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Cal Football

Starkey To Retire Following 2022 Season

August 18, 2022
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BERKELEY – Legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster Joe Starkey, best known for his "the band is out on the field" call of "The Play" in 1982, announced Thursday that he will retire as Cal's football radio play-by-play announcer following the 2022 campaign.

In Starkey's 48th and final season on the mic, the 2022 Golden Bears will travel to Notre Dame to face the Fighting Irish for the first time in 55 years, celebrate the 125th Big Game and 40th anniversary of The Play in Berkeley, and host "Joe Starkey Day" for the regular-season finale in Strawberry Canyon against UCLA.

"It has been an incredible privilege to have the best seat in the house to watch Cal football since 1975," Starkey said. "My first position in sportscasting was in 1972, and I have had some truly special assignments. But of all the places I have worked, the one constant has been Cal football.

" I can't begin to thank all of the Cal players, coaches, staff and professors who have made this fairy tale journey so incredibly satisfying. The University of California is a very special place and I couldn't be prouder to have made at least a small contribution of joy to this iconic academic institution."

In addition to producing one of the most memorable calls in all of sports history for what is widely considered college football's most famous play ever, Starkey also coined the phrase "What A Bonanza!" to describe other exciting plays he has witnessed since the beginning of his broadcasting career in 1972 as the radio and television voice of the NHL's California Golden Seals. Starkey, who will celebrate his 81st birthday this October 19, began his tenure at Cal in 1975 and has been on the microphone for 538 of the 545 Cal football contests since. He celebrated his 500th Cal game against Oregon on Sept. 29, 2018.

"Joe Starkey's commitment and service to Cal football have been unwavering for nearly a half-century," Cal's Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said. "I'm excited to celebrate and honor all of Joe's great work over the years and make 2022 his best season yet with the Bears. He will always have a home in Berkeley and with Cal football."  

"What an incredible career Joe Starkey has had over such a long period of time," said Travers Family Head Football Coach Justin Wilcox, who was born the year after Starkey began broadcasting Cal football games. "Joe's name is synonymous with the history of our football program. It's going to be a thrill to see him honored and recognized by so many who have enjoyed his work over the years." 

Harmon will probably try to squib it and he does. Ball comes loose and the Bears have to get out of bounds. Rodgers, along the sideline, another one – they're still in deep trouble at midfield, they tried to do a couple of – the ball is still loose, as they get it to Rodgers! They get it back now to the 30, they're down to the 20 – Oh, the band is out on the field! He's gonna go into the end zone! He got into the end zone!

And the Bears! The Bears have won! The Bears have won! Oh, my God! The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!

Joe Starkey - "The Play"

Starkey has also had an array of broadcasting duties with professional sports organizations during his career that he mostly fulfilled in conjunction with his Cal duties, highlighted by a 22-year stint on the San Francisco 49ers' radio broadcast team (1987-2008) that included the final 20 campaigns as the play-by-play voice. The 49ers won their most recent three Super Bowls (XXIII, XXIV, XXIX) during Starkey's tenure with the team as he described plays for Pro Football Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young, among others.

Starkey also worked NFL games for the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, the USFL's Oakland Invaders and the WFL's Sacramento Surge. In addition, he was the first television voice of the NHL's San Jose Sharks, while also broadcasting with the Oakland Seals, Colorado Rockies, Golden State Warriors and Pittsburgh Penguins. In addition, Starkey served for 25 years as sports director at the Bay Area's KGO 810 Radio, which enters its 49th season as the flagship station for Cal football in 2022.

Starkey, who has been named the best play-by-play announcer in the state of California on nine occasions, has recently received several lifetime achievement honors. In 2009, he was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame before being recognized the next year by the National Football Foundation with the Chris Schenkel Award for his distinguished career broadcasting college football. Cal honored Starkey in 2016 by naming the home radio broadcast booth at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium as "The Joe Starkey Broadcast Booth" and then inducted him into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the 2018 class. Most recently in 2022, Starkey was presented with the Durham Voice of College Sports Award from the National Sports Media Association.

