A departure, in appreciation: Frank Deford

In 1986, I moved into the Metro DC area. Eventually, my first boyfriend got me to listen to WAMU (mostly for Mary Cliff’s folk music show, Traditions. I started to use WAMU in the morning as my wake-up radio station, way back when Bob Edwards was still the host.

I was lucky to be tuned in at the right time to hear Edwards’ conversations with Red Barber each week. (You couldn’t call them editorials because that’s really not what they were.)

I also recall the day Edwards had to tell his listeners that Barber had died. I cried, because it felt like I was losing a friend, and because I could hear Edwards’ loss in that sad obituary.

Today, I was tuned in to WAMU and listening to the usual Wednesday bits. And then I heard that Frank Deford is leaving. His “swan song” made me smile.

I’m not a major sports fan. At the moment I root for the Baysox, pay vague attention to major league baseball, and try to watch the Superbowl (for the commercials, mostly). That said, I’ve come to think of Deford’s wry observations over the last 30 years as a staple, if not of the same kind as Barber’s conversations. And I am sad that it’s time for that tradition to end, even as I know it’s time.

Thank you, Mr. Deford, for your weekly observations and for taking that place not normally associated with NPR: Sportscaster. You were a welcome break in the politics, war, and death.

Much appreciated. Truly.

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