NeveHarms In January of 1994, Steve Kouri led a small group of civic minded citizens in seeking to persuade the IHSA to move its Boys State Basketball Finals to Peoria after it had been held in Champaign for 77 years. Few thought the goal possible, but Steve kept the focus sharp in months of quiet discussion with IHSA officials.
On May 5, 1995, the lHSA shocked folks across the state when Peoria won out over competing bids by Champaign and Bloomington.
In the years that followed, competition became fierce, but through the work of Kouri and his group of dedicated people, Peoria succeeded in putting on a tournament the likes of which became the model for states across this nation. The promise of a "March Madness Experience" was not only kept, but was improved upon year after year. No high school association has ever hosted such an event.
Kouri co-chaired the host committee for the next ten years and his group now coordinates more than 2,000 volunteers and annually raises more than $200,000 in corporate support.
Even after stepping aside and handing the reins to Cat VP Don Weston, Judge Kouri actively participates as a volunteer during the tourney, doing whatever is necessary to insure success. 2009 marks the 14th IHSA Boys Basketball Finals to be held at Peoria's Civic Center.
In addition, Steve has served on the Peoria City Council and his other activities include Bradley Chiefs Club, Easter Seals, Holy Family Parish Council, Visiting Nurses Association, Peoria Notre Dame and 0SF Community Advisory Board.
In January of 1994, Steve Kouri led a small group of civic minded citizens in seeking to persuade the IHSA to move its Boys State Basketball Finals to Peoria after it had been held in Champaign for 77 years. Few thought the goal possible, but Steve kept the focus sharp in months of quiet discussion with IHSA officials.
Before building a solid professional foundation in the Greater Peoria area that lead to his legendary career in sports broadcasting in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, Bill King actually gained his initial broadcasting experience with Armed Forces radio. He simulated live play-by-play accounts of games from information received over the wire. After WWII he began his professional broadcasting in Pekin, Illinois. Bill broadcasted high school games in Pekin and Peoria. He called his first minor league baseball game in 1948 in Peoria, at the age of 19, and went on to call Bradley University basketball and University of Nebraska football and basketball. Moving to the Bay Area in the late 1950s, King was hired by KSFO-AM as a fill-in broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants baseball games after the franchise moved from New York. A major turning point in his career occurred in 1962 when he landed the job as the play-by-play voice of the NBA’s San Francisco Warriors after the franchise moved from Philadelphia. (The team became the Golden State Warriors in 1971.) His stint with the Warriors lasted through the 1982-83 season. In 1966, King added the duties of Oakland Raiders play-by-play to his schedule, becoming one of the signature voices of the National Football League when the Raiders and the American Football League merged with the NFL in 1970. He called Raiders’ games through the 1992 season. Despite his already considerable workload for two professional teams, King was convinced to become the lead radio announcer for the Oakland A’s in 1981. He became a beloved and legendary broadcaster during his 25 years with the A’s. He was also considered quite the “character”. He was once responsible for the Warriors being assessed a technical foul after berating an NBA official. Among a very small and select group of announcers, Bill received championship rings from teams representing all three major sports. He received three Super Bowl rings (Raiders - NFL), one NBA Champion ring (Warriors), and one World Series ring (A’s – MLB). Some of his actual play-by-play calls can be heard in the movie, Moneyball, an account of the Oakland A’s season of 2002. His career sadly ended with his death in October of 2005. His partner for 13 years, Greg Papa, said about King, “Bill is without a doubt the best radio play-by-play announcer I have heard in all of sports. His energy, preparation, his thoroughness, his word choice—he is without peer.” Indeed, in 2017, the National Baseball Hall of Fame named King the 41st recipient (posthumously) of the Ford C. Frick Award, the highest honor for American baseball broadcasters. Among the many other tributes to his career are: 1) the naming of the radio booth at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, “Bill King Radio Booth” 2) the placement of a sign on the centerfield wall with King’s catchphrase, “Holy Toledo” in script font, that can be flashed on an A’s homerun or other “King worthy” play. 3) On Opening Night of the 2006 season, a video tribute was played on the coliseum’s large screen, and in lieu of the ceremonial first pitch, Bill King's chair, a baseball, and his headset were on the pitcher's mound. 4) His partner for the last 10 years of his career, Ken Korach, authored a biography about King, “Holy Toledo – Lessons from Bill King: Renaissance Man of the Mic.”