A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 04, 2007
“Malfunction at the junction” (SWC football announcer Kern Tips)

Kern Tips (who died in 1967 at age 62) was the “Voice of the Southwest Conference” football for about 30 years. Some consider Tips the greatest Texas football announcer; others consider Tips the greatest sports announcer anywhere, ever.

“Malfunction at the junction” was how he described a fumbled handoff between a quarterback and a running back.


Handbook of Texas Online
TIPS, KERN (1904-1967). Kern Tips, sportscaster, son of Robert and Mary (Kern) Tips, was born on August 23, 1904, in Houston. He was married to Nancy Tucker, and they had two children. Tips received his college education at Texas A&M and at Rice Institute. While studying at Rice he was a sports reporter for the Houston Chronicle from 1924 through 1926, when he became sports editor of that newspaper, and he served in that capacity through 1934. His association with radio began as a sportscaster in 1926 and later as a newscaster in 1930. He served as general manager of Houston radio station KPRC from 1935 through 1946. On January 1, 1947, Tips joined the advertising agency of Wilkinson-Schiwetz and Tips. In September 1954, when the firm merged with McCann-Erickson, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, Tips became a vice president of that firm. In September 1966 he retired from service with McCann-Erickson and embarked on a “fourth career” as producer and narrator of a syndicated series of five-minute sports radio shows broadcast throughout the Southwest. He continued in the activity through June 1967, a short time before his death. Tips was perhaps best known as the “Voice of the Southwest Conference,” having spent thirty-two years broadcasting Southwest Conference football games. During that period he was associate producer and narrator of Humble Oil and Refining Company’s “Southwest Conference Highlights.” His voice was beamed around the world through the facilities of the Armed Forces Radio Service network. Tips served as a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Broadcasters from 1939 to 1940, as a member of the NBC Affiliates Council in 1941, as an advisor to the Office of War Information during World War II, and as director of Civilian Defense of Houston and Harris County, 1943-45. In 1959 he was selected as the man who had contributed most to radio and television in Texas in the first annual award of the Association of Broadcasting Executives in Texas. He was recipient of the only award ever made by the Southwest Football Officials Association for distinguished service to the sport. He was voted Texas Sportscaster of the Year in a national poll, an honor he was accorded five consecutive years, and he received many other testimonials and awards from clubs, associations, and educational institutions. Tips was the author of Football-Texas Style (1964). On August 3, 1967, Kern Tips died in Houston.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Austin American-Statesman, August 4, 1967. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
Sylvia Gunn

Houston Chronicle
Oct. 10, 2001, 12:38PM
Covering America’s many pastimes
(...)
The department’s first personality of note was Kern Tips, a reporter from 1924 to ‘26 and sports editor from 1926 through ‘34. He joined KPRC as general manager in 1935 and remained in broadcasting until his death in 1967.

Tips also became the Chronicle’s first sports columnist. His “Sport Lines” was devoted almost totally to hard news, without opinion.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Posted on Wed, Jun. 21, 2006
Ed Brice
If you’re an old Southwest Conference fan, you’d best listen in
Q: Back in the late 1940s and 1950s, there was a sportscaster who broadcast the Humble Southwest Conference games. I cannot remember his name, but if you can find it, I would very much appreciate it. He was the best.
-- B.R.M., Fort Worth

A: Kern Tips. Gotta be.

Texans, like Hall of Famer Bob Lilly and newsman Dan Rather, still talk about Saturday afternoons of their youth spent listening to the legendary “Voice of the Southwest Conference.” Tips served as the producer and narrator of the Humble Oil and Refining Co.’s “Southwest Conference Highlights” program. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, the program was beamed to U.S. troops around the world courtesy of the Armed Forces Radio Service network.

If you were a Southwest Conference football fan, then you depended on the man with the Texas twang and colorful language—Tips famously called a fumble a “malfunction at the junction”—to take you to the game.

He’s in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, was voted Texas Sportscaster of the Year five years in a row and won many, many awards. In 1964, he wrote Football, Texas Style, published by Doubleday. He died Aug. 3, 1967, but people are still blogging about him today. 

