Player's Own Voice

Player's Own Voice podcast: Chuck Swirsky's Raptors revisited

CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice podcast chats with Chuck Swirsky, who called the first 10 years of the Toronto Raptors' history, and has kept a close eye on the team ever since.

Raptors' original play-by-play voice revels in a return visit to Toronto

composite image- swirsky b&w portrait and autobiography cover
Chuck Swirsky, formerly the Toronto Raptors play-by-play voice, currently the voice of the Chicago Bulls. (Eckhartz Press)

Here's an odd factoid about one of the best voices in basketball. Chuck Swirsky does not care for his own name. He was "Charlie" until his very first day in college radio, when the anchor struck him temporarily speechless with the intro "Sports, with Chuck Swirsky."

To his enduring regret, "Chuck" stuck. Forty years later, Mr. Swirsky is still setting the record straight, and still delighting basketball fans.

"The Swirsk" was the Raptors' first radio play-by-play guy. By 2001, he had the TV job too.

It's impossible to separate his calls, with all their knowledge and exuberance, from memories of Toronto's early days in the NBA. Swirsky introduced countless Canadians to Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Damon Stoudamire, and all the brighter and lesser stars of that new team with the purple dinosaur jerseys.

Swirsky became an author last year. Always A Pleasure details a life in love with sports and sports commentary. Commentary about commentary sounds like a meta experience, but Swirsky turns everything into a good story, and he's the first to laugh at his own inevitable missteps as a rookie reporter.

Do fans need reminding that it has already been 15 years since Swirsky got the offer he couldn't refuse, and moved back to Chicago and his beloved Bulls?

He is both Canadian and American, but Chicago really is home. 

Swirsky's strange way of celebrating a Raps win "Get out the salami and cheese!" stayed in Toronto when he moved back to the midwest. Out of respect for his fellow Canadians, as Swirsky explains to Anastasia Bucsis, host of POV podcast, that peculiar custom had to remain in the place where it began.

There are transcripts of our podcasts for a hard-of-hearing audience. To listen to Chuck Swirsky, Konrad Wasiela, Waneek Horn-Miller, Camryn Rogers, Bev Priestman, Allison Forsyth, Jason Priestley, Mimi Rahneva, Cito Gaston, Robert Parish, Aaron Brown, Kaylyn Kyle, Kurt Browning, Bianca Farella, Summer McIntosh, Beckie Sauerbrunn or any of the guests from earlier seasons, go to CBC Listen or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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