The Charlotte Hornets announced today that radio play-by-play announcer Steve Martin will retire at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season. Martin will conclude a career that has spanned 30 NBA seasons, including the entire history of NBA basketball in Charlotte, and 50 years overall in broadcasting.
Martin’s voice is synonymous with the Hornets. After 15 years as a broadcaster in his native Maine, he moved to Charlotte in 1982 to become sports director at WBT-AM. Five years later, with the expansion Hornets airing their games on WBT, Martin took on the role of radio play-by-play announcer, and he has called the action for Charlotte’s NBA team on either radio or television every season since then.
“Since the inaugural season tipped off in 1988, Steve Martin has brought Hornets basketball to fans around the world,” said Hornets President & COO Fred Whitfield. “Whether it comes through the radio or the television set, whether it’s a live game or a rebroadcast from 20 years ago, Charlotte fans know that familiar voice and that Steve is once again going to transport them to the Charlotte Coliseum, Spectrum Center or whichever road arena their team may be playing in. He is one of the true icons of the history of the Hornets, right up there with the teal and purple colors and the pinstriped uniforms.”
After working exclusively on radio for the first two seasons, Martin moved to the television broadcast for the 1990-91 campaign and joined the Hornets on a full-time basis as Director of Broadcast Operations. Starting with the 1992-93 season, he took on a dual role of not only calling the televised games, but also taking on the radio duties for non-televised games. He returned to a television-only schedule for the 1996-97 season, staying in that role through the original Hornets’ final season in Charlotte. Martin continued with the team in New Orleans from 2002-04, before returning to Charlotte to once again be the radio voice of the city’s expansion NBA franchise with the Bobcats in 2004-05. He spent the first three seasons as the radio play-by-play announcer before moving back to television for the 2007-08 campaign. He stayed on the television broadcast through 2014-15, then returned to the radio booth in 2015-16.
In addition to his work with the Hornets, Martin spent more than 20 years calling college football and basketball games for Jefferson-Pilot and Raycom Sports. He was the NSSA (now NSMA) Sportscaster of the Year for the state of North Carolina in 1989, 1994 and 1997. He also earned the honor in Maine in 1980 while working at Bangor’s WBAI.
“To have been in this business for 50 years and call 30 seasons worth of NBA games is a feat that I never could have anticipated as a 15-year-old in Millinocket, Maine, or even when I first did play-by-play in 1972 at WBAI,” said Martin. “I’ve had the good fortune of working with dozens of great broadcast partners, producers, directors and crew members, and hundreds of coaches and players who helped make my job easier. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of Hornets history and I want to thank all the fans who have watched or listened over the years. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.”
The Hornets will recognize Martin during halftime of the final home game of the 2017-18 season on Sunday, April 8.