Discussion from...

Starkey To Retire Following 2022 Season

4,350 Views | 37 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by GMP
okaydo
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Noooooooooo
chalcidbear
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Well, it was definitely time for him to go. I'm happy for him in that he is doing it on his own terms.
Cal_79
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Does this mean there's a possibility of knowing the actual down and distance in real time?
tpender
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Thank god!
Marty
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Anyone who has followed Cal football for any length of time, in my case since before Joe started calling games, is aware of his presence. Like many other notable broadcasters, he has his own unique quirks. None of us are perfect, and anyone who has aged and claims they aren't affected in some way is lying or has already succumbed to the aging process. As for me, I've always enjoyed Joe's fundamental capabilities as a broadcaster.
His passion for Cal, enthusiasm for the game, unquestionable good character, and his ability to tell a story will always be central to my memories of Cal football, in particular in the 70s, 80s, and 90s when televised games were still few and far between and I was not always able to attend games in person. Joe was the voice of Cal football for nearly half a century, and he should be justifiably proud of his singular legacy. I personally don't know anyone who held any position for that long. Unlike his time with the 49ers, he's been compelled to call games for more bad teams than good, and from my perspective, his enthusiasm and professional demeanor never wavered. He's a pro whose tenure is not likely to ever be surpassed, and I'll miss him. All the best to Joe for a happy and healthy retirement. He earned it.
Rushinbear
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Marty said:

Anyone who has followed Cal football for any length of time, in my case since before Joe started calling games, is aware of his presence. Like many other notable broadcasters, he has his own unique quirks. None of us are perfect, and anyone who has aged and claims they aren't affected in some way is lying or has already succumbed to the aging process. As for me, I've always enjoyed Joe's fundamental capabilities as a broadcaster.
His passion for Cal, enthusiasm for the game, unquestionable good character, and his ability to tell a story will always be central to my memories of Cal football, in particular in the 70s, 80s, and 90s when televised games were still few and far between and I was not always able to attend games in person. Joe was the voice of Cal football for nearly half a century, and he should be justifiably proud of his singular legacy. I personally don't know anyone who held any position for that long. Unlike his time with the 49ers, he's been compelled to call games for more bad teams than good, and from my perspective, his enthusiasm and professional demeanor never wavered. He's a pro whose tenure is not likely to ever be surpassed, and I'll miss him. All the best to Joe for a happy and healthy retirement. He earned it.
Vin Scully of Cal football? Can I say that? His voice was unmistakable.
stanfurdbites
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Way to be a jerk with this response on his retirement thread
dimitrig
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I wonder if he sees the writing in the wall with respect to Cal's football future.

He will be missed.

Grrrrah76
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Thanks Joe
okaydo
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Rushinbear said:

Marty said:

Anyone who has followed Cal football for any length of time, in my case since before Joe started calling games, is aware of his presence. Like many other notable broadcasters, he has his own unique quirks. None of us are perfect, and anyone who has aged and claims they aren't affected in some way is lying or has already succumbed to the aging process. As for me, I've always enjoyed Joe's fundamental capabilities as a broadcaster.
His passion for Cal, enthusiasm for the game, unquestionable good character, and his ability to tell a story will always be central to my memories of Cal football, in particular in the 70s, 80s, and 90s when televised games were still few and far between and I was not always able to attend games in person. Joe was the voice of Cal football for nearly half a century, and he should be justifiably proud of his singular legacy. I personally don't know anyone who held any position for that long. Unlike his time with the 49ers, he's been compelled to call games for more bad teams than good, and from my perspective, his enthusiasm and professional demeanor never wavered. He's a pro whose tenure is not likely to ever be surpassed, and I'll miss him. All the best to Joe for a happy and healthy retirement. He earned it.
Vin Scully of Cal football? Can I say that? His voice was unmistakable.

