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Joe Starkey (born c. 1941[1]) is an American sportscaster who has served as the radio play-by-play announcer of California Golden Bears football since 1975[1]. He previously worked as the sports director of KGO radio in San Francisco, California and play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco 49ers for many years.

Starkey is most famous for his frenetic call of The Play in the 1982 Big Game between Cal and Stanford: "Oh, the band is out on the field!". Starkey nearly lost his voice during and after this event, which he hailed as "the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heartrending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!"[2]


Starkey grew up in Chicago, and briefly played football at Thornton Junior College. He attended Loyola University, earning a bachelor's and master's degree in business.[3]

He has broadcast for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, the USFL's Oakland Invaders, and the first telecaster for the NHL's San Jose Sharks. Starkey was also the radio voice of the now defunct National Hockey League's Oakland (later California Golden) Seals. His trademark call, whenever the Seals scored a goal, was "What a bonanza!"[3]

Other previous assignments include the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Rockies of the NHL, and basketball games for the NBA's Golden State Warriors and the University of California.

San Francisco 49ers

Prior to assuming play-by-play duties with the 49ers, he served as color analyst on 49ers radio broadcasts in 1987 and 1988 with the legendary Lon Simmons handling play-by-play. Also he called the radio broadcasts of Super Bowl XXIV and Super Bowl XXIX.

When the 49ers moved their broadcasts from KGO to rival station KNBR in 2005, Starkey had to resign from KGO in order to continue his role with the 49ers.[4] Although Starkey is still the broadcaster for the Cal Bears on KGO radio, he is now paid by the university, not the station as had previously been the case.

On December 18, 2008, Starkey announced his retirement as the play-by-play announcer of the 49ers, citing difficulties with travel between Saturday Cal football games and Sunday 49ers games. He will continue as the voice of the Bears indefinitely. [1]


Preceded by
Jim Forney
Pittsburgh Penguins radio play-by-play announcer
Succeeded by
Mike Lange

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