Faculty + Staff

Josh Lewin's dream comes true as new 'Voice of the Bruins'

Josh Lewin
Katie Meyers

Josh Lewin has wanted to be the Bruins' play-by-play announcer ever since he was a kid in elementary school.

Bruin Athletics recently interviewed Josh Lewin, the new play-by-play announcer for Bruins football and men's basketball games. An ardent sports fan, Lewin is also the announcer for the San Diego Chargers and the New York Mets.


This is a job I've coveted since, well, around 1975. I grew up in a mid-sized city in Western New York (Rochester). Everyone my age was fascinated by Syracuse or Georgetown, but since I was a funny little weirdo (still am, by the way), I latched on to UCLA. Sure, there were the final embers still aglow from the John Wooden coaching era back then. And sure, Bill Walton was cool, and those powder blue and gold uniforms were elegant. But really, the reason I decided UCLA was my team 40 years ago was simply because… Bruin rhymes with Lewin.  

When I was 6 or 7 and decided I wanted to be not a fireman or an astronaut but a sportscaster someday, I pretended that I was Josh Lewin, the voice of the Bruins. If my last name was Ackerman or Schwartz I may not have pursued this vacancy. Some 2,600 miles from Westwood and 40 years later, my little knucklehead first-grade dreams have now come true. It's all very "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," if you remember your Willy Wonka. And I'm incredibly thankful to Dan Guerrero and his staff for allowing me the privilege of owning a Golden Ticket.

Why now?

Two words: "Empty nester."  Both my kids are now in college. My job with the NFL Chargers is entering Year 12, so my longstanding desire to put down roots in Southern California finally makes sense. I will reverse commute back to New York during the baseball season to keep up with my Mets job, but the other six months a year, I intend to be a fixture in the community, hoping to meet as many fans of Bruin Nation as I can and help wave the banner high. My travels around the Major Leagues and the NFL will hopefully help to promote and pollinate the UCLA product; I intend to wear my Bruin polo shirts as often as possible and get other media-types engaged in discussions of, oh, for example, Josh Rosen undoubtedly being the best quarterback in the country, just off the top of my head.

What if the Mets are in the World Series?

First of all, woot woot! Back-to-back years? Yeah, baby! I've been as transparent as possible with all three of my employers, as I am blessed to work for three "family" businesses — the Wilpons in New York, the Spanoses in San Diego and now hundreds of thousands of UCLA alumni across the world. Thankfully, these are all warm and understanding families. Otherwise this would all be quite tricky. Yes, it's conceivable the Mets may be hard at work deep into October, and if that's the case, we may need to be a little creative here in year one. But I hope the quality of my work and passion for the product will shine through during every UCLA football and basketball game I call. I can only offer my sincerest apologies in advance if my prior commitment to the Mets and a deep playoff run knocks me off a broadcast this year.

How long do you want to be with the Bruins?

Twenty-five years minimum. Fred Hessler was on the job about that long, same for Chris Roberts – two of the all-time great voices in Los Angeles sports, and there's a lot of them when you consider Chick, Vin, Bob Miller and Dick Enberg, to name just a few! In 25 years I will be turning 72, and it will be time to buy a bunch of cabana wear for cruises and whatnot. But between now and then I want to plant my flag in Westwood and make this the last new job I'll ever have. I've been fortunate to have a ton of broadcast opportunities over the years – major league baseball jobs in Chicago, Detroit, Texas and New York. Football and basketball and even hockey all over. Fox Sports national TV stuff from the network's mid-90s infancy until 2011. I feel like I've had a lot of cool adventures and worked a lot of amazing events, but now it's time to settle in and settle down and become one with a university community. I challenge anyone to show me a better college setting and college community than UCLA.

How would you describe your announcing style?

Passionate. I've found I don't do things in small measures; I take big bites of my food, so to speak. During the broadcast, the game's the thing, and I hope to paint the very best picture I can to bring every fan as close to the action as possible. But more than anything, I think you'll hear some raw emotion. As I get to know these players and coaches and fans better and better, their victories strike deeper and deeper emotional chords. Their failures cut that deeply as well. I wouldn't say I'm a "homer;" but I doubt you'll have any trouble determining who I'm hoping wins these games.

