by Rachel Dahl — Larry Barker has been broadcasting sports for the Churchill County High School teams since 1988. Rain or shine, and with relentless dedication the voice of the Fallon Greenwave, has hauled his own equipment up and down countless bleachers to bring live, play-by-play action to the community. Born in Berkeley, Barker grew-up in Fremont, California to parents who were University of California alumni and huge Cal fans. His dad would haul the family to every sort of game at Cal from football and basketball to track meets and even crew races on the Oakland Estuary. “He started taking me to games at Cal before I was in kindergarten,” said Barker, “the athletic facilities as Cal were as big a part of my life as my parents and grandparents houses were. So if people wonder why I root for Cal, even though I didn't go there, it's because I grew-up with it.” In the era that Barker grew up, most of the games were not on television. “In the '60's and '70's there was no ESPN or NBC Sports Bay Area or Pac-12 Network or any of the myriad of cable and satellite networks around to televise every pro and college game as there is today,” he said. “Local stations did about 25-30 Giants and A's games a season, maybe 15-20 Warriors games were shown, and TV networks did a few college football and basketball games. But that was all. The only way to follow your teams on a game-by-game basis was on radio.” In the Barker house, the radio was almost always on and tuned to a game. “I can remember my dad wearing a transistor radio around his neck, listening to Giants games as he worked in the yard,” he said. His grandmother gave him his first transistor radio as a birthday present when turned eight years old. “I listened to lots of Giants and A's games on it. Sometimes I even snuck it under the covers when I went to bed and listened to the game in the dark. As Terry Cashman said in the song, I saw it on the radio.” “When I was eight years-old I had it all figured out,” said Barker. “I was going to go to Cal and play football and win all four years, then go play for the 49ers. By the time I finished high school I figured out I wasn’t that good at football, but I when I went to college I found out I could broadcast and I was going to be the next Bill King.” Barker was influenced by King, who he said is the only man ever to simultaneously hold radio play-by-play jobs in the NFL, NBA and MLB. He called San Francisco/Golden State Warriors games from 1962-'83, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders games from 1966-'95 and Oakland Athletics games from 1981-2005. He also mentioned the influence of Lon Simmons who called San Francisco 49ers games, Don Klein who called Stanford football and basketball, along with Hal Ramey and Vin Scully. “When people ask me what basketball play-by-play is supposed to sound like, I tell them to watch the YouTube video of Bill doing a Warriors radio-TV simulcast in 1970. I watch it from time-to-time myself as a refresher course. Notice how smooth and even his delivery is and how he stays on top of the action. Nobody did it better.” Barker first came to Fallon in 1988. He had been all over California auditioning with not much luck when he and his dad made a pass through Nevada. He said Lon Simmons had gotten his start in Elko so he tried there and on the way home they stopped by KVLV in Fallon and talked to Mike McGinness. Two weeks later the afternoon disc jockey gave his notice and McGinness called him, knowing Barker wanted to do sports. “Two weeks after I moved to Fallon I was calling the state softball game against Needles at Oats Park,” he said. “The idea was to work here for a couple of years and build my resume and then move on,” laughed Barker. He remembers the early success of the Greenwave back in those days in the 2A division, “and then the long drought when we were moved up.” He is enjoying calling the winning games now that CCHS is back in the 3A. “That first year in 2011 when we went back to 3A, I called two state championship games in one day.” Since then he has gotten to call four state softball championship games, two baseball, two football, and four state basketball games between the boys and girls. Barker has also had the opportunity to broadcast for the Lowry Buckaroos in Winnemucca and worked two seasons broadcasting the University of Nevada women’s basketball. He has written sports for Anne Pershing at The Fallon Star Press, and worked for Steve Ranson at the Lahontan Valley News as a sports editor. In the major media market the the Bay Area, according to Barker, the men who called the games had to be good. He said he grew-up listening the great ones. “They knew how to paint a word picture that enables the listener to see the game in their minds eye. Listening to these men taught me what radio sports broadcasts are supposed to sound like, how to do it right.” Barker says good radio play-by-play is becoming a lost art. “With almost every pro and Division I college game on TV nowadays, kids are growing up watching games instead of listening to them. The way games sound on TV is the only template they have in their mind, and then they go on radio with no clue about how to call a game and they sound awful.” For the Fallon, Barker has been painting word pictures of the Greenwave games for the past thirty-three years, providing play-by-play for parents who are stuck at work, and the community at home during away games. His life-time love of the game and his tutelage at the feet of the great announcers of a by-gone era have given us the gift of the game right at home. Never miss the local news -- read more on The Fallon Post home page. If you enjoy The Fallon Post, please support our effort to provide local, independent news and make a contribution today. Your contribution makes possible this online news source for all things Fallon.
The Voice of the Greenwave — Larry Barker
- 2020-02-13, 05:38 PM