Max Falkenstien has owned the same pair of binoculars (Sears
Model No. 6243) for more than 50 years. He has never misplaced
them, has never felt the need to upgrade to a newer pair. He even
keeps them inside their original brown leather case, which, like
its owner, has weathered with the years. "I haven't come across a
new pair that works as well as these do," says Falkenstien, 76.
Kansas feels the same way about Falkenstien (class of 1948) as he
does about his binocs. In September, he began his 55th
consecutive season of calling Kansas football games on the radio.
Come November he will commence his 55th season of doing Jayhawks
basketball. No announcer, collegiate or professional, has a
longer streak. "If KU should win tonight, it would be the 200th
home victory in school history," Falkenstien told his listeners
on Sept. 23 while doing the play-by-play of the Kansas-Southern
Illinois game from Memorial Stadium (the Jayhawks did triumph,
42-0). "No, I didn't see all of them."
It only seems that way. Falkenstien, who was born in Lawrence,
has been a Kansas mainstay nearly as long as Dorothy. Jayhawks
fans have listened to his mellifluous Midwestern voice call more
than 550 football games and 1,600 basketball games. ("I've missed
five total," he says.) He was courtside when Wilt Chamberlain was
dunking at Allen Fieldhouse in the mid-'50s. "I used to do a show
with Wilt called Flippin' with the Dipper," says Falkenstien. "As
a radio personality, Wilt was a terrific basketball player."
Falkenstien has outlasted 10 football coaches and four basketball
coaches. The first among the latter, Phog Allen, attended
Falkenstien's 1949 wedding to Isobel Atwood. (Max and Isobel are
still married; Max discards wives as often as he does
binoculars.) He has even outlasted the radio station that gave
him his start, WREN. "In 1946 I was a student at Kansas and
working at WREN reading wire stories when the station manager
asked me if I wanted to cover an NCAA tournament game," says
Falkenstien. "Call a game? I had never even listened to a sports
broadcast." Falkenstien did well enough to earn a full-time gig,
first with WREN and later with a statewide Kansas sports network,
which he founded. "I never sent an audition tape out to a big
market," says Falkenstien. "Thought about it, but I guess I was
always happy right here." You need not be the Great and Powerful
Oz to understand why.
Ironmanlive.com will allow you to follow each entrant's torturous
The potential demise of Napster may impose a hurdle to
downloading Black Sabbath's heavy-metal classic Iron Man.
However, there will be no problem logging onto this Saturday's
22nd Annual Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, that heavy pedal-swim-run
classic that will be webcast live on ironmanlive.com. "We are the
only media outlet," says spokesperson Priscilla Fraiegari, "that
will provide live video coverage of the race." (Viewers will need
RealPlayer and a 28K modem or better.)
Like the Ironman, the webcast, hosted by Honolulu NBC affiliate
anchor Dan Cooke and former Ironman champions Karen Smyers and
Greg Welch, will unfold in three stages. Part 1, featuring
reports on the 2.4-mile swimming leg, will begin at 1 p.m. ET and
last approximately an hour. At 5 p.m. the trio will return for an
hour and describe the 112-mile bike ride. At 9 p.m. Cooke and Co.
will commence coverage of the marathon's finish in Kona.
Ironmanlive.com also will provide race-long audio reports.
Finally, each of the 1,500 or so entrants will wear a computer
tracking chip. Eight checkpoints along the 140.6-mile course will
monitor their progress, and that data will be posted on the site.
"We did a webcast last year," Fraiegari says, "but we had so
many users trying to get on the server"--80,000 to
100,000--"that the site crashed." Thus, the site has increased
its server capacity threefold in hopes of accommodating this
year's expected 100,000-plus Ironman cyberwatchers.
football games and 1,600 basketball games.