(Editor's note: UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. - For the past 38 years, Wyoming Cowboy football and basketball fans have been able to turn on their radios and hear the iconic voice of play-by-play announcer Dave Walsh. Now that era, that began in 1984, is coming to an end as Walsh is announcing his retirement as "Voice of the Cowboys". But fortunately for Wyoming fans, they will hear another familiar voice step into the role as "Voice of the Cowboys" as Reece Monaco takes over the play-by-play duties for both Cowboy Football and Basketball. The announcement was recently made jointly by the University of Wyoming Athletics Department and LEARFIELD, the multimedia rights holder for University of Wyoming Athletics.
Only three individuals have held the title of "Voice of the Cowboys" on a consistent basis from 1947 to today. From 1947 until 1985, Larry Birleffi described the play-by-play action for the Cowboys. Walsh was originally hired by broadcasting legend and Wyoming alumnus Curt Gowdy in 1984. Walsh began his Wyoming career as the color analyst for Cowboy Football games and took over the play-by-play duties for Wyoming Basketball in '84. In 1985, Walsh took over as the play-by-play voice of Cowboy Football and continued in that role through the 2021 football season. In 2020, Monaco moved into the chair as play-by-play announcer for Cowboy Basketball, while Walsh continued to call Wyoming Football games. Now Monaco becomes the third individual to hold the full-time title of "Voice of the Cowboys" for both sports.
"Seeing Dave (Walsh) step away completely is difficult for someone like me who grew up listening to Dave tell the great stories of Wyoming football and basketball," said Tom Burman, University of Wyoming Athletics Director. "On behalf of our athletics department and as a fan myself, I want to thank Dave for his outstanding work for the past 38 years. He has been a great ambassador of UW Athletics, and we will be forever grateful.
"With that said, we look forward to seeing Reece (Monaco) develop as the new voice of Wyoming Cowboy football and basketball. I believe he has a very, very bright future."
“We can't thank Dave (Walsh) enough for his long-time commitment to the Cowboys," said Brad Poe, General Manager of Wyoming Sports Properties, LEARFIELD's locally based team. "Dave is a Wyoming legend and will be remembered in homes all over Wyoming for many years to come. His voice will carry on in the hearts of Cowboy fans forever.
“We are very excited to elevate Reece Monaco to the 'Voice of the Cowboys!' He’s played an integral role on the Cowboy Sports Network for many years and has earned this opportunity. To be only the third 'Voice of the Cowboys' since 1947 is impressive.”
"It has been a privilege to be the 'Voice of the Cowboys' for 38 years," said Walsh. "I truly feel like I've had the best play-by-play job in America. The people of Wyoming have been fantastic to me and my family. I feel truly blessed to have enjoyed so many wonderful relationships with fans, players, coaches and athletic support staff through the years, as well as sharing great relationships with other broadcasters around our state and around the country. I can't thank enough all the network staff who I've worked with from the time Curt Gowdy first hired me, to K2 Radio, to Montgomery Broadcasting and now with LEARFIELD. They all helped make my job easier. It made it even more special to share the broadcast booth with my good friend Kevin McKinney for all these years. We had fun working together, and I think we did some good radio through the years. I hope we brought enjoyment to those listening. There will, no doubt, be many things I will miss about broadcasting Cowboy games, but I feel like this is the right time for me to step away. I walk away taking with me so many wonderful memories. Thanks to the people of Wyoming and all the best to Reece (Monaco), who has already proven what an outstanding broadcaster he is."
"I am incredibly honored," said Monaco. "My first experience with Wyoming football and basketball was listening to Dave Walsh and Kevin McKinney. Dave is and will always be the 'Voice of the Cowboys' to an entire generation of Cowboys fans and will be greatly missed by me and the fans who have grown to love his amazing voice. Dave is a friend and mentor, and to say I have big shoes to fill is an understatement. With so many outstanding sportscasters in Wyoming, I am thrilled that Tom Burman and Brad Poe have the faith in me to step into this role and bring Wyoming football and basketball to Cowboys fans in Wyoming and around the country."
Walsh is a nine-time Wyoming Sportscaster of the Year as selected by his peers of the National Association of Sportswriters and Sportscasters. He was inducted into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters (WAB) Hall of Fame in the summer of 2015 and was inducted into the University of Wyoming Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in the fall of 2016. In 2020, Walsh was named the recipient of the National Football Foundation (NFF) Chris Schenkel Award, which has been presented annually since 1996 to individuals who have had long, distinguished careers broadcasting college football with direct ties to a specific university. He became only the 26th recipient of that national award. The award is named for legendary ABC Sports broadcaster Schenkel, who was the original recipient of the award in 1996. Over his 38-year career, Walsh worked with nine football coaching staffs and eight men's basketball staffs. He described many of the most memorable events in Wyoming Athletics history and his legendary phrase, "The Score, Oh the Score" will live forever in the annals of Cowboy Football and Basketball.
Monaco has himself had an outstanding broadcasting career in the state of Wyoming. He has been selected by his peers of the National Association of Sportswriters and Sportscasters as the Wyoming Sportscaster of the Year five times. Monaco began his affiliation with the University of Wyoming as a UW student in the early 1990s. A long-time sportscaster and newscaster for KFBC Radio in Cheyenne, Wyo., Monaco was the play-by-play voice of Cowgirl Basketball for 19 seasons before taking over as the voice of Cowboy Basketball in the 2020-21 season. He served as the sideline reporter for Cowboy Football for the past 10 years up through the 2021 season.
Through all three play-by-play announcers, the individual who has sat beside them and added color analysis has been Kevin McKinney. McKinney first served as color analyst for Cowboy Basketball beginning with the 1973-74 season and continues as color analyst today. The upcoming 2022-23 basketball season will be McKinney's 50th season providing color commentary. Since 1996, he has also added color analysis on Cowboy Football games and will continue in that role in 2022. McKinney was inducted with Walsh into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters (WAB) Hall of Fame in the summer of 2015. McKinney was inducted into the University of Wyoming Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in the fall of 2013. In 2000, he was named Wyoming’s Sportscaster of the Year, and in 2011 he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Wyoming State Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I was always impressed with Dave’s preparation, his professionalism, his unique ability to paint a picture with his words and phrases, and his passion for the business and the Cowboys," said McKinney. "He taught me a ton about sports broadcasting. He always appreciated and respected his role as “Voice of the Cowboys”. His voice and “The Score, Oh the Score”, will forever be a special piece of Wyoming athletic tradition. I will miss him tremendously. At the same time, I’m anxious to begin the next chapter with Reece, who not only has paid his dues to receive this opportunity but who understands the importance of his role to the University and the State of Wyoming.”
Taking over for Monaco as Wyoming's sideline reporter for Cowboy Football games will be Erick Pauley, who is currently the Vice President of Operations for The Radio Network in Green River, Wyo. Pauley, like Walsh, Monaco and McKinney, is a former Wyoming Sportscaster of the Year (2018) as selected by his peers of the National Association of Sportswriters and Sportscasters. Pauley will bring a unique perspective to Cowboy Sports Network broadcasts as he is a former football lettermen at the University of Wyoming where he played defensive line. A native of Green River, Wyo., Pauley was a standout prep athlete in the state of Wyoming and has been a sportscaster and newscaster in Wyoming for many years.