2005 Hall of Fame Inductee
In the rich history of BYU football and basketball, there is one person who is easy to identify as “the eyes, ears, and voice” of Cougar sports. Without question that man is former KSL broadcaster Paul James. Now retired and living the good life in Olympus Cove overlooking the Salt Lake Valley, the still energetic, high-decibel former radio announcer remains ever ready to relish past victories and to talk about his Cougars.
Today it seems even more remarkable that James, a former sports anchor at KSL Television, broadcast Cougar football and basketball games for 36 years. Via KSL’s 50,000-watt radio broadcasts, James provided play-by-play accounts and commentary for over 400 football games and more than 900 basketball contests, his colorful descriptions reaching far beyond the Intermountain West to distant points of the country.
A native of Ogden, Utah, James attended the University of Utah where he majored in English and speech. Although he graduated in 1953, his radio career began in 1950—just about the time television was taking root in Salt Lake City. Gravitating to sports coverage, James spent six years broadcasting University of Utah games for another station before affiliating with KSL.
In his extensive travels with BYU teams, James provided word pictures from nearly every part of the country. He also found himself in the company of many legendary coaches and players and interviewing a host of celebrity sports figures. Whether it was a game-stopping demonstration by protesters on the basketball court in Fort Collins or a rhubarb with fanatic fans in El Paso, James kept his audiences informed.
Late in his career, while broadcasting a BYU-Utah football game from Rice Eccles Stadium, James suffered a heart attack. However, he refused further examination or treatment until the game was over. Only when the game was in the books did he go to the hospital.
In addition to his usual duties, James has been engaged in many other activities. For example, he spent 20 years as chairman of both the Utah Heisman Trophy Selection Committee and the John Wooden Award Selection Committee. In 1999 he received the Lindsay Nelson Sportscaster Award and a year later was named to the Utah Broadcaster Hall of Fame. James is also one of the top tournament bridge players in Utah, an avid oil-painter who has sold prints of more than 100 of his works, and a Lifetime Golden Cougar.
Paul will tell you, of course, that he couldn’t have accomplished all this without help. His loving wife, Annette, and their children—Steve, Susan, Cindy, and Cheri—all made their share of sacrifices to provide time for his extensive assignments, when his voice became the means by which millions of BYU fans “saw” the games they couldn’t attend.