A Work in Progress
In the glory days of the old Southwest Conference, a fumble between a quarterback and running back would prompt radio announcer Kern Tips to shout that there’d been a “malfunction at the junction.”

Dallas History Message Boards
Posted By: gene morris
Date: Saturday, 15 October 2005, at 10:56 p.m.
kern was a guy...football broadcaster for old south west conference back in the 40,s and 50’s...i can still hear him say"go to the games with humble”..thanks curtis..gene

Dallas History Message Board
Posted By: Jim Stinson
Date: Sunday, 31 July 2005, at 11:24 p.m. 
The thing I remember and miss the most of the old-time neighborhood sounds happened every Saturday afternoon in the fall walking along Sharon Ave. Nearly each house as I passed by had a radio blaring out the Humble Oil Southwest Conference game of the week with Kern Tips broadcasting with his sidekick, Alex Chessor, who provided the commercials and an occasional statistic. I could keep up with the progress of the game while just walking by on the sidewalk. (Non-thread aside: I wish we still had Kern Tips instead of these ESPN clones. He would describe a booming punt as a “Prodigious Punt” and a quarterback sack by stating “He had to peel it and eat it that time”. ...)

Austin American-Statesman
Whoa, Nellie: Keith Jackson’s final game was Rose Bowl
By Staff | Thursday, April 27, 2006, 12:33 PM
(...)
By Wayne
May 5, 2006 01:23 AM | Link to this
I am neutral on the man: he can have a favorite team, but his play-by-play style is not original. Kern Tips broadcast Southwest Conference games in the 40’s and 50’s. Jackson styled his calls after Mr. Tips.

BaylorFans.com Message Boards
Bear64 02-01-2003 03:37 PM
Put Kern Tips in with Keith Jackson. Loved it when the ball was inside the 1 yard line and he would say “the ball is on the lip of the cup”. Most of you are probably to young to remember who Tips.

studley 02-01-2003 04:42 PM
Second the Kern Tips vote. “ He was pickin em off the daisies that time” was his description of a reciever catching a low thrown ball. Extra points were described as “makin 7’s outta 6’s.” He was the greatest! You could always count on seeing the old SWC highlights real at the State Fair every year with Kern as the announcer.

BaylorFans.com Message Boards
FadedGlory
10-04-2006, 01:52 PM
some folks on here bash him for saying things like “bears are moving right to left as you view your radio dial”, while that may seem corny, that phrase was invented by Kern Tips, voice of the Longhorns for many years, and later made nationally famous by Howard David, voice of NBC Radio football.

As for the term “sun splashed” that he occassionaly uses...that is a Frank Fallon rip off.

there are alot of posters on here who have no idea what they are talking about and their facts are often wrong. I get tired of hearing it. I saw on here one time where someone was bashing Fallon for using the term “being a victim of self tacklization” only they were unaware that the legendary Austin Attorney and Longhorn Mic Man Kern Tips coined that phrase in the glory days of the Humble Oil Radio Network. You old timers like me remember the banners that read “Go to the Games with Humble”, and you might also remember the little Humble Oil football schedules they would give out each year with a little SWC logo for each school on one side and the schedule on the other. If I remember right, those schedules were also window decals. 

Dallas Morning News - College Sports Blog
September 2, 2006
Oh yes per my teenage days, I turned in my radios to listen to the late Kern Tips, “The Voice of the Southwest Conference”, who described turning the sixes into the sevens.

5 August 1967, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “First Time Around” by Dick Collins, “Ken Tips: Passing of an Era,” pg. 19:
Ken put his soul and body into a football game broadcast, using his own colorful expressions that later became bywords with his captive audiences. His deep voice with that staccato ring lent authority to any broadcast.

“And it’s power up the middle,” he used to say. Or “he’s going to the airways” and “he’s singing bass for the backfield quartet.” He often referred to a long punt or kickoff as a boomer.

“A good many people believe he worked at these phrases,” Alec Chesser, his longtime sportscasting friend, said.

“They just came to him—often times they even surprised him,” continued Chesser, like Tips a Houston executive who aired the Humble sponsored games for the love of it. “Kern never wrote those expressions down, they just happened.”

