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Legendary Portland Trail Blazers announcer Bill Schonely remembered from 1999 KLCC interview

Schonely making an appearance on April 10, 2022 when the Trail Blazers faced the Utah Jazz.
Bruce Ely
Photo used with permission from Bruce Ely, bruceely.com
Schonely making an appearance on April 10, 2022 when the Trail Blazers faced the Utah Jazz.

Oregon sports fans are mourning the death of Bill Schonely, long-time announcer for the Portland Trail Blazers.

He died Saturday at the age of 93. Known as “The Schonz”, he called games for the NBA team for nearly three decades, which included the Trail Blazer’s big championship win in 1977.

Schonely was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. Appearing on KLCC’s Northwest Passage on July 12 of that year, Schonely was asked by host Claude Offenbacher how he maintained his enthusiasm.

“I treated each and every game as a story,” replied Schonely. “You had the pregame show, which was the preamble. You had the game which was the story. And then you sorta wrapped it up, and every game had a different story, a different twist.

“I miss – to be honest with you – the daily grind if you will, of doing the games, because that’s what I do, and love to do.”

Schonely’s sign-off was distinctive to all sports fans.

“Wherever you may be: Bill Schonely, goodnight, eevverrybodyy!”

WEB EXTRA: Schonely's guest appearance on KLCC's Northwest Passage program

Claude Offenbacher, with cassette tape.
Brian Bull
Former KLCC reporter and host Claude Offenbacher, with his cassette recording of Bill Schonely from a 1999 appearance on KLCC's Northwest Passage program.

For nearly three decades, Bill Schonely was the “Mayor of Rip City”, announcing games for the Portland Trail Blazers. His final broadcast for the NBA team was in 1998, but he remained an ambassador and even had a desk at their Portland office.

Schonely died early Saturday morning at the age of 93. He talked about his career and love for sports on KLCC’s Northwest Passage in July 1999. Program host Claude Offenbacher began by asking Schonely how it felt to be inducted into that year’s Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, an honor usually reserved for athletes.


Special thanks to former KLCC reporter Claude Offenbacher for providing the archival recording of Schonely.

©1999, 2023 KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
Claude Offenbacher was a reporter and host at KLCC from 1999-2012. He currently volunteers as front desk support and PSA writer.