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BOOK REVIEW: A Splendid Biography of "Voice of the Wildcats" Claude Sullivan


Voice of the Wildcats

Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting

Author: Alan Sullivan, (with Joe Cox)

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (2014)

Price: $29.95 (cloth)

By Steve Flairty

Kentucky Monthly

In the annals of Kentucky Wildcats sports broadcasting history, all but today’s youngest fans will remember and call Cawood Ledford a “true blue” icon, and he certainly was--never to be forgotten.

But so, in fact, was Claude Sullivan. A broadcasting competitor of Ledford but friends away from the mike, the Kentucky treasure, raised in Winchester, died in 1967 of throat cancer. He was 42, a strong family man and a consummate professional in the prime of an extraordinary career, one who won recognition as “Kentucky’s Outstanding Broadcaster” for eight consecutive years.

In "Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting" Claude’s youngest son, Alan Sullivan, collaborating with writer Joe Cox, has written a splendid biography that will bring back many exciting memories for old-time Wildcat fans. Starting with the foreword, written by the present Wildcat “voice,” Tom Leach, to noted sportswriter Billy Reed’s afterword perspective, the book is loaded with UK football and basketball, along with Cincinnati Reds game stories, accounts of pioneering programming Sullivan did, and dozens of interviews with those who knew him well, such as Jim Host and Ralph Hacker. Ironically, a mention of espionage activities Sullivan did for the U.S. is also documented.

Much of the material for the book came from the Claude Sullivan Collection in the University of Kentucky Archives, which has recently been updated, and much of it digitalized.

Steve Flairty is a lifelong Kentuckian, teacher, public speaker and an author of five books: a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and four in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. He is currently working on “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes No. 4,” due to be released in Spring 2015. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly KyForward columnist and a member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau.

Credit: Kentucky Monthly (KentuckyMonthly.com)

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