Book 18- Hello Everybody, This is Cawood Ledford by Cawood Ledford

Sports on the radio is one of those concepts that people either get or they don’t get. I get it. Love it. One of the best things about XM radio is being able to be out on a work trip on a summer afternoon and to dial in baseball from Chicago or New York or L.A. or wherever, and for an inning or two or three, just be able to drink it in. I like radio sports so much I amazed myself by listening to an entire round of golf at The Masters last year. And I don’t even PLAY golf.

Anyway, if there were a Mount Rushmore of radio, and maybe just of people in Kentucky, Cawood Leford would be on it. Cawood managed to be true to his Eastern Kentucky roots, but still exuded class and dignity in his radio work. He spent 39 years calling Kentucky basketball and football, and also took great pleasure in announcing numerous Kentucky Derbies.

His book is a very quick read, thin on his personal life and thick with remembrances of coaches and athletes of days past. There are some interesting moments, such as learning that Louisville tried to steal Cawood away in the early 1970s, or that after an argument with Charlie Bradshaw, Cawood feared that he would be fired from UK radio. Mostly, the book is Cawood’s attempt at putting his years behind the microphone into some sort of overall perspective. Unfortunately, there is little about announcing here. Like the craftsman he was, Cawood gave away few secrets.

An interesting supplement to the book are a couple of notes which Tom Leach, current UK broadcaster, has posted on his web page. These notes are critiques that Cawood sent Leach after he retired, on Leach’s request. The writing is direct and honest, and for every bit of wisdom he provided, it’s funny to note that both Cawood and Leach do exactly what he says to do. This is what is missing in Cawood’s book- a little bit of hints on the technique that made Cawood so fluid.

Anyway, I also should reveal that I met Cawood Ledford in 1998, six years after he retired, and a few years before he died. I was at the Harlan National Guard Armory to hear football coach Hal Mumme speak, and I walked in the door, and there, standing by the hospitality table covered with name tags was Cawood Ledford. I picked up a tag and filled my name in. “This guy,” I said to the lady at the table, “probably doesn’t need a tag.” Cawood smiled at that.

Joe

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5 Responses to “Book 18- Hello Everybody, This is Cawood Ledford by Cawood Ledford”

  1. Ricky Says:

    I’m surprised, given his stature for so many years, there aren’t more men in Kentucky named Cawood. I’ve never heard of anyone else named that, come to think of it.

    • eljoe1235 Says:

      None named Cawood, but I have a great uncle nicknamed “Cawood” for his love of Wildcat basketball and said announcer. He’s also nicknamed “Choppy” and “Pooler”, but I have no idea where those came from. That generation apparently loved to give each other nicknames. My grandmother (Cawood/Choppy/Pooler’s sister) was known as Speckle Bird, apparently based on her love of Roy Acuff’s “The Great Speckled Bird”, and as Bantie (as in like a Bantam rooster). Another aunt was known simply as Fat.

      There was probably a point somewhere in here before I got lost.

      Joe

  2. d_ustin Says:

    For bonus points, at that same event Mumme was asked which Buffett song was his favorite. Can you name it?

    • eljoe1235 Says:

      It took a minute, but the answer was “Quietly Making Noise”.

      For the uninformed, Mumme, while having a bit of a problem with cheating, was a favorite of the author for his love of the innovative short passing attack, and a favorite of Dustin for his proclaimed love of Jimmy Buffett, including having Buffett music piped over the PA system minutes before game time. Very different than the gangsta rap one usually gets today.

      • d_ustin Says:

        And he was one of the early champions of the idea of battoning down the hatches and go for two. I miss that man.

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