After nearly four decades of broadcasting excellence in Colorado,Larry Zimmer is one of the most recognizable figures in the state’s porting history. Known as the “voice of the Buffaloes” since joining KOA Radio and Television in 1971 as an announcer for University of Colorado football, Zimmer has attained a legendary status confirmed last December when he received the prestigious Chris Schenkel Award.
Presented at the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame banquet in New York City, the Schenkel Award recognizes a sportscaster who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football at a single institution. It was Zimmer’s second major career honor last fall as he also was inducted into the Broadcast Professionals of Colorado Hall of Fame in October.
“The Schenkel Award was certainly the highlight of my career because it recognizes two of the things that I love the most — broadcasting college football and my association with the University of Colorado,” Zimmer said. “The fact that I knew Chris, and that the award is named for him, also was very special. There are some great people on the list of previous winners (so) it’s an unbelievable distinction to join them.”
KOA Sports Director Bob Martin hired Zimmer in 1971 to handle play-by-play duties for CU football and the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association. In addition, Zimmer provided color commentary for Denver Broncos games for 19 seasons before taking over play-by-play duties for the next seven seasons, following Martin’s death. He also served as the “voice” of the North American Soccer League’s Colorado Caribous.
Zimmer retired as KOA Sports Director in 2004 but continues to work on CU football broadcasts as a color commentator. The 2009 season was his 36th doing Colorado football broadcasts. He missed three seasons when Buff sports were aired on a different station, but he continued to cover college football during the 1982-84 break as the “voice” of Colorado State University.
A native of New Orleans, Zimmer attended Louisiana State University before graduating from the Univerity of Missouri in 1957 with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism. During two ensuing years of active duty in the U.S. Army, he earned the rank of 1st Lieutenant and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. He started his broadcasting career in Missouri, continued it in Oklahoma during his Army stint and then moved in 1966 to WAAM in Ann Arbor, MI, where he was the football, basketball and hockey “voice” for the Wolverines.
During six decades of broadcasting, Zimmer has covered Olympic competition, NFL Europe, the College World Series in Omaha, regional and NCAA basketball for NBC, CBS and ESPN and World Cup Ski events. He also anchored radio coverage of the 1989 World Ski Champion-ships in Vail and syndicated television coverage of the 1990 World Disabled Championships at Winter Park.
Married to the former Brigitte Bastian, Zimmer is the father of two and grandfather of one. A five-time winner of both the White Stagg Award for Excellence in Ski Journalism and the Colorado Sportscaster of the Year Award, Zimmer was the Colorado Broadcaster of the Year in 1996. He continues to work as an adjunct sports journalism professor at CU where he and his wife have established an endowed sports announcing scholarship.
Had my dad not been in the Navy during the war, I suspect I would have probably grown up liking hunting and fishing like he did. My grandfather…was a big sports fan. He always had football or baseball games going on the radio. It seemed magical to me.