When it comes to the upcoming UCLA Football season, I've told both Matt Stevens and Wayne Cook I really want to defer to their expertise. My philosophy, especially when working with two such talented partners, is borrowed from volleyball. I'm a backline guy. I bump and set so they can spike. I've loved listening to Matt and Wayne with their other partners, and it seems like we will all get along famously. I think we're all reverent about the university and about the games themselves, but not above bringing a little irreverence to the broadcasts when appropriate. After all, any sports event is supposed to be fun for the audience. A 17-17 tie in the fourth quarter, I doubt we'll be quoting movies or busting chops. Now if it's 41-3?...that's "anything goes" time, I reckon.

How has your time in San Diego helped prepare you for UCLA Football?

The first thing I realized when I sat down to compare the Chargers and Bruins is how differently the number 16 is thought of. Ask a Bruins fan about that number and you get a huge smile and a dozen Gary Beban stories. Ask a Chargers fan, you get a scowl and a nugget about Ryan Leaf. Like how in his rookie year his passer rating was 39. Or how he screamed at reporter and proud Bruin alum Jay Posner that one time in the locker room.

It's funny, the only real Bruin of note in San Diego in all my time there was Donnie Edwards. Mike Harris passed through on his way to Minnesota, which is basically Westwood North. It's amazing—all the way back to Fred McNeil in the mid-70s, there's been this bizarre pipeline to the Vikings from UCLA. When the Chargers played them last September, there was Harris, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Jeff Locke and Kevin McDermott.

Anyway, I've been so fortunate to learn from some great offensive minds, from Norv Turner – also in Minnesota now – to Mike McCoy and the tragically-underrated Philip Rivers. John Pagano, the Chargers defensive coordinator is top flight, and Ron Rivera was a fountain of knowledge as well before he left to coach Carolina. My radio partner for 10 years was the great Hank Bauer, who knows more about special teams play than almost anyone in the world. I've tried to keep an open set of ears, and intend to keep them open as I learn now from Matt and Wayne in the booth, not to mention Jim Mora and his staff on the field.

So what excites you about the 2016 Bruin Football team?

Everything. From the highly-touted new kicker and punter to an amazing talent like Rosen, UCLA has many exciting storylines this year. I think the fact that the Bruins will have a three or even a four-headed monster in the backfield is intriguing as well. You have a potential All-American tackle in Conor McDermott, along with a deep stable of explosive, big play receivers. The incorporation of fullbacks and tight ends should make a guy like Nate Iese a true multi-dimensional force.

I love Tom Bradley's 4-3 defense, which will allow guys like Takkarist McKinley and Eli Ankou to blossom. I expect a big senior year from Vanderdoes, who I'm sure can't wait to get back into action after missing last year due to injury. The linebackers have so much talent. Everyone says Mique Juarez is going to be special and I believe he will be. I love how Kenny Young plays and how hungry Deon Hollins looks while trying to get to the quarterback. The secondary is stacked with talent. I believe that Jaleel Wadood has the potential to be one of the nation's best this year. Having a healthy Fabian Moreau, along with Randall Goforth, Marcus Rios, Adarius Pickett and Johnny Johnson…WOW! That is some kind of back wall they're building.

It's a challenging non-conference schedule with road games at Texas A&M and BYU, not to mention getting Stanford right away in conference play. That's a heck of a gauntlet they'll run in September. But once they crest that hill and build some confidence, this could be a really special season. I can't wait to dig in!

Anything else you'd like to say to Bruins fans before practices begin?

Mostly, thank you. Thank you in advance for welcoming me into your home, your car, wherever you intend to listen to the games. This is probably the plumb college play-by-play job in the entire country, and with that assignment comes great responsibility. I will do my level best to never let you down, but also, please accept my apologies in advance if and when I mess something up early on. No one's a tougher critic of me than me, so if I do make a mistake, I will own it, and promise it won't happen a second time.

Meantime, I'm looking forward to meeting as many fans and alumni as possible on game days. Please feel free to reach out via Twitter (@joshlewinstuff). And if anyone has an extra place setting during a Rose Bowl tailgate, I'm always looking for a good pre-game meal!  Seriously though, I'm hoping the movie line we all end up quoting is the one from Casablanca, right at the end, something along the lines of how "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."  Every Bruin fan I've met so far has been terrific, and I intend to repay that kindness as fully as I possibly can for many years to come.

Go Bruins!

This story was originally published by Bruin Athletics.

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