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Calling the Action


By Wendy Soderburg '82

Published Oct 1, 2015 8:00 AM

UCLA's new play-by-play announcer is a veteran sportscaster.


Illustration by Blair Kelly

“Holding the microphone in Westwood is like holding the baton of the Boston Pops.”

That’s how Bill Roth describes his new job as UCLA’s play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball radio broadcasts.

The veteran sportscaster comes to UCLA from Virginia Tech University, where he spent 27 years as the lead play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball. A member of both the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Syracuse University’s WAER Hall of Fame, Roth takes over for Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame member Chris Roberts, who retired at the end of the 2014-2015 season.

“We listened to demos from some of the best play-by-play announcers in the business, and interviewed several,” says UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero ’74. “Bill was able to paint a picture of the action with his words better than everybody else.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Roth knew early on that he would be a sportscaster. He graduated from Syracuse University’s renowned Newhouse School of Public Communications, whose alumni include Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Mike Tirico, Dick Stockton, Ian Eagle and Dave Pasch. Roth remembers watching late-night telecasts of Bruin basketball as a kid and cherishes the time he met John Wooden. Yet the 11-time Virginia Sportscaster of the Year never dreamed he would one day become a Bruin.

“It was going to take something amazingly unique [to get me to leave Virginia Tech], and UCLA is amazingly unique, in every way,” Roth says. “To be the voice of this program, and to represent this school and these fans and these coaches and these players, is a pretty special responsibility.”

Roth has met all the UCLA coaches and their staffs, and has spent time with his fellow broadcasters — Matt Stevens ’87 and Wayne Cook ’96 (football), and Tracy Murray ’06 (basketball).

“They’ve been so great,” Roth says. “At the end of the day, I want our fans to be just as proud of our broadcast crew as they are of our teams. That’s my hope.”