“It’s about love, loving my listeners, being a servant to them, creating a picture of the games in their minds.” That’s how Connie Alexander sums up his nationally-known sports announcing radio-TV career as a leading innovator of play-by-play broadcasting.
Now, the “Connie Alexander Play-by-Play Broadcasting Collection” is available at two premier universities, the University of New Mexico, University Libraries Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, and the Texas Tech University Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. Alexander started the collection in 1947 and has a total 173 recordings of his play-by-play broadcasts.
He began his career working with the professional Albuquerque Dukes, becoming their public address voice for two dollars a game at age 17 in 1947.
Alexander was known as football’s “Voice of the Southwest Conference,” one of the world’s longest airing radio series (44 years.) He was also the “Voice of the Western Athletic Conference” on NBC and TVS for basketball.
Alexander telecast with “Coach of the 20th Century” for all coaches and all sports, John Wooden. His broadcasts on CBS radio included ten straight Cotton-Bowls and the NFL Pro Bowl in the Los Angeles Coliseum and playoffs. Alexander said, “One of my favorite lines was ‘today’s broadcast is brought to you around the world on American Armed Forces radio’s 350 stations and seventy ships at sea.’”
He added, “My deepest appreciation to Mike Kelly, director of the Center for Southwest Research for recognizing the importance of this collection, and for the funding provided by the James (Jim) and Mary Lois Friday Hulsman Endowment for Sports History. Also thanks to Dr. Monte Monroe, Southwest Collection Archivist, and Elissa Stroman, Audio-Visual Archivist at Texas Tech University, for their enthusiastic support.”
The Connie Alexander Play-by-Play Sports Broadcasting Collection housed at UNM is comprised of 116 CDs and DVD’s. Alexander began his broadcasting career in August 1948 at age 19 when he broadcast high school football and basketball games for KVER radio. In early 1949 Connie began broadcasting UNM basketball games, getting permission from Athletic Director Roy Johnson and became one of the youngest college basketball broadcasters of all time. He broadcast Albuquerque Dukes baseball at age 20.
“We are very thankful to Connie for preserving these early broadcasts,” said Kelly. “His insightful play-by-play narrative of these early UNM games are some of the few recordings we have in the collection that documents early UNM sports.”
Alexander also broadcast Lobo football for Humble Oil for eight years on KOB Radio, a 50,000 watt AM station in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Alexander’s first Southwest Conference broadcast was the 1962 game between the University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University in the Cotton Bowl Stadium.
He would go on to do play-by-play commentary for the 1969 Texas vs Arkansas game marking the NCAA 100th Anniversary National Championship. It was attended by President Richard Nixon. His broadcast of the 1979 Cotton Bowl featuring Joe Montana for the Notre Dame vs Houston game was his tenth straight year broadcasting the Cotton Bowl for CBS Radio. One of his most novel telecasts was the only two-day football game of the century from 11:30 pm to 3:30 am in the Astrodome in 1980.
In 1984 Alexander telecast UNM football and basketball for three years on television in Albuquerque. In 2010-11, at the suggestion of UNM Coach Ray Birmingham, Alexander broadcast two seasons of Lobo baseball on radio 101.7 FM the TEAM (KQTM) Albuquerque.
Alexander’s overall span of broadcast from 1947 to 2011 was 65 years and as he said, “I could still be doing it.” During his career Alexander received four National Sportscasters Association awards, the Texas Sportscaster of the Year award and three New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year awards.
The Southwest Collection at Texas Tech is equally pleased to collaborate with University of New Mexico libraries on preserving the great broadcast legacy of “The Voice,” as Connie Alexander is often described. UNM archivists have worked over the past year to ensure that Alexander’s voice echoes into the future. Kelly said researchers of sports history will benefit from studying Alexander’s significant contribution to post-war twentieth century broadcasting innovation, context, and content delivery methods.
A number of important Southwest Athletic Conference, Cotton Bowl, Sun Bowl, and other Texas broadcasts will serve as priceless adjuncts to the Southwest Conference holdings at the Texas Tech archive.
Alexander donated 54 reel to reel tapes, 15 audio cassettes, and three U-matic video cassettes. Texas Tech staff have recently conducted an extensive oral history with Alexander, as well. UNM and Texas Tech have collaborated to share copies from each of their Connie Alexander holdings, so as to assist the general and research public in accessing these valuable materials.