He was Kentucky
Kyle Macy, Morehead State Eagles
a few short weeks we will all tip off another season of college
basketball. Radio play-by-play announcers will once again paint
pictures for countless listeners across the country.
They will do their best to bring the action to fans as if they were
there watching the game. Nobody was better at using the microphone
as an artistic brush than the late, great Cawood Ledford.
On Sept. 5 the broadcasting world lost one of the legendary voices
of the game, with the passing of Cawood who called Kentucky
basketball games for 39 years. And you won?t find a Wildcats? fan
that didn?t love him.
Kentucky fans would trek to the top of the mountains just so that
they could pick up his broadcasts. As Cawood use to say, ?the
Wildcats will be moving left to right on your radio dial.?
As a youngster, Bobby Knight would tune in to hear Cawood. Following
Duke?s overtime win, over Kentucky, in the 1992 East Regional
Finals, Mike Krzyzewski bypassed all the other interviewers and
spoke on the air with Cawood, first. Coach K was another big fan.
Everybody loved the man.
But what made him so special was not the way he brought the game to
fans, but how he was as a person.
When I went to play my collegiate basketball at Kentucky I had heard
about his legendary presence and was a little intimidated at the
idea of being interviewed by him.
As is still done today, broadcasters like to sit down, one-on-one,
with the players before each game. I remember vividly the first time
I went into to speak with Cawood. I walked in a little nervous and
walked out with a friend.
Cawood was such a down to earth, sincere guy. Talking with him was
like talking to your own brother or your best friend. And Cawood
Ledford had a lot of friends.
It was the first time I have ever been to a funeral where you needed
a parking pass and a credential in order to get in. The out poor of
family and friends was unbelievable and only fitting for such a
great individual who?s career spanned five decades.
As a broadcaster, he called it like it was. He was not your typical
radio voice in that he was not a ?homer.?
As the story goes, Adolf Rupp approached Cawood following a Kentucky
loss, a loss in which the Wildcats did not play well at all. Rupp
asked him how he called the game and Cawood told him I called it
just like I saw it. Rupp looked at him, smiled, and told him to keep
on calling them that way.
Joe B. Hall, Eddie Sutton and Rick Pitino all worked closely with
him, but Cawood wasn?t just the radio voice of UK basketball. He
also brought Wildcats football into homes in the Bluegrass State.
His voice was also familiar to fans of the Kentucky Derby as he
called the "Run for the Roses" for 22 years. Three times he won the
racing industry's highest honor, the prestigious Eclipse Award. Two
times he won the "Englehard Award" for excellence in his coverage of
horse racing. He also has received the "Silver Horseshoe" honor from
the Kentucky Derby Festival for his contributions to racing and the
"Dean Eagle Award" for his Kentucky Derby coverage.
Cawood was voted as the state of Kentucky?s ?Sportscaster of the
Year" 22 times and four times was named the top college basketball
announcer in the nation. He broadcasted the NCAA Final Four on a
national radio network for 18 years, the most of any announcer in
Recently a good friend of mine told me that Cawood was asked in an
interview who is all-time favorite Kentucky Wildcat was. He said it
was Kyle Macy.
Whether or not that is true is not important, but it is important to
me that I was blessed with the opportunity to have had my college
games broadcasted by Cawood Ledford.
He turned the microphone on for the first time on WHLN Radio in
Harlan, Kentucky in 1951 and while he may have left us this radio
phrase will live on with all of us -- ?Hello everybody, this is