Ken Korach, Oakland A’s Radio Announcer – A Great Passion For The Game and Life Itself
Ken Korach has been living the life of a dream come true. For the past 19 years he has been and is the radio voice of the Oakland A’s. He was born in Los Angeles in 1952. He is the son of a high school and junior college baseball and basketball coach. He has loved sports since the day he was born and remembers playing catch before he could walk. He grew up minutes from Dodger Stadium, but in his childhood grew up an Angels fan … because they were local and born then, too, in 1961.
It’s as if real life angels have been watching over Ken and everything has been in an exciting and perfect alignment. Beyond a doubt, Ken grew up in a family and household that has always loved life, sports and broadcasting.
As Ken puts it, he had heroes growing up. Growing up, “We were a CBS Family”. Every night, they would watch Walter Cronkite. He was certainly one. There was a book, The Morrow Boys … Ed Morrow was yet another … and the family tree of great broadcasters … also an inspiration.
He grew up listening to the greats: Vin Scully and Chick Hearn and Dick Enberg … and another he loved listening to: Bill King doing the Warriors games. Also Bill King doing the Raiders games, and then Bill King and Lon Simmons doing the A’s games. “Indeed, I loved broadcasting as much as I loved sports.”
Ken first went to San Diego State, where he was Sports Editor of the school newspaper, and then graduated from UC Santa Barbara. His broadcasting career began in Petaluma in 1980, doing a variety of things, including high school sports and eventually Sonoma State football and basketball in 1982.
He went on to do A-ball part-time in 1981 and a full-season of A-ball (California League) in 1984. The team was in Rohnert Park … and then AAA-ball in 1986 in Phoenix. It was a distance, yet, from where he was heading. He was growing and so was his reputation. Unbeknownst to him, perhaps, it would be just a matter of time and he was enjoying it all.
In addition to baseball, he would also broadcast both football and basketball for San Jose State and UNLV. He was also broadcasting AAA-ball (Pacific Coast League) in Las Vegas … that was when he got “the call”.
It was 1992. Ken received a special opportunity to broadcast with the Chicago White Sox. He was asked to fill in on the weekends for the White Sox announcer, John Rooney, who would be away announcing the CBS Radio Game of the Week. “Can you imagine one day you’re broadcasting a game in Las Vegas, then commuting from Las Vegas … to Comiskey Park in the third largest city in the country … or even Yankee Stadium in the largest city in the country … before a full house of 50,000 enthusiastic fans?”
And then it came to be. Ken was hired 19 years ago by the Oakland A’s to fill the big shoes of the extremely popular, Lon Simmons. Lon left the A’s radio booth as Bill King’s radio partner of 15 years, 1981-1995. For 30 years, Ken had been listening to his childhood hero, Bill King. And then, suddenly, Bill would be Ken’s broadcast partner for the next 10 years.
At the time, it was a big transition. The fans so loved Lon. How would they accept Ken, who they didn’t know, after all these many wonderful years of listening to the great Lon Simmons?
Ken and Bill King had a wonderful broadcast team partnership of their own right from the start for the next 10 years, until Bill’s passing. Ken has also enjoyed a wonderful broadcast team partnership all these 19 years with the A’s great former catcher and analyst, Ray Fosse, as well.
Ken raved so about the Oakland A’s and how it is such a great environment, Team and Organization, players and management, alike, both on and off the field. “They have been and are so wonderful to work for.” Ken seems to be the perfect liaison between them and the fans. Ken had the highest praise of all also for the fans. “They are the most loyal and supportive fans. They have been and are truly awesome.”
And, then, Ken this past year was just honored with the NSSA (National Sportscasters & Sportscasters Association) very prestigious “Sportscaster of the Year” award for 2013.
Years ago, Ken followed his own voice, what he likes to advise others. Continually work at improving yourself and be the best you can be … that was the goal … and see where that might take you.
Since 2000, 7 of the last 14 years, the A’s have been in the playoffs. There have been many exciting moments, including Dallas Braden throwing a Perfect Game. The perfect game was a thrill of a lifetime and has been considered one of the greatest calls of all time.
When asked if Ken has been “pied” (the great A’s tradition of a pie-in-the-face for a “walk-off win” in the last inning), the answer was no (not yet anyway) … but he has been “showered”. I think because of the clubhouse post game playoff wins, I think he was referring to the bubbly kind of shower (aka champagne). Hopefully, that’s a tradition that will keep on happening for many happy years yet to come. Btw, Ken’s father is 95 and doing well and living in Southern California. There, he listens to Ken’s every broadcast, which could not make him happier or prouder. Indeed, it’s plenty mutual.
There are great film titles, such as: “Field of Dreams” and “For the Love of the Game”. Ken has been and is living the dream … and he so loves what he does. The genuine excitement and enjoyment … and we can hear, we can catch it, like it was to have played catch as a young child, that kind of inner joy, stories, creating a picture, memories, made and that are being made, every time we hear, we are indeed fortunate to hear it in his voice and from his heart.