6 August 1967, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 25:
HOUSTON (AP)—The men of sport said goodbye Saturday to Kern Tips, voice of Southwest Conference football stilled in death.

Tips, a radio broadcaster for 40 years, more than 30 of it with Humble Oil and Refining Co., died Thursday.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Thursday, January 04, 2007 • Permalink


God Bless Him, and we know where he is!

No one could bring that much joy to so many without being there.

B

Posted by Bryan Spencer '53  on  09/22  at  11:17 PM

Kern Tips was the best so. west conf broadcaster
there ever was. He could describe a fall day like
no other. You could close your eyes and feel the cool air and see the red, yellow leaves falling. He was a poet!  He could put you right on the 50 yd line in the game.  On the weekends i had Marine Corp drill in the 60’s ,we would listen to Kern tips on
whatever southwest game he was calling.  I enjoyed listening to him as much as i did the ball game and Im an x football official.  Also a die hard longhorn fan. !

Posted by LEE WEBSTER  on  01/02  at  03:23 PM

what a great man

Posted by free bet  on  09/10  at  10:08 AM

grin Listening to Kern Tips calling a game was to be there watching the teams play. The images he would portray were exciting and colorful.  He not only announced the play, but also the result, the players involved, and a short bio on each of them. 

There is no broadcaster today who is anywhere near the competence of Kern Tipps.  I, along with many other fans, miss him.  RIP Kern.  Job well done.

Posted by George  on  12/23  at  01:06 PM

Kern Tips was the best there was. As a young boy, I would hear him anounce the swc games and I could smell the grass, and see the band marching on the field. He was a master at using your emagination to visualize the game just like you were there.My favorite phrase of Kern’s was “Young Lad” from Garland Texas,or Norman Oklahoma,or wherever.He was the greatest.There will never be another like him

Posted by John Higgins  on  01/05  at  07:35 PM

The one I remember fondly was when someone would sack or make a play behind the line Kern might say: “Looks like he’s been reading his mail.” There has never been a broadcaster that was so much the whole package. The game, the going to the game with Humble Oil even if you weren’t going, the little football decals of all the SWC schools, his sayings, his timing, it was all so wonderful. By his works I know he is with God in Heaven.  If someone knows how to obtain any of his broadcasts please contact me at trooperkeeton.com

Posted by Trooper Keeton  on  02/28  at  07:19 PM

Trooper Keeton Texas Tech class of 69: The one I remember fondly was when someone would sack or make a play behind the line Kern might say: “Looks like he’s been reading his mail.” There has never been a broadcaster that was so much the whole package. The game, the going to the game with Humble Oil even if you weren’t going, the little football decals of all the SWC schools, his sayings, his timing, it was all so wonderful. By his works I know he is with God in Heaven.  If someone knows how to obtain any of his broadcasts please contact me at trooperkeeton.com

Posted by Trooper Keeton  on  02/28  at  07:22 PM

May have located an old tape if it comes through will reproduce it on DVD. For more go to trooperkeeton.com

Posted by Trooper Keeton  on  03/22  at  09:58 PM

Tips-isms I remember are “thunder up the middle”, “and “he who hesitates is lost”, a punt that was a boomer and hit on the Aggie 14 yard line, rolls across the ten to the five and dies a natural death on the three”. A ‘swarm of froggies” bring him down”.

Great memories.

Posted by D Dickey  on  09/01  at  12:44 PM

I just got through watching The 1957 SWC Classics.Kern Tipps was the narrator. I can remember the many saturdays listening to him. I also went to many of the Rice Owl games too.I sold Cokes, 12 to a bucket, at Rice stadium. The money got me some fooling around money.

