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Thread: Indy Announcers Through the Years

  1. #1
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    Indy Announcers Through the Years

    Many people became famous for being Indy 500 announcers either on the PA or on the radio. I know Carnegie, Page, Callabro, Palmer, and Welch worked on Indianapolis local radio and TV for their day jobs. Bob Lamey was and is the Colts play-by-play announcer. What about the others like:

    Jim Phillipe
    John Totten
    Howdy Bell
    Jim Shelton
    Ron Carrol
    Mike Ahern
    Jerry Baker

    What did/do they do professionally when they were not announcing at Indy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MS View Post
    Many people became famous for being Indy 500 announcers either on the PA or on the radio. I know Carnegie, Page, Callabro, Palmer, and Welch worked on Indianapolis local radio and TV for their day jobs. Bob Lamey was and is the Colts play-by-play announcer. What about the others like:

    Jim Phillipe
    John Totten
    Howdy Bell
    Jim Shelton
    Ron Carrol
    Mike Ahern
    Jerry Baker

    What did/do they do professionally when they were not announcing at Indy?

    Mike Ahern was the main anchor at WISH-TV 8 for decades, and now he's back hosting a show on MYINDYTV Channel 23.
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    I'd like to know about Jack Shapiro, what his background was and what happened to him, I saw at one site that he died at a very young age, late 30s, the summer after the '64 race in which he did superb work.

  4. #4
    I've personally always wondered about the status of IMS track announcers Ed "Twenty Grand" Steinbock and Irish Horan who were both public address announcers at Indianapolis right after WWII. Steinbock may have even been there before the war. Yes, I know that Tom Carnegie was there in 1946 and was already an important player. But he was still something of an unpaid volunteer at that point (I've seen quotes from Carnegie where he said he worked the first twenty years without pay from IMS) while both Steinbock and Horan were on the payroll of AAA with at least Steinbock traveling much of the Championship circuit in those days as the official announcer. And both Ed and Irish were still working at IMS into the 1950s. I've never been able to pin down exactly when Carnegie took over the main announcing job because I've had various people tell me that Horan used to do most of the pre-race introductions while Carnegie took over for the play by play as the race started. I've even wondered if there might have been something of a professional rivalry between Carnegie and the AAA announcers in those days. And Horan was apparently still handling at least some of the pre-race mic work when he initiated the command to start the engines around 1949 or 1950 that was later given by Wilbur Shaw in 1953 and 1954. Steinbock was part of the AAA "Chicago Gang" that was in charge of the running of the Championship Trail for many years. Like I said I wish that there was more information on how the track itself handled the announcing duties in those early years of Hulman ownership. The problem is that there just aren't very many people around that remember those days now.

  5. #5
    I believe John Totten worked at Purdue in the Ag School.

    Good question for Donald's show.

  6. #6
    John Totten was at Ch 6 with Carnegie. He might have done some Purdue Ag stuff later in life but through the 60s and 70's and early 80s he was at what was then known as WFBM TV-6, the NBC affiliate.

    At 6 he was somewhat of a utility man... filling in as news anchor, weatherman and sports anchor.

    Jim Shelton was both an on-air personality and a salesperson for WIBC radio. He retired in the late 80s early 90s and passed away soon after.

    Howdy Bell... also at WFBM Ch 6. And before that, I believe WFBM radio in Indy (AM 1260?)

    Ron Carroll was an Indy disc jockey (I can't remember what station - WIRE, maybe) who moved into Public Relations. He was in PR with the Indianapolis Water Company during the 70's and 80's.

    Jerry Baker was a jock on WIFE radio and then WIBC... IIRC, he moved into sports fulltime while at WIBC. He became the play-by-play for the Pacers for many years. Now he freelances local sports.

    One of Sid Collins' objectives for the IMS Radio Network was to have representatives from most all of the Indy radio and TV stations on the team.... of course there were some people from Terre Haute (Phillippe ?) since the Hulman's were from there and owned stations there.
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    Jim Phillipe was with Butler University. Not absolutlely certain, but think he was Communications Department Head.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big G 94 View Post
    I'd like to know about Jack Shapiro, what his background was and what happened to him, I saw at one site that he died at a very young age, late 30s, the summer after the '64 race in which he did superb work.
    Jack Shapiro was on the broadcasts from at least 55-64. He called the Vuky wreck in 55 as he was assigned to the backstretch. Eyewitness. And his instant recall of the wreck was very accurate in the day before replays and producers telling you what to say. He personally thought Vuky was an incredible racer - great to be around - but a risky interview because of his moodiness and rough language!

    In later years he worked the pits including the north end in 1964 where he was the primary person relaying information of the Sachs/Macdonald accident. He interviewed Johnny Rutherford and used professional restraint by letting Rutherford give his eyewitness account (without interuption) that gave a completely accurate account of the misfortune that had occured.

    He also was a lead person on the local radio qualifying reports.

    He worked for WLW radio in indy and then what was then the ABC affilate channel 13 doing a variety of things including being the weatherman.

    He also did voice over and video appearances for many commercial accounts.

