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Longtime WSU broadcaster Bob Robertson retires

Robertson was in his 52nd year calling Cougar athletics, serving as the play-by-play voice from 1964-2011, then moving over to the analyst chair for the past seven seasons.
Credit: WSU Athletics

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State’s legendary hall of fame broadcaster Bob Robertson announced Monday that he is retiring from the Cougar broadcasting booth, effective immediately.

“I’ve been with the Cougars a lot of years, more than half a century, calling basketball, football for the fans around the Northwest and elsewhere around the country and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” said Robertson. “It’s been great to be with you Cougars at your meetings and get-togethers, and I hope we can do it again and I’m sure we will.

“But as of this moment, I’ve now asked the athletic department at Washington State University to list me as a retired, former sportscaster for the Cougars,” Robertson continued. “It is a matter of getting old is what it is. Everything seems to move a lot faster around me, I move more slowly. I hope to see you soon, I’m not going to go away. I like Washington State people and the school itself too much to do that. But I am going to be on the retired list, starting immediately.”

Robertson was in his 52nd year calling Cougar athletics, serving as the play-by-play voice from 1964-2011, then moving over to the analyst chair for the past seven seasons. He began his association with WSU football in 1964 and with the exception of a three-year period from 1969-71, has been a member of WSU’s broadcast crew ever since. He was behind the mic for 589 Cougar games, including 568 consecutive broadcasts from 1964-2016, the lone exception being the 1981 Holiday Bowl when local radio was not permitted to broadcast.

“When you think of the icons of Washington State Athletics, Bob Robertson certainly comes to mind,” said WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun. “Bob has painted the picture for many generations of Cougar fans and we thank him for what he has meant to Washington State Athletics. We will also recognize his many achievements at a Cougar Football game next month in Martin Stadium.”

As much as Robertson is part of Cougar Football Saturday, so is his closing broadcast signature, “Always be a good sport, be a good sport all ways.”

Robertson has been behind the mic for many magical moments and seasons of Cougar football, including the Cardiac Kids, the Palouse Posse, the Fab Five, the 1981 Holiday Bowl, WSU’s first bowl game in 50 years, as well as the 1998 and 2002 Rose Bowls. Additionally, he called Rueben Mayes’ 357-yard rushing game at Oregon, the 1992 Snow Bowl, 54 Apple Cups (including the three while calling games at Washington) and worked alongside 10 head coaches.

Robertson has had a legendary career, having been selected Washington Sportscaster of the Year 12 times, validating what Cougar fans have known for years - he is simply the best. In 1995 he was named the State Broadcaster of the Year.

Robertson was inducted into both the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame and the Inland Empire Hall of Fame in 2001-02, and in August 2004 received the prestigious Chris Schenkel Award at ceremonies held at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. At the same time he became the first broadcaster west of the Mississippi to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame - broadcaster division. He is also a member of the Pierce County Hall of Fame and during the 2009 season, the Cougars’ radio booth in Martin Stadium was renamed the Bob Robertson Broadcast Suite.

Bob’s association with WSU runs deeper than just football broadcasts. For 23 years he was the voice of Cougar Basketball, including several NCAA tournament teams. In 1978-79, he was named WSU’s Dad of the Year and he also worked with the WSU Cougar Club on the west side in the 1980’s.

Among his many accomplishments, Robertson has:

  • Spent three decades calling Pacific Coast League baseball in Seattle and Tacoma
  • Broadcast professional soccer in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland; he was Washington’s Soccer Man of the Year in 1983
  • Broadcast hockey, boxing, wrestling and hydroplane races
  • Had his “cup of coffee” in major league baseball, broadcasting some Seattle Mariner games in the late 1990’s
  • Served as television sports anchor in the Seattle market for 25 years, including time with KSTW (called KTNT 1956-70, then KSTW 1976-83) and KMO (he helped put them on the air)
  • Long-time voice of the Spokane Indians baseball team and Pacific Lutheran University basketball
  • Served as the television voice of Notre Dame football and basketball for two years in the 1950’s.

Robertson was born in Fullerton, Calif., during spring training of the Seattle Indians of the Pacific Coast League. At the time his father was a player for the Seattle club. After graduating from Blaine (Wash.) High School, he attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, where he launched his broadcasting career. His first broadcasting exposure came as a young actor for the Canadian Broadcasting Company in Vancouver, B.C., then bloomed while attending college.

In 1948 Robertson signed to play professional baseball, but a year later gave up playing to become the voice of the Wenatchee Chiefs of the Western International League, his first full-time broadcasting opportunity.

Robertson and his wife, Joanne, were married for 59 years before her passing in 2011. They have four children, Hugh, Janna, John and Rebecca, and seven grandchildren.