Ron Jacober has worked in the St. Louis sports media market for 42 years. He was just inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, and is a member now of four local halls of fame. He was sports director at KMOX Radio for decades. He sat down for an interview with Patch.com and this is what he had to say.
Patch.com: First, congratulations on making the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Ron Jacober: I was kind of overwhelmed by it. I was the only one inducted in the class of 2013 from St. Louis and it was a neat experience. I don’t know why all this is happening to me. That makes four halls of fame now.
I tell people if you do something long enough, people think you must be OK?
What made it so special was having my entire family there. I remember Jack Buck telling me going into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown was so special was having his family there. They shared it with him and I thought a lot about that.
We have two boys. One is a police officer in Pueblo, CO and the other is a pilot for Southwest Airlines in St. Louis, but based out of Chicago.
They juggled some schedules to get here. The St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame had a table of 10 and my sister came and other friends and we had 27 people there. There were 1,700 people at the dinner at the convention center and it was kind of intimidating.
The Hall of Fame has its own building in Springfield, MO (along Highway 1-44).
They have bronze statues for people like Buck and Stan Musial and Norm Stewart. By the way, I won’t have a bust there.
Patch: 42 years in the business, you’ve seen a lot?
RJ: I went to KMOX Radio in 1969 or ’70. I was only there for a year and a half.
I did a little bit of sports. I was a gopher. Jay Randolph had been there and he went to channel 5 to become sports director. I called Jay one night and said this is a great radio station and I’m not getting anywhere.
Jay said “Oh my God, we’re looking to hire a sportscaster; when can you get over here to interview?”
I went over that night at 10:30 p.m. after the news and they sat me down and I read a sportscast and they hired me the next day. I was there for 16 years with Jay. He’s like my brother. I did a number of Cardinal games each year when Jay had conflicts with NBC golf and other assignments.
My first television broadcast was Wrigley Field. I was a young pup. I was living a dream. I was in the broadcast booth with Jack Buck. In the third inning, he said: “Kid, you want to do some play by play?” I said yes sir. He got up and left the booth and it was my game to call. People still talk to me about the dugout show we did on Channel 5. That was 27-28 years ago, and people still remember.
Patch: Are sports ever easy to cover?
RJ: All you are is a reporter who happens to be specializing in sports. Some people call it the Toy Department. The days are very long. Early in my career I traveled so much. I was gone all the time. In addition to Channel 5, I was doing Metro Conference basketball telecasts with Oscar Robertson; soccer for the Storm and Steamers and Ambush, all those teams that failed.
Once, someone asked my son Jeff if he wanted to be in television when he grew up. He said “No, I’d like to have a job where I am home with my kids.”
“You give up a lot of family time. I used to sneak out at six o’clock after the news and go and watch the first half of Jeff’s soccer games at Vianney,
Patch: Does it take its toll on family life?
RJ: Absolutely. So many in this industry are divorced. Its hard on family. You have to have a very understanding spouse because of the traveling you do and the hours kept. I’ve worked every hour on the clock over the years.
Next, Jacober talks about interviewing the greatest of them all Mumammad Ali; working for St. Louis' most famous personality Robert Hyland and what all of this has meant to him personally and to his family.