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A Conversation with Bobby Curran

Perhaps it was fate that led Bobby Curran to become one of the preeminent voices of University of Hawaii sports. More likely, however, his success is the result of hard work and perseverance. Like a great athlete, Curran worked on his craft and paid his dues. Even at the top of his game, he still strives to find ways to hone his skills and evolve as an announcer. The results speak for themselves: Curran is a six-time recipient of the “Hawaii Sportscaster of the Year” award (as presented by the National Sports Media Association). We recently sat down for a short Q&A with the voice of Rainbow Warrior football and basketball. Here’s our conversation:

Q: You grew up on Long Island, the oldest sibling of a sports-crazed family. Everyone played different sports, and you were the basketball player. What attracted you to the game?
BOBBY: What I loved about basketball initially was that you didn’t need anybody else. It was just me, a ball and a court.
Q: You played basketball at William & Mary. What’s your favorite memory of your college days?
BOBBY: Well, during my freshman year, I got quite sick right after Thanksgiving. I had strep throat and a 105-degree fever. When I got cleared, I was in uniform on the bench, not expecting to play. The coach called me up when we were down 12 with three minutes to go. He said, “Can you go? I want you to shoot every time you get your hands on the ball.” That was the greatest thing I ever heard! I scored quick 10 points, but unfortunately we fell just a bit short.
Q: You moved to Hawaii in 1983 to attend the University of Hawaii, intending to be a lawyer. For a while, you worked at Compadre’s. Tell us the story how that led you to KTUH and sports broadcasting.

BOBBY: At Compadre’s, after we finished work we’d sometimes stick around to have beers and watch games. I’d turn the sound on the TV down and do play by play for the group. One day, a deejay at the college radio station came in and said they were looking for a sports guy for college radio. After my classes on Monday, I went by the station and said, “I hear you guys are looking for a sports guy.” The GM there said, “Fabulous. Can you start today?”

Q: Did you always feel that you could be a great sports announcer?
BOBBY: Well, I’m still working on the “great” part, but I always felt that my limited talent would be well served in sports.
Q: Jim Leahey took you under his wing for a while. What did you learn from him?
BOBBY: Jim always said, “Be yourself.” That was number one. Also, he told me not to worry about my New York accent.
Q: As a commentator and then play-by-play announcer, you’ve called some of the most memorable moments in UH sports history. Which are some of the moments that stand out for you?

BOBBY: Wow. Just off the top of my head: Hawaii’s Rainbow Classic win over Kansas; the football team’s back-to-back wins over Purdue and Michigan State; the Rainbow Warriors having a chance to win at Alabama on the last series of the game; and the incredible comeback win over Air Force after Robert Lan snatched a fumble in midair and ran it back 91 yards for a touchdown.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception that people may have about what you do?
BOBBY: People think that a three-hour show means you only work three hours a day. Not true!
Q: You’ve just about seen it all in sports…until COVID-19, that is. Do you have any thoughts on the pandemic’s long-term effects on sports? Are you concerned that we might not have football in the fall?
BOBBY: To be honest, I’m more concerned about the short term and fall sports than the long-term effects.
Q: Last question. If you were to write a book chronicling your life and career, what would you title it?
BOBBY: “Lucky at Home. Lucky at Work.”

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