The late Chris Schenkel — for decades ABC’s workhorse announcer through nine Olympics, the NBA, horse racing, college football, and of course 36 years of those winter Saturday bowling tournaments — has been named to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, nine years after his death at 82, the hall announced today.
Other honorees on this year’s list include a group of heavy-hitting executives, including NFL Network CEO and President David Bornstein, CBS Sports operations executive Ken Aagaard; audio pro Bob Dixon; 21st Century Fox Sr. EVP David Hill; F&F Productions founding CEO George Orgera; and the just-retired NBA Commissioner David Stern. The ceremony will be held Dec. 16 in New York.
All the inductees have been important for decades in one fashion or another to the business of sports broadcasting. But none, with the possible exception of Stern and his 30-year stewardship over the NBA as it became a TV powerhouse, was as visible to the public as Schenkel was during his glory days at ABC.
Schenkel was among the very first to announce sports events on TV, beginning with Harvard football games in 1947, in the earliest days of the commercial medium. He was later the voice of the New York Giants NFL team for 13 years before leaving CBS in 1965 to join ABC Sports. He had a lot of other first TV broadcast landmarks: with the PGA’s Masters Tournament, a coast-to-coast college football game; and as live anchor for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. That all earned him a raft of other honors, including induction into the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, and the Pete Rozelle/Pro Football Hall of Fame Radio-TV Award. He retired in 1997 and died in 2005 in his native Indiana.
Other inductees include Bornstein, who joined ESPN when it was four months old and rose to be president between 1990 and 1998 during a period of massive expansion for the sports giant. Bornstein became president of ABC in 1999. In 2005, Bornstein became president and CEO of the NFL Network. He is also the NFL’s EVP of Media.
Fox’s Hill has a long and prominent career in sports TV on three continents, beginning at 19, while in Australia. He rose to VP, Sports of the Nine Network there, then came to England with Sky TV, where he helped launch Eurosport, and later headed the BSkyB Sport Channel. Beginning in 1993, Hill was head of Fox Sports in the United States, and later rose to chairman and CEO of the Fox Sports Media Group, which includes all of Fox’s regional sports channels and other ventures. He was for two years also head of the Fox network, and later was a senior executive at DirecTV and National Geographic. Hill now is Sr. EVP at Fox, overseeing American Idol and also serving as chairman of National Geographic Channels U.S.
Aagaard is now CBS Sports’ EVP, Operations, Engineering & Production Services, and has been with the network since 1998. He previously was an executive at Creative Broadcasting Techniques, consulting with NBC, CBS, Fox and other prominent sports and music clients, and is credited with introducing several technological innovations in broadcasting football and golf events.