He was the Myron Cope of Cal Football.
heartofthebear
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Cal_79 said:

Does this mean there's a possibility of knowing the actual down and distance in real time?
More than likely!!
In addition, we will know who is carrying the ball and we will understand why the penalty was called.
heartofthebear
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Marty said:

Anyone who has followed Cal football for any length of time, in my case since before Joe started calling games, is aware of his presence. Like many other notable broadcasters, he has his own unique quirks. None of us are perfect, and anyone who has aged and claims they aren't affected in some way is lying or has already succumbed to the aging process. As for me, I've always enjoyed Joe's fundamental capabilities as a broadcaster.
His passion for Cal, enthusiasm for the game, unquestionable good character, and his ability to tell a story will always be central to my memories of Cal football, in particular in the 70s, 80s, and 90s when televised games were still few and far between and I was not always able to attend games in person. Joe was the voice of Cal football for nearly half a century, and he should be justifiably proud of his singular legacy. I personally don't know anyone who held any position for that long. Unlike his time with the 49ers, he's been compelled to call games for more bad teams than good, and from my perspective, his enthusiasm and professional demeanor never wavered. He's a pro whose tenure is not likely to ever be surpassed, and I'll miss him. All the best to Joe for a happy and healthy retirement. He earned it.
Joe Starkey significantly extended the market value of a transistor radio, something that can be hard to find these days. But, as long as Joe was doing Cal, it was a necessity on Saturdays.
heartofthebear
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To the OP: Shouldn't we all be retiring from Cal football after the 2022 season?
calumnus
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End of an era
bluehenbear
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Thanks Joe!

Can we get Roxy Bernstein to replace him?
BearForce2
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All right, here we go with the kickoff. Harmon will probably try to squib it and he does. Ball comes loose and the Bears have to get out of bounds. Rodgers, along the sideline, another one... they're still in deep trouble at midfield, they tried to do a couple of the ball is still loose, as they get it to Rodgers! They get it back now to the 30, they're down to the 20... Oh, the band is out on the field! He's gonna go into the end zone! He got into the end zone!

Will it count? The Bears have scored, but the bands are out on the field! There were flags all over the place. Wait and see what happens; we don't know who won the game. There are flags on the field. We have to see whether or not the flags are against Stanford or Cal. The Bears may have made some illegal laterals. It could be that it won't count. The Bears, believe it or not, took it all the way into the end zone. If the penalty is against Stanford, California would win the game. If it is not, the game is over and Stanford has won.

We've heard no decision yet. Everybody is milling around on the (conferencing officials now finally signal a touchdown) field! And the Bears! The Bears have won! The Bears have won! Oh, my God! The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending... exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football! California has won the Big Game over Stanford! Oh, excuse me for my voice, but I have never, never seen anything like it in the history of I have ever seen any game in my life! The Bears have won it! There will be no extra point!
The OT forum is a left wing bubble consisting mainly of delusional lefties who spread disinformation. Their favorite topic? Donald J. Trump. Their least favorite topic? The current president, Joe Biden.
BearForce2
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calumnus said:

End of an era
The ball is still loose!
The OT forum is a left wing bubble consisting mainly of delusional lefties who spread disinformation. Their favorite topic? Donald J. Trump. Their least favorite topic? The current president, Joe Biden.
BearForce2
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okaydo said:

Noooooooooo
Wait for it.......



BOOOOOOM!!!!

The OT forum is a left wing bubble consisting mainly of delusional lefties who spread disinformation. Their favorite topic? Donald J. Trump. Their least favorite topic? The current president, Joe Biden.
CALiforniALUM
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Who wrote this story? At least the author could have given Joe a hat tip by not mentioning the date and distance until his retirement.
calbearsfan
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bluehenbear said:

Thanks Joe!

Can we get Roxy Bernstein to replace him?


