heard over KFAC, KFI, KFWB, KNX, KRKD, and on KMPC at 2:15 p.m. And if that wasn’t enough college football, at 2 p.m., KGER in Long Beach was going to broadcast the Washington-Washington State game by wire. I’m not sure if that means a re-creation through Western Union telegraph accounts or from a phone line from the game.
On October 20th, the game between UCLA and Cal at Berkeley was carried on KHJ from the Don Lee Network at 2:15 p.m. The home game at the Coliseum, USC vs. Oregon State was heard on KFI, KFWB, KMTR and KFAC. The following week on October 27th, the game between Yale and Army was heard on KHJ at 10:30 a.m. Those who tuned into KFI at 11:45 a.m. got to hear Iowa vs. Minnesota. At 1:45 p.m., KFI was scheduled to broadcast the Washington-California game. Also at 1:45, KHJ carried the USC-Stanford game via the Don Lee Network from Palo Alto. The football battle between UCLA and the California Aggies was heard over KFAC at 2 p.m., while KFWB and KMTR started their broadcasts of that game at 2:15.
On November 10th, after a morning game between Notre Dame and Army on KFI and KHJ, KHJ aired the Don Lee Network broadcast of Stanford vs. Washington at 1:45 p.m. The home game at the Coliseum was USC against UC Berkeley/California. It was heard on KMTR, KFI, KFWB and KFAC.
The November 24th radio schedule looked like this for football fans: KFI was broadcasting the Harvard-Yale game from NBC at 10:45 a.m. At 1:45 p.m., KFI carried the Bay Area contest between California and Stanford. And at 2 p.m., the UCLA-Oregon State game was heard on KMTR, KHJ, KFWB, KFAC and KECA. On December 8th, USC hosted Notre Dame at the Coliseum. Coverage of the game began at 1:45 p.m. on stations KMTR, KFI and KHJ. At 2 p.m., KFAC started its broadcast, and KFWB’s broadcast of the game began at 2:15. The Trojans lost the game that year, a 14-0 shutout.
Friday night, September 27, 1935 featured a home night game for UCLA against Utah, which was broadcast by KFAC-1300 at 8 p.m.
The September 28, 1935 games heard in Los Angeles started at 11:15 in the morning, as Notre Dame hosted Kansas at South Bend. CBS announcer Ted Husing called the game over KHJ. At 12:30 p.m., KMPC recreated from wire reports the Ohio-Illinois game. Mel Le Mon was the announcer for the game. Le Mon was heard during the late-1930s hosting an all-night record show on KFAC-1300. L.A. Times radio columnist Carroll Nye, in his own style, wrote about the broadcasts of the USC game that day: “The University of Southern California is scheduled to cloud up and rain on Montana at the Coliseum from 1:45 to 4 p.m. over KHJ. Frank Bull will give the play-by-play description of the game. Incidentally, this chap Bull is climbing higher and higher on the ladder of sports announcing. Sam Hays will also call the pigskin turns on this game via KMPC from 2 o’clock on.” Frank Bull had been with KRKD 3 years earlier. The radio log page for that day also shows KFI broadcasting the USC game.
On October 19th, the radio schedule called for Southern California football fans to hear the Army-Harvard game over KFI at 10:45 a.m. KHJ carried the game between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh at 11:45 a.m., while a re-creation by wire of the Wisconsin-Michigan was heard on KMPC at 12 p.m. The U.C. Berkeley vs. Santa Clara game was carried by KHJ via the Don Lee Network from Berkeley at 2:15 p.m. And the USC-Oregon State was heard on KFI, KFWB, KNX and KFAC, also at 2:15 p.m. The night before at 8 pm, KFWB carried the game between Loyola and Arizona.
According to the radio log page of the Los Angeles Times for November 23rd, KFI and KHJ were carrying the network feeds of the Princeton vs. Dartmouth game at 10:45 a.m. It appears that KNX was the only L.A. station that was broadcasting the 10th annual USC-Notre Dame game from South Bend, Indiana at 11:30 a.m. USC lost the game 20-13. The home game that afternoon at 2 p.m. was UCLA against Loyola. It was carried by KFI, KFWB, KNX, and KFAC.
The Saturday radio column for November 30, 1935 by Los Angeles Times writer Carroll Nye talks about how the overlapping of games that day would likely make some football fans unhappy. KFI was scheduled to carry NBC’s feed of the Southern Methodist-Texas Christian game at 1 p.m., while KHJ was going to broadcast only 45 minutes of the CBS broadcast of the same game. But Nye told readers that “KFWB officials made arrangements yesterday to broadcast the game by direct wire from the scene of the action, something of an innovation for the Hollywood station, in that it is not aligned with any network. A play-by-play account of the entire battle will begin at 11:50 p.m.”
