A Pioneer in Sports Broadcasting – CBS Television Big News
Gil is perhaps best known for his work as a sportscaster. This work crossed over from radio to television and back to radio again. Gil Stratton loved sports from an early age. It was always his dream to someday become a radio sportscaster before the genre was defined.
In the mid-1950s Gil was hired as sports director for KNXT (later KCBS-TV). He went on to become nationally-renowned as a CBS sportscaster, sports news reporter and master of sports coverage on radio and television. For sixteen years Gil Stratton was on the most dominant News Show in television history. “The Big News” started in the early sixties. It was the first daily one-hour news broadcast to go on any station, local or network. Clete Roberts began as the original anchor, but soon thereafter Jerry Dunphy from Chicago became the major anchor. The other reporters were Bill Keene on Weather, Ralph Story on the Human Predicament, Maury Green on Special Assignment, and of course, Gil Stratton on Sports. At the same time, Gil was a major radio personality on CBS Radio affiliate, KNX from 1967-84.
The Big News was earning a 28 percent share in the Los Angeles ratings and the show format became the standard that was copied by other local TV stations across the country. Gil Stratton was the last-surviving member of The Big News team prior to his passing.
While at CBS Sports, Gil covered: the Olympic Games; the NFL and was “the voice” of the Los Angeles Rams; Major League Baseball; Kentucky Derbys and feature races from Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar; Dodger Dugouts; and the entire sports spectrum including hockey, tennis, track and field and golf. He interviewed all the greats of modern sports, including Mohammad Ali, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Jim Brown, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlin, Bill Shoemaker, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar), downhill gold medal winner Jean Claude Killy, just to mention a few!
Gil was also “The voice” of the Los Angeles Rams.
Gil rejoined KNX again from 1986-97 was heard twice each hour from six to noon on Saturdays and Sundays with his familiar “Time to call ’em as I see ’em.”
During his 40-plus years with CBS Sports, Gil was nominated for five Emmys, winning two Emmys for “Best Sports Program,” six awards from the California Associated Press Television and Radio Association (CAPTRA), six Golden Mikes from the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California and was inducted into the Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Gil Stratton was there at the dawn of Sports programming. Sports on TV are pervasive today because of satellite technology, but were in their infancy in the 1960’s. Gil was one of the first to do remote broadcasts with the KNX mobile unit in 1958 at the LA Open Golf Tournament. Long before specialized cable TV sports shows, Gil hosted a Saturday afternoon racing show in Los Angeles that went out to all major Western markets. He was also one of the first news entertainment personalities to conquer both the television and radio airwaves simultaneously.