The passing of Joe Cullinane this week brought a lot of Rochester Radio Broadcast history to mind.
One of my first jobs in broadcasting was working as Joe’s audio engineer at WROC Radio. Joe would re-create the broadcasts of Rochester Red Wings Baseball when the team was out of town. In those days, radio stations did not have the fancy equipment or travel budgets to send the announcer to “away” ballparks. So— they would “re-create” the game for their listeners.
So, in the summer of 1962, I sat behind a giant audio board on Humboldt Street- watching Joe Cullinane grab the “play-by-play” off the newswire—and rush to the microphone on the other side of the glass with his bat and glove. Yes- I would control the crowd noise with a series of audio cuts, and Joe would provide the “sound effects” of the ball “hitting” the catcher’s glove— slapping the small bat into the glove. Cracking two bats together- would provide a “base hit!” I would raise the crowd noise volume- and throw in a cheer at the appropriate time.
If you were listening at home—you did not know the difference.
I shared his passing with one of my mentors- Tom Decker, this week. Tom anchored the news on Channel 8 for many years. Tom was the Red Wings announcer I grew up with. When the Red Wings played in Buffalo, my brother and I would run to the driveway- and tune in a Buffalo Radio station in the car to listen to the game. Then, few minutes later, we would switch to the local station- where Tom Decker was “re-creating” the play-by-play. Of course- we always knew when the “hits” and “strikeouts” were coming- as the wire copy produced at least a 5 minute delay. When I told Tom about Joe’s death, he replied:
“I enjoyed baseball. Joe “lived” it. His baseball knowledge was without peer!”
Today, of course, we can listen or watch a baseball game live on our smartphones. Technologically- we have come a long way.
But some things do not change. Those who have a passion for the game- like Joe Cullinane- continue to inspire the fans of today, and…. The Broadcasters of tomorrow!