    He died at 38 of a heart attack in otherwise good health and in good shape. This was in an age before decent cardiac diagnostics.

    Liked by Sid Colllins he was never the lead but was trusted as an important part of what was then (as now) an excellent and respected broadcast team.

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    Quote Originally Posted by preacher View Post
    Jack Shapiro was on the broadcasts from at least 55-64. He called the Vuky wreck in 55 as he was assigned to the backstretch. Eyewitness. And his instant recall of the wreck was very accurate in the day before replays and producers telling you what to say. He personally thought Vuky was an incredible racer - great to be around - but a risky interview because of his moodiness and rough language!

    In later years he worked the pits including the north end in 1964 where he was the primary person relaying information of the Sachs/Macdonald accident. He interviewed Johnny Rutherford and used professional restraint by letting Rutherford give his eyewitness account (without interuption) that gave a completely accurate account of the misfortune that had occured.

    He also was a lead person on the local radio qualifying reports.

    He worked for WLW radio in indy and then what was then the ABC affilate channel 13 doing a variety of things including being the weatherman.

    He also did voice over and video appearances for many commercial accounts.

    He died at 38 of a heart attack in otherwise good health and in good shape. This was in an age before decent cardiac diagnostics.

    Liked by Sid Colllins he was never the lead but was trusted as an important part of what was then (as now) an excellent and respected broadcast team.
    Had he lived, Shapiro might have taken over for Sid Collins in 1977. Sounds like he had all the goods.

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    Also, thank you for all the nice responses. Any other memories or observations are welcome!

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    Quote Originally Posted by preacher View Post
    Jack Shapiro was on the broadcasts from at least 55-64. He called the Vuky wreck in 55 as he was assigned to the backstretch. Eyewitness. And his instant recall of the wreck was very accurate in the day before replays and producers telling you what to say. He personally thought Vuky was an incredible racer - great to be around - but a risky interview because of his moodiness and rough language!

    In later years he worked the pits including the north end in 1964 where he was the primary person relaying information of the Sachs/Macdonald accident. He interviewed Johnny Rutherford and used professional restraint by letting Rutherford give his eyewitness account (without interuption) that gave a completely accurate account of the misfortune that had occured.

    He also was a lead person on the local radio qualifying reports.

    He worked for WLW radio in indy and then what was then the ABC affilate channel 13 doing a variety of things including being the weatherman.

    He also did voice over and video appearances for many commercial accounts.

    He died at 38 of a heart attack in otherwise good health and in good shape. This was in an age before decent cardiac diagnostics.

    Liked by Sid Colllins he was never the lead but was trusted as an important part of what was then (as now) an excellent and respected broadcast team.

    Thanks for info ... and the Vukovich coverage from '55 and the Rutherford interview from '64 are absolute masterpieces.

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    Quote Originally Posted by indyrjc View Post
    I've personally always wondered about the status of IMS track announcers Ed "Twenty Grand" Steinbock and Irish Horan who were both public address announcers at Indianapolis right after WWII. Steinbock may have even been there before the war. Yes, I know that Tom Carnegie was there in 1946 and was already an important player. But he was still something of an unpaid volunteer at that point (I've seen quotes from Carnegie where he said he worked the first twenty years without pay from IMS) while both Steinbock and Horan were on the payroll of AAA with at least Steinbock traveling much of the Championship circuit in those days as the official announcer. And both Ed and Irish were still working at IMS into the 1950s. I've never been able to pin down exactly when Carnegie took over the main announcing job because I've had various people tell me that Horan used to do most of the pre-race introductions while Carnegie took over for the play by play as the race started. I've even wondered if there might have been something of a professional rivalry between Carnegie and the AAA announcers in those days. And Horan was apparently still handling at least some of the pre-race mic work when he initiated the command to start the engines around 1949 or 1950 that was later given by Wilbur Shaw in 1953 and 1954. Steinbock was part of the AAA "Chicago Gang" that was in charge of the running of the Championship Trail for many years. Like I said I wish that there was more information on how the track itself handled the announcing duties in those early years of Hulman ownership. The problem is that there just aren't very many people around that remember those days now.
    Twenty Grand was that track announcer for The Milwaukee Mile all the time that I saw USAC races there. Plus, I believe, he was track announcer at O'Hara Speedway, northwest of Chicago. O'Hara is now gone due to expansion of the airport. At Milwaukee he always had that little thing after qualifications and just before the race about stretching out.

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    A voice I will always remember was the color and technical man sitting with Sid Collins on the radio. I am speaking of Freddy Agabashian. Had an unusual voice.

  14. #14
    I have worked with several of the Network's "oldtimers" and one, Darryl Wible (1977-80), was one of my professors at Ball State.

    Dr. Wible was a radio newsman in the late 50s, early 60s, working in small markets around Indiana... (I think he spent time most of his time in Terre Haute)... From the early 70's through the early or mid-90s he was a professor in Ball State's Radio & TV Dept,.. at least that's what it was called when I was there '73-'77. I remember the first class I had with him. He used news stories from the Speedway as reference... for that, I immediately liked him. Dr Wible passed away a few years ago. He definitely had a passion for the 500.

