‘There is magic in those voices’: reflecting on Cleveland sports radio titans lost this year
Just as rock ‘n’ roll is synonymous with the identity of Cleveland, the voices of sports broadcasting are synonymous with the Northeast Ohio teams and the memories that accompany them.
It’s been a tough year for sports radio in Northeast Ohio. Some of the biggest voices have passed including Joe Tait, Les Levine and last week Mike Trivisonno at 74.
Terry Pluto reflected on their special connection to listeners and the power of radio.
More than sport
“There is magic in these voices,” Pluto said.
Tait, Trivisonno, and Levine have spent decades on the air connecting with listeners. Pluto said that there is something about radio that makes the connection stronger than other media.
“It’s not just about the sport; it’s the voice in the background in the kitchen in the morning when you just get up,” Pluto said.
“Radio is sort of the same as it always has been. But, the voices, just think there’s something very powerful about it. I don’t know what will ever replace it. . “
Pluto said Cleveland has always been a big market for sports radio. It all started with Pete Franklin, a Massachusetts-born broadcaster known for his bombastic speech. He hosted Sportsline for WWWE (now WTAM) from 1972 to 1987.
“If you were to talk about Shakespeare’s impact on theater, playwrights, and theater, the person who was the Shakespeare of regional sports discourse was Pete Franklin,” Pluto said.
Trivisonno was a regular caller on the Franklin show, giving himself the nickname “Mr. Know It All”.
Eventually, Trivisonno took over the Franklin show.
“I doubt any of us would have said ‘Mr. Know It All’ [was] will be the next Pete Franklin, ”Pluto said.
And, Pluto shared a similar story. He called Franklin’s show when he was a kid to suggest a trade. Franklin berated him. Years later, as Pluto was starting out as a baseball writer, he appeared on Franklin’s radio show to talk about trades.
The endurance of the radio
The question remains as to who will be the next Tait or Trivisonno in Cleveland.
Regardless of who it is, Pluto said their long career and connection to the public is proof that radio remains a powerful medium.
“It’s going to evolve and change, but in the end it’s still a voice in the night. It’s a voice in the morning,” Pluto said. “It’s you and that voice on the radio that comforts you, or even if it makes you angry, it’s like you want to argue with your favorite uncle.”