Rutgers Dismisses Basketball Announcer After 23 Years

Adam HelfgottCorrespondent IJune 23, 2008

For Nelligan Sports…this is the Rutgers basketball radio network…


Every Rutgers basketball fan in this generation will tell you that there is only one true voice of Scarlet Knights hoops—play-by-play man Bruce Johnson.


The news, sports and program director at Central Jersey 1450AM WCTC radio assumed commentary duties in 1985.  Until his uncalled-for firing by Rutgers this past weekend, Johnson brought fans their RU basketball fix on many winter nights for 23 years, and was respected by all in the Rutgers community. 


Bruce brought listeners in-depth play descriptions live from all around the country and established various catch phrases and staples.


Rutgers fans would grin after every “Bingo” on a Jerome Coleman or Cappie Pondexter “3,” every time Quincy Douby needed a “saliva test,” when Matee Ajavon or Mike Sherrod drove “to the line, to the lane,” or Herve Lamizana situated himself “free throw line extended.” 


Right-arc-threes, coffin corner jumpers, 30-foot-bombs, Applebee’s Food Fast, Hess Express—all things RU fans who tuned into WCTC or WOR will fondly remember hearing from Bruce.


For the early season games without TV coverage and into Big East play, you relied on Johnson and hung on every word.  After all, the night wasn’t complete without a “Happy Recap.”  And now fans will be deprived of that.


When Rutgers opens up this November at the truncated pyramid in Piscataway, something will be missing and never the same.  WFAN’s Chris Carlin will be on the call, the politics of sports broadcasting will continue to take precedence over quality, and Bruce will not be in his rightful spot in the booth below Section 204.


An irreversible injustice, one that has this Rutgers fan questioning the school and profession I love, has occurred.


Johnson was dismissed from calling Rutgers football games when Greg Schiano took over the program.  With new faces came a new direction, and Johnson was asked to leave.


Now with basketball, it's more of the same—a new coach, new talent, and a bigger desire to get the New York media's attention.


For me, this is personal, because Bruce Johnson was the reason why I joined WRSU and started calling sporting events for the Rutgers student radio station.  It is also the same for my fellow commentator Danny Breslauer.


The first time I met Bruce he treated me great.  He shook my hand and even talked to me for a bit.  Every time I saw him at a game that season he always said hello.  I know he was a mentor to Danny and taught him many things about commentating.


I can’t fathom why or how, but all I know is that Rutgers basketball won’t be complete again.  “With the final score, one final time…to you and yours, have a good night everybody.”


We’ll miss ya Bruce.  Come next basketball season, listen to WRSU call a game—you deserve to hear "bingo" in your honor, and you deserve to hear your "happy recap."