AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   January/February 1993

A Sports Reporter Who Didn't Beat His Chest   

By Chip Rowe
Chip Rowe, a former AJR associate editor, is an editor at Playboy.     

When Ray Gandolf announced Thanksgiving weekend that he was leaving ABC News after 10 years there as a sports reporter and anchor, TV Guide gave television's "gentleman jock" a thumbs up. "Compared to the blow-dried, macho chest-thumpers who populate sportscasting," its editors wrote, "Gandolf is the Charles Kuralt of the locker room, all folksy charm and offbeat insight."

The soft-spoken Gandolf, 62, left Norwalk, Ohio, for New York City in the late 1950s with plans to become an actor. He did. But in 1963, he also landed a job writing documentaries for WCBS ' "Eye on New York," which shortly after hired a new anchor, Mike Wallace .

"I worked the midnight-to-eight shift, which left time to act," recalls Gandolf, who appeared on stage for the last time in 1968. "Fortunately my boss was a guy who didn't think actors were the underbelly of snakes."

Two years later, he followed Wallace to the CBS Morning News, as a writer. "A month later, he was gone," Gandolf says, "but I never again reached for his coattails. I stayed for 20 years."

In 1974, CBS put Gandolf on the air. "They needed somebody to broadcast sports, and I came cheap," he says. "But I never again had to write for anybody but myself." Five years later, he became a charter member of Kuralt's "Sunday Morning." He jumped to ABC in 1982.

Gandolf, who is succeeded as weekend sports anchor by Dick Schaap , says he was ready for a change. "I was spinning my wheels," he says, "so I gave them an offer they could refuse, a one-year deal. Sure enough, they refused it, but I certainly was not unhappy with the decision."