Surrounded by friends, family members and co-workers, Bob Allen signed off for the final time Thursday night as the lead sports anchor for KTRK (Channel 13), ending 38 ½ years as one of the longest-tenured, most durable personalities on Houston television.
Allen was joined by his brother, Ken Egalnick, and other family members; a best friend from college days at Stephen F. Austin State University, Robert Poland; and by colleagues Dave Ward, Gina Gaston, Tim Heller, Bob Slovak, Tim Melton, Jessica Willey and Melanie Lawson for his final sportscast, which consisted of his memories of nearly four decades at Channel 13 and highlights of Houston sports since the 1970s.
“(The) longest farewell tour in television history comes to an end tonight,” Allen said. “…It might be a worn-out saying, but I really did get to live my dream. I did what I loved to do, and I did it for a pretty long time without ever having to leave my home town.”
Allen, who joined the station in 1974 and became sports director in 1975, announced last January he would leave the station at the end of Texans season to start his own media company that he hopes will produce sports documentaries. He also hopes to book speaking engagements and work in radio, and he is working on a book with former Chronicle sports columnist and KILT (610 AM) talk show host John Lopez that will be published later this year.
The newscast closed with a series of highlights from Allen’s career, and Gaston then invited the dozen or so onlookers to join Allen on the set.
Allen waved his arm to the group and said, “It’s been so much fun. I love all of y’all,” and Ward replied, “We love you too, son. That’s a fact.”
After the newscast ended with video tributes from Texans coach Gary Kubiak, former Rockets player John Lucas, Earl Campbell, Craig Biggio and Zina Garrison, news director Dave Strickland gathered the group on the news set for a toast to Allen, and the sportscaster’s composure slipped briefly for the first time as he offered another round of thanks.
“It’s been a great day. It really has been,” Allen said. “Now I chill for a little bit and start hitting (his new ventures).”
Earlier in the evening, he did his final regular sportscast at 6 p.m. on the Manti Te’o saga at Notre Dame, followed by a brief stint on KILT (610 AM) with talk show host Barry Warner and fielded congratulatory calls from former Oilers lineman Mike Munchak, CBS Sports anchor Jim Nantz and others.
“Bob rarely talks about it, but I always admired him for his long-term involvement with the Sunshine Kids and Special Olympics, a legacy of community involvement that is unmatched in Houston sports,” Strickland, who began his TV career as a sports producer working with Allen, said in a statement from the station.
“Bob has had a truly unique 38-year run covering local sports in Houston,” said Henry Florsheim, president and general manager of the Disney-owned station. “From high school, to college, to the pros, he spoke the language of both the average hometown fan and the sports fanatic. We wish Bob well.”
Read more at the Houston Chronicle where this story was originally published.