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Podcast: 'Man to man!' with Bill Raftery

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Raftery (from left), Jay Bilas and Sean McDonough have brought a fraternal approach to calling hoops. (Getty Images)

This is a notable, proud, historic day in the podcast's timeline. I've long waited and hoped to get this man on the show -- and it's finally here. Bill Raftery is a rarity in that he's one of a handful of American sports broadcasters who's beloved by about 99 percent of sports fans. Find someone who doesn't like Raftery, and you'll find someone who doesn't enjoy the whimsy nature of life; someone who doesn't like themselves.

I brought Bill on to talk more about himself than any current college hoops storylines. Hopefully, it's the first of many appearances. This ep is mostly all who he is, why and how he got into broadcasting, why his style works so well and how he has come to be college basketball's most embraceable and jovial color commentator.

Man-to-man menu:

  • From the beginning: Disclaimer about the podcast. Nothing NSFW or anything like that, but my method to recording Raftery was different than most.
  • 4:00: Let's get to the guy already.
  • 5:10: I've seen this up close but wanted to ask him, regardless. How often do fans come up to Bill -- whether at games or at the hotel -- and want to, plainly, just hang out with the guy?
  • 6:35: His favorite college town? "Any town that has a neon light."
  • 8:20: Why did Raftery step down from coaching 31 years ago, and did he regret it in the years afterward?
  • 15:00: After I nervously misspeak, I ask Raftery about his muse for the "Onions!" "mantoman!" "a little lingerie on the deck," "a kiss!" etc. He's able to use these without letting them go stale. Rare in broadcasting. This includes Raftery recalling the first time he ever used "Onions!" Came during an NBA game, not college.
  • 18:20: This is the WSJ piece I allude to and, to my shock, Raftery actually says he owns -- and uses -- an iPad. Let's make some TV magic ASAP, then.
  • 21:53: Why Raftery, Bilas and McDonough work well. Television chemistry isn't something that can be made just by sitting people down and assuming it will work because of reason A or reason B. Yet this one does (though some say they have too much fun; I think that's a legit critique at times).

--> MP3: download the episode here.

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