Former KSL Sports Anchor Paul James Dies At Age 87
Oct 8, 2018, 8:19 PM | Updated: Oct 9, 2018, 12:58 am
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Longtime KSL TV sports anchor and voice of the BYU Cougars for KSL Newsradio, Paul James has passed away Saturday at the age of 87.
James was inducted into the Utah Broadcast Hall of Fame on May 18, 2000, along with his KSL news-casting buddies Dick Nourse and Bob Welti.
The award, presented by the Utah Broadcasters Association, had been given to only 19 others, including Dr. Harvey Fletcher, Dr. Philo Farnsworth
Spoken Word legend Richard L. Evans and The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, then known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
James, the “Voice of the Cougars,” was the only sports broadcaster to be given this recognition. His witnessing of an estimated 1,300 games were believed to be a record for any Cougar follower, broadcaster or otherwise.
Paul was born in Ogden on July 17, 1931. He was student body president at Ogden High School when the it was the largest school in the state. His father, George, was one of the men who helped build the now 81-year-old high school.
Paul went on to receive a four-year, full-tuition Rotary Club Scholarship to the University of Utah. He married Annette Greenwell on Feb. 2, 1951. They had four children and 11 grandchildren. They were married 62 years before Annette’s passing.
His first job in broadcasting was in 1951 at radio station KBUH in Brigham City. In 1952, he began his TV broadcasting career at KDYL-TV in Salt Lake City. He broadcasted Utah football and basketball games from 1959 to the spring of 1965.
Paul joined KSL-TV in 1965, teaming up with Nourse and Welti, a team that lasted for 24 years – the longest tenure for a newscaster trio in the history of television.
Coincidentally, Paul began his BYU play-by-play career in the fall of 1965 and the Cougars promptly won their first-ever conference football championship – followed in late winter of 1966 by the Cougars winning the National Invitation Tournament basketball title. Two titles, just waiting for Paul to do the play-by-play.
His play-by-play career spanned almost 50 years. He broadcast nearly 450 football games – with his only miss coming in 1996 – the BYU-Wyoming WAC Championship game. During that game he was recovering from sextuple by-pass heart surgery.
The procedure was brought on by a heart attack at the season-ending BYU-Utah game when he steadfastly insisted on finishing the broadcast after the heart attack. It was said he was doing final statistics on the way to the hospital.
When Paul took over the football play-by-play duties for BYU, the Cougars had won only 38 percent of its game in all of history. After Paul, the Cougars had a 68 percent win-loss mark.
Paul broadcast 880 BYU basketball games from 1965 to 1997 and 226 University of Utah football and basketball games from 1959 to 1965. He also broadcast some Utah Jazz games.
Altogether, in over 40 years behind the play-by-play mike, he provided descriptions over the airwaves for almost 1,600 sporting events.
After retiring from KSL-TV in 1989, Paul took up painting. He has sold thousands of prints of his artwork, of which originals have sold for as high as $3,000.
He was an accomplished piano player and over the years, his atrium up on the mountainside east of Salt Lake City has been the envy of florists everywhere.
It was only fitting that Paul and the long-time “Voice” of the Utah Utes, Bill Marcroft, were honored on the same night by the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation as the “Mouths That Roared,” much to the delight of hundreds of thousands of Cougar and Ute fans.