The remainder of that day’s football action on radio followed this schedule: The Army vs. Navy was heard over the NBC and CBS networks over KFI and KHJ at 10:15 a.m. At 1:45 p.m., KHJ aired the St. Mary’s-Washington State game. Finally, KFI, KFWB, KNX and KFAC carried the UCLA-Idaho game from the Coliseum at 2 p.m.
I discovered that some college games were played on Friday nights in the 1930s. The Friday October 2, 1936 radio column written by Carroll Nye for the Los Angeles Times stated the following: “Two grid games will be played under the lights tonight and both will be described for football fans over radio. The UCLA-Montana contest at the Coliseum is to be heard at 8 p.m. over KFWB and KFAC, and the Loyola-Whittier game will be broadcast at the same time over KEHE from Gilmore Stadium. The next day, the October 3 Times radio column said that the starting times of three big out-of-state games depended on when the World Series baseball game ended (New York Yankees vs. New York Giants), which aired over KFI, KECA and KHJ at 10:15 a.m. Columnist Carrol Nye wrote the following: “When the baseball broadcast is over, KHJ will offer the Notre Dame-Carnegie Tech grid game; KFI will broadcast the Princeton-Williams fracas, and KECA will come forth with the Iowa-Northwestern contest. Mel LeMon is to re-create the Ohio State-New York University for KFVD listeners at noon, and KHJ will broadcast the St. Mary’s-California contest at 2:15. Five local stations, KFWB, KNX, KRKD, KFAC and KECA will broadcast the USC-Oregon game from the Coliseum.”
On Thanksgiving Day, November 26th, the game between USC and UCLA resumed after 5 years. The game had a noon start time and was heard on stations KFWB, KNX and KECA. The final score was a 7-7 tie. Another Thanksgiving game, Washington vs. Washington State, was offered by the Don Lee Network on KHJ. USC hosted Notre Dame this year at the Coliseum on December 5th. KFI and KRKD began covering the game at 1:45, followed by KFWB, KFVD, KNX, KFOX-1250, and KFAC. For the first time in the series, the Trojans and Fighting Irish finished with a tie, 13-13.
Here’s a look at some of the college games on in L.A. radio, starting with late-October. The newspaper log for Saturday, October 30th showed that at 10:45 a.m., KHJ was broadcasting the game between Yale and Dartmouth. At 11:45, KNX and KECA featured Minnesota vs. Notre Dame. At 1:30, USC vs. Washington State was carried over KNX. The UCLA-California game aired at 2 p.m. on KFI, KFAC, KRKD and KHJ. Another listing in that day's radio log shows that KMPC's schedule at 1:30 was for "football, re-created," but it does not say which game. Also, on Sunday, KEHE-780 was scheduled to carry from the Coliseum the Loyola-S.F.U. game at 2 p.m.
On November 27, 1937, USC faced Notre Dame in front of their home crowd in Indiana. The game started on KFI at 11:15 a.m. KHJ, which had been carrying the Army-Navy game (along with KNX and KECA), joined the USC game in progress about 1 p.m. Notre Dame won on their home turf, 13-6. UCLA was home at the Coliseum taking on Missouri that afternoon. That game was heard on KFAC, KHJ, and KRKD. And KMPC was again airing a “re-creation” of a football game, but the teams were not listed in the paper.
On Saturday December 4th, the USC-UCLA game was heard on KFI, KHJ, KNX, KRKD and KFAC. USC won 19-13.
By 1938, it appears that the local college football games were aired on only one or two stations at a time. The radio log for Saturday October 8th shows that the USC-Ohio State game was heard over KEHE at 11:30 the morning. Two other stations that carried the World Series, KFI and KHJ, joined the USC-Ohio State game during the 1 p.m. hour. At 2 p.m., the game between UCLA and Washington was aired by KNX and KRKD. A Friday night game was broadcast by KEHE on October 14, the Loyola-Redlands contest. Much the same situation existed on October 29th, when KNX carried the USC vs. Oregon game at 1:45 p.m., while at 2 p.m., KHJ and KRKD were scheduled to broadcast the UCLA-Stanford game.
The USC-UCLA game was played again on Thanksgiving, November 24th. It was heard over KRKD-1120 and KNX-1050. USC won the game 42-7.
On December 3rd, USC faced Notre Dame at the Coliseum. KFI and KRKD aired the big game, in which the Trojans were victorious by a score of 13-0.
A Friday night game was featured on October 6th over KFAC-1300, Loyola vs. College of the Pacific. Also in Orange County, KVOE-1500 was scheduled to broadcast the game between Santa Ana Junior College and Redlands.
