Syracuse has had its share of classy sports announcers and Jim McKechnie, the Voice of the Syracuse Nationals, was one of the most memorable. McKechnie had a sports background as his father, Bill, managed the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburg Pirates. McKechnie also played goalie for the Penn State hockey team.
Following a tour of duty as a World War II Air Corp pilot, he began his broadcasting career in Binghamton. He headed to Syracuse in 1951 to do play-by-play announcing for the Syracuse Warriors hockey games. He began doing the Syracuse Chiefs baseball games in 1952.
In 1953, McKechnie started a decade-long career calling the games of the Syracuse Nationals on WNDR. His machine gun delivery and colorful description of the NBA action was unique in the broadcasting world. The Nationals road games were broadcast via tickertape, which was sent from the visitor’s court to WNDR over a phone line. McKechnie would translate the symbols and abbreviations on the tape to recreate the broadcast. One time the tickertape mechanism broke down and Jim was forced to create a plausible scenario and deliver it as if nothing had happen. Finally, the problem was fixed, the tape started up and Jim found that he was only a few points off with his guessing game. In a couple of sentences he made the necessary corrections and finished the broadcast without a hitch.
When the Nats left town in 1963 for Philadelphia, McKechnie stayed in Syracuse and did daily sports shows on WNDR. He started his own station in 1958 and worked with some local ad agencies. In 1966; he became the Sports Director for WHEN Channel 5. He also did play-by-play for the Syracuse Centennials of the Eastern Basketball League in 1977-78.
McKechnie, a scratch amateur golfer, was a board member of the Syracuse Nationals and a charter member of the Syracuse Press Club.
1951: Play-by-play announcer for the Syracuse Warriors hockey games
1952: Announcer for the Syracuse Chiefs baseball games
1953: Announcer for the Syracuse Nationals basketball team
1966: Became the Sports Director for WHEN Channel 5