LOS ANGELES -- Groucho Marx. Bob Hope. Jack Benny. Charley Steiner.
"It's wonderful," said Steiner, the Dodgers broadcaster who will be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame on Saturday. "And it's weird."
Steiner will join a who's who of broadcasting icons that includes the man who will introduce him, fellow New York native Larry King.
"We met in 1978, before there was an ESPN or a CNN, back when we both were radio guys," said Steiner. "He's a big baseball fan, a big Dodgers fan. He's one of the all-time great broadcasters, which is what's really neat about the Hall of Fame. It's not just sportscasters. It's Groucho Marx, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Edward R. Murrow, Paul Harvey, Larry King. Wow."
The black-tie induction banquet will be held at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. This year's other inductees are Steve Dahl and Garry Meier (Chicago), Blair Garner (Nashville), John Lanigan (Cleveland), Paul W. Smith (Detroit), Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo (Los Angeles) and Powel Crosley Jr. (Cincinnati & Sarasota).
Steiner, a four-time Emmy Award winner, just completed his ninth season as play-by-play announcer for the Dodgers. Prior to that, he spent three seasons (2002-04) on the New York Yankees' radio broadcast team. Before joining the Yankees, the New York native spent 14 years at ESPN, where, among many assignments, he anchored SportsCenter and did play-by-play for Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio.
"But it all started with the Dodgers," said Steiner. "And it all started with Vin Scully. I was 7 and I heard the voice of Vin Scully coming out of the radio in the kitchen of my family's Long Island home. From then on, all I wanted to do was be a play-by-play announcer for the Dodgers. What were the chances?"
Steiner graduated from Bradley University before there was cable television, and sports broadcasting jobs were rare.
"So I landed a job in Peoria, a Jewish kid from New York giving hog prices, along with news and sports updates. All I wanted to do was be on the air. It was my one and only career path."
He made the usual Minor League stops. Peoria, Ill.; New Haven, Conn.; Davenport, Iowa; Hartford, Conn., where he covered the New England Whalers. Steiner described Cleveland as the first turning point in his career, because it was there that his profile was elevated by legendary talk-show host Pete Franklin.
That exposure led to radio's big leagues, WOR in New York, where Steiner replaced Don Criqui as sports director, a job held previously by sports heavyweights like Marty Glickman and Ford Frick, who would become Commissioner of baseball. The owners of WOR launched a network and picked the 31-year-old Steiner to run it.
Among his hires were a former football coach, who turned out to be John Madden, plus talk-show hosts Tony Bruno and Keith Olbermann. But the headache of management was never the goal, and Steiner jumped at the job of Jets play-by-play announcer, only for his new employer to lose the Jets contract.
That led to the fledgling ESPN, where Steiner gained national exposure as SportsCenter host and boxing expert at the dawn of the pay-per-view era. When ESPN picked up national baseball broadcasts, Steiner returned to the game he loved. When ESPN lost the baseball contract, Steiner went to the Yankees before replacing Ross Porter on Dodgers broadcasts.