The 'Drrrrive home safely!' guy

By John Cesarine Daily Pennsylvanian

October 31, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- "Timeout, timeout, a media timeout." Ever wonder who is behind the mic at the Palestra? Now's your chance to find out about the mysterious character.

The beloved voice of the Palestra, Rich Kahn, sat down and told us about everything from announcing Joe Namath's induction into the Hall of Fame to Fran Dunphy's bad memory.

Daily Pennsylvanian: What was your career path before coming to Penn?

Rich Kahn: I have been a professional announcer for 30 years, I have done all kinds of college and professional stuff. I did the New York Jets for 19 years, the New York Islanders for 13 years, all kinds of college football, basketball and other sports like women's professional basketball, so I guess I was well-prepared to come here.

DP: So why come to Penn after announcing many professional and high level college teams?

RK: I moved my family from New York 12 years ago to take a job in Philly. At that point, I wanted to get a job here so I wouldn't have to commute. I was lucky enough to find this place three years ago and that is where I am now.

DP: Did working in the Palestra affect your decision at all?

RK: Oh absolutely, sure. What better place than this? It is such a warm place in many people's hearts that you certainly want to be a part of it.

DP: What goes into your preparation for a typical college basketball game?

RK: I'll do homework on both teams and by the time the season starts I'll know Penn very well. I'll get familiar with both rosters, get pronunciations and then on game day I'll talk to a coach from the other school to make sure the roster is correct. Then I'll go over all the promotional stuff with the marketing group, which sometimes takes as long as preparing for the actual game. That's what it has become.

DP: What keeps you coming back year after year?

 

 

RK: The thing that I love about it is that every night is different. It's always a challenge to be as good as you can be and I find that to be very fulfilling. It's just you. Unlike most other jobs, this is you. You live or die on what you do.

I'm nervous every night before a game and I think if you are not nervous you are not going to do a good job.

DP: What was your athletic career?

RK: I played baseball and soccer in high school, and ironically my high-school baseball coach was a guy named Bob Weinhauer, the former head basketball coach and player here at Penn.

DP: When did you know that announcing was the thing for you?

RK: Friends of mine tell me it goes all the way back to day camp when I was about 15 but the reality is that I started doing it in college. I always emulated people that I liked to hear in New York.

DP: What is the most exciting play you have ever announced?

RK: Wow, coming out with the hard ones now. I guess it would probably have to be the Jets beating the Dolphins in overtime [in 1986]. It was 51-45. It was one of the all time great games I have ever seen, that was a thrill. I emceed Joe Namath's Hall of Fame ceremony at halftime, that was just as big of a thrill. I also was the first announcer to the NCAA women's Final Four. That was in 1982 at the Scope in Norfolk, Va. So, I have a natural connection with women's ball as well.

DP: What is the most exciting Penn basketball play you have announced?

RK: Well, this is only my third year, but up to this point I would have to say [Mark] Zoller hitting those three free throws to win the game against Temple last year. It looked like we were dead in the water and then we come back and he wins it..

DP: What's the worst and best part of this job?

RK: Honestly, there really and truly isn't a bad part of this job. The best part is that I have the best seat in the house. I get to interact with the kids and they are real student athletes. To me it's nice to be around kids who are real students; I get a kick out of that. I can actually carry out a conversation with them. They don't have big heads. For me, it's very refreshing.

DP: What is your favorite sport to announce?

RK: It has to be football. And I say that only because it's the most challenging. It requires a lot of skill and focus. Basketball certainly is right there because that is very challenging as well.

DP: What is something that few people know about you?

RK: Fran Dunphy, to this day, still calls me Rick. That's not my name, it's Rich. I guess he got something settled in his head when I first introduced myself, and he never forgot. He just keeps calling me Rick, which I think is very funny. We just laugh about it now.

DP: How about something actually about what you have done?

RK: When I used to do hockey, before they had glass, I took a puck square in the forehead. I was stunned but wasn't knocked out and saw the blood. There is a great picture of me, with a couple all-time greats in Brian Sharkey and Pat LaFontaine walking across the ice with blood dripping down my face.

(C) 2007 Daily Pennsylvanian via CSTV U-WIRE

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