Former Sonics announcer suffers head injury in fall

December 29, 2008

By Christopher Huber

Bob ‘Voice’ Blackburn, who announced Sonics games solo for 20 years and with KJR’s Kevin Calabro from 1987 to the early 1990s, is seen here at his new home at Timber Ridge at Talus. Blackburn suffered a head injury Dec. 7 in his home. By Greg FarrarBob ‘Voice’ Blackburn, who announced Sonics games solo for 20 years and with KJR’s Kevin Calabro from 1987 to the early 1990s, is seen here at his new home at Timber Ridge at Talus. Blackburn suffered a head injury Dec. 7 in his home. By Greg Farrar

Long-time Seattle SuperSonics announcer Bob “Voice” Blackburn is recovering well at Overlake Hospital Medical Center after suffering a head injury in a Dec. 7 fall at his home at Timber Ridge at Talus, in Issaquah. 

Surgeons operated on Blackburn Dec. 10, and since then, he has been up and acting like his normal self, said his wife Pat Blackburn. Doctors plan to release him within the next week, she said. Once back home, he will likely work with nurses for further recovery.

“It’s going to be a little while,” Pat Blackburn said. “He’ll go back to skilled nursing at Timber Ridge. I think he’ll just have a few weeks of therapy and he’ll be right back and doing things.”

She said at first she and paramedics thought he had a heart attack, but found out later, after a CAT scan at Overlake, the injury had caused internal bleeding on the right side of his brain. 

“He’s regained the use of everything,” Pat Blackburn said Dec. 26 from the hospital. “He’s definitely talking to us. He was cracking jokes last night. We know it’s going to be more improvement every day.”She said the Blackburn family has received a tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement from friends, family and former broadcasters from across the country since the accident. 

“It’s just been overwhelming,” she said. “We have people praying for him in every state of the union.” 

Their son, Bob, a broadcaster in Hollywood, compiled hours of old play-by-play game reels for the elder Blackburn to listen to during his stay in the hospital. 

Bob Blackburn worked 60 years in broadcasting. He was the first big-league sports announcer in Seattle, as he was the first announcer for the Sonics. He called the 1979 NBA Finals when the Sonics beat the Washington Bullets four games to one. Before that, he called football, baseball and basketball games and golf and tennis tournaments from Hollywood, to Portland, Ore., and Seattle. 

His first major announcing gig was for the Class AAA Portland Beavers baseball team. He broadcast Oregon State University sports and also worked as a disc jockey before moving to Seattle in the late 1960s. 

Blackburn, known as the “Voice” to Sonics fans, announced Sonics games solo for 20 years and with KJR’s Kevin Calabro from 1987 to the early 1990s. 

Blackburn has taken on various public speaking roles since his departure from the Sonics, from tour director to professional auctioneering to a commercial spokesman. 

“In no time, we’ll be up and at ‘em and dancing again,” Pat Blackburn said. “He’s just a wonderful guy who’s so optimistic about everything.”

Reach Reporter Christopher Huber at 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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