On October 7, 1939, World Series baseball was heard in the L.A. area via the Mutual-Don Lee Network on KHJ and in the Santa Ana/Orange County area over KVOE-1500. Other network affiliates carried the college football games of the day. Northwestern vs. Oklahoma aired at 11:45 a.m. on KFI, while KECA carried Minnesota vs. Nebraska at the same time. KFAC-1300 got into the football spirit, by “re-creating” the Alabama-Fordham game. That afternoon, the UCLA-Washington game was set to air on KNX at 1:45 p.m. USC vs. Washington State aired over the Don Lee network at 2:15. The radio log for that day in the Los Angeles Times shows the game on both KHJ-900 and the Mutual-Don Lee affiliate in Santa Ana, KVOE-1500.
Checking out the radio newspaper log for Saturday October 28th, for some reason, the Ohio State-Cornell game was carried in Southern California on four different network affiliates at 10:45 a.m. Those included KFI-NBC, KNX-CBS, and Mutual-Don Lee stations KHJ and KVOE in Santa Ana. At 11:15 a.m., KECA gave football fans another choice with the Michigan-Yale game. KFAC carried a “re-creation” broadcast of the Notre Dame-Carnegie Tech game at 11:30. At 1:45 p.m., KFI offered Stanford vs. Washington. At 2:15 p.m. the Mutual Don Lee network was broadcasting the UCLA-Oregon game over KHJ and KVOE, while KNX seemed to be the only station in the area carrying the USC-California game.
The big game between USC and Notre Dame was heard from South Bend, Indiana at 11:1 5 am on Saturday November 25 this year. The network feeds of NBC Blue and CBS were heard in L.A. over KECA-780 and KNX-1050. USC came out on top with a 20-12 win.
On December 9, 1939 the USC-UCLA game was heard on KFI at 2 p.m. This was the first time that the Rose Bowl was on the line for both teams. The Trojans and Bruins battles to a 0-0 tie! USC was voted the National Champion and into the 1940 Rose Bowl.
It should be noted here that future Brooklyn Dodgers baseball star and Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, famous for breaking major league baseball’s color barrier in 1947, was one of the stars of the UCLA Bruins football team in 1939 and 1940. Robinson was also UCLA’s first four-sport letterman as part of the Bruins’ football, basketball, track and field and baseball teams between 1939 and 1941.
On Saturday November 9, 1940, the local teams, USC and UCLA were each carried by one station. At 2 p.m., KNX carried the USC-Cal game and at 2:15, KECA aired the UCLA-Oregon game. Other stations were broadcasting games that day too. KFI was carrying the Stanford-Washington contest at 2:15, and over at KHJ, likely via the Mutual network, they carried the Minnesota-Michigan game, starting at 1:45 p.m. In the morning, KHJ had aired the game between Notre Dame and Navy. KFI and KNX also had carried the Minnesota-Michigan game at 11:45 a.m., which KHJ aired later in progress.
Checking some Friday night radio logs showed that Loyola football had moved to KFWB in 1940. On November 15th at 8 p.m., KFWB carried the game between Loyola and Arizona. On Saturday November 30th, the game between USC and UCLA was heard only on KHJ at 2 p.m., while KNX was broadcasting the Cal-Stanford game. USC defeated UCLA 28-12.
It was December 7, 1940 that USC faced Notre Dame at the Coliseum. The game was heard in Southern California over KFI starting at 1:45 p.m. Notre Dame won the game 10 to 6, which was to be the start of a 5-year losing streak to the Irish for USC.
The football schedule for October 9 included Michigan vs. Iowa on KECA at 10:45 a.m. and Fordham vs. SMU on KNX. KFI carried Notre Dame against Indiana at 11:15. That afternoon at 2:15, KHJ aired the UCLA and Stanford game, while USC vs. Ohio State was on KECA. Moving up to October 25th, it was Cal against S.C. on KHJ and UCLA facing Oregon on KECA. In the morning, Southland football fans could tune into the Michigan-Minnesota game on KNX and KECA at 10:45. At 11 a.m., KFI carried the Northwestern vs. Ohio State contest. After that game, KFI broadcasted the Stanford-Washington game at 1:45, while the USC and UCLA games were going on.
It was November 22nd that USC faced Notre Dame, with the game heard back home in Southern California on KECA-790. Notre Dame came out on top, 20-18. At 2 p.m., UCLA hosted Santa Clara, with the game heard in L.A. on KHJ-930. That same hour, KMPC-710 was broadcasting the Loyola-New Mexico game. The radio log showed football on KFI at noon, but the teams weren’t listed. Also, at 1:30 p.m., KNX and KHJ were scheduled to air the Wisconsin-Minnesota game.
