The medium of radio was still in its infancy in the early 1920’s, and sports on radio even more so. Two years earlier, KDKA in Pittsburgh became the first radio station to broadcast a baseball game live to listeners, as the Pirates defeated the Philadelphia Phillies. But on February 8, 1923, radio station CFCA in Toronto would bring the action of the North Toronto Hockey Club and Midland to the masses. The Ontario Hockey Association match, with less than 3,000 people in the stands, became the first game ever broadcast on radio.
The first play-by-play announcer 90 years ago was a man named Norman Albert. He didn’t stick around very long, as you’ll read here, as he was replaced by a young Hall-of-Famer to be in Foster Hewitt. But he was the first, and he paved the way for all of us that came after.
I really enjoyed this link in today’s Toronto Star, written by Eric Zweig. We’ve come a long way since a small radio studio, a small glass booth and a game in the Ontario Hockey Association.
Here’s to both Norman Albert and Foster Hewitt for their contributions to the greatest game on earth today, and a sincere thank you for helping grow the game. I hope you’ll read Eric’s article here, on the birthday of hockey play-by-play.