    Doug Zink worked at WIRE / WXTZ radio from the early 60s through the mid 80s as both a voice talent and a salesperson.

    Like Carnegie, Bell and Totten, Bernie Herman was at Ch 6 and was best known as the host of the afternoon movies in the 60s, early 70s. He occasionally filled in during the news and he did a lot of local commercial work.

    Lou Palmer was another WIBC radio veteran.... along with Sid Collins, Jim Shelton and Bob Lamey (before he went full time with the Colts).

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    Lou Palmer was a "rookie" on the IMS Network in 1958 when he described the third turn, first lap accident. When you listen to the audio preproductions of this race, you can hear the cars going by, the screaming tires and such. Again, as did Jim Shapiro in 1955, Lou is very descriptive and accurate in his commentary.

  16. #16
    Two of my favorites were chuck Marlowe and Larry Henry. Marlowe was a pit reporter on the IMS Network from the 60's through the early 90's. He knew his stuff and the drivers loved him. A great Hoosier broadcaster...WTTV Ch 4 Sports Anchor, Indiana U TV bkbl games, and of course trying to host the Bobby Knight Show each week---probably made reporting from the pits a piece of cake! Larry Henry's first race was 1981....I think on the back stretch then in turn 3 for years in the '80's...his call of Little Al and Emmo's collision at the end of the '89 race is a classic! He had the pipes and was a real professional in every sense...also knew him when he was at WCSI radio in Columbus, Indiana---also broadcast U of Michigan Fb and MBB.

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    Bump. The Sachs/MacDonald thread had a request for some information about Jack Shapiro.

    Some of that info is contained in this thread. If anyone else wants to write in with information/memories about their announcing heroes at IMS, please feel free to do so.

    If my dream had some true, I'd be working IMSRN, preferably in turn one! Sigh...........................

  18. #18
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    One of the current announcers is a mayor of an Indiana town (I think).
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  19. #19
    Jim Phillippe was an announcer for the Speedway into the nineties. He was a staff announcer at the ABC affiliate WLWI Channel 13 in Indianapolis. He retired and became head of the Radio / TV department at Butler until the late 80 when he retired but continued to work the Speedway PA system.

    Every one is aware of Tom Carnegie and his history at IMS.

    John Totten worked for WFBM radio and did weekend weather for WFBM TV. He worked both the IMS radio and PA into the 80's. He lived in Carmel and moved to northern Indiana

    Howdy Bell worked in Indy at WFBM and then other stations in Indy. He worked the IMS network from the 60's into the 90's.

    Mike Ahern worked radio for WISH radio and then worked his way up to anchor for WISH-TV8 and retired in the 00's. He continued to work the IMS network from the late 50's or early 60's into the 90's

    The IMS radio network/ PA system technical side has been for years been handled by Tom Alibrandi (Senior and Junior) and Norm Burnbaum. Don't EVER ask Norm about destroying WTHR TV-13's remote truck by driving it through the Speedway's North end tunnel with the mast extended in the 80's (He still denies it, even though it was caught on video by EVERY TV station in Indy!!!!!)

    Jim Shelton worked for WIBC in Indy with Sid Collins and continued to broadcast the race into the 90's

    Sid Collins, a true gentleman, was a life long bachelor and lived with his mother on the north side of Indy. He was diagnosed with what would become a debilitating disease and by his choice met his maker in the Spring of 1977. His position at the Speedway was filled by Paul Page who at that time was the traffic copter announcer for WIBC in Indy. Paul went onto work for WIFE in Indy, WTHR-13 (The NBC TV afiliate in Indy that previously was WLWI)

    Others on the IMS Radio Network/ Speedway PA system were:

    Jerry Baker, Bob Lamey, Ken Double, Kevin Colabro, Larry Henry, Kevin O'Neil, Bob Jenkins, Gary Lee, Lou Sherman, Chuck Marlow, Ron Carrol, John Totten,

  20. #20
    Actually, Ahern's last race was 1973 and Shelton's was either 1977 or a year or two afterwards.

    Freddie Agabashian was the first driver expert for IMS in 1958 I think. He was with them through 1965 and then had to give up his role at IMS because Autolite became a sponsor of the race broadcasts and Freddie was employed by Champion. Len Sutton then became driver expert through 1972 when Freddie returned in 1973 and was there for close to another decade.

  21. #21
    Indy since '66 kevin99's Avatar
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    Jim Phillipi did the qualification interviews (back when there was time ) and of course the famous homage speech on race day (that should have NEVER been ended ).
    "You just don't know what Indy Means", Al Unser Jr.

    "That's why to me it does feel more precious when an American wins it...", Michael Andretti

  22. #22
    Sid's handpicked successor was Paul Page.There was a plan to have Paul take over half-way through the 1977 race broadcast. That was a rumor I have read from several sources. I think the Speedway should play a recording of Phillippe's intro to taps...there is no one who can match that voice and that feel.

  23. #23
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    I remember Jim Phillippe for not being able to say Roberto properly. It always came out Roberta.
    Have a very blessed day!

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