Longtime 'Voice of the Lobos' Mike Roberts dies - Albuquerque Journal

Longtime ‘Voice of the Lobos’ Mike Roberts dies

Click here for more reactions to Mike Roberts’ passing.

Mike Roberts, who provided New Mexicans with news of their Lobos for four decades, died Tuesday. He was 83.

His voice, often imitated, scarcely duplicated, crossed the KKOB-AM radio airwaves with reports of baskets and touchdowns scored by the UNM Lobos from 1966-2008.

Roberts, who was battling cancer, died in Albuquerque. He was a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, he was born on July 17, 1933, in Carthage, Mo.

His broadcasting career began in Atmore, Ala., in 1951. Along the way, he was heard over the airwaves in Key West, Fla., and Laramie, Wyo.

Roberts, who served as sports anchor for KOAT-TV and KOB-TV, also called games for the Albuquerque Dukes and Isotopes.

In his later years, he called high school games for 101.7 FM, retiring for good in 2013.

But his legacy is as “Voice of the Lobos.”

Mike Roberts, just 10 days after heart-bypass surgery, sits in the press box before the kickoff of the Lobos season opener Sept. 5, 1992. Roberts, the longtime UNM play-by-play announcer, died Tuesday at 83. (Paul Bearce/Albuquerque Journal)
Mike Roberts, just 10 days after heart-bypass surgery, sits in the press box before the kickoff of the Lobos season opener Sept. 5, 1992. Roberts, the longtime UNM play-by-play announcer, died Tuesday at 83. (Paul Bearce/Albuquerque Journal)

“When I became athletic director, he’d already been voice of the Lobos for a long time,” Rudy Davalos said. “He did so many things for us. I think the world of him. … When you thought of Lobo sports, you thought of Mike Roberts.”

Roberts was occasionally criticized for being a “homer,” Davalos said, but that was part of his charm.

“He had covered so many games, and been on the inside so much,” Davalos said. “He was more than an announcer, he was a fan. He was very talented, had a great voice. I thought he had a great connection with the people in the state of New Mexico.”

UNM honored Roberts during a 2010 basketball game in the Pit, and he received a loud ovation.

“I’ve always appreciated them and their support down through the years,” he said that night. “I probably couldn’t have lasted as long as I did without them.”

Greg Remington, former UNM sports information director, was one of Roberts’ broadcast partners for football and worked closely with him for nearly 25 years.

“It triggers so many emotions,” Remington said. “And 99 percent of them make me laugh and smile. There were so many good times that we shared in our roles covering the Lobos. Plane rides and bus rides. Good meals and bad meals. Great conversations.”

Remington said Roberts was in his element on the road.

“The coaches treated him like he was a member of the team,” Remington said. “They knew how much he was revered by the community, by the Lobo faithful.”

John Whisenant, assistant basketball coach under Norm Ellenberger said: “Mike was a good friend, good guy, who bled Lobo red. And I think he was a big part, along with Bob King, in making Lobo basketball what it became.”

Fran Fraschilla, who coached Lobo basketball from 1999-2002, got an invitation from Roberts to breakfast on his arrival.

“He gave me the address of some feed store out on the West Side of Albuquerque,” Fraschilla said. “This place had breakfast in it. And another time, it was a pharmacy. It was great food. Mike knew the holes in the wall, for sure, but what I remember about not only the uniqueness of going to eat with Mike at a feed store and a pharmacy was each time he just wanted to give me advice about being the coach of the Lobos.

“As many people know that’s a unique experience, and he understood the person who coaches that team has a challenging job. And he did everything he possibly could to make it good for me. It was part of his makeup. He was a Lobo through and through.”

Former Lobo football player Robin Cole called Roberts “a tremendous asset for Lobo football, really as far as that’s concerned for Lobo sports. He had a tremendous voice and his delivery was always super.”

Ex-Lobo basketball player and radio analyst Hunter Greene said Roberts “gave us all the feeling that we were watching the games live through his accurate play-by-play. … A huge loss for our community.”

