A Brief History of Twins Radio Broadcasting

With this being the birthday of John Gordon, Dan Gladden, and Cory Provus, it seemed like an appropriate time to write a short essay about the Twins radio broadcasters.

For most of my life, I've followed the Twins on the radio, rather than on TV.  For about the first half of my life, this was out of necessity.  When I was growing up on a farm in South Dakota, there were no regular Twins TV broadcasts, and some years there were no Twins TV broadcasts at all except for a very rare national game.  But there was always the radio, first on KSOO out of Sioux Falls and later on WNAX out of Yankton, "Your Big Friend in the Midwest".

It was not until the later part of 1987 that I could see the Twins on TV somewhat regularly.  The novelty of that made me watch them quite a bit, but eventually I drifted back to radio.  That was especially true as life got busier and more hectic.  I cannot watch TV while driving, obviously, and now I'm often working during games.  I cannot get anything done while I'm watching the game on TV, but I can while I'm listening to the radio.

The Twins moved to Minnesota in 1961.  Their initial radio broadcasters were Ray Scott, Bob Wolff, and Halsey Hall.  Wolff left after the 1961 season and was replaced by Herb Carneal.  I don't know whether Herb was considered the Voice of the Twins immediately, but if not it didn't take very long.

Herb was the one constant in what was rather a revolving door of radio broadcasters for about twenty-five years.  It was Herb, Ray Scott, and Halsey through 1966.  Scott was replaced by Merle Harmon from 1967-1969.  Harmon then left and was replaced by Ray Christensen from 1970-1972.  Halsey left the booth after that and was apparently irreplaceable, so it was Herb and Ray for 1973.  Herb then went through a succession of partners:  Larry Calton (1974-75), Frank Quilici (1976-77), Joe McConnell (1978-79), and Quilici again (1980-82).  He was paired with Tim Moreland and Ron Weber in 1983 (my recollection is that Weber filled in when Moreland had some health problems).  Joe Angel was Herb's partner from 1984-86.

Then John Gordon came along, and the revolving door stopped.  John Rooney did a few games in 1987, too, but it was mostly Herb and Gordo, and in 1988 it became exclusively Herb and Gordo.  Jim Powell was also in the broadcast booth from 1993-94--again, my recollection is that he filled in when first Herb and then Gordo had some health problems.  It was Herb and Gordo again in 1995, but after that Herb started scaling back his broadcasting schedule, so a third member was added to the booth.  It was Ryan Lefebvre from 1996-98, Anthony LaPanta in 1999, and Dan Gladden in 2000.  It was Herb, Gordo, and Dazzle through 2005.  Jack Morris was added to the group in 2006.

Herb passed away shortly before the start of the 2007 season, and Gordo officially became the Voice of the Twins.  One could argue that, in fact, he really had been the Voice of the Twins for some years before that, but John Gordon is far too nice a man to even attempt to claim that title while Herb was still around.  It was Gordo and Dazzle, with occasional appearances by Jack Morris, through 2010.

In 2011, Gordo cut back his broadcasting schedule significantly and announced that it would be his last season.  Kris Atteberry, Ted Robinson, and Bob Kurtz all filled Gordo's chair at various times, but it was clear that a new lead broadcaster would be chosen for 2012.  That turned out to be Cory Provus, who assumed the mantle of Voice of the Twins and has been teamed with Dan Gladden since then.

Since 1962 through 2018, a period of fifty-seven seasons, only three men have been the Voice of the Twins.  That's pretty remarkable.  But think about this:  Cory Provus turns forty today.  There are people who broadcast baseball into their eighties.  That means that it's entirely possible that the Twins could go a hundred years with only three men as the Voice of the Twins.  That would be pretty incredible.

We've been blessed, as Twins fans, with some pretty good radio broadcasters.  Herb will always be my favorite.  But Cory Provus is pretty darn good, and while Gordo could be frustrating at times, he had an enthusiasm for the game that made me forgive his idiosyncrasies.  Halsey Hall was one of a kind, I always found Frank Quilici easy to listen to, and I still enjoy hearing Joe Angel on Orioles games.  And Gladden, while I still make fun of him sometimes, has improved a lot and actually does a pretty good job.

May we all be able to listen to Twins games on the radio for many more years to come.

12 thoughts on “A Brief History of Twins Radio Broadcasting”

  1. As in other facets of the game, I think the Twins' medium-size, far-flung market has worked against a proper appreciation of how great Herb was at broadcasting. I don't remember him ever taking any national gigs (or whether he was even offered them), but I'd put him ahead of almost all his more famous contemporaries (Harry Caray, Jack Buck, etc.), save his old partner Ernie Harwell (we'll call Ernie & Herb a tie) & Vin Scully (GOAT?). He was meticulous; I've read things from other broadcasters about how seriously Herb took preparing for a series. Herb's style was so well-matched to the culture of his region, and his voice so well matched to its geography — big & warm enough to cover dozens of states & provinces at night on the Good Neighbor.

    When Provus was hired, I almost couldn't believe it. I'd caught him occasionally when he was partnered with Uecker on WTMJ, and he always sounded good — a natural radio voice, good pacing, and (this is particularly important to me) unaffected delivery. I figured he was eventually going to take over for Ueck someday, but instead he came to my favorite team's booth. In an era dominated by Joe Bucks and Chips Caray media-crities and foaming homers like John Sterling, it's a pretty sweet deal.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I really wouldn't mind Provus being simulcast on radio & TV.

    1. I fully agree. When they've done that for spring training games its worked just fine. I don't expect them to ever do it, but I'd be in favor of it.

  2. I grew up listening to Herb's voice in my earpiece at night (and falling asleep to it on school nights), and I just barely remember Halsey. Gordo was fun, but over time he started losing it and he allowed Dazzle to slip into bad habits; it's pretty amazing how Provus has improved him. I don't remember liking Quilici, but it's quite possible it was due to the mediocrity on the field (much like his time managing).

    Meeting Herb is still a highlight in my life.

    1. ditto. I went through a crystal radio phase, and the main point was being able to listen to Twins' games on the 'CCO.

      I've enjoyed the broadcast teams out here for the A's (Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse on TV) and Giants (Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow, Jon Miller, Dave Flemming). Both teams are outstanding, IMO. Insightful analyses, not overt homers, fun stories, great rapport with each other.

  3. When I worked at the TV station, our state fair property was right next to one for a company that sold sun rooms and porch enclosures. Herb Carneal was a spokesperson for them, so he was always there several days for a couple of hours during the run of the fair and I got to meet him and talk to him a few times. A more gracious man would be hard to find.

Leave a Reply