For 34 years, Jim Norman (URI ’57) was the “Voice of the Rams.” I remember him vividly as I listened to games as a kid, long before the days of streaming services and social media. Radio sparked my romance with the game of basketball… and Jim’s voice was the conduit that would transport me to hostile road environments – like McGonigle Hall or WVU Coliseum – with the team.
“And the Rams win the tip, heading left to right on your radio dial.”
One of the many expressions Jim often employed which I will remember.
Long after his days as URI Sports Information Director, a role in which he served for 22 years, he continued to give back, mentoring, and serving the community in a variety of volunteer capacities.
Recently, Jim passed away at the age of 85.
I crossed paths with he and his wife Roberta (’59) occasionally and enjoyed our warm but brief exchanges. But when it came time to write this piece, I knew my account would not do Jim justice, so I called upon a handful of program folks closer to him to share their memories…
Steve McDonald – Current Voice of the Rams
Jim was a mentor to me. His kindness and caring was second to none. He will always be “The Voice of the Rams.” He was very supportive of me as he passed the play-by-play torch upon his retirement after a legendary career. He had a golden voice and a big heart.
One of my most enjoyable moments at URI came on the night of the last game played at Keaney Gymnasium, as Rhody transitioned to The Ryan Center. Jim, who called so many memorable games at Keaney Gym, joined Don Kaull and me to broadcast that final game and called the final moments from the court that was his second home.
Jim represented all that is good about URI. He will be missed but will always be remembered.
Don Kaull ‘67 – Ram Hall of Famer; Current Radio Color Commentator
I had the good fortune of starting my broadcast career under the tutelage of Jim Norman. Jim did the play-by-play and I did the color. Jim devoted many hours in preparing for a game, memorizing players names, numbers, and stats. In the mid-1980s there were no iPads or stat monitors. Jim would keep a running score along with individual and team stats. There were many times in which someone would score and, as Jim would look down to update his stats, there’d be a roar from the crowd and Jim would look up at me with this look on his face asking what happened!
After the games in those days, we would more than likely take bus rides back from the Philadelphia schools. Jim would spend the entire trip with a pencil, pad and calculator updating all the players’ stats.
He was a hard worker and he had a special love for URI as both an undergraduate student and proud member of the athletic staff. He will be missed by many.
Abu Bakr ’73 – Former Ram Great; Color Commentator
I believe Jim’s first year as SID may have coincided with the year I transferred to URI from Duke. I remember that he put together some very fine press materials and brochures. In doing so, he took the time to interview me in depth to provide a, perhaps too generous, story on me. My second year, he did the same to understand my religious conversion. Again, he was very open and wrote about my experience in very positive terms. When I returned to Rhode Island from Europe, and on the few occasions we had the opportunity to talk, he was always kind and engaging.
I didn’t get to hear his broadcasts for a while since I was playing, but I heard accounts from folks that they always tuned in because we had so few games televised. When I finally heard him years later, I was impressed with THE VOICE and his command of the airwaves. He was a good man. We should be enormously proud of the legacy he has left behind.
Kenny Green ’90 – Ram Hall of Famer
What I remember most about Mr. Norman was him being one of the first people to tell me I could play at the Division 1 level… and actually make an impact. I truly appreciated that. After I redshirted my freshman year, I came back the following year and won Rookie of the Year. His first words to me were, “See, I told you so.”
Frank Caruso ’67 – Longtime URI Athletics Supporter
Jim did a phenomenal job with little to no help. Jim sold the advertising for the programs for each and every football and basketball game… as well as the broadcasting. Jim produced a comprehensive media guide each year loaded with facts and figures and thereby added to the enjoyment of the fan base. At a time where there were no computers and little television coverage, you could always count on Jim and his wonderful play-by-play broadcast.
Thorr Bjorn – URI Director of Athletics
I’m not sure I’ve met someone with a greater love and appreciation for URI Athletics than Jim Norman. He was such a kind-hearted man with so many wonderful stories. He will be truly missed.