LAWRENCE, Kansas – Bob Davis, for over three decades the play-by-play voice of Kansas Jayhawk football and men’s basketball, has announced that he will retire following the 2015-16 basketball season, thus making Saturday’s game against Kansas State his last KU football broadcast.
“Bob Davis is an institution in the state of Kansas,” KU Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger said, “and we thank him for everything he’s meant to KU. Jayhawk fans here and around the country have grown up listening to Bob and consider him a member of their family. We at KU will always consider Bob part of our family.”
Davis began with the Jayhawk Radio Network in fall 1984 and has broadcast eight of the Jayhawks’ 14 NCAA Final Four appearances, including KU’s 1988 and 2008 national championships, and half of KU’s 12 football bowl games, including the Jayhawks’ victory in the 2008 Orange Bowl. He has also served for many years as host of the weekly radio show “Hawk Talk,” featuring the Jayhawk football and basketball coaches.
“I’ve had a chance to know Bob since 1985 but to actually work with him for the last 12 and a half years,” head men’s basketball coach Bill Self said. “There is nobody, in my opinion, who is any better associated with the University of Kansas at doing their job than what Bob Davis is doing his. He’ll be missed. Not only is he good at his job, he’s a terrific person. He’s fun and has become a very dear friend. I’m happy for him from a retirement standpoint so maybe he can enjoy those grandkids a little bit more, which I know is important for him and Linda, but certainly he will be missed.”
Although a shorter duration, KU head football coach David Beaty has enjoyed his relationship with Davis as well.
“What an honor it has been for me to work with such a legend in this business in Bob Davis,” said Beaty. “Bob, along with Max Falkenstien, is truly a living historian of Kansas Athletics and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside him this year.
“Bob has one of the most recognizable voices in all of sports, a voice that has captured some of the greatest moments in Kansas Athletics history. His voice is synonymous with KU and makes you feel great about being a Jayhawk. I wish Bob, and his wonderful wife, Linda, all the best as he steps away from the microphone.”
Davis teamed with legendary Kansas broadcaster Max Falkenstien on KU games for 22 years. ESPN’s Dick Vitale once named the pair to his “Sweet 16” list of the nation’s top college basketball broadcasting tandems. Davis did play-by-play for six NCAA Women’s Final Fours on the NCAA/CBS Radio Network, and for 16 years did play-by-play on the Kansas City Royals radio and television networks.
For 20 years Davis worked as a morning sports anchor at KMBZ Radio in Kansas City. He also hosted weekly call-in shows at KMBZ with Royals managers, as well as Royals pre- and post-game shows.
“I’ve been really lucky to be the ‘Voice of the Jayhawks’ for 32 years,” Davis said. “It was a dream job for me when it happened. I had a wonderful first job out in western Kansas at Hays; 16 years there with college and high school sports and a lot of baseball. Then to come to Lawrence and be able to follow the Jayhawks – bowl games, eight Final Fours and some terrific moments, seeing a team win an Orange Bowl and two national (basketball) championships and three other national championship games. But the people are what made it amazing. All the people I’ve been able to get close to – great players, the coaching staffs, administrators. I’m going to miss it a lot, but it’s been really fun. I’ve also been able to tack on a little baseball on the other side and do that, too, was a dream come true. It’s been a real lucky situation for me.”
Prior to starting his duties at KU, Davis spent 16 years broadcasting Fort Hays State University sports, including FHSU’s first NAIA men’s basketball national championship in 1984 and its third-place finish in 1983. He is an inductee in FHSU’s Sports Hall of Fame. He also did Hays High School and Thomas More Prep football, basketball and baseball games, and broadcast Wichita Aeros Triple-A Baseball for KWCH-TV.
Davis started his broadcast career in 1968 at KAYS Radio and TV. “I did everything from a board shift, to a noon TV show, to running the camera for the 6 p.m., newscast, to doing the sports on the 10 p.m., newscast,” he said. Davis became KAYS sports director and play-by-play announcer during the 1968 football season.
A member of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters (KAB), Fort Hays State Athletics and Topeka West High School Graduate Halls of Fame, Davis has been named Kansas Sportscaster of the Year 13 times. In 1991 KAB presented him with its Hod Humiston Award for Contributions to Sports Broadcasting. The Kansas State High School Activities Association recognized him with the Oscar Stauffer Sports Broadcasting Award in 1975 and 1978 for his high school broadcasts. Davis has chaired KAB’s Sports Seminar has judged the Kansas Scholastic Press Association Sports Writing Competition. He has lectured numerous times at university broadcasting and journalism classes.
Davis attended Topeka West High School and graduated from Washburn University in 1966. He is married to Linda Michaelis; they have a son, Steven, a daughter-in-law, Katie, and two grandsons, Landon and Will, and a granddaughter, Millie.
A nationwide search for Davis’ successor will begin in the spring.