HOUSTON – Ron Franklin, a sports anchor and reporter for KPRC 2 for much of the 1980s, has died. He was 79 years old.
Franklin had a long career in the industry that stretched beyond his anchoring and reporting on KPRC 2, which he did from 1980 through 1987. The Mississippi native also was the play-by-play voice for the Houston Oilers during the “Luv Ya Blue” years, as well as the Texas Longhorns for football and basketball for several years during the 1980s. Nationally, Franklin was perhaps best known for several decades at ESPN, where he served in different roles as a play-by-play announcer calling games and hosting shows.
His death has generated reaction from all over, including those in the KPRC 2 family. Below are some memories from those who knew Franklin.
Retired longtime KPRC 2 anchor Bill Balleza
“Ron was from Mississippi but his heart was as big as Texas. Widely regarded as one of the best play-by-play sports announcers in the business, Ron helped many people just getting started in broadcasting. He was an avid fisherman and often invited KPRC 2 staffers to join him on one of the lakes near Houston for an early morning fishing trip. He was very devoted to his wife, Bonnie and their son, R.J.”
KPRC 2 news director Dave Strickland
“Ron was not only an excellent sports anchor here at KPRC, he was also a great play-by-play man showing his chops on the radio during the ‘Luv Ya Blue’ Oiler days where he teamed up with former Channel 2 anchor Ron Stone and Channel 13 anchor Dave Ward.. He had a great voice and a great personality. Ron was the real deal.”
Former KPRC 2 news director Rick McFarland
“I worked with Ron at KHOU for 2 1/2 years and then at KPRC from 1980 until he left to work for Raycom and do UT play-by-play.
“I never heard him say ‘no’ to any person wanting advice to get into the business. Ron was just a kind soul.
“Also, he worked extremely hard preparing to do play-by-play. He would spend countless hours going over background, finding out about personnel changes, injuries, etc. Ron gets a lot of compliments about his play by play work and he deserves all of that and more.
“Most people don’t know that if a co-worker was having difficulties, Ron would quietly offer them help. Sometimes it was just a few kind words, but I also saw him loan folks money so they could get by.
“Even though he was from Mississippi, he loved Texas and everything about it. He told me he could never live anywhere else because there was no other place that could match the beauty or the personality of the Lone Star State.
“He was a great broadcaster, a wonderful friend and an even finer gentleman.”
KPRC 2 sports director Randy McIlvoy
“Growing up here in Houston, I really enjoyed Ron’s sportscasts on KPRC 2 as well as his interviews. He connected well with our local athletes. You could see his passion for broadcasting and his voice was iconic. I had the chance to meet him during his long run as a play-by-play voice for the Longhorns and, nationally, for ESPN. He was the epitome of a true broadcasting pro! I was honored to have known him.”
Former longtime KPRC 2 sports director Craig Roberts
“He was the most prepared play by play guy. We did Oilers together for seven years of preseason. I learned a lot from him. He was best at interaction with viewers. Note we did Channel 2 studio shows 1980-87.”
Former KPRC 2 reporter Ron Stone Jr.
“Ron Franklin was one of the best play-by-play sportscasters in the business. But he was more than that for my family. He was one of dad’s closest and dearest friends. This morning, as I heard of his death, my mind went back to so many happy times our families spent together. He was warm, he was funny, he was larger than life. What a loss. I’m just in tears. RIP Ron Franklin.”