Former UNM basketball coach Steve Alford wrote in an email: “Mr Roberts was simply iconic to all of New Mexico. I’m honored to have known him and worked with him. I always appreciated his kindness and who he was as a person. He loved the Lobos, he loved Albuquerque and he loved New Mexico. All of this passion you could hear, whether it was over the airways or in person.”

Alford was the last UNM basketball coach he worked with. Roberts was fired as the school’s play-by-play announcer in April 2008.

“I’m in shock,” Roberts said at the time. “You’ve got to feel that sometime something’s got to end, but you would like to think it would be handled differently, I guess. I don’t know.”

After the firing, former Lobo football player Aaron Givens wrote Roberts through the Journal:

“Thanks, for not only doing a good job, but for supporting the Lobos in good and bad times (1987)!! Please forgive us for forgetting that you did the best you could in your sickness and in health. On behalf of hundreds of ex-student athletes, Thank you for everything. Please forgive us for not thanking you as much as we should have.”

In 1972, Roberts took a job covering University of Washington football, but lasted less than a year because he said the wet weather depressed him.

In 1992, 10 days after undergoing double-bypass heart surgery, Roberts called UNM’s 24-7 football victory over TCU.

“If you get tired, stop,” then-athletic director Gary Ness told him.

“If we’re winning, I won’t get tired,” Roberts told him.

“Mike was the ultimate fan,” ex-Lobo basketball player George Scott said. “In his eyes, every shot we missed on the court was due to us being fouled by the opposing team. Every turnover we made was due to the referee making a bad call. Mike, the ultimate homer, is now in his final home, up above, with fellow Lobo legends coach Bob King, Stormin’ Norman and Big Mel Daniels.”

Roberts, who was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and Louis L’Amour, served in the Air Force from 1952-56, including stops in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Iraq.

Roberts was the 50th inductee and first broadcaster elected to the Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. He received a distinguished service award from the UNM Athletics Hall of Honor in 1999 and was inducted into the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Roberts’ signature sign-off was: “So long, everybody.”

Journal staff writers Geoff Grammer and Mark Smith contributed to this article.

Home » Sports » College » Men's basketball » Longtime ‘Voice of the Lobos’ Mike Roberts dies


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Election official: Paper shortage won't impact NM ballots
ABQnews Seeker
A global paper shortage has raised ... A global paper shortage has raised concerns around the nation about whether enough ballots can be printed — and obtained in time — to ...
2
Suspect sought after firing gun on ART bus
ABQnews Seeker
in an explosion of smoke and ... in an explosion of smoke and glass — fires into a glass door of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus. Security video shows the shooter ...
3
Drunken driver who hit Gallup parade-goers held until trial
ABQnews Seeker
A man charged with driving drunk ... A man charged with driving drunk without a valid license and then barreling into a parade in Gallup will remain jailed until trial. A ...
4
State eases COVID-19 reporting requirements in new health order
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's pandemic-related public health order ... New Mexico's pandemic-related public health order was extended Friday by the state's top health official, but only after being amended to remove certain reporting ...
5
APD release IDs, give updates on homicides
ABQnews Seeker
Detectives released the names of three ... Detectives released the names of three women and three men killed in the past month around Albuquerque. Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said ...
6
Arizona won't wait for feds, starts filling border wall ...
ABQnews Seeker
Arizona began moving in shipping containers ... Arizona began moving in shipping containers to close a 1,000-foot gap in the border wall near the southern Arizona farming community of Yuma on ...
7
City, county detect first West Nile-positive mosquitoes of 2022
ABQnews Seeker
Infected mosquitoes expected to be around ... Infected mosquitoes expected to be around until 'a good, hard frost'
8
Vomiting causes can be elusive
ABQnews Seeker
It’s nobody’s favorite pastime. Sadly, some ... It’s nobody’s favorite pastime. Sadly, some cats retch intermittently throughout their lives
9
Tears of joy fill Isotopes' locker room after Bernard ...
ABQnews Seeker
After more than 1,000 games and ... After more than 1,000 games and a decade in the minors, Wynton Bernard gets his Major League call up to the Colorado Rockies.