Monday, June 9, 2008

Jim McKay and The Gut Guy

He was, of course, best known for his work on "Wide World of Sports" and his coverage of the Olympics.

But Jim McKay is also one of a handful of broadcasters whom I recall seeing (or listening to) before they became famous. And somehow I always associate these folks with the first time I saw (or heard) them.

McKay, for example, was once featured on a show called "The Verdict Is Yours." I believe it was on CBS at 3:30 p.m. EST weekdays. According to the Internet Movie Database, it made its debut in 1958, which means I was almost 4 years old at the time.

On the show, McKay, complete with earphones, was a court reporter giving the details of fictional trials that were enacted on the program. I guess I liked this show because I also liked "Perry Mason," and courtroom stuff fascinated me, even though I didn't understand a darn thing about it. I even remember that once, while we were downtown, my mom and I stopped by the county courthouse and she showed me an empty courtroom. (Perry, Della and Paul were obviously on their lunch break.)

But whenever I saw McKay in later years, I often thought of "The Verdict Is Yours."

And, speaking of lunch breaks, there was the first time I heard Charles Kuralt.

Years before he went "On the Road," he did a daily health feature for CBS Radio. Sometimes the topics of these features were things you didn't necessarily want to think about while you were eating. So, of course, some programming genius put Kuralt on sometime between 11 a.m. and noon, when my siblings and I were home from school on our lunch break. And because we were kids, and had that typical try-to-make-each-other-spit-up-their-lunch mentality, the juxtaposition of unpalatable health topics with our Spam sandwiches apparently appealed to our sense of absurdity, and we'd get silly.

My mother, noting how often Mr. Kuralt's reports focused on some aspect of digestion, dubbed him "The Gut Guy."

Years later, and skatey-eight journalism awards later, when Mr. Kuralt appeared on our household's TV screen he was still -- and always would be -- "The Gut Guy."

And then there was the time my mother called me over to the radio and said there was a guy reading the news who sounded a lot like Dick Van Dyke.

And gosh darned if he didn't.

And gosh darned if the guy's name wasn't Charles Osgood, years before he had to get up early on Sunday mornings.

And gosh darned if he still doesn't sound at least a little like Rob Petrie. (Hmm. I wonder how good he is at stumbling over ottomans....)

No comments: