Please, whatever you do, do not take this compliment to Paul Panisko.
While I would take a bullet for Paul, I would much rather slap him in his round, smug head. I never want to receive a compliment from him, and I would never, ever want him to infer anything I wrote or said as a tribute to him.
Paul is a play-by-play announcer for KBOW radio in Butte. He is the “Voice of the Orediggers,” calling Montana Tech’s football and basketball games. He also announces Butte High’s football, basketball and softball games.
He has called a ton of games for internet broadcast of state basketball tournament games in Montana, and he announced games for the NAIA National Women’s Basketball Tournament in Billings the last couple of years.
Paul also called some television games, but not nearly enough.
While it pains me to type this about my friend, Paul is as good as there is.
I am not talking about other high school announcers in Montana or announcers at other Frontier Conference schools, either. I am talking about anywhere that a sport is played. Whether it is on television, radio or the internet, nobody calls a game better than Butte boy Paul Panisko.
Paul brings a passion to the teams that he covers, and their fans truly appreciate it. He also brings a genuine respect for the players and fans on the opposing side, and they truly appreciate that.
That is a remarkable skill that so few possess.
Paul never “homers” a team, like most every other radio man does. He never complains about the officials. He just tells you what happens, and you get to figure the rest out for yourself.
This truly is a different era of broadcasters. Gone are the days of Red Barber and Vin Scully. Instead we have a bunch of guys who cheerlead for their team while waiting for the right spot to drop their catch phrase.
Can you imagine being a Packers fan and being forced to listen to Bears announcer Jeff Joniak screaming “touchdown, touchdown Bears?” Or being a Red Sox fan and have to listen to Yankees announcer John Sterling declare “It’s Gleyber Day” after Gleyber Torres hits a three-run home run off your pitcher?
You would want to rip your radio right out of your car and throw it out the window.
But a Carroll College fan could easily listen to Paul call a game between the Saints and the Orediggers and thoroughly enjoy the game. That is a true story.
I can assure you, that has not always been true the other way around. Not even close.
Paul truly is a throwback made in the mold of the greats of yesterday.
Announcers these day too often cater to the lowest common denominator of their fan base. Whether it is their intent or not, they also rub it in on the opposing team’s fans.
More than that, they disrespect the game, and that includes the players who play for the team they are supposedly serving. Their homerism surely does nobody any favors.
Do not take my word for it. Listen to the “play of the day” on the Dan Patrick Show each weekday. It is like the announcers are having a contest to outdo each other in ridiculousness.
To call these announcers “homers” is actually underselling them. So many of these fan boys have become caricatures of what we used to call a “homer.”
Sure, there are some true professionals still out there, like Al Michaels and Joe Castiglione. But for every announcer like that, there are hundreds of ridiculous blowhards who will ruin your afternoon or evening.
Football announcers that follow one team have long been the worst, but baseball is apparently trying to catch up, and nothing is worse than Sterling’s home run calls.
“N’it is high! N’it is far! N’it is gone! Gardy goes Yard!”
He really says that when Brett Gardner hits a home run.
Actually, I take that back. Joe Buck is worse.
Buck is only announcing games because his dad was a great announcer, and for some reason FOX sees that as a good enough reason to give him the biggest NFL games and the World Series.
My dad is a very skilled electrician. You would be foolish to hire me to rewire your house just because my dad could do it. If I did not electrocute myself first, I would probably burn down your house.
The same is true about hiring Joe Buck to announce anything.
Jack Buck gave us great, genuine calls like “I don’t believe what I just saw” when Kirk Gibson hit that legendary home run in the 1988 World Series. Joe Buck gives “what a throw.” Or “what a pitch.” Or “what a catch.” Or “what an opening drive.”
The younger Buck does not announce what happens, he judges each and every play. Every pass that is not “what a throw” is “good” or “bad.” It is not complete or incomplete.
Each tackle is a “good tackle.” Each strike is a “good pitch.”
Yeah, Joe, we know it is a good pitch. He has to do it two more times.
Panisko does not do that. He does not merely tell you the athletes are doing something great. He puts them on the stage in your mind and allows them to be great from left to right on your radio dial.
One is pretentious and garbage. The other is art. Paul Panisko is an artist.
A play-by-play announcer is so important to a game.
Watching a game on television can be ruined by guys like Buck or the fake voice of Chris Myers.
How many of you have muted games because of Buck? Or because of Chris Collinsworth or John Gruden?
The answer to that is everyone. Every sane person, anyway.
There is no mute button on your radio. More importantly, Panisko has never made the fan of either side look for one.
This is Paul’s 22nd season calling games for Montana Tech.
On Saturday, Frontier Conference Commissioner Kent Paulson came to town from Whitefish to honor Paul with the prestigious Frontier Conference Service Award for his years of helping make the best conference in the NAIA even better.
The commissioner knows a good announcer when he hears one.
He pulled Paul out of his booth and forced him down on the field for a ceremony where Paul could take a bow in front of a packed house at Alumni Coliseum.
Paulson gets that Paul truly is a gem of the Frontier Conference and the Mining City.
Fans of the Orediggers and Bulldogs — and fans of their opponents — are really lucky to have him.
Now, hopefully Panisko does not go and do something stupid like take that as a compliment.
If he does, I will have to slap him on his round, smug head.
— Bill Foley, who really wouldn’t take a bullet for Panisko, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. Check out his NFL picks on Thursdays. 1 comment