Voice of the Bears
Many sensory experiences live in the memories of Baylor alumni. Warmth from a Fountain Mall bonfire. Coffee aromas wafting through the library as finals approach. Soothing sounds of a fountain at the heart of campus with chiming carillon in the background. Cherished memories animated by shared traditions that span the ways of time are punctuated by seasonal sights, sounds and smells.
This is especially true of memories codified during Baylor football games. For many Baylor fans, they hold a special place where many of the different aspects of their Baylor experience converge at the same place and time. These athletic feats were narrated by a scant few voices that have shared with the Baylor Family the sweet sensations of victory as well as the bitter echoes of defeat. In many ways, these voices have told the story of the autumn along the Brazos.
The “Voice of the Bears” moniker was first given to Frank Fallon, an El Paso native who grew up in San Antonio, attended Baylor and settled in Waco after retiring from the U.S. Army in 1952. He was the play-by-play announcer for Baylor football and men’s basketball games from 1953 to 1995.
Fallon, who died in 2004, stewarded Baylor fans through a time period when radio was often the only way to follow live games. His voice was a fan’s connection to the Bears, no matter the distance. More than a great voice, Fallon was known for his extensive preparation down to the smallest detail to keep fans informed about every aspect of the game.
More than Baylor fans were blessed by Fallon’s dulcet tones. He was the first play-by-play announcer for Southwest Conference basketball games on the TVS Network. He later broadcast games for NBC and ESPN, and he was the Houston Oilers play-by-play announcer from 1961 to 1964. He also broadcast Central Texas high school football games for more than four decades.
An honorary member of the Texas High School Football Coaches Association, Fallon was inducted into numerous halls of fame. He was named Texas Association of Broadcasters Sportscaster of the Year five times and Associated Press Best Radio Play-by-Play Announcer seven times. In 2001, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame honored Fallon with the Chris Schenkel Award, presented annually to a local-level college broadcaster who has excelled in the field and contributed to the community.
One unforgettable game Fallon broadcast was Baylor’s 50-7 thumping of the University of Texas at Austin in 1989. He joyfully announced, “The score is 50 to zero, Baylor on top” before Texas scored a late touchdown. Fallon also broadcast Baylor’s 1991 victory over reigning national champion University of Colorado as the Bears ended the Buffaloes’ 15-game home winning streak.
Fallon spent more than three decades with Waco’s KWTX-TV and radio, including 29 years as television general manager. He taught in Baylor’s telecommunications department for 10 years after retiring from radio following the 1994 football and 1994-95 men’s basketball seasons.
John Morris, B.A. ’80, who considered Fallon both his mentor and friend, worked alongside him for eight years before following in Fallon’s footsteps. Nearly three decades later, Morris is quick to assert that — to him — Fallon is and always will be the “Voice of the Bears.”
“It was an honor to follow him,” Morris said. “I love broadcasting, and I’d love broadcasting games anywhere. But to do it for your school, to do it for my alma mater, to do it for Baylor — it means that much more. To have learned from and worked with Frank and to follow him is an honor.”
Morris was named National Sports Media Association Texas Co-Sportscaster of the Year in 2019, his 25th season as Baylor’s football radio broadcaster. He was the first announcer outside of the state’s four largest media markets — Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin — and the second university-level broadcaster so honored.
A Louisville, Kentucky, native, Morris has broadcast nearly 400 consecutive Baylor football games. He also handles play-by-play duties for men’s basketball games and has called games for virtually every Baylor varsity team over the past two-plus decades. Morris, who is officially Baylor’s assistant athletics director for broadcasting, worked 15 years as sports director at KWTX-TV before joining the Baylor athletic department full time in the mid-1990s.
Morris has narrated of some of the most cinematic football moments in Baylor history. One such call was the 2011 victory over fifth-ranked University of Oklahoma that propelled quarterback Robert Griffin III to the Heisman Trophy: “Empty backfield, 15 seconds to go. Griffin steps up, he slides to the left side, he’s throwing for the end zone! Touchdown Bears! With eight seconds to play in the fourth quarter!”
Three years later, Morris’ words told the story as Chris Callahan’s 28-yard field goal completed a miraculous comeback win over Texas Christian University: “It’s a good snap. It’s a good hold. The kick by Callahan is good, and the Bears win over TCU! 61-58.”
These highlights barely scratch the surface of a story told to generations of Baylor Bears — a story told each autumn weekend by the “Voice of the Bears.”