As a teenager in July 1998, Kevin Ingles was at the Open Championship (known more commonly stateside as the British Open), scurrying around the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport doing what he could do to help out a veteran radio broadcaster.
“My father was covering it for CBS Radio in ’98,” said Kevin, the son of Ed Ingles, a nearly 60-year veteran of New York-area radio.
“He was working with [engineer] Joel Blumberg, who would become one of my mentors. Joel would let me help set up equipment when I’d go to an event, so I just followed him around, helping out.”
This week and next, Kevin, now a veteran radio producer himself, will be “helping out” at Royal Lytham & St Annes as a technical producer for ESPN Audio for the network’s first radio — and multi-digital platform — presentation of the Open Championship.
Kevin fondly remembers that first trip to golf’s only major held outside the United States as “a two-week long family field trip” during which he “saw all the sites.”
“It wasn’t quite Griswold-esque,” he said, “but it was Ingles-esque.”
This ESPN-esque trip will be slightly different and much more business-centered for the 30-old Ingles.
“I’m responsible for our logistics — making sure we have everything we need, from credentials and parking passes, to getting all the phone lines set,” said Ingles, who has worked the past two US Opens for ESPN’s audio division. “I have to translate some of [the locals’] expressions in my head while we’re talking.
“I was talking to a woman who told me to ‘Make sure you bring your Wellies,’ and I didn’t know what she meant,” he said. “So, she sent me a picture — it’s short for Wellingtons — a brand of rain boot.
“A few days later I called and called her back and let her know, ‘I got my Wellies!’”
Kevin and his Wellies were part of ESPN’s first wave of staffers to arrive on-site and this weekend will help construct ESPN’s broadcast area. Monday, he will welcome the audio broadcast team of Doug Bell, Dennis Paulson, Bill Rosinski, Bob Wischusen and Tom Weiskopf.
Kevin, an avid golfer who plays in a Connecticut league, takes exception to those who scoff at the notion of “golf on radio.”
“It’s theater of the mind — you have to picture it,” he said. “It’s a lot of natural sound — hear the ‘twack’ of the drive, the swings, the putts, the ball go in the hole.
“And, our guys are so good at vivid description: you have to describe the greens, the traps, the shot,” he said. “You explain where the ball is going, where it lands, how it rolls to the hole. You can feel it by the sound of the crowd, the announcer’s intonation and the urgency in his voice.”
Kevin’s ear for such subtleties is certainly in his genes. Ed, 80, has a career that spans 57 years in broadcasting and has led him to Hofstra University where he is a professional-in-residence. The elder Ingles has covered the New York Jets and St. John’s University sports teams, reported on 11 Olympics, 35 Masters golf-tournaments and myriad other teams and events.
“My dad listens to a lot of the stuff we do. It’s fun to compare notes,” he said. “We both agree: The technology may change, but the content remains the same.”
Did Kevin ever think he’d become a broadcaster like Ed?
“Gosh no! I never wanted to follow in his footsteps,” he said. “He’s amazing at what he does. I knew I’d have to find my own little path.”
This year, that path has led Kevin back to an event he — and his dad — hold dear to their hearts.
ESPN Radio’s inaugural coverage of The Open Championship:
Thursday, July 19, 7 a.m. -1 p.m. ET
Friday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
The broadcasts also will be available on ESPNRadio.com and TheOpen.com and through the ESPN Radio app.