When our fans listen to our games on the radio, they listen to the best play by play man in the business, "The Voice of the Commodores" Joe Fisher, and Tim Thompson on color. However, there is a third member of the radio crew who you don't hear on the airwaves, but is integral not only to the broadcast but also one of the more entertaining members of the Vanderbilt Basketball program.
Bob Horner is the radio engineer for our games and has been for 34 years. He also is the radio engineer for the Nashville Predators, so Bob is like a local legend when it comes to radio engineering. He is responsible for ensuring the broadcast goes smoothly so that the only thing Tim and Joe need to worry about is calling the game. If you have been to a game at Memorial Gymnasium, you have certainly seen Bob. He is a hard man to miss. He is rotund and quite jolly, almost like Santa Claus, and takes on that type of larger than life personality on the road.
I really enjoy spending time with and talking to Bob because we share a lot of similarities. Bob is a straight shooter and enjoys the finer things in life like comfort and food. When we go on roadtrips, we always take a DVD player and camera box with us. The boxes for those two things are large and take up their own seat on the plane and Bob always volunteers to sit with them. The boxes have no preference for an aisle seat, have no legroom, and don't shift around in the air, so they are the ideal seatmate. Bob realized that before anybody else and now lays claim to those boxes whenever we travel.
While Bob appreciates comfort, I think he appreciates food even more. Bob and I always look forward to post-game meals on the road. Shannon Gordon, our athletic trainer, always organizes the post game meal. Sometimes it is pizza, sometimes Chick-Fil-A, sometimes Jimmy John's, but whatever it is when it arrives we are always hungry. I think my favorite post-game memory with Bob happened after the Xavier game this past year.
After the game Gordo had ordered pizza. A lot of times trying to get good pizza outside the Northeast is a difficult task (Oxford, Mississippi had some terrible pizza), but the pizza we got in Cincinnati was phenomenal. I was downing an entire pie of Buffalo Chicken Pizza while Bob was eating a pie of Meat Lover's and we were both remarking at just how good the pizza was, and then Bob turns to Gordo and says, "Gordo you really did it this time. This pizza is phenomenal. You kicked this one out of the park."
Then once Bob polished off the pizza, he reached into the box of cookies and he looked at me and said, "The cookies are heated. This is fantastic" before turning to Gordo and saying, "I thought the pizza was good, but these cookies are even better". Taking Bob's advice, I tried one and boy were they good. They were warm and soft and the chocolate just kind of melted in your mouth. They were delectable. From start to finish that was a very fulfilling meal.
My other favorite memory regarding Bob happened this year during our game at Missouri. Every game Coach Stallings has a cup of water that is constantly refilled throughout the game. Due to his active sideline demeanor that rarely includes sitting down for long periods of time and his quite vocal nature, Coach needs to stay hydrated at all times in order to keep on stomping. Usually a manager is in charge of filling up Coach's cup but in Missouri, Bob volunteered to do it because his seat was right behind where the cup was placed.
We try to fill the cup up to about 80 percent of capacity but Bob was filling it up to around 95 percent capacity that day. We were losing by 29 at halftime and Coach was not in the best mood, nobody really was, and during the second half he took his anger out on the water cup. The cup was too full so he turned around and looked in the direction of Nick Souder and I and said, "Who's filling up the damn cup?! Stop filling it to the top, every time I pick it up, I feel like I'm going to spill. It's not that hard to fill it up right."
At the time, Coach was not aware that Bob was filling the water cup up and I wasn't aware either so I turned to Nick and said, "Nick, why are you filling it all the way up?" He said, "I'm not, Bob's doing the water." So we both turn to look at Bob and he has both palms up and his arms outstretched, shrugged, and then he says, "I thought that was the normal amount" in his deep, baritone voice before swearing off the job for the remainder the game and season (though Bob did later tell Coach he was the one filling the cup up that day).
Me and Bob Horner