We should get Roxy to come back for basketball at the same time. Question is will he want to give up his national duties for ESPN/PAC-12 Network?
GoOskie
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Thanks Mr Starkey for the good times. You will always be the voice of Cal football.
Unit2Sucks
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Congrats to Starkey on a long and successful career. We should all be so lucky to have had the sort of impact he's had for several decades. He was an institution and it won't be the same without him.
Dgoldnbaer
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In no disrespect, I stopped listening to Cal away games on the radio in the mid '80's - 7 years after I graduated from Cal. Became incredibly frustrated w/his broadcasting ie; yard line ball was on, player who caught the pass, down it was, name of running back carrying the ball, name of player who scored touchdown, name of player making tackle, name of player who recovered fumble, and on and on and on!!!

Was a downright joke. Wish SOOOO much he would have hooked on w/NHL team - forever. That was his niche. He may be the nicest human being in the history of Cal sports but hands down the worse radio play by play announcer I've ever heard. Then again I grew up listening to Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and Bill King. Was definitely spoiled there. Did I expect too much? Joe, I wish you the best.

Now ... Get Roxy!!!!
Blueblood
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Dgoldnbaer said:

In no disrespect, I stopped listening to Cal away games on the radio in the mid '80's - 7 years after I graduated from Cal. Became incredibly frustrated w/his broadcasting ie; yard line ball was on, player who caught the pass, down it was, name of running back carrying the ball, name of player who scored touchdown, name of player making tackle, name of player who recovered fumble, and on and on and on!!!

Was a downright joke. Wish SOOOO much he would have hooked on w/NHL team - forever. That was his niche. He may be the nicest human being in the history of Cal sports but hands down the worse radio play by play announcer I've ever heard. Then again I grew up listening to Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and Bill King. Was definitely spoiled there. Did I expect too much? Joe, I wish you the best.

Now ... Get Roxy!!!!
Almost.....actually people say (<--Trumpism) I'm that human being.....
LateHit
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Just as well. The NCAA was getting suspicious about "Open Receiver" being on the roster since 1975.
Cal67
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Great news! Always a lag so Joe could figure out what was going on. And Mike would make excuses for him. Bring on Roxie!
OsoDorado
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I've told this story before, but I listened to Joe's call of "The Play" as a senior. I was about to turn off the broadcast after Stanford scored in the last minute, but left it on for some reason (even though I wasn't expecting any "miracle" -- "only a miracle can save the Bears.")

Needless to say, I cried like a baby a few minutes later....

Thank you so much Joe for helping me love Cal football even more through my years as an alum. You are one-of-a-kind.
CAL4LIFE
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Dgoldnbaer said:

In no disrespect, I stopped listening to Cal away games on the radio in the mid '80's - 7 years after I graduated from Cal. Became incredibly frustrated w/his broadcasting ie; yard line ball was on, player who caught the pass, down it was, name of running back carrying the ball, name of player who scored touchdown, name of player making tackle, name of player who recovered fumble, and on and on and on!!!

Was a downright joke. Wish SOOOO much he would have hooked on w/NHL team - forever. That was his niche. He may be the nicest human being in the history of Cal sports but hands down the worse radio play by play announcer I've ever heard. Then again I grew up listening to Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and Bill King. Was definitely spoiled there. Did I expect too much? Joe, I wish you the best.

Now ... Get Roxy!!!!
Back in the day when I actually listened to Starkey call games he seemed like a fitting voice for the Bears. Incompetence calling games for a struggling program lacking competence.

But later, when Starkey inexplicably (to me) became the voice of the 49ers things changed. I realized that he was more than capable of doing a reasonable play-by-play job. His attention to detail was professional and baseline for anyone tasked with doing a good job.

Later on Starkey admitted (based on memory here so I paraphrase off that) that he approached Cal games differently than his 49ers gig. Basically saying that college is more about emotion and less about detail which was in stark contrast to his responsibility calling the 49ers.

That pissed me off.

Now it's time for Cal to find someone (RB perhaps) that can give radio listening fans a professional product. Although, based on recent gameday experiences I'm not sure Cal understands what that is.

