Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Voice of the Hoyas

When freshman center Roy Hibbert dunked the ball just one-tenth of a second before time expired to give Georgetown a thrilling 55-54 victory over Notre Dame, it had to remind Hoya fans of a lot of great victories from years past.

A lot has changed since the days when Georgetown was on top of the Big East year in and year out. Obviously, the players are all different. The coach, albeit with the same name, is different. The uniforms have gone through a myriad of different transformations. The arena is new.

But one thing that has remained exactly the same is the voice on the sidelines narrating the action to Hoya fans all over the country and the world who could not make it to MCI Center that day.

When Rich Chvotkin, in his 31st season broadcasting Georgetown games, yelled “Hoyas win!” over and over after the Hibbert dunk, the voice must have brought back memories of Don Reid’s (CAS ’95) tip-in to send Georgetown into the Sweet 16 in 1995 or Charles Smith’s (CAS ’89) length-of-the-court drive and lay-up in 1988 to give the Hoyas a one-point win at the Carrier Dome.

Chvotkin is one of a kind in his profession. A psychologist by training, Chvotkin has always remained a full-time doctor. Broadcasting Georgetown basketball games has been only a side job for him these last three decades.

Getting His Start

When Chvotkin began with the Hoyas in 1974, the Big East Conference did not exist. No player on the current team had been born. John Thompson II was in his third season. John Thompson III was eight years old. And the team still played all of its home games on campus in McDonough Arena.

Up until that time, Georgetown had no contract to broadcast its games on commercial radio, so Chvotkin, then working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in northwest Washington took it upon himself to do it.

“In the 1973-74 season, I went to some Georgetown games, and I saw they didn’t have any radio,” Chvotkin said. “And I said, `Well I used to do this in undergraduate school, and maybe I’d try to get back into it.’ So what I did was, I went to Fran Connors, who was then the Sports Information Director, and made a few tapes sitting up in the stands with a tape recorder. Then they gave it to Thompson, and obviously he liked it.”

But it was not that simple for Chvotkin to get himself on the air. In addition to getting Thompson’s and Georgetown’s approval, he had to go out himself and find a station to broadcast the games since Georgetown had no preexisting commercial radio deal.

“In that year, prior to the start of the season, we had to actually go out and sell it,” Chvotkin said. “So I sold the advertising, wrote the commercials and read the commercials on the air.”

WOOK in northeast Washington, D.C. was the first station to put Chvotkin on the air for Hoya games. At the time, Georgetown was still a long way from being a national basketball power. It had been 32 years since its last NCAA Tournament appearance, but under Thompson, the Hoyas were on their way up.

That first season, Derrick Jackson (GSB ’78) beat the buzzer to give Georgetown a 62-61 victory over West Virginia and its first berth in the NCAA Tournament under Thompson. The Hoyas would reach the NCAA Tournament 20 times in the next 23 seasons, and Chvotkin would be there for nearly all of them.

Balancing His Two Jobs

Chvotkin’s day job has only caused him to miss Hoya games one season in the last 30 years. Ironically, it was not his private psychology practice but his service as a doctor in the army reserves. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Chvotkin was activated and had to miss all but two games in the 1990-91 season.

Other than that, though, Chvotkin says the two careers have rarely conflicted.

“You balance it by basically knowing your schedule and you know when you have to travel,” he said. “When you get toward the NCAA or NIT time, you’re on a much shorter window, and you don’t have as much planning time, but you kind of have a mindset of when you have to travel.”

Chvotkin actually sees his two professions as compliments to each other.

“You’re dealing with emotions. You’re dealing with relationships. You’re dealing with feelings. You’re dealing with people. And that’s basically the same thing you’re dealing with in radio, only it’s a little different presentation,” he said.

Doing It Solo

Besides being a full-time psychologist, another thing that makes Chvotkin unique among his peers in radio is that for the last 19 seasons he has worked without a color commentator in the booth next to him. Chvotkin had a variety of different color commentators in the early 1980s when he alternated between broadcasting games on radio and local television. At the end of the 1986 season, however, the station manager at DC101 radio, which was carrying Hoya games at the time, decided he would rather have Chvotkin go it alone, and not just for Georgetown games. Chvotkin broadcast every game of the Big East Tournament for the station between 1982 and 1999.

But doing it by himself has never worn Chvotkin down.

“There’s plenty to say,” he said. “You never run out.”

Still Going Strong

Georgetown’s victory over Rutgers was, by Chvotkin’s count, his 935th game behind the microphone for the Hoyas. If he stays on the job, he will likely broadcast his 1,000th Hoya game sometime towards the end of the 2006-07 season, which, coincidentally, will also mark the 100th anniversary of basketball at Georgetown. Chvotkin, who will turn 60 this November, has every intention of staying on through that milestone and beyond. One reason is that he sees the Hoyas making a return to national prominence under John Thompson III.

“I think that John Thompson III brings new energy,” Chvotkin said. “I think kids will gravitate to his system. He’s a winner, and you can tell by the way the kids are playing in the current situation that the program is going to be back to where it was.”

But beyond the wins and losses, Chvotkin’s main reason for wanting to continue well into the future is that he still thoroughly enjoys the work and the people he meets on the job.

“As long as I can continue to do it, I enjoy it,” he said. “You have to have your health, you have to be able to travel and basically, they have to still want to keep you. You have to have a whole lot of luck in this. I just the enjoy the relationships, the people that you meet over the course of 30 years. You get to meet all the broadcasters, you get to meet all the different personalities and it’s enjoyable when you go to play these games that you get to continue these relationships. That’s the thing that I really enjoy, in addition to the games, of course.”

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