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Carroll Sports Hall of Fame: Kolb influential in getting local sports on the air

Kaye Kolb is credited with coming up with the idea of broadcasting high school sports on the radio in Carroll County, on WTTR's FM station, in the late 1950s.
Kaye Kolb is credited with coming up with the idea of broadcasting high school sports on the radio in Carroll County, on WTTR's FM station, in the late 1950s.(Submitted Photo)

Carroll County's first radio broadcast of local sports came to be more than 55 years ago, and that came because of Kaye Kolb's determination.

Wanting to see if sports broadcasts would be a hit, Kolb approached his station manager at WTTR in Westminster. But the AM station had to sign off when the sun went down.

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Most high school sporting events, football and basketball in particular, take place in the evening. But Kolb wasn't deterred, and eventually won out by going to the company's FM broadcast.

Kolb became the county's sports voice for two decades, spanning high school and college coverage, Little League baseball games, and even partnering with Baltimore's pro sports radio network to provide Carroll fans their Orioles and Colts.

He's one of this year's Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame inductees, and Kolb said he's glad people started listening all those years ago.

"You could see it back when we started to do it," said Kolb, who turns 81 in September. "They loved going to the ballgames and they loved hearing their kids' names on the radio."

Kolb recalls the first "big-time" event he covered for the radio, in 1959, a Westminster High football game out in Western Maryland (the Owls played Fort Hill and lost 25-7, but 7-3 that season). It was "colder than the dickens out there," said Kolb, but ratings and feedback were positive.

When fall turned to winter, WTTR began its high school basketball broadcasts. Kolb said he had partners for games from time to time, but it wasn't rare to see him working solo either.

"I was really a small-time version of network sports," said Kolb, who served as WTTR's sports voice from 1959 to 1980.

Kolb helped spearhead the station's relationship with McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland College) football and basketball, and Mount St. Mary's basketball games. The Mount approached Kolb, he said and asked if he would travel with the team to provide play-by-play at selected road games.

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WTTR became an affiliate with the Orioles and Colts during Kolb's run as a local radio personality, which gave the station more prestige.

But the county sports were always first and foremost for Kolb and his co-workers.

Kolb grew up in Mount Airy and said he listened to Washington Senators baseball games as a kid (no Orioles in Baltimore back then). Kolb said hearing radio standouts such as Mel Allen and Red Barber intrigued him in those days, but he became fascinated with Arch McDonald re-create Senators road games on Washington radio news programs.

McDonald is credited with being one of the first broadcasters to describe a bases-loaded situation as "ducks on the pond," to the young Kolb's delight.

Those sports radio pioneers were influential in Kolb's life, he said, but only to a certain extent.

"I never tried to mimic those guys, because they were in a different league as far as I was concerned," he said.

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Kolb wasn't a standout athlete or coach — he'll be the only non-athlete of the six inducted this Friday at Carroll Community College — but his contributions to Carroll are evident for those old enough to link his voice to a host of sports radio memories through the years.

"I didn't even give it much of a thought until they called me up," Kolb said about being a Hall of Famer. "I don't even know what to expect. It's just one of those things I didn't think anyone even remembered."

410-857-7894

Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame

When: Friday

Where: Carroll Community College

2015 class: Warren Bell, Katie Chrest Erbe, Bryan Harman, Kaye Kolb, Amber Falcone McKenzie, Troy Warehime

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