Jim Nantz Shares Heartfelt Story Behind His Famous 'Hello, Friends' Greeting

The broadcaster opened up about his two-word on-air tradition.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Tune into any sports broadcast with play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz on the microphone, and you'll be welcomed into the event by the same two words.

"Hello, friends."

Nantz has begun broadcasts in the same manner for more than two decades now, ranging from the Super Bowl to the Final Four to the Masters Tournament in Augusta. On Saturday at the 2024 PGA Championship, the 65-year-old broadcaster shared the story behind his on-air tradition.

"It was a connection phrase with my ailing father," Nantz said in a video posted by CBS to social media on Saturday.

Nantz debuted the two-word phrase during the third round of the 2002 PGA Championship in Chaska, Minn. Before leaving for the event, he told his father, who was also named Jim Nantz, that he planned to open the broadcast saying, "Hello, friends."

Nantz did it, thinking no one else would notice. But he received a ton of positive feedback from peers, especially when he shared the reasoning behind it. So he kept it up.

Nantz's father passed away in 2008 after battling Alzheimers for 13 years.

"My dad's been gone now for 16 years," Nantz said. "But every time I come on the air, whether it's this weekend at the PGA, from Butler Cabin at the Masters, the Super Bowl, I look into that [camera] lens. I don't get any feedback in return, you just see a lens.

"And like the first shot in golf, there's a little bit of nervous energy. But when I say, 'Hello friends,' for that flicker of a second, I think of my dad. It relaxes me, it calms me, and I'm able to kind of move into the show feeling comfortable, confident and more important than anything, connected to my dad."

Well hello, friends. What a story that is.


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Tom Dierberger

TOM DIERBERGER

Tom Dierberger is a writer and editor for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Tom joined SI in 2023 after stints at FOX Sports, Bally Sports, and NBC Sports. In his spare time, Tom can be seen throwing out his arm while playing fetch with his dog, Walter B. Boy.