The USC-UCLA game was on Saturday December 6th, and again this year, KHJ carried the game. Both teams played to their 3rd tie in the series, 7 to 7.
The radio schedule for October 10th shows that the USC-Ohio State game was set up to air on KECA-790 at 11:15 a.m. Tulane vs. Rice was heard on KHJ at 12:15 p.m. At 1:45. KHJ aired the Cal-Santa Clara game from the Don Lee Network. And at 2 p.m., KECA carried the UCLA-Oregon State game.
The morning of October 31st arrived with L.A. football fans served up the game between Penn and Army on KNX at 10:30, Navy vs. Notre Dame on KHJ, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin on KFI at 11:45 and Alabama vs. Georgia on KECA at the same time. At 1:30 p.m., KNX aired the Oregon vs. California game, while Minnesota played Northwestern at 1:45 on KHJ. The home game for UCLA vs. Stanford was carried by KECA at 2:15 p.m.
November 7th also had a full schedule of gridiron action for radio listeners. At 1:45 p.m. from the Don Lee Network, KHJ presented the UCLA at Oregon game; Stanford vs. Washington was heard over KECA at 2 p.m.; and UC Berkeley at USC was aired on KNX at 2:15 p.m. In the morning, the Army-Notre Dame game was heard at 10:45 on KFI, KECA and KNX. KHJ carried Iowa vs. Wisconsin at 12:15 p.m.
The 17th game of the USC-Notre Dame rivalry was played on November 28th, before 94,519 at the Coliseum. KECA aired the 2:15 p.m. game in the L.A. region. Fans of the Trojans were disappointed once more, as USC lost 13-0. Due to World War II travel restrictions, the two teams would not play each other again until 1946. Also, that morning, the annual Army-Navy game was heard on KFI, KHJ and KNX. At 12:45 p.m. KFI carried the Georgia-Georgia Tech game. I also noticed a high school football game on KGER-1390 in Long Beach in the radio logs that day, Long Beach Poly vs. Wilson at 1:45 p.m.
This year’s USC-UCLA game took place on December 12th, with the 1943 Rose Bowl on the line for both teams. The game aired on KNX at 2:15 p.m. UCLA finally won their first game in the 9-game series, 14-7, which sent them to the Rose Bowl for the first time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at some of the college football games from 1922 to 1942, which entertained sports fans around Southern California. Radio sports coverage, like other aspects of broadcasting changed and improved as the years went by, before we could see the action on television. I wanted to pay tribute to the early sports announcers and others who helped bring those games into L.A. area homes, as L.A. radio was growing up.
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Glen Rice — From the mid-1920s through 1929, Rice was heard announcing football games on KNX, while working as assistant manager under Naylor Rogers. Radio Doings said Rice had been doing the play-by-play on football games since the "early days, when a line from the field into a private residence nearby made the connection to the broadcast station and brought the plays to the audience. Glen Rice is one of the foremost exponents of the art for KNX. His absolute knowledge of the intricacies of the game have won for him the title, "All-American" football announcer." Rice left KNX in 1930 to take the job of station manager for KMPC in Beverly Hills.
Don Wilson — Announcer for KFI and KECA from 1929 until 1934. He also did the play-by-play for local college football games for KFI, starting in 1929 until his last year with KFI. In 1934, Wilson was also heard on the national broadcast of The Rose Bowl game on NBC, with another KFI announcer, Ken Carpenter. Carpenter, who like Wilson, had a somewhat short-lived sports announcing career, also announced for the USC and UCLA games for NBC's West Coast network from 1932-'35. Don Wilson left KFI for a 31-year job on radio and TV with comedian Jack Benny, although he was heard on other national radio programs over the years.
According to the book The Golden Voices of Football by Ted Patterson, Don Wilson had been broadcasting college football games since joining KFI in 1929. Later, when Wilson called the 1934 Rose Bowl for NBC radio, he was teamed with another KFI announcer, Ken Carpenter. Carpenter was also heard on the Rose Bowl games in 1935 and ’36 with Don Thompson from NBC-San Francisco. While at KFI, Ken Carpenter announced the USC and UCLA football games on the NBC Pacific Coast network from 1932 through 1935, alternating quarters with KFI’s Tom Hanlon.
Lindsay MacHarrie — He was listed as the chief announcer for KHJ in October of 1929. MacHarrie also became KHJ's play-by-play announcer for the local college football games that year, taking over the job from Bill Henry, who had been hired by KFWB. By May of 1930, MacHarrie was also listed as KHJ's Production Manager.