Members of Summers County community remember radio icon

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HINTON, WV (WVNS) — For 37 years, Joe Blankenship served as a play-by-play radio announcer for 98.3 radio station in Hinton. Bringing the action of live high school sports to those who cannot be at the game.

For the last five years he did so with his best friend of nearly 50 years by his side, Joe Blankenship.

“We interacted well, we argued with each other, we always laughed like two married people,” said Blankenship.

Blankenship and Doug “Sonar” McBride called football games and women’s basketball games together for Summers County High School. On Feb. 23, 2021, McBride lost a long and hard fought battle with COVID-19. On March 3, 2021 the Lady Bobcats began their season, and held a moment of silence to honor the man who played just as big of a role in the games as the players.

For Blankenship, it was the first game he called since his childhood friend passed away. He told 59News it was going to be one of the hardest games he ever called.

“If we can get through tonight, that will be a first step, but Doug was special, special to a lot of people,” said Blankenship.

Over the weekend, members of the community held a vigil to honor McBride, who was known as “Sonar,” or “Sony,” by those close to him. Blankenship said for decades this was the name he went by because of the energy and positivity he brought day in and day out.

“No matter how your day is going, when you looked up and saw Doug coming through the door you knew it was going to be a better day,” said Blankenship.

Blankenship said this season means even more to him because he knows “Sony” will be listening and cheering the lady bobcats on each week.

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