Former Kansas Athletics broadcaster Max Falkenstien, who called football and men’s basketball games for more than 60 years, died Monday afternoon, according to a Kansas Athletics press release. He was 95 years old.
Falkenstien called approximately 1,775 men’s basketball games and 850 football games during his tenure at Kansas, starting out after returning from World War II in 1946.
His first basketball broadcast was the NCAA tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, between the Jayhawks and Oklahoma A&M, now known as Oklahoma State.
“They had one of the first of the seven-footers, Bob Kurland, playing for them, and they beat Kansas,” Falkenstien told the Kansan in 2015. “The next Monday I went back to school here at KU, and my mathematics professor said, ‘We listened to the game the other night, and you made us feel like we were there.’”
Shortly after, he called Kansas football’s opener against TCU in September 1946. Falkenstien assumed the play-by-play role until September 1984 before switching to color commentator. Bob Davis assumed the role of play-by-play, forming the duo known as “Bob and Max.”
Falkenstien called his final football game in 2005, and his final men’s basketball game on March 1, 2006, which marked his 60th season of broadcasting for Kansas Athletics. Falkenstien’s No. 60 “jersey” was also retired that night, making Falkenstien the only non-player to have their number retired in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I sort of thought they might do something special, but I didn’t anticipate having my jersey hanging in the Fieldhouse,” Falkenstien said. “It was a wonderful feeling to be recognized up there with all of the great athletes who wore the KU crimson and blue as a singular honor.”
Falkenstien was later inducted into both the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame and the Lawrence High School Hall of Honor.
Along with more local accolades, Falkenstien was also recognized with the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Award in 2004 and the College Football Hall of Fame’s Chris Shenkel Award in 1996. The Sporting News also named Falkenstien, “the best college radio personality in the country” in 2001.
Before coming to the University, Falkenstien graduated from Liberty Memorial High School (now Lawrence High School) in 1942, before becoming a member of the Army Air Corps until 1946. Soon after, Falkenstien graduated from the University with a degree in math in 1948.
Falkenstien also worked at WREN radio in Lawrence, WIBW radio and television in Topeka, and as general manager of Sunflower Cable before coming to Kansas Athletics.
Max is survived by his wife Isobel, and their two children Kyle and Jane, along with three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.