In Praise of Mizzou Broadcaster Mike Kelly


Okay, so he might not quite be Sinatra, but Mike Kelly still has a golden voice.
  • Okay, so he might not quite be Sinatra, but Mike Kelly still has a golden voice.
I do a lot of bitching around here, criticizing bad announcers and commentators in the world of sports. I feel like it's mostly justified, too; I'm sure I'm guilty of the occasional unwarranted broadside, but for the most part I think the overall quality of sports broadcasting these days is poor enough that any and all criticism is well deserved. Here's the thing, though: if I'm going to jump all over the uninformed, banal, or just plain idiotic in broadcasting, I feel like I should be willing to acknowledge broadcasters who raise the bar for their profession. 

I was in my car last night, listening to the Mizzou basketball team put an absolute stomping on North Alabama (Division II school, but hey, a 40-point win is still nothing to sneeze at, right?), and it suddenly occurred to me Mike Kelly deserves some serious credit for what he does. I think that same thing every time I listen to Kelly broadcast anything, but never seem to remember to do it when the time comes to type up a column for the day. Well, it's high time I corrected that. 

Kelly, in case you aren't familiar, is the Voice of the Missouri Tigers. (I'm pretty sure voice should be capitalized here; at least that's the way it sounds in my head.) He broadcasts both the football and men's basketball games for the Tigers, and he is amazingly good at both. 

Particularly impressive, to me at least, is Kelly's work on the football side of the equation. Let's face it; football is not the easiest sport to follow on the radio. Baseball has that beautiful built-in radio pace, and basketball has the benefit of one player handling the ball at a time, making the narrative relatively easy to construct. There's a flow there. Not so with football. Football is chaotic, with seven-second intervals of absolute confusion the rule more often than not. 

Kelly manages to make sense of everything going on on the field at any given moment, and communicates more information about the formation, movement, and direction of a play than any other announcer I've ever heard. He's just fantastic. If it weren't for the inconvenience of trying to sync up the satellite lag, I would probably mute Missouri's football games and listen to the radio broadcast along with the visual. 

Kelly's basketball coverage is no less impressive, though as I said basketball is easier to follow with just audio to begin with. Personally, if it were up to me, I would just hire Mike Kelly to broadcast any and all sporting events going on in the state of Missouri. Kelly's bio states he has experience doing Cardinal games, but I can't recall ever having heard him do a baseball broadcast. I would certainly love the opportunity to do so, though. He has an outstanding voice, a perfect sense of pacing, and the ability to work in advertisements for farm equipment without ever once stepping on the game. That's no mean feat. 

Also, to be honest, I'm kind of hoping someone with a lot of money and nothing better to do with their time could arrange for Mike Kelly and that homeless dude with the awesome voice to get in the booth together at some point in time. If I could hear that for just one afternoon I think I could die a happy man. 

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