Posted by Bob Sveter  on  09/06  at  05:44 PM

It was my true pleasure to travel as the Arkansas spotter on the Humble Football Broadcasts from 1961-1965 and since that was the glory days of Razorback football Mr. Tips was usually the play by play announcer.  A small correction, the color announcer was Alec Chesser, who in full time duty was the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for Houston Natural Gas Corporation.  Mr. Tips and Mr. Chesser were always a team.  The other Humble play by play and color announcers could be paired together on different weekends.  Mr. Tips died while I was in VietNam but his secretary, Sylvia, sent me a clipping from the Chronicle.  In her letter she wondered if I still had my little cat.  I had adopted a Vietnamese Jungle Cat or Ocelot whose mother had abandoned him.  He was a beautiful animal.  The fondest words that I have ever heard is the last time that I left the broadcast booth as I was graduating that year was Mr. Tips saying “Maxey, come see me when you get out of the Army” I assured him that I would visit if I got to Houston.  Mr. Chesser followed me out of the booth and said"Max, you don’t understand, Kern thinks that you belong in Houston” and I have been here since I left Active Army service.  Mr. Tips was a true, unique talent but a more wonderful human being.  A country boy from Arkansas could never be more blessed than to have the experience of traveling with Kern Tips for four years and then have him looking after me as I was in the Army for three years in Viet Nam.  Mr. Tips died while I was in Viet Nam but he sent me a letter telling me that he had a terminal illiness but the Mr. Chesser would look after me when I got to Houston.  Mr. Chesser did a wonderful job of looking after me.  I only wish that everyone could enjoy the luck that I experienced.

Posted by Max Cottrell  on  05/24  at  11:16 PM

Two of my favorites:

1. Referring to measuring for a first down:

“Bring out the chains, and put the ball under
the magnifying glass”.

2.When Ken Hatfield, of Arkansas, played against
Ernie Koy, of Texas, in Fayetteville:

“This should be a battle between the Hatfields
and the Koys in the Ozarks tonight”.

Posted by Zane Beck  on  07/23  at  11:01 AM

I was at Buckner home from 1957-1960 and at Baylor 1960-1965.  The first time I heard Kern broadcast, I felt I was at the ballgame and sitting right there with him as he described the game, the crowd, the weather, the stadium, etc.  When I was at Baylor, and I couldn’t travel to the away games, I listened to Kern, no matter what game he was calling.  To me, there is no doubt that he was the greatest game caller of all time, and it was a sad day for the SWC when he was called home by God, but he had to have brightened heaven.  He was such a great personality as well as a great person.  No one comes close to Kern Tips as a football announcer.

Posted by Leon  on  09/13  at  03:46 PM

Wasn’t it Kern who coined “Dandy Don” Meredith?  Seems I remember him saying after a Meredith play at SMU - “Boy he’s a Dandy.  Dandy Don Meredith.”

Posted by John Hale  on  12/07  at  02:11 PM

As a kid growing up in the late 50’s and easrly 60’s in tiny Santa Rosa, Tx. we would gather each saturday to listen to the Hunble SWC game of the week. Little did I know that I would one day play in those games. I chose Rice U. over A&M and U.T. and was the starting nose-tackle in 1965 when as a soph. we beat the Longhorns in Austin. What a thrill! I was forunate to be featured on KERN TIP’S HUMBLE HIGHLIGHTS the year that Mr. Tips past away. It showed me sacking Texas’ Bill Bradley and SMU’d Mike Livingston and Kern said in his increibly distinquished voice:"And the big redhead from Santa Rosa chalks up another sack”. What an honor it was just to be mentioned by this man!
“GOD BLESS YOU MR. TIPS and THANK YOU”!

Posted by george schulgen, jr.  on  09/03  at  12:11 PM

You just didn’t need television when Kern Tips was calling a football game. He said it all. I grew up in Austin when he was calling the games for the Longhorns. There just will never be an announcer with the color he had. His expressions of a player being tackled and calling a Lad from
Baytown, etc. GREATEST!

Posted by Jimmy Lang  on  01/04  at  03:00 PM

As a Longhorn fan and a kid who moved around Dallas a lot, I well remember Kern Tips.  I agree with those who say that he was the best ever, bar none.  The phrase I remember most was when he said that someone, like Maurice Doke (sp?)was “doing yoeman’s duty.” It would be some years before I learned what a “yoeman” was.

Posted by Buddy Woolbright  on  04/08  at  07:32 PM

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