Radio Announcer: 1969-98
Irwin, with his friendly, soothing, homespun style, was a welcome voice wherever Packers fans gathered to listen to the team’s radio broadcasts. But he might have played best in the peace and quiet of people’s living rooms. Especially during the lean years of the 1970s and ’80s, Irwin was a kindred spirit to many dismayed but still faithful fans. Irwin began his 30-year run as a radio voice of the Packers in 1969 as a game analyst. He took over as play-by-play announcer in 1975. Over the ebb and flow of a broadcast, he and longtime partner Max McGee had a skillful knack for hitting the right chord and appealing to whatever emotions listeners were feeling at the moment. He teamed up with McGee in 1980. The highlight of Irwin’s career on the Packers Radio Network was broadcasting Super Bowl XXXI.
“The thing I really admired about him, the talent I thought was really unique, he could up the intensity without turning up the volume,” said Larry McCarren, who joined Irwin and McGee in the broadcast booth in 1995.
Irwin broadcast 612 consecutive Packers games, including preseason and playoffs. Irwin began his broadcasting career in 1964 as sports director of WLUK-TV in Green Bay. He moved to WTMJ television and radio in Milwaukee in 1969. Over the course of his career, Irwin was voted Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year a record 10 times.
Born Feb. 7, 1934, in Linn Creek, Mo. Given name James Robert Irwin. Died Jan. 22, 2012, at age 77.
- By Cliff Christl