Grahame McNamee: biography, career, personal life


by Graham McNemy was born on July 10, 1888, in Washington, D.C. His father John B. Mannemi was an attorney and legal adviser to the cabinet of President Grover Cleveland. Graham’s mother, Anne, was a housewife keen on singing in a church choir.

Graham’s childhood was held in St. Paul, Minnesota. From his young years, the boy dreamed of becoming an opera singer and for this purpose he studied vocal singing, singing in church choirs. In 1922 Graham gave his first concert at New York’s Aeolian Hall.

At the time, Graham was serving in jury service. But he once visited a studio on radio station WEAF (now WFAN), which was located on the way to the courtroom. And on a suddenly arisen whim, auditioned as a singer on that radio station. His voice was heard by management and was asked to say a few phrases into the microphone. As such, he successfully auditioned and was given a full-time announcer’s place in the radio broadcasting studio.


career of sports commentator

Radio broadcasts from venues of sporting events were new things for the 1920s. Typically, announcers were recruited from among writers. At the time, baseball was the most popular sport in America and journalists were necessarily present at all games to write a review about them for print newspapers.

But their radio reports were not just boring, but incredibly boring. Their most important disadvantage is the large amount of dead air, an unintended period of silence that interrupts the course of the broadcast and during which neither sound nor image is transmitted.

The second main drawback of the radio reports of those years was that they were given in the past tense, after the action on the field was completed.

In 1923, announcer McNemy was appointed to assist sports screenwriters in their broadcasts. One day, one of the sports commentators, Grantland Rice, asked McNemy to finish broadcasting the game on his own and left. McNemy, with no experience of sports commenting, simply began describing what he saw and how it was, creating the world’s first live sports broadcast. Despite not being a baseball expert, Graham managed to convey everything he could see, with a description of all the slightest details and with great enthusiasm, trying to convey the images and sounds of the match to listeners .

So appeared sports commenting in real time, when the commenter gives the most detailed comment by game or by events in real time and usually during the live broadcast (live broadcast), with historical commentary and enthusiastically in the voice.

Graham McNemy subsequently went on to often work alongside Philip Carlin in the same commenting style. Their voices were so similar that listeners could rarely distinguish between them. McNemy quickly became famous and began to be assigned to WEAF more and more responsible tasks of radio commentary on matches, including commenting on important and responsible baseball games. In 1926, he was entrusted with coverage of the 1926 World Series Baseball World Cup. Over the next decade, McNemy continued to work at WEAF and on the national NBC network until the very point when WEAF became the flagship station on the NBC network.

During his commentator career, McNemy conducted broadcasts from numerous sporting events, including the Baseball and Basketball World Championships, Boxing Championships, and Auto Racing” The Indianapolis 500.” He conducted broadcasts from nationwide political events, presidential inaugurations and from the meeting ceremony of aviator Charles Lindbergh in New York after his transatlantic flight from Paris in 1927 year. According to tradition, McNemy’s every broadcast began by saying, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! Radio audience. Says Graham McNemy.”

On October 3, 1927, McNemy was voted the sports commentator of the decade and placed on the cover of Time magazine.


McNemy’s main work was that of an announcer at sports matches. But besides her was often a guest guest on other weekly programs such as “The Rudy Valle Show” and “The Edda Wine Show.” On the latter, he was always straight and promptly parried Vin’s quips and jokes.

In 1933, McNemy starred as the narrator in the film “Krakatau”. It was an American short documentary produced by the Joe Rock Film Company. The painting was awarded an Oscar Award in 1934 for Best Short Film and for Novelty to the Story.

The film featured staggering sound qualities for cinemas of the time. In Australia and some other countries, distributors pushed for a minimum power output of 10 watts for the hardware of cinemas wanting to show the film. In the 1930s, this was considered powerful equipment and forced cinemas to buy the latest sound systems. A revised version of the film was released in 1966 and included in the Library of Congress.

The plot of the film describes the eruption of Krakatau volcano on the island in 1883, during which half of the island exploded and took off on the air, a large tsunami rose, and an air wave from the volcano has circumnavigated the globe seven times. The eruption emitted tons of dust and soot into the atmosphere, which eclipsed the sun around the world for many months.

In 1935, McNemy worked for Universal Newsreels (Universal Film Magazine) on “Universal Pictures”. These pictures were 7-10-minute newsreels that were produced twice weekly by Universal Studios between 1929 and 1967. Responsible for their release was Sam B. Jackobson, Universal’s official advertising agent. Almost all of them were shot in black and white format and narrated by Ed Herlihy.

In the same year 1935 Graham managed to work as a narrator and in the American short film “The Thrills of the Camera” (Camera Thrills), which was co-edited and produced by Charles Ford. This motion picture in 1936 won the Academy Award at the 8th Academy Ceremony as best short film and for novelty of the story. In 2012, this film was preserved in the Academy Film Archive.

In 1936, Graham McNemy worked for the Stars of the Circus Project. This project consisted of clowns and circus performers of the Ringling Barnum Brothers and Bailey Circus, who performed on a charitable basis at Bellevue Hospital and other closed hospitals in New York City, $ York, entertaining young children. That same year, he co-starred with Ed Wynn in a commercial for an experimental NBC television broadcast.

In the early 1940s, McNemy was brought in to comment on newsreels. In addition, he developed and began producing his own radio show with the title “Behind Mike’s Back” for NBC radio station. By the expression “behind Mike’s back,” radio commentators of those years understood the phrase “behind the microphone.”

“ Behind Mike’s Back” is a radio series for the Blue Network radio station hosted by Graham McNemy and covering behind-the-scenes stories in radio broadcasting. Radio programs in the show’s format were broadcast on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time from September 15, 1940 to April 19, 1942.

The program of the show included interviews with on-air personalities and announcers, musicians and other performers, with sound effects creators, producers, engineers and other technicians specialists engaged in the production of radio transmissions. Up to six stories were told in each program, the Correspondent Corner section provided answers to listeners’ questions. Musical accompaniment was provided by Ernie Watson and his orchestra.

After McNemy’s death, the program’s title was changed first to “It’s True”, then to “Nothing but the Truth”. The broadcast of the issues continued until June 7, 1942.

A similar program with the similar title “Behind Mike” was broadcast on CBS Radio throughout 1931 and 1932.

Personal life and final years

Graham McNemy was married twice. He married for the first time in 1921 to the concert and church pevice-soprano Josephine Garrett. The couple divorced in 1932.

McNemy’s second wife is Ann Lee Sims, whose wedding took place in 1934. The couple happily lived together for the rest of their lives.

On 9 May 1942, Graham McNemy died rapidly at the age of 53. The cause of death is a brain embolism that began after he was hospitalized with an infection with streptococcus. The commentator was buried at the “Calvary Mountain Cemetery” in Columbus, Ohio.


In 1925, at the World Radio Exhibition, Graham McNemy was voted America’s most popular disector and won a cup of pure gold made as a microphone. On the ballot, he received 189470 votes out of 1161659 cast.

In February 1960, McNemy was posthumously awarded a personal star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

In 1964, Graham was awarded a place in the National Sportsmen and Writers Association Hall of Fame.

In 1984, he was awarded a place in the inaugural class of the American Athletes Association Hall of Fame, which included sports broadcasting legends Red Barber, Don Dunphy, Ted Husing, and Bill Stern.

In 2011, McNemy won a place in the National Radio Hall of Fame.

In 2015, McNemy was named the recipient of the Ford C Award. Frick for 2016 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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