In later years, the action sometimes got ahead of him and Bob Barry would have to sort out the play with the help of Merv Johnson, his broadcasting sidekick. Still, he was fun to listen to as he called the Sooners football games.
The state and the broadcasting world lost a founding figure in the weekend death of Bob Barry, who called the action not only for the Sooners, but for the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Tulsa Golden Hurricane as well. Despite his appearance on both sides of the Bedlam Series, Barry was best known for his broadcasting of the OU Sooners football team.
I enjoyed listening to the basketball games and the exchanges between Bob Barry and my long-time friend Michael Dean, who worked the games from the sideline or back at the studio. Perhaps in anticipation of Barry’s retirement, Dean co-authored a book on the veteran broadcaster’s life entitled Voice of Bedlam: The Life of Bob Barry.
Given the number of tributes following Barry’s death, Dean’s work allowed the fifty-year radio host to witness the public’s appreciation of his work before his retirement. Barry’s passing prompted comments from coaches, players, broadcasters, politicians, and the general public.
Bob Barry was selected by OU’s legendary coach Bud Wilkinson to work the broadcasting booth for the Sooners. Wilkinson had heard Barry’s work calling the action for Norman High School, and began working as the Sooners’ voice in 1961. He held the position for eleven years, when the radio rights contract changed.
He did play-by-play for Oklahoma State in basketball and football, and was the radio voice for Tulsa Golden Hurricane basketball before returning to the Sooners booth in 1991.
After the OU basketball season ended last spring, Barry announced his retirement, having spent fifty years as an Oklahoma sports announcer. University of Oklahoma President David Boren said Barry represented the best of the Sooner spirit.
“With his contagious enthusiasm, he was one of the best sports broadcast journalists in the entire nation,” Boren said.