SAN ANTONIO – For two NBA seasons Bill Schoening was in a most unfamiliar spot, in front of a television monitor in San Antonio, providing radio play-by-play for NBA Spurs games, including those scheduled hundreds or thousands of miles away.
It was one of the side effects of a pandemic that reshaped sports. Even for a veteran broadcaster, with so little warning there was no real way to prepare for such an abrupt change.
“It was a challenge,” Schoening said.
There was no way to fully capture the arena environment, no way to see or hear everything fans, players and even announcers experience at a live event in the moment.
Like most everyone else, Schoening knew these were unprecedented times. Limiting travel and mitigating the spread of Covid-19 was top of mind for teams, leagues and the media too.
But when the games resumed after a lengthy break in 2020, so did Schoening’s work — from un unfamiliar vantage point. Suddenly, he didn’t have one of the best seats in the house and he had to learn new skills.
“I still have a passion for calling the game. That made it easier to kind of fight through, to teach this old dog new tricks,” he said. “I learned how to lean on my engineers, my producers, the people behind the scenes.”
Schoening was the voice of Longhorns athletics when the late Andrew Ashwood, who operated a pair of Clear Channel Communications radio properties in San Antonio — WOAI AM and Ticket 760 AM — recruited him to be part of the company’s retooled sports lineup.
That led to the Spurs making a move courtside, handing off their radio play-by-play job to Schoening. He took over for Jay Howard, who had filled that role since the late 1980s.
“I’ve never looked back,” he said, now preparing for a 22nd season with the Silver and Black. “It’s been an amazing run.”
Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.