Harry Kalas has often been imitated, but few have done the legendary broadcaster's signature voice as well and as often as Joe Conklin.

"It's amazing I hadn't thought about it since today, but Harry has been the centerpiece of my act from the beginning," Conklin said yesterday. "Your act is always based on what you are into; for me that was sports.

"Growing up since grade school, I've always imitated Philadelphia announcers. I'd always start with Harry first in my act because it would get the crowd immediately. There's just a credibility about his voice; there was something magical about it."

Conklin recalled the first time he met Kalas and how a relationship developed from there.

"He was gracious," Conklin said. "I was intimidated, afraid and anxious. But he was very receptive to my imitation of him after that. It was like we were best friends. Harry was like that with everybody. You never saw him upset."

Conklin was on his way to speak at a humor-writing class at Temple when he heard that Kalas had been taken to a Washington hospital.

"I spoke of Harry a little in my class and then found out afterwards of his passing," Conklin said. "It's a very, very sad day." *

- Bob Cooney