Sports Columns

December 18, 2012

Loran Smith: Military, fate made broadcaster a Bulldog

Ed Ingles, the first full-time sports director of WGAU in Athens, came to town over the weekend with the Iona basketball team — still a working man who thrived in radio in Manhattan dating back to the 1960s, when there were 16 big league baseball teams and 14 NFL franchises.

Born in the Bronx, Ingles was a bona fide Yankee who tried his best to become a Southerner — and probably would have if his wife hadn’t become homesick for Long Island, where she had grown up.

“I liked the South from the beginning,” Ingles said over breakfast at the Georgia Center with his longtime friend Gary Stanley, who has helped the Georgia journalism graduate hold off retirement.

“It was Gary,” Ingles said with deep respect, “who got me involved with Iona basketball.”

Throughout history, the military has changed the addresses of men all over the world. That’s what happened to Ed Ingles.

In 1951, Ingles was stationed with the Navy at Lakehurst, N.J., where he was undergoing training at the famous base where the Hindenburg made its disastrous landing on May 6, 1937. One day, he received orders to report to Brunswick, Ga., where fate altered his life’s course.

All along, he had a college degree in mind, but he would be required to underwrite the cost. As his time in Brunswick was nearing completion, he researched the cost of tuition at various colleges. A natural choice for him would have been Columbia, but the fee of $1,000 a semester was out of reach. Missouri, with its budding broadcast reputation was also too costly at $600 per semester.

Since he was anchored in Georgia, why not see what the quarterly tuition cost would be at the state university in Athens? When he learned the fee was $61, he immediately prepared for his discharge to be followed by enrollment at Georgia. He became a Bulldog in 1955.

While the benefits of the G. I. bill gave him an advantage, it was not enough to sustain a man who had to assume responsibility for payment of all bills. Immediately, after settling in at Joe Brown dormitory, he began looking for work.

All along, he had designs on becoming a sportscaster and began hanging around WRFC, where Ed Thilenius and Ned Martin were entrenched and Randolph Holder was the local news hawk. Thilenius was the full-time sports voice for Bulldogs football and basketball; Martin, who was program director, went on to become the voice of the Boston Red Sox.

In 1956, Holder bought WGAU and Ingles was eager to double his salary of $25, which was Holder’s immediate offer. Knowing that WRFC was home of the Bulldogs on radio, Holder was aware that to compete he needed a sports director who was enterprising, eager and due diligent.

Ingles was all of that and more.

Ed packed up and returned to New York in 1962, but he had enjoyed a pleasant sojourn to the Southland. He had acquired a taste for barbecue, developed a craving for Varsity hot dogs and had learned to say “y’all” like he had grown up here. New York, however, was home.

The enterprise and work ethic which had always characterized his personality led him to an assignment with WCBS where he was the sports voice of morning drive for 24 years. He had spent time with United Press International, which sent him to the Olympics, and at WCBS he covered the Masters for 35 years.

A versatile sportscaster, he was something of a pioneer at reporting from locker rooms and clubhouses. On the side, he taught at St. Johns for 25 years and later became a professional in residence at Hofstra.

Retirement is out of the question for this octogenarian with no hangover drawl from his days in Athens, and you get a lift out of a conversation with this accomplished sportscaster, who because of radio, has operated under the radar but has experienced such thrills as announcing the 1976 Super Bowl and doing color for the New York Jets for eight years and the same for St. John’s basketball.

A loyal and engaging sort, life for Ed Ingles has been one gratifying experience after another. That is why he keeps working.

Loran Smith is a contributing columnist for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at loransmith@sports.uga.edu.

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