Microphone maestro

Remembering a Colorado broadcast legend.

Larry Zimmer
Illustration by Blake Dinsdale

Published on Show Me Mizzou April 30, 2024
Story by Marcus Wilkins, BA ’03

It had been 33 years since Larry Zimmer earned his degree a few blocks away at the Missouri School of Journalism, and fewer since launching his professional career up Providence Road calling Hickman High School games.

But when Zimmer, BJ ’57, hunkered over the microphone on Oct. 6, 1990, at Faurot Field — now narrating Colorado Buffaloes football for KOA-Denver — it was to be his audience’s most memorable moment in Columbia.

The controversial Fifth-Down Game, when referees lost track of the downs allowing the eventual NCAA champion Buffs an extra play as time expired to defeat the Tigers 33-31, haunts many Mizzou fans to this day.

“You’re never going to have an incident like the ‘Fifth Down’ today because they would go back and review it,” Zimmer told SB Nation in 2015. “One of the great stories, and we’re still talking about it 25 years later.”

Zimmer died at age 88, Jan. 20, 2024, in Lakewood, Colorado. In addition to 486 football games with CU, he worked 536 preseason, regular-season and postseason games with the NFL’s Denver Broncos — including four Super Bowls.

“Larry was a very proud Mizzou alumnus and truly believed it is the best journalism school in the country,” says Brigitte Zimmer, his wife of 51 years. “Some of his fondest memories were of working with [Missouri broadcasting pioneer] Mahlon Aldridge at KFRU.”

Zimmer was born Nov. 13, 1935, in New Orleans. He attended Louisiana State University before transferring to Mizzou, graduating and serving two years of active duty in the U.S. Army.

Known for his keen storytelling style and the charming intimacy with which he conveyed live action, Zimmer also taught broadcasting courses at the University of Colorado.

“In truth, you are being invited into a person’s living room,” said Zimmer, describing his discipline to MIZZOU in 2009. “You’re really only talking to one person or two people in a very intimate medium.”

Zimmer’s indelible audio legacy lives on for millions of Colorado sports fans, but his voice was especially poignant for his granddaughter, Shannon Robb, who followed in his footsteps at Mizzou.

“He had such an amazing curiosity, and he was such a people person, always getting people to tell their stories,” says Robb, BA, BJ ’15, now a communications manager at the Denver Art Museum. “It’s easy to look at sports as a game, or a collection of statistics, without a story. My grandpa made every single game a story.”

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