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Thursday, April 13, 2017


This is beginning to be a yearly column all of the sudden...

My Los Angeles Kings* flamed out on their way to the Stanley Cup. Shoot, they didn't even make the playoff this year. Nothing left to cheer for in the 2017 playoffs except every team playing the loathsome Anaheim Ducks. Attention NHL: let's get this done ASAP.

Needless to say I'm a little depressed after watching this season. So many reasons including the Bob Miller, the vaunted voice of the Kings is retiring after 44 years and then the team's decision to fire the coach and the general manager right after the season ended.

To say I need a stiff beverage is definitely an understatement.

For once, I have to tell you that this column is written for more for me than for you. And so, if you don't want to read my catharsis about a sports announcer, I forgive you. Come back later for a new column or re-read an old Oscars column. Today, it's about a beloved voice that impacted me in ways too profound to truly describe...

Bob Miller is special for many reasons. None of which most would ever understand. In my sports universe, Bob was there for almost every high and every low. Bob Miller announced 3,353 Kings games, closing with this unscripted speech:

“It’s finally come to an end. I just want to thank all of you again, you viewers and listeners for joining us all these years. For your passion for Kings hockey, for your loyalty to the National Hockey League and I know all that will continue.

“I’ll be visiting with you and look forward to it because I’ve enjoyed visiting with your Kings fans all through the years. I’ll be at some games in the future and we will be able to renew those friendships and those visits and I look forward to it.

“But for now, with Anaheim winning in overtime, the end is here for me. So the only thing I have to say is good night and good bye.”

For those 44 years and nearly 4,400 games, Angelenos have been hearing those passionate words come floating out of that voice: the most passionate, most welcoming, most knowledgable voice in the sports universe. And if it feels as if this voice has been a part of your life forever, well, it probably has.

He has been as much a presence over these last 44 years as the cool ice mist and the sparkling spotlights that hover above the broadcast booths where he has spun his magical web of hockey tales. So how am I supposed to comprehend life after Bob, life after hockey's most iconic voice exited the booth for the last time?

When Bob first walked into the Kings broadcast booth, I was just a kid who was allowed in Jack Kent Cooke's office stuffing season tickets into envelopes. I went to so many games in the early years, that I only heard his voice on away games and home games that were sold out (those were the games I couldn't go to for free). In a game that featured non-stop motion and a rubber disk you could never see on a 1970's TV he drew a verbal picture that guided my hockey senses for nearly four decades now. It was one particular instance that forever engrained him into my life.

It was April 22, 1976. My Kings were overmatched against the Big, Bad Boston Bruins (yeah I hate alliteration too) playing game six at home trying desperately to force a deciding game seven. Try as we might, there was no ticket to be had for me. Staying at home wasn't something I was used to doing when the Kings played. After all I had been to about 100 games in three seasons. With the game NOT on television (imagine this today), I sat cross-legged in my dad's Inglewood apartment as I listened on my Toot-A-Loop radio, staring intently as if I was willing Bob's voice from the device. The game ventured into overtime and the playoff torture was on. Each shot resulted in a heart attack for this eight-year-old. Late into the fourth period of the game, the magic happened and I can still hear the words exploding from the AM dial:

So how do I capture the magnitude of Bob Miller, the meaning of Bob Miller, the majesty of Bob Miller? I guess it is not with my words, but with the words of the people who have known him best and whose company he has shared:

To some of you reading this, you'll say, "it only sports."

To many...Bob Miller was the steady voice showing us the way. First, through decades of failure. Then through a pinnacle of success. He was the cadence of my life. The one steady force I could count on to get lost with after a bad day or celebrate on a good day. Surely, there will be someone decent, maybe good, maybe great, to replace him over the airwaves. But that all rings hollow right now.

I'll miss you Bob.

Hockey will never be the same.




Panasonic was the trail blazer of the gadget mobility path. Making electronics smaller and smaller was a big part of the second-half of the twentieth century. The the Toot-A-Loop could transform from a loop that (kind of) fit around your one's wrist into a shofar-like horn contraption, and yes, it was also a radio.

The Cooper Hewitt Museum explains "Simply by twisting the swivel joint at its thinnest point, the radio opens out into a snake-like 'S' shape with a bold, circular station selection dial at the top and the speaker grill at the bottom."

In print ads, Panasonic emphasized how crazy such a radio was. It was no gray box. No, it was "as much fun to look at as listen to." While I opted out of the color model -- I went white -- the device that predominantly delivered Bob Miller voice during hockey games was beautiful with smooth, interesting curves. Good times...!

Toot-a-Loop Radios - great ads. Great sound. Better with Bob Miller.