Better known by his fans as Bob Chase, Robert Wallenstein is a titan in the world of sports broadcasting. The 90 year-old spends many of his winter nights calling games for the Ft. Wayne Komets of the East Coast Hockey League, and has done so for the past 63 years. His tenure as the voice of the Komets is the second longest in professional sports history, trailing only Dodger legend Vin Scully.
Wallenstein began his broadcasting career with WDMJ-AM in Marquette. In 1950, while attending NMU, he married Muriel (Murph) Chase and the couple celebrated their 65th anniversary on April 6th, 2015. After graduating from NMU in 1953, Wallenstein accepted a job with WOWO-AM to be a staff announcer. The station manager insisted his name was too long for broadcasting, so, while on the air, Robert Wallenstein took Muriel’s maiden name, and the legend of Bob Chase began.
Four months after his hire, Wallenstein was promoted to sports director of WOWO-AM. During his tenure, he called Big Ten football and basketball games, the Indianapolis 500 and a plethora of high school sporting events, along with his regular Komets announcing. He was also the first radio DJ to be aired on the Westinghouse System at WOWO-AM, a revolutionary radio format for the time that introduced DJ’s to the airwaves in an attempt to boost the medium’s popularity during the popularization of the television. In 1954, Wallenstein had the call for the Indiana high school state basketball championships in which the Milan Indians, a high school of only 162 students, defeated the heavily favored Muncie Central Bearcats. Milan’s victory was the inspiration for the 1986 film Hoosiers.
Over the course of his tenure, Wallenstein gradually took on more responsibilities with WOWO-AM, including time as the station’s Public Service Director, Assistant Programs Director and Sales and Marketing Director.Though he retired from his full-time position in 2009, Wallenstein continues to call Komets games. He is a member of the Indiana Sportswriters and Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame and Indiana Co-celebrity of the year alongside Indiana University’s Men’s Basketball Coach Tom Crean. In 2012, he was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States—one of the most prestigious awards in professional sports.