Former Portland Trail Blazers play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely Apr 10, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; Former Portland Trail Blazers play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely looks on before a game against the Utah Jazz at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Rip City” while watching a Portland Trail Blazers game, you have radio broadcaster Bill Schonely to thank for that. The original radio voice of the Blazers, Schonley has died at the age of 93.

Schonely was a veteran broadcaster, having covered LSU football and basketball, Washington Huskies football, the short-lived Seattle Pilots, and many other sports when he was approached by Trail Blazers co-founder Harry Glickman in 1970 to become their radio play-by-play announcer. He would go on to call 2,522 Blazers radio and TV broadcasts through 1998, having also become the team’s television play-by-play voice between 1992 and 1994.

It was during Portland’s inaugural season when Schonely shouted “Rip City, all right!” after Jim Barnett made a long shot during a comeback against the Los Angeles Lakers. While the phrase seemed to bewilder those around him, it stuck.

“It took a little while for that phrase to catch on,” Schonely said of “Rip City” in April 2022. “I had no idea that all of this was going to happen, but it did and wherever you go … it’s humbling to me, but it’s ‘Rip City.’”

By the time Portland made it to the 1977 NBA Finals, “Rip City” was the rallying cry of the franchise. Nowadays, you’ll see “Rip City” on one of Portland’s jerseys, the only time that their uniform hasn’t said either “Portland” or “Blazers.”

The deep-voiced announcer also had plenty of other memorable catchphrases, such as “bingo-bango-bongo,” “crossing the cyclops,” and “lickety-brindle-up-the-middle,” to say nothing of “You’ve GOT … to … make … your … free throws.”

After giving up announcing in 1998, Schonely returned to the franchise in 2003 as an ambassador, hosting pre-game segments and making appearances at games and community events. It wasn’t uncommon to see him talking with fans at “Schonely’s Place,” a bar named for him in the arena concourse. He retired from that role in 2022.

Plenty of tributes rolled in for the “Rip City” originator following the news of his passing.

[Oregon Live]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to