It has been nearly five years since longtime area broadcaster Bob Daday left the Lehigh Valley for what he called "semi-retirement" and Ovieda, Fla., near Orlando.
Daday, who got his start by working with his father, the legendary Johnny Daday, found it wasn't so easy to leave the microphone behind.
A meticulous record keeper, Daday knew he had done 978 basketball broadcasts, either on local TV or radio, and 257 football games in a career that spanned 37 years. Those totals don't include the 1,625 interview shows he did as a host on Service Electric and RCN.
Daday went to Florida hoping for an increased level of relaxation, and warmer temperatures, but to stay involved with broadcasting somehow.
"Unfortunately when I got to Florida, I hit a time period where the economy and everything was going flat," he said this week on a brief visit back to the Lehigh Valley to catch up with friends. "The schools were laying people off and there was nothing they anticipated doing. I didn't know who to see down there, unlike here.
"But five years have passed and things have improved considerably, and I've learned a lot about who does what and where and why."
Daday did a weekly radio show for three years on a commercial station that featured interviews with personalities from the sports world and beyond. Among his guests were Pat Williams, the former GM of the 76ers and still a senior VP with the Orlando Magic, and Gene Kay, a local radio legend and the father of ESPN's Suzy Kolber.
But Daday missed the game action, so he ventured over to the campus of the University of Central Florida — "a three-minute car ride and a 12-minute walk from my house," he said.
"I talked to them about radio and television work and they said it was all locked up contractually," Daday said. "And then I said 'Well, what's the next thing I could do?' and they said 'Public address announcing.' I had very little experience with that, hardly any experience at all."
"But we went through the sports and they had an opening, as a backup, with women's volleyball. I was worried because I didn't know volleyball. I didn't think I'd feel comfortable. I called and said I wasn't going to do it, but the person said 'Why don't you give it a try?' So, I did."
Daday got his first turn behind the PA microphone two weeks ago for a tournament hosted by UCF and said, "It turned out great."
Daday, 70, was impressed by the caliber of the players. "It's top notch," he said.
He is now looking forward to doing more volleyball matches and possibly some basketball in the winter and softball in the spring as well.
"I realized how much I missed it," he said.
Asked what he missed the most about the Valley, Daday said: "Friends. I miss the games and great rivalries we had and an entire hodgepodge of things, but my foundation was always with the great people I worked with here."
Daday said it has been a change to go from being widely known in the Valley to being unknown in the Orlando.
"It was nice to walk in the Lehigh Valley Mall and invariably someone would say 'Hey, Bob, how are you doing?' Daday said. "And now, I can walk into the Citrus Bowl and not know a soul."
But he's doing just fine and being around the young athletes at UCF will help to keep him young. He is impressed with everything he sees at UCF, which happens to be playing at Penn State on Saturday.
"The school is 50 years old, but the athletic facilities are relatively new," he said. "The football stadium holds 55,000 and it's gorgeous. The arena is state-of-the-art. Everything they do is first class."
Daday will add some flair behind the PA mic.
In fact, he uses Punkin Miller's famous line when introducing the national anthem — "Please stand and pay tribute to the greatest flag in the world."
However, he said he will close his PA stints with his traditional line of "Good night and good sports."
"I've been using that line for more than 30 years," he said. "Why change now?"
To the latest in the NFL Network's "A Football Life" series, the one on Don Shula. Talk about class and doing things the right way. One thing I forgot about his record-breaking 325th win over the Eagles at Veterans Stadium on Nov. 14, 1993, was that the less-than-legendary Doug Pederson was the Dolphins' quarterback at the end of that game. Shula could win with anybody.
Pat O'Brien is one of those radio-show hosts who is so bad that he can actually entertain you because you don't know what bizarre thing he's going to say next. During his Fox Sports radio show this week, O'Brien said he was going to do an NFL elimination series in which he was going to get rid of two teams from Super Bowl consideration every week — one from the AFC and one from the NFC.
DID YOU KNOW?
High school games are now being broadcast over the Internet on wgpasunny1100.com. This weekend's games are Whitehall at Freedom on Friday and Easton at Bethlehem Catholic on Saturday.