*(photo courtesy of Dial Global Sports)
It's about time Kevin Kugler's audience is about to become bigger. Kugler announced on one of his social media pages last week he would be leaving his popular long standing radio sports talk show, "Unsportsmanlike Conduct." The show is aired in the afternoons on Omaha's 1620 The Zone. There will be many broken hearts over the call made by the Nebraska native, but let's be up front and truthful about Mr. Kugler's talents and abilities. He may very well be the best radio play by man in the country.....bar none.
Kevin Kugler was called up to the big leagues in 2004 by Howard Denoff, then the vice-president of Westwood One radio. Westwood One has since become Dial Global Sports, but Denhoff called Omaha's KOZN radio to do the College World Series that year. Kugler did the play by play gig all the way in that 2004 College World Series until the best -of-three finals, then assumed the sidelines analyst role the remainder of the broadcast. From then on it was onward, upward and skyward for the meticulous, well prepared Kugler.
Since that time, Kugler's resume looks like a "Who's Who" of any major sport that matters....college, professional, or beyond. in 2006 Kevin Kugler took over the lead role as radio play by play man for the College World Series. Kugler has done the NCAA football and basketball games of the week for quite some time, working with the likes of John Thompson, Bill Rafferty, Pete Gillen, Bill Walton, and Bill Gray in basketball. He recently did the NCAA Basketball Final Four.
The Omaha native hosted the Masters Golf tournament in 2009 and 2010. He filed reports for
Westwood One/Global Sports during the 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing and the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Kevin Kugler has done play by play for NBA games and of course has done extensive work locally for the Nebraska Educational Television Network. The question arises, in my mind anyway, is there a sport that exists that Kevin Kugler could not call and be one of the best that has ever been in that capacity? I certainly have not fathomed such an instance.
Kevin Kugler is a marksman with his play by play analyisis, no matter what sport he calls. His pinpoint accuracy and vivid description is uncanny. If the point of radio perfection to paint such a perfect picture it makes the listener feel like he or she is actually there, then Kevin Kugler is a modern day Rembrandt to be sure. The level of play, the sport, the team does not seem to matter in the least to this well organized perfectionist. If Kugler is doing a Notre Dame football game, it almost seems as if he's been their play by play voice for years. Ditto for a New England Patriots game, a North Carolina basketball game, a Miami Heat playoff game.....you get the picture.
I have long been intrigued by radio play of play men. As a child in the 50's and 60's, I would sit in my room and search for a Major League Baseball game to tune in on the old green, tubed radio. The team did not matter, it was the "voice" and that painted picture I was after. I longed for voices like the Curt Gowdy, who did Boston Red Sox games, Cardinals great Jack Buck, San Diego Padres play by play expert Jerry Coleman, and the venerable Marty Brennaman of the Cincinnati Reds. I couldn't wait until Saturday night to roll around so I could hear Jim Hawthorne call an LSU football game and tell me how the "Chinese Bandits" defense were dismantling another SEC offense. For the better part of 56 years, I have been a connoisseur of radio play by play men and their golden voices and now am lucky enough to be alive and hear one of the finest in the world of sports.....Kevin Kugler.
Yes, many will lament the fact Kugler will no longer be a steady voice on a Nebraska radio station. My only thought is this? What took them so long to realize that Kevin Kugler is one of the best in the business? We now know that the electronic media hierarchy around the country know who this man is and how much talent he possesses. There are drawbacks in some ways that go hand in hand with this success. Long plane rides, sometimes from coast to coast, country to country. Hours of preparation and certain fatigue. Through all this though, I have never heard a Kevin Kugler broadcast that was less than perfection. Always the same, always at the top of the game...his game. Only one level this young man knows and that is flawless. It is almost unheard of in this age of broadcasters specializing in only one sport, at one level that a play by play man can be as proficient as Kevin Kugler is at so many sports. They just don't exist.
Mr. Kugler is certainly headed for a pinnacle of excellence no radio voice from these parts has ever seen. Kugler will be off to London in July to do the 2012 Summer Olympics. Just another gig in a long line of credits to him. This Fall the 8 time Nebraska Sportscaster of the Year winner will be expanding his play by play efforts with the Big Ten Network, continuing his gig with Westwood One/Dial Global, and will even be the preseason Television voice for the NLF's Jacksonville Jaguars. Justice has finally been served to the man who has done the same radio show in Omaha since 2001. Kevin Kugler has paid his dues and struck gold as the one of the most sought after sports radio voices in America today. Yes, the state of Nebraska may have lost a long time voice, but look at it this way friends. We can all say we once knew a man who grew up in our fine state that is now the very finest in his profession. We can live to tell our grandkids we "knew" Kevin Kugler........"The Best in the Biz."