From the very beginning of the romance between microphone and Frank Messer, there was, appropriately enough, a Marine-like precision in the way his sonorous tones came over the airways. The tall North Carolinian, who served the Marine Corps from 1942-1945, including 18 months in the South pacific, first came to Virginia in 1954. That was when he was named sports director of WRNL and his chores included handling broadcasts of the Class AAA International League’s Richmond Virginians, a New York Yankees’ farm team.
At that time a fellow station staffer, Frank Soden, was mostly selling advertising. Not too long after that the pair wound up sharing numerous live sports broadcasts, making their most lasting splash on the listening audience as announcers of the Virginians’ games. Soden, of course, was selected to the Media section of the State Hall of Fame in 1998.
In joining his former sidekick in such a high place of honor, the articulate Messer’s first professional stop began in 1946 in Asheville, N.C., his hometown. After a nine-year stay in Richmond (when he was voted Virginia Sportscaster of the Year three times), he advanced to Baltimore, where he handled broadcasts of both the Orioles and the Colts. Eventually, his path led him to New York on both radio (the NBA Knicks) and television (WPIX Game of the Week) and in nationally-used radio and television commercials.
Messer was an accomplished after-dinner speaker and had directed sports clinics for Getty Oil and Pepsi-Cola and handled pre- and post-game programs for both World Series and Super Bowls, talk shows and a myriad of other broadcasting and telecasting challenges.