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Bill Slater (broadcaster)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bill Slater
At West Point in 1924
William Ernest Slater

(1902-12-03)December 3, 1902
Parkersburg, West Virginia
DiedJanuary 25, 1965(1965-01-25) (aged 62)
New Rochelle, New York
Burial placeCypress Hills Cemetery
Occupation(s)Educator, announcer
RelativesMichael Hawkins (nephew), Christian Slater (great-nephew)

William Ernest Slater (December 3, 1902 – January 25, 1965) was an American military officer, educator, sports announcer, and radio/television personality from the 1920s through the 1950s, hosting the radio shows Twenty Questions and Luncheon at Sardi's. He was the great-uncle of actor Christian Slater.

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Early life

Education and educator

Slater earned a master's degree in political science from Columbia University and was a 1924 graduate of West Point.[1][2] An imposing man of 6 ft 3 in, he subsequently taught English and math at his hometown of Parkersburg, West Virginia.

He then joined the Greenbrier Military School in Lewisburg, West Virginia as commandant. Next, he was on the faculty of the New York Military Academy where he also coached football. He was then the head of the math department and football coach at Blake School in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[1][2] He left Blake School in 1933 to begin his final teaching post, as headmaster of Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn, New York (1933–1942).[1][3]


He served as a lieutenant colonel in public relations for the U.S. Army, beginning in 1942.[citation needed]

From educator to broadcaster

While teaching at the Blake School for Boys in Minneapolis, it was suggested by a student, whose father was a radio executive, that Slater had the voice and knowledge to be a sports announcer.[3] His first network break came while at Adelphi Academy, when NBC network officials heard him calling the 1933 Army-Navy football game on CBS with Ted Husing, whose voice was similar.[1]


In addition to covering many sporting events on network radio, Slater hosted a Thursday night quiz show on CBS radio, Askit-Baskit, in 1940, using the stage name "Jim McWilliams".[3]


Slater hosted/emceed many early television shows:

Sports broadcaster

Slater was the primary voice of Paramount News reels for many years beginning in 1936.[4] Slater covered the 1936 Summer Olympics for NBC,[1] announced for the New York Yankees and New York Giants baseball teams, the 1937 Sugar Bowl, West Point, Yale, Penn and other college football games, and later, tennis from Wimbledon and Forest Hills. Slater was noted for his clear, enthusiastic delivery. He was "very lyrical", said sportscaster Chris Schenkel.[1]

Slater was announcing an NFL game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants when the first bulletin aired of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.[5] He also co-announced the 1945 World Series[6][7] on Mutual with Al Helfer, as well as the 1945 and 1946 All-Star Games, also on Mutual.

Slater gave commentary on the first television broadcast of a World Series in 1947 between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers, which the Yankees won. His co-broadcasters for that event were Bob Stanton and Bob Edge. Slater was the chief radio announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network 500 Race in 1947 when the race was covered by the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Personal life

Born William Ernest Slater, December 3, 1902, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, he married twice. His first wife was Rebecca; his second wife, Marian, who sometimes accompanied him on the Luncheon at Sardi's radio show. They moved to Larchmont, New York in 1952.[2][8]

Bill Slater died in New Rochelle, New York after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.[4][8] He was buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery.[9]

His younger brother, Tom Slater, five years his junior, was also a sports broadcaster and followed him as the host of Luncheon at Sardi's. Tom Slater's son, actor Michael Hawkins (Thomas Knight Slater) is Christian Slater's father.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Socolow, Michael J. (2016). Six Minutes in Berlin: Broadcast Spectacle and Rowing Gold at the Nazi Olympics. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252099144. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Cullum, George Washington (1930). Donaldson, William H. (ed.). Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. From Its Establishment, in 1802, to 1890. Vol. VII: 1920–1930. Association of Graduates, United States Military Academy. p. 1880. Retrieved December 29, 2022 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ a b c "Dean of Radio's 'Askit" Quizzers Got Start as Teacher at Blake". Minneapolis Tribune. July 14, 1040. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via access icon
  4. ^ a b c d "Deaths – Bill Slater" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 1, 1965. p. 68. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  5. ^ Golden Voices of Radio – Patterson, Jackson
  6. ^ "1945 World Series Game 3 – Jack Benny OTR Podcast". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015.
  7. ^ "1945 World Series Game 7 – Jack Benny OTR Podcast". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "'Bill' Slater, Broadcaster, Long Ill, Dies". The Daily Argus. Larchmont. January 26, 1965. p. 2. Retrieved December 29, 2022 – via
  9. ^ Assembly. Vol. 24–25. United States Military Academy Association of Graduates. 1965. p. 43. Retrieved December 29, 2022 – via Google Books.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 May 2024, at 06:52
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