Anyway, goodbye Joe. Your retirement is quite the "Bonanza" and long overdue.
Out Of The Past
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I will miss Joe. His retiring is of a piece with the current state of college football, and particularly Cal's position in that status. Since the mid 1950's, Cal has reflected the struggle between ever increasing academic demands on college athletes, and the desire of a fan base to "just win". I believe within the next few years we will reach the finality of that conflict in which the two interests will be functionally separated. FB and BB athletes in the conferences defined by television revenue will be mainly surrogates, and far less students. Cynics will respond that this has been going on for years. Yeah, maybe, but now it will have no veil.

Joe did not make us sound like an NFL farm team, there was no way that he could and still capture the moment. But that is where college FB and BB are going.

I am all in on Cal academics. I hope there can be some way to revive the student athlete paradigm. That will take some time if it happens at all.
upsetof86
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Definitely missing Joe already. He made the comebacks more sensational and the losses bearable and the suspense palpable in his own Cal way. Very much kept me feeling like an 18 year old freshman for nigh 40 years. It will be a bummer to wake up from that trance next year.
gardenstatebear
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I guess I'm persnickety, but Starkey's call of "The Play" is spoiled for me because as the kick-off is received,he says "the Bears have to get the ball out of bounds." That is wrong. The clock stops when a kickoff return ends regardless of whether the ball is in or out of bounds. It also bothers me that he was careful in broadcasting 49er games, but not Cal games. Still, he is an institution, and will be missed.
AunBear89
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"Here's the first play of the drive from the 20. The runner gets the ball, and they got him. No, he's gotten free and it's a gain of 3. That brings up 3rd and around 5 yards to go."

Joe should have been gone 20 years ago. Great stories about pies, Seals hockey, and the USFL, though.
TomBear
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In my younger years, I was a commentator for UW and U of O athletics. Starkey was in his earlier years of doing Cal football. No one then, and no one now is better at college football broadcasting overall.

While it is true he's not great at yard and distance, and he drives me crazy when he throws to commercial break without giving the score and time remaining, his overall all enthusiasm, anecdotal info and humor, and love for all things Cal make him far better than anyone in the Pac these days.

He understands college football, the pageantry and traditions that make it better than the league. He loves to talk about the Cal Band, and talk about the things that differentiate Cal from other schools. He has anecdotal humor and knowledge that he inserts into his broadcasts that make a fun game (college football) fun to listen to. He's not afraid to talk about tightwad hill, Cal Band, Big Game luncheons, and a particular favorite of mine at the close of the season, when he talks to the players about their time at Cal, their majors, and where they plan to go with their Cal degree. So far as I know (and I've heard all the Pac announcers), he's the only one who gives a flying fish about sharing the players college life and the impact it's had on their plans and lives.

So despite his flaws, his positives transcend his weaknesses, especially doing Cal games.

BTW, I'll give you my favorite Starkey story. My father was one of the founders of the Cal Alumni Band, and helped put together the annual Alumni Band Day football game back in the fifties. On the occasion of my father's 70th birthday, Cal was playing (unfortunately) $C. The game wasn't a good one for Cal. But at halftime, Joe decided to honor my father and made the following tribute (paraphrased) on air............

"Today is Dave Wenrich's 70th birthday. Dave is a member of the class of '49 and was a founder of the Cal Alumn Band. This year, at the age of 70, Dave still marches with the Alumni Band, and STILL plays better than anyone in the $C band!"

He's not going to be easy to replace. And I'm really going to miss him.
Strykur
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We'll miss him obviously, but this is way past due.
BadNewsBear1
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AunBear89 said:

"Here's the first play of the drive from the 20. The runner gets the ball, and they got him. No, he's gotten free and it's a gain of 3. That brings up 3rd and around 5 yards to go."

Joe should have been gone 20 years ago. Great stories about pies, Seals hockey, and the USFL, though.
The one that always kills me is he more likely said "he's gotten free and is tackled at midfield." In Starkey's mind that means he was stopped halfway between the sidelines anywhere other than at the fifty.
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