Jim Leahey, “The Voice” of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Athletics for more than 40 years, passed away on January 30, 2023, at the age of 80.
Leahey, who was inducted into the UH Sports Circle of Honor in 2016, will be remembered for broadcasting thousands of UH contests in football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, soccer, swimming and water polo on both radio and television.
The 1970 UH Mānoa graduate became “The TV Voice” of Rainbow Warrior and Rainbow Wahine teams in 1984, working for KGMB, and later KFVE and OC Sports until his retirement in 2018. He concluded his broadcasting career where it started—calling Rainbow baseball games for KKEA.
His family issued a statement:
“Today we lost the patriarch of our family. A man known by his supreme talents for storytelling, an unrelenting passion for Hawaiʻi and the teams and athletes that represent it, and a lifelong love for the craft of sports broadcasting. Jim Leahey was also a loyal and loving husband, father and grandfather who placed his family and his faith above all. He took tremendous pride in supplying the narration for some of the University of Hawaiʻi’s greatest athletic achievements, and cherished seeing the community come together, united, to root for the home team. We thank everyone for their well wishes and support at this mournful time. As our dad would always say to close his broadcasts, malama pono kekahi i kekahi.”
Getting an early start
At the age of 15, Leahey made his broadcast debut after his father, Chuck, came down with a lung infection prior to the broadcast of the all-service boxing card from Conroy Bowl at Schofield Barracks. He began his decades-long involvement with UH as the PA announcer for the inaugural Rainbow Classic in 1964. He often joined Chuck in the radio booth as a color analyst for KGU. He took over play-by-play duties in 1973, his first football game being a Hawaiʻi win over Fresno State.
In 1979, he joined his father at KITV where he became the director of sports programming. He later moved to KGMB, where he replaced Joe Moore as sports director for 15 years. From there, he went to KFVE and then to OC Sports. He was a 19-time recipient of Hawaiʻi Sportscaster of the Year.
Leahey served in the U.S. Navy before returning to Hawaiʻi, where he earned his master’s degree at UH and taught for 10 years at Campbell High School.
Statement from UH Mānoa Athletics:
“We’re deeply saddened by the passing of Jim Leahey, who was the voice of University of Hawaiʻi sports for more than four decades. Jim was there for our biggest moments. His iconic and colorful calls have been stamped into our collective memories. Jim was eloquent, knowledgeable, and more than anything, was a fierce supporter of this state and its great culture and sports teams. A giant in the industry, Jim took the broadcasting torch from his father Chuck and has since passed it on to his son Kanoa. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Leahey ʻohana during this difficult time.”
UH alum, former football coach and current Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi called Rainbow Warrior football games on television with Leahey.
“In a business where champions are revered, Jim Leahey was a champion, and his legacy and many contributions to Hawaiʻi’s sports will never be forgotten!” he wrote in a post online.