Jim McKechnie

Inducted in 2004

Syracuse has had its share of classy sports announcers. From Nick Stemler to Bill O’Donnell, from SU grad Bob Costas to Sean McDunnough and many more between them, our sports teams have enjoyed the treat of talent via the sports mic. One of the most memorable voices ever enjoyed by Syracusan was that belonging to Jim McKechnie, the Voice of the Syracuse Nationals.

Born in 1926, Jim was a native of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. His father, Bill McKechnie managed the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburg Pirates), Jim went to Penn State where he played goalie on the Nitney Lions hockey team.

Following a tour of duty as a World War II Air Corp pilot, he began his broadcasting career in Binghamton, NY. He headed to Syracuse in 1951 to do play-by-play announcing for the Syracuse Warriors hockey games. He began doing the Syracuse Chiefs baseball games in 1952.

The next year saw Jim head for the War Memorial where he spent a full decade calling the games of the Syracuse Nationals on WNDR. His machine gun delivery and colorful description of the NBA action was unique in the broadcasting world. The Nationals road games were broadcast via tickertape, which was sent from the visitors’ court to WNDR over a phone line. McKechnie would translate the symbols and abbreviations on the tape to recreate the broadcast. One time the tickertape mechanism broke down and Jim was forced to create a plausible scenario and deliver it as if nothing had happen. Finally, the problem was fixed, the tape started up and Jim found that he was only a few points off with his guessing game. In a couple of sentences he made the necessary corrections and finished the broadcast without a hitch.

When the Nats were sold and left town in 1963 for Philadelphia, McKechnie stayed in Syracuse and did daily sports shows on WNDR. He started his own station in 1958, worked with some local ad agencies and in 1966; he became the Sports Director for WHEN Channel 5. He also did play-by-play for the Syracuse Centennials of the Eastern Basketball League in 1977-78.

Jim was a Board member of the Syracuse Nationals and a charter member of the Syracuse Press Club. He was also a scratch amateur golfer. Jim passed away in 1996.