After a decorated commentary career spanning 55 years, legendary Wide World of Sports caller Ray Warren has announced he has stepped away from calling live sport.
Making the announcement on Wednesday’s 9News bulletin, the man affectionately known as “Rabs” called time on live match commentary, but he will remain an important member of the Wide World of Sports NRL production team.
Warren’s career stemmed from modest beginnings in the south-central New South Wales town of Junee, where he honed his skills as a boy before getting his start in radio in 1966 alongside Ken Sutcliffe.
Warren made his way into TV in 1974 with Channel 10 before joining Channel Nine in 1988 to call the Rugby League World Cup Final, setting out on an incredible career in rugby league commentary that led to him being titled as “The voice of rugby league” and honoured in the NRL Hall of Fame.
Warren said: “After talking with my family and calling rugby league and other sports for 55 years, I have decided my time in the commentary box is over. I will miss calling immensely but I think it’s time to move on with my 80th birthday only 12 months away.
“I really want to thank everybody so much. All my workmates at Channel Nine, Channel 10, Radio 2GB and where I got my start at Radio 2LF in Young, who each gave a youngster from Junee a chance to turn his dreams into reality. Hopefully my story will carry some inspiration into the lives of other young kids from the country.
“To the game, the NRL and the players, for giving me the privilege of calling such a great product. And finally the viewers, for allowing me to share a little time in your living rooms since the early 1970s.”
Nine chief executive officer, Mike Sneesby, said: “The great Ray Warren is synonymous with Nine and rugby league for fans, players and most of all everyone here at the Wide World of Sports.
“We are so pleased that he will remain an integral part of the team and thank him for his five decades of calling live sport.
“We look forward to his insights, memories and character in our broadcast next week for Origin I and beyond. He brought the game to life for generations of fans in their loungerooms. You are the voice of rugby league, Rabs. Thank you.”
Nine director of sport, Brent Williams, said: “From the Olympics to Melbourne Cups, the greatest NRL moments and everything in between, Ray Warren has been the voice of sport for generations of Australians. His passion and enthusiasm for his craft is infectious and positively impacts those who are lucky to work alongside him.
“Quite simply he raises others and elevates broadcasts to higher levels. While the incredible commentary chapter of his career comes to a close, we are thrilled that Rabs will continue to play an integral role in our Wide World of Sports productions, including the upcoming State of Origin series.”