Plenty of people think of fall as an ending.
The end of…
- Baseball season
- Long days
- Growing season and the lives of some plants (or at least go dormant)
Summer is a great time of year, but fall is my favorite season. I think of it as a time of beginnings. The beginning of…
- The new school year
- The leaves changing to brilliant colors
- The new television season — which, admittedly, isn’t as exciting as it used to be
- The beginning of the holiday season
- The baseball playoffs
Perhaps nothing is better about fall than the beginning of the new NFL season.
The Philadelphia Eagles kicked off the 2022–23 campaign, their 90th NFL season, Sunday in Detroit, with a 38-35 victory over the Lions.
Even now, living 1,000 miles from Philly, I still watch and listen to the Eagles every week in the fall and hopefully into February. You can take the boy out of Philly, but you can’t take Philly out of the boy.
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To genuinely enjoy an Eagles game, I listen to the play-by-play from Merrill Reese and his broadcast partner, Mike Quick.
When I think about everything I miss about the Delaware Valley, Merrill Reese is right there at the top of the list. Merrill Reese is a Philadelphia institution and treasure.
Now in his 46th year as the voice of the Eagles, Merrill is currently the longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in the NFL. Only a handful of play-by-play announcers in any sport exceed Reese’s longevity.
During those years, he has felt the “thrill of victory” — the Eagles Super Bowl 52 win in 2018 — and the “agony of defeat” — Super Bowl 39 in 2005, and Super Bowl 15 in 1981. He has given testimony to miracles, including “The Miracle at the Meadowlands” (1978) and “The Miracle at the Meadowlands II” (2010). There isn’t much he hasn’t seen, so I was thrilled when the opportunity to work with Merrill Reese came.
During my eight years as Operations Manager for WIP, I was fortunate to develop a close bond with Merrill. He was a mentor and one of my most trusted advisors. During football season, we spoke often — sometimes multiple times daily. During the off-season, we talked a couple of times weekly.
In addition to being a super-intelligent football analyst, Reese is, not surprisingly, a keen observer of all broadcasting. He accurately predicted WIP’s hits and misses and those of other stations. His advice kept me from making more than a few mistakes.
Our bond also became a friendship. My children grew up calling him “Uncle Merrill.” They would visit Merrill and “Uncle Mike” at least once a year in the broadcast booth during half-time, usually during a preseason game. We had dinner together with our wives (Cindy and Cyndi) a couple times a year, too.
Philadelphians should appreciate how special Merrill Reese is. Having lived all over the country, I say with certainty there aren’t many places where people actually turn down the sound on national television broadcasts for local announcers.
Living across the nation and experiencing many sports broadcasters has allowed me to reflect on what makes Reese extraordinary. There’s his distinctive voice, but in broadcasting, there are multitudes of commentators with booming pipes and unique styles. He has tremendous insight, but so do countless others.
Three traits, coupled with his voice and insight, make Merrill Reese a cut above the rest:
Passion: Reese is passionate about football, but especially about the Eagles. He loves what he does. While he works hard to prepare for each broadcast, he’s having fun more than doing a job — and when the team does well, it shows.
Honesty: If Reese were only a passionate Eagles fan, he would be a homer. Many homers are broadcasting their city’s sports teams. While Merrill is an unapologetic Eagles fan, when the team, or a specific player, isn’t playing well, he calls it out, sometimes irritating the team’s management.
Community: Life doesn’t begin and end with football season. He takes part in so many community events. Many are on behalf of the Eagles, but many are not.
One example of Reese in the community is personal. When my son was in second grade, he was given a class assignment to have a relative with a unique job come in and talk about their work. My son asked “Uncle Merrill,” who happily obliged and was quite a hit. It was odd how many parents thought they needed to come to school that day.
Reese also has an ownership stake in, and runs, WBCB-1490 in Bucks County. Unlike many AM radio stations these days, it continues to feature live, local programming to serve its immediate community.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Reese is an ambassador for the City of Brotherly Love. He’s made guest appearances on “The Goldbergs” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
A true sportsman, Reese is an avid golfer and fan of all the city’s sports teams. When the Phillies were making their World Series run in 2008, Reese gave the Phillies a shout-out at the end of an Eagles game broadcast. This incensed an executive, then with the team, who made it clear that it should not happen again. As the Operations Manager of WIP, and at the time WYSP (which had the Eagles rights then), I recall exhorting Merrill to do it again the following week.
I didn’t speak to Reese for this article. The day after an Eagles game, he has endless media commitments. I’m confident that the qualities I’ve attributed to Merrill from the years we worked together and our less frequent conversations all these years later are still true. Over the years, he has said he will never retire, and I wouldn’t bet against him.
Truly a Philadelphia treasure, Merrill Reese.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.