Sixers Radio Play-by-Play Voice Tom McGinnis is PSWA Bill Campbell Award Winner
For every 76ers home game for the past 28 years, Tom McGinnis has committed himself to one emotional, satisfying routine.
At some point on his drive to work, the Sixers’ radio broadcaster will be sure to take a long-range view of the Philadelphia skyscrapers in the distance.
“When I look at that skyline, I could tear up,” McGinnis said. “It’s when I realize I am in Philadelphia. And it’s never lost on me that I am able to work for an iconic franchise like this in a city where sports matters so much is special.”
McGinnis arrived from Philadelphia in 1995, hired with the approval of then-owner Harold Katz. With the legendary Jon Gurevich having chosen to pursue opportunities in higher education, the Sixers had an opening for a radio voice as they were about to transition from the Spectrum to what has become the Wells Fargo Center. At the time, McGinnis was broadcasting high-level minor-league hockey in Clevland, a city which had just opened its own new facility, and with his previous background calling minor-league basketball games, seemed the perfect fit at age 31.
With his ideal blend of knowledge and well-placed enthusiasm, an unmistakable voice as well tuned as a musical instrument, and his ability to decorate a broadcast with his trademark – “Are you kidding me?” – McGinnis came to enjoy enduring popularity in a city where the fans and the broadcasters often form a special if unspoken bond.
For that, McGinnis, 59, will receive the Bill Campbell Award for sportscasting excellence from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association, the latest entry to a list that has included legends, among them 2018 winner Marc Zumoff, the since-retired Sixers TV announcer.
“I’ve said this to him many times,” Zumoff told Sixers.com. “When he broadcasts a game, people nearly drive off the road because the excitement and the passion. The energy is perfect for radio.”
In that, McGinnis embodies the professional qualities of the late Campbell, long a dedicated PSWA member famous for his booming voice, command of the moment and welcome passion.
“I love basketball,” McGinnis said. “I love talking about it. The first time I met Bill Campbell, he was retired and I enjoyed getting to know him. I know what he meant in this city and I am very honored.”
McGinnis was not sure what to expect when he came to Philadelphia, but the Illinois native soon made it his home. He married former Channel 3 sportscaster and reporter Robin Rieger, settled in South Jersey and raised a family. His children – Kenna, 20, and Luke, 17, a budding basketball star at Holy Cross High in Delran – were born and raised in the area, and have been life-long Sixers fans.
At times – during the Allen Iverson Era, for instance – that has been easy.
In others – there was The Process – it has required a commitment to faith.
McGinnis plans to continue enjoying it all, while maintaining a hope that some day he will be able to describe the Sixers celebrating a championship.
Accomplished as he has been, there naturally have been national broadcasting and TV opportunities to consider, but McGinnis has been thankful to call the Philadelphia region his home.
“Again, I go back to how lucky I am to have this job,” he said. “I know the phrase – ‘the worst thing is to have untapped potential’ – so in my mind, I know I could have pursued other things. But I’ve been fortunate to have this job with the Sixers. It is enough for me. I have enjoyed it so much.
“It is just every unique and special.”
By Jack McCaffery
Delaware County Daily Times