“Another big night, Al.”
Back in the 1980s, this was the phrase my friends and I would blurt out any time someone started knocking down shot after shot. Whether in the basement playing Nerf hoop, during a pickup game on the driveway or in the midst of a showdown at Huron Junior High, those four words became synonymous with a basketball player getting a hot hand. It was just a matter of time before one of us would go to the well for one of our favorite lines.
We might not have understood it at the time, but we were paying homage to one of the great broadcasters of all-time; our little inside joke was actually a tribute, even if we just thought it was funny. Irv Brown might not have known it, but his catchphrase was being repeated by a bunch of snot-nosed kids; the words he’d say to broadcasting partner Al Albert whenever Alex English started kissing shots off the glass had worked their way into the lexicon in Northglenn.
That’s what made it a little surreal some 30 years later when Brown was sitting in my office; the man I had watched call games on Channel 2 and listened to all over the radio dial was becoming part of the Mile High Sports team, alongside his equally legendary sports talk co-host, Joe Williams. It was an amazing moment, the type of experience where it’s a little hard to believe that you’re actually in that spot, at that time, having that conversation. Five years later, seeing Irv and Joe on a daily basis is still one of the best parts of being in the radio business.
That’s what makes this day bittersweet; that’s why penning this column is kind of a bummer. Because on Thursday, one of the greatest people, let alone broadcasters, that I’ve ever met will be stepping away from the microphone for the final time; on April 7, Irv Brown will be a part of “The Irv and Joe Show” for the final time.
And what a career it has been. Brown pioneered sports talk radio in Denver, proving that stations could attract listeners to a format that was not only new in the Mile High City, but also fledgling around the country. In a topsy-turvy industry, he’s been the one constant, providing fans with a familiar voice day after day for more than three decades.
But Brown’s impact has spread far beyond the radio; he’s also done almost everything imaginable in television broadcasting, doing both play-by-play and color commentary on nearly every network imaginable, calling almost every sport under the sun. The man who was a great coach and world-class referee across all kinds of games, applied that same versatility to his broadcasting career.
Along the way, Brown has helped launch the careers of many others; he worked with the likes of Dave Logan and Drew Goodman when they were first getting started, showing the ropes to two broadcasters who would go on to become among the best in the business. And Brown’s influence didn’t stop there; even now, he’s still taking some of the young, up-and-coming talent at Mile High Sports under his wing, helping them to grow in their careers.
In the end, that’s the thing I’ll remember most about Brown’s days behind a microphone. There wasn’t a more selfless person in Denver media than this living legend.
While he could’ve been arrogant, pompous and entitled, Brown was the complete opposite. He always let others shine. On the air, he was like a point guard, deftly passing out assists so others could score. And he was always trying to build others up, whether by mentioning the exploits of an athlete or coach from some otherwise-obscure school or providing a newcomer to the business with the confidence to step in front of a microphone and be heard; nobody did more to improve the sports landscape in Colorado, in every way imaginable, than Brown.
That’s why Thursday will be a bittersweet day. Yes, it’ll be fun to celebrate the career of an all-time great, and it’ll be neat to know that I got to be a small part of his Quixotic journey through radio. But it will also be sad, knowing that an irreplaceable figure will be leaving the airwaves; no one quite like him will ever come around again.
As a result, it’s time to make sure that he gets a proper send off. April 7 will be “Irv Brown Day” at Mile High Sports; we’re hoping that everyone will join us in honoring a legend.
If you’d like to say thanks in person, Irv and the entire crew will be at Blake Street Tavern (2301 Blake Street) all afternoon; everyone is invited to stop by to wish him well in retirement.
If that’s not in the cards, fans can still be a part of his final show; as has been the case every time he and Joe have been on the air, the phone lines will be open – 303.831.1340.
Or feel free to drop him a note. We’ll be gathering thoughts from fans via email; shoot an email to [email protected] and we’ll make sure it gets to Irv.
We’ll put it in the stack with all of the others. Somewhere in there, my note will sit – short, simple and to the point:
Thanks for the memories, Irv.