Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sports Announcers I Grew Up With: Lance Russell and Dave Brown

There is a special place in my heart for the radio and TV sports announcers I grew up with. From ABC's Wide World of Sports to roller derby and wrestling, and everything in between, sports was a big part of my life growing up. At my house, we watched on TV whatever sport was 'in season,' especially on Saturday's. If there was a sports event on radio, we listened to it. I was very blessed to grow up with many now- legendary voices and characters. Today, I want to pay tribute to Lance Russell and Dave Brown.

Lance Russell was the announcer for the Saturday morning wrestling programs that aired on TV throughout my childhood. It was my favorite program to watch. Russell announced matches in the Memphis region from 1959 to 1997, for the NWA Mid-America and the Continental Wrestling Associations. He was best known for his relaxed announcing style, as well as the much-used phrases, "By golly" and "Son of a gun." His co-host for more than two decades was Dave Brown, a college student and disc jockey, and later, TV meteorologist. While he was definitely a star, Lance Russell never found himself in the position of being a bigger than the wrestlers he worked with. That list runs long: Lou Thesz, Jackie Fargo, Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Hart and Randy Savage, to name a few. Russell would get up from his chair to conduct interviews, walking around to the front of the desk. It was common to see one or more of the heel wrestlers demolish the set or even run roughhouse over Russell. Be sure to watch the video below. These interviews were often the highlight of the Saturday morning television broadcast. Russell also literally rang a bell to begin matches, in addition to pounding it loudly in futile attempts to halt out-of-control melees in the ring. Russell used the mic to chastise and exhort wrestlers during their match. He often encouraged other wrestlers to run in from the locker room and offer assistance. His famous one-liners were "Don't start with that smart stuff" and "Will you guys just stop and get out of here?"

Dave Brown, began his broadcasting career in 1962 at age 16 as a disc jockey at WKBJ Radio in Milan, Tennessee. For 38 years, he has been chief meteorologist for WMC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Memphis. Dave Brown spent 35 years as an announcer for the Memphis Wrestling television program (later Championship Wrestling). 25 of those years was spent alongside Lance Russell. Russell and Brown have been described by wrestling insiders and fans as the greatest television announcing team in the history of wrestling. Heel wrestlers and managers like Jimmy Hart nicknamed him "Dave Brown the Weather Clown" as well as "Howdy Doody."

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