Here’s a story.
In November 1961, Tom Larscheid, an All-American running back from Utah State University stepped off a plane in Toronto introduced to the media as the BC Lions’ newest fleet-footed gridiron savior. The first man behind the microphone to greet him was none other than CKWX’s Jim Robson.
Remarkable how certain life threads become woven together later on, isn’t it?
Sixteen years later that same American college football player and cub reporter would begin working side-by-side for nearly two decades as the radio and television voices of the Vancouver Canucks, later considered by some the best duo in the business. Larscheid would stay on another fifteen years after Robson’s departure further honing his craft and enlarging on the enthusiasm and personality the radio signals could barely contain.
The man local media initially scorned as an American who knew nothing about hockey had not just survived, but thrived in this cutthroat media jungle in that time. At the final curtain call of his thirty-three-year career—highlighted by a prolonged Rogers Arena standing ovation on opening night of the Canucks’ 2010-11 season—Larscheid found himself highly respected, wildly popular, and a straight-shooting, opinionated expert on the frozen game in the country and province he now called home.
As Larscheid himself would gleefully quip if describing his own amazing career arc over the airwaves: “Remarkable. Don’tcha just love it?!”
Born in Milwaukee and raised in California, Larscheid first fell in love with baseball, idolizing the New York Yankees, particularly pitcher Whitey Ford. At Pleasant Hill High School east of San Francisco, Larscheid lettered in four sports, yet only began playing football as a junior. After a short stint at junior college, he earned a football scholarship to Utah State and rewrote the university’s record book. In 1960 Larscheid was the NCAA’s second leading rusher, darting for 1044 yards at 8.4 yards per carry.
Signed by the BC Lions to play beside Willie Fleming, Larscheid played two promising CFL seasons scoring an impressive nine touchdowns in his rookie season before serious knee injuries ended his career in 1963. Trying his hand at radio advertising and the stock market and finding neither to his liking, he discovered his calling in 1969 while doing radio colour commentary on CHQM beside Brad Keene during Lions games. He nailed down the position full-time at CKNW in 1975 and stayed twenty-five years working beside Jim Cox and J. Paul McConnell for legendary Lions victories in the 1985 and 1994 Grey Cups. He relinquished his Lions duties in 2000 to focus on hockey.
In 1977, Larscheid added Canucks commentary to his resume joining the legendary Robson. Over the next three decades Larscheid called the good and bad as he saw it, giving British Columbians honest, one-of-a-kind opinions on their beloved hockey team. His trademark staccato laugh and energized enthusiasm resonated through the airwaves making many of his unrehearsed one-liners water cooler chatter for weeks. With Robson, Larscheid broadcast two Canucks trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982 and 1994 and later worked beside Jim Hughson and John Shorthouse, forming with the latter arguably the best on-air chemistry of any broadcast duo in BC history.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.