A Distinctive Voice in Hispanic Sports

Apr 26, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Sportscasters Al Michaels, Bob Costas and Vin Scully are no doubt recognized wherever they go, but they’ve got nothing on Andres Cantor, the best-known soccer announcer in the Spanish-speaking world.
Mr. Cantor began his 13-year association with Univisionin 1987 by broadcasting a match at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Since leaving Univision he has worked for the competing Telemundo for the past four years. Through it all, the Argentinean-born play-by-play man has added drama to his telecasts with his signature long scoring call: “Go-o-o-o-oal!”
People often recognize him on the street. “They either yell `goooal’ or come up and say it. It’s weird,” Mr. Cantor said, “because they seem to know me and I don’t know them. But I cherish every moment. I’m grateful for the attention the viewing public gives me.”
Mr. Cantor’s long calls are also heard on matches he covers for Futbol de Primera, a company he co-founded in 1989 to provide soccer programming for radio. He does a two-hour soccer show 363 days a year on radio in addition to his TV commitments.
Mr. Cantor said he grew up listening to Argentinean radio soccer announcers extending their goal calls in his native Buenos Aires. “It’s a passionate way to call a game,” providing the action warrants dramatic emphasis, he said. The length of his call depends on a number of factors. “If it’s a long play, and I’m talking for two minutes, I may not have the breath to give a long call,” he said. “If it’s a lopsided 5-0 rout, there’s no sense in yelling my guts out. It depends on the emotion of the play, the way the play develops, the beauty of the goal and the aesthetics of the goal.”
“I’m never conscious of how long it is,” he said, other than a call Mr. Costas once timed at “26 or 28 seconds” in the U.S. Women’s Team’s semifinal match at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. That was Mr. Cantor’s first English-language broadcast for NBC.
When NBC covers the Olympics in Athens, Greece, this summer, Mr. Cantor and Jessi Losada will provide Telemundo with its first-ever Spanish-language coverage of the Games. Mr. Cantor and Alejandro Blanco will team to cover men’s and women’s soccer.
This cross-cultural coverage is, no doubt, exactly the type of thing NBC had in mind when the network acquired Telemundo for $1.98 billion in 2001. Telemundo is slated to broadcast more than 130 hours of Olympic programming during the summer games in addition to a variety of special programs showcasing Hispanic athletes in the lead-up to the Olympics.
Mr. Cantor arrived in the United States as a teenager in 1976, when his father, a gastroenterologist, received a fellowship to the University of California’s Davis campus. The family settled the next year in Los Angeles, where Mr. Cantor studied journalism at USC and began filing stories full time for Editorial Atlantida, an Argentinean publishing company.
While covering sports in 1987 he heard Univision was looking for a soccer play-by-play man. He did color commentary for two taped matches. “I thought it was a trial, but they hired me and aired the games several weeks later,” he said. When Univision moved from Laguna Niguel, Calif., to Miami in January 1991 Mr. Cantor and his wife, Liliana, went with the company. Their two children, Nicolas, 10, and Andrea, 8, grew up in Miami.
“There’s no way to be everywhere at one time, so 80 [percent] to 90 percent of the time I work off a video feed in the studio,” Mr. Cantor said. “It’s not the same experience as being there, but after 16 years, I’m used to it.”