We had him first.
That's what Swift Current hockey fans can always tell the good people of Medicine Hat when they discuss a legendary broadcaster whose name is synonymous with not only the Medicine Hat Tigers but the WHL as well.
Bob Ridley is over 50 seasons and 3900 games into his run as play-by-play broadcaster for the Tigers. He also called his first game while working for CKSW in Swift Current 54 years ago.
Med Hat Tigers at Swift C vs the Broncos t.nite. Brings back memories of my 1st ever play by play broadcast 54 years ago in Swift. An intermediate game featuring the home town Indians. Wow, thankful to remember that far back. Ha— Bob Ridley (@BobRidley_CHAT) January 18, 2019
"Oh gosh you know how it is all of a sudden you're just sitting there on the bus reminiscing a little bit," Ridley said. "My first full time gig was in Swift Current as a rock disc jockey. There was a sports job that opened up there when Dave Jacobson moved on... eventually into doing some play-by-play. I really appreciate that town. It was awful good to me when I was there."
That first game 54 years ago wasn't yet at the WHL level for the eventual Alberta Sports Hall of Famer.
"My first game (was) broadcasting the Swift Current Indians the intermediate team there," RIdley said. "Harv Jahnke and so on some of the key people... it was great fun. I was terrible. You know how the first game is... I remember how I stumbled all over the place and couldn't remember any names. I think Swift Current (won) but I'm not sure. It was good times and a great place to start a career. They were very patient with me and thank goodness they were."
Ridley now works in the state of the art Canalta Centre with modern broadcast technology that connects him to his radio station in studio quality in a broadcast booth named in his honour. Things were a little different 54 years ago.
"We didn't have two-way communication back to the radio station," Ridley said. "You timed our your commercials... it was totally different. Going to Swift Current you got to experience broadcasting everything from curling to bowling... fastball and of course the Swift Current Indians baseball team. Jack McLeod was playing back then for the Indians. Just a great time and what an experience it was for a young guy like myself."
Now all these years later the cities of Swift Current and Medicine Hat are coming together to jointly host the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Medicine Hat's most famous voice believes it's a great fit.
"I think that is so fantastic," Ridley said. "These communities are really close and it's going to be outstanding for both."
While the man known for driving the bus to and from the games he called has cut back on his driving these days, Ridley is still going strong in the booth. After passing 3900 games this season the prospect of 4000 is certainly in reach for a broadcaster whose passion is always evident no matter how long he's been doing the job.
And that all started right here in Swift Current.
You're welcome, Medicine Hat!