Originally published December 3, 2010
If it weren’t for Chet “the Jet” Walker, there may not be a Charley Steiner.
At least not Charley Steiner, Bradley grad.
“I was initially attracted to Bradley … because of the basketball team,” said the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers of the famous Bradley player. “I thought ‘Maybe if I go there, I can announce some basketball games.’ ”
The Long Island native and 1971 graduate will be back at Bradley Dec. 18 to speak at the December commencement ceremony.
“I was blown away [when asked to speak] … the first thing I did was flash back to when I first got [to Bradley],” he said. “On the cool meter, it’s over a 10.”
Steiner’s long career in sports broadcasting started here on the Hilltop in 1967.
“The first thing I did when I got on campus was walk up to the second floor of the student center,” he said. “The Scout was on the right, and the radio station (WRBU) was on the left. I just made myself at home.”
Steiner had a music column in the paper, called Off the Record, and was a regular on the radio show.
After graduation, his first job was at a Peoria radio station. From there he had stints in Davenport, Iowa, New Haven, Conn., and New York, where he worked for the Yankees.
“Then six years ago I got a call asking if I’d want to come out here,” he said. “Most of my career has been spent on the East Coast and in the Midwest. It’s really warm here [in Los Angeles].”
The job offer was pretty special for Steiner who was, albeit briefly, originally a Dodgers fan before they moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.
“I’m fortunate to have worked for both teams I’ve rooted for, especially for my first love,” he said.
His whole career, however, traces back to the experiences he had at Bradley, even though the university wasn’t offering any sort of broadcast major.
“I had kind of a hybrid major of speech, journalism and broadcast,” he said. “There were only two or three broadcast classes.”
Some of that stemmed from the fact that media today is pretty different from media 40 years ago.
“Media didn’t have the draw then that it does now,” Steiner said. “There weren’t as many outlets … and there was no such thing as cable.”
Nonetheless, Steiner is now counted by many among the likes of Bradley broadcasting greats Jack Brickhouse, Chick Hearn and Ralph Lawler.
Students graduating from the university today, though, have a bit of a leg up.
“Sports has gotten huge across the country … with ESPN,” Steiner said. “Sports communication [major] isn’t offered everywhere, but now we have Bradley … it’s a great identity.”