‘Last of that great old generation of sportscasters’
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/01/2019 (1591 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Bob Picken, a legendary local sports reporter and colour commentator whose career spanned more than five decades in Winnipeg media, died Wednesday at the age of 86.
By the time Picken called it quits in the late 2000s, his career — which began at CKY in the 1950s and included stints with CJOB and CBC Radio — had culminated in his induction into most every provincial sports Hall of Fame, and the Order of Manitoba.
“I think Bob was the last of that great old generation of sportscasters. One of the things that made him so great was he had the magnificent voice,” said Resby Coutts, former chairman of Curling Canada and a personal friend.
“Not only was there that voice, but he also had a very strong work ethic. Even late into his career, I never saw him do an ad lib on the radio. It was always a written or typed script.”
Picken’s sports coverage included a stint as the voice of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with CJOB in the 1960s, as well as CBC Radio’s voice of the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup during the 1970s and ’80s. He also covered 32 men’s — and 16 women’s — world curling championships, and 31 Briers.
In particular, it was Picken’s precise memory and knowledge of the history of curling that always stood out to Coutts, although he said the same proved true for every sport his friend covered.
“Most of the guys who followed behind him were in awe of his memory. He could bring forth facts from 17 years ago that paralleled a current situation. He was able to weave a story that connected what was happening in the moment to legends of the past,” Coutts said Wednesday.
Picken is a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame, Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame, Manitoba Golf Hall of Fame, Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, Curling Canada Hall of Fame, Canadian Football Hall of Fame and World Curling Hall of Fame.
“My father did not take those accolades for granted. He was quite honoured to be inducted into those halls of fame, particularly because of the other people who were there. I think he was humbled to be recognized alongside those people,” his son Bob Jr. said.
“He dedicated himself to the sports scene in Manitoba, Canada, the world — whether it was curling, golf or baseball. I think people have a lot of respect for people who have dedicated such energy to giving back to the community.”
There was an outpouring of condolences posted Wednesday evening to social media in the wake of Picken’s death. Coutts said he thinks it speaks to the kind of man Picken was, and the impact he made on his community.
“I think it says everything you need to say about a man when people want to speak to the fact that they will miss him. I would suggest that many people may never have even met him, but they felt they knew him because he was a part of their life,” Coutts said.
“There’s so, so many people who knew Bob Picken because they listened to him at 25 (minutes) past the hour. They felt they knew him because he was the guy telling them what was going on every day for years.”
Picken is survived by his wife, Barbara; his sons, Shane and Bob. Jr.; his daughter, Kelly; and his grandchildren and great-grandchild.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
Updated on Thursday, January 31, 2019 12:25 AM CST: Edits