It isn't easy hearing your own words, your own voice, perhaps the biggest radio call in your life, played over and over again on radio, TV and phone ring tones.
KSL play-by-play man Greg Wrubell didn't ask for it, but he's got it. Now he will endure it forever.
It is The Play, The Call, The Answered Prayer a game-winning pass from John Beck to Jonny Harline that capped BYU's win over Utah last November in Rice-Eccles Stadium with no time left on the clock.
"Snap to John. John backpedals. Plenty of time, plenty of
time, plenty of time. He's moving to his left, shuffling, shuffling, shuffling. All kinds of time ... "
Wrubell has mixed emotions when he hears the replays. He's a little embarrassed. He kind of likes the coverage. Yet, there are things he would have done or said differently if he had to do it over again. He won't share what that is. And he is fully aware that The Call grates like fingernails on a chalkboard with Ute faithful.
" ... It's caught for the touchdown! Caught for the touchdown! Caught for the touchdown ... "
"I am still astounded by how many people bring it up to me, and this ring-tone thing is a new phenomenon," said Wrubell. "People come up to me and have a buddy call them so their phone rings, and then there it comes. It's still pretty amazing.
"I guess it's an OK thing to be known by."
Would he change something about it? "Yeah, but I won't say what it would be. There are a few things I'd do differently with the call. In a few ways, I'm still uncomfortable with it. Part of it's the desire to make the perfect call, if there is such a thing as a perfect call. Perfect play, but it was not a perfect call.
"But you never get a chance to go back and do it again. You get one shot, and hopefully it's good enough and for a lot of people it is and that's the important thing."
Perhaps Wrubell is a little tough on himself most artists are and doing play-by-play is an art form. You can't script ebbs and flows of emotions, and how calculating can one be with spontaneity?
That's where another layer comes in with Wrubell's famous call. It's the high-pitched, background screech, a voice that sounds like a teen female at a sleepover. It belongs to 59-year-old Ralph Sokolowsky, a 25-year veteran statistician on the KSL team dating back to the days of Paul James.
Sokolowsky is a budget analyst for the Bureau of Reclamation in Salt Lake City but lives in Orem. He's a numbers cruncher who travels all over the country working spreadsheets and data for the government. He just let loose.
"I humbly apologized to Greg for my unprofessionalism on the air," said Ralph, who has been teased the past year for his emotional outburst. But it was just one of those kind of games, a dramatic ending even on-strike screen writers couldn't produce.
"It was a whole season, an entire 45 years of rooting for BYU coming out."
After the game, KSL listeners kept calling in asking who was screaming in the background during the call. Wrubell wouldn't give up Sokolowsky, trying to protect his staff.
But many callers tried to guess, and even tried to pin it on his color commentator, Marc Lyons, or aide Doug Martin, a portrait photographer with key ties to the community. Wrubell gave in and identified Sokolowsky.
A couple of days later, Sokolowsky's father called from Seattle. "What's this I hear about your screaming like a little girl on the radio?" he said.
So, even Wrubell's background noise became part of The Call.
"It's an unpredictable part of the personality of the call," said Wrubell.
"If you go back to the 2001 game where Luke Staley runs down the sideline for the winning touchdown, Ralph does the same thing. He only pulls it out at really spectacular moments, but it was something neither he or I planned or he and I really thought much about when it was happening. It wasn't until I heard the call later that I learned Ralph was going nuts in the background."
To this day, people still ask Wrubell if it was a girl in the background screaming.
No, it is the stats guy, replies Wrubell.
"It's something he's taken grief for but something we've laughed about since. It's one of those things where emotions take over in a broadcast. It's now just become part of Cougar lore and made him famous in his own way."
Sokolowsky joked the other day about all the replays and ring tones. "Maybe I should get royalties."
Said Wrubell: "No, he's not getting any. If I'm not getting any, he's not getting any."
One thing about broadcasting, there are no do-overs. Wrubell may never have another ending to a game like the one he witnessed a year ago with the Cougars and Utes.
But in this rivalry, you never know.
Wrubell might just get that chance again.And so will his background guy.
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