Announcer Harmon used to call KU football, basketball

Before he became known nationally for serving as host of NBC’s scoreboard show, Merle Harmon’s voice was familiar to fans of Kansas University football and basketball.

When the KU Radio Network started in 1953 as a competitor to Max Falkenstien’s “State Farm Network,” Harmon got the call to call football and basketball games.

“Merle and I go back a long, long ways to when I was doing sports on WREN in Topeka and Merle was doing the Topeka Owls (a Class C minor league baseball team of the Western Association) on radio in Topeka,” Falkenstien said of Harmon, 82, who died Wednesday in Arlington, Texas. “Although we were competitors, we were friends.”

Bob Davis, play-by-play man for KU football and basketball, said of Harmon: “I grew up listening to him and then I got to know him. Great guy. Great announcer.”

When the Kansas City A’s began play in 1955, Harmon moved on from calling KU games to broadcast A’s games.