Sunday, May 17, 2020

Joe Murnick: Raleigh Promoter and WRAL Ring Announcer

(Capitol Broadcasting Company Staff Photo)
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Joe Murnick was a well known promoter, businessman, and entrepreneur in central and eastern North Carolina and Virginia. Based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, Murnick promoted professional wrestling under the umbrella of Jim Crockett Promotions. His main towns were Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Wilmington in North Carolina, and  Norfolk, Hampton, and Richmond in Virginia, with dozens of smaller semi-regular and spot-show towns in between.

His home base was Raleigh, and he was also the executive producer of the wrestling programs taped at WRAL TV studios. In the 1960s and early 1970s, these programs were "Championship Wrestling" and "All-Star-Wrestling", taped simultaneously with Bob Caudle calling the action for "All-Star Wrestling" seen on stations around the territory, and Nick Pond on the call for the Raleigh-only "Championship Wrestling." Joe was frequently the co-host with Nick Pond for the Raleigh-only broadcast, and was marvelous at hyping up what happened at the last show, and what fans could look for at the next show. (For more see our page on Wrestling at WRAL-5.)

Murnick, along with his two sons Carl and Elliot, also promoted concerts and other entertainment events in the area under the banner of C&M Promotions, which stood for Crockett & Murnick Promotions. They brought a variety of acts to the area in the 1950s through early 1970s including the Rolling Stones, Andy Williams, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, and many others. But their main business was always professional wrestling, featuring the weekly cards every Tuesday night at Raleigh's famed Dorton Arena on the State Fairgrounds, which continued right up until Crockett Promotions sold to Ted Turner in 1988.

Murnick served his country in the Navy in World War II. He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) where he was the captain of the boxing team and played football as well. He was briefly a sales rep for WRAL. He died in June of 1985.

As far as fans were concerned, though, Murnick was most famous for also being the ring announcer on the WRAL shows in the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. His famous, classic, southern drawl for "one fawwwl, a 10-minute time limit" is remembered fondly by fans of that era. You can hear one of those classic ring introductions here.

My earliest memories of watching wrestling on television include those wonderful ring introductions that Joe did for several years. David Crockett also did some ring announcing at WRAL, and even Jim Crockett a time or two. Joe would eventually turn those duties over to his two sons, Carl and Elliot, but no one came close to the classic old-school delivery of the great Joe Murnick.

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Other Joe Murnick posts over at our sister-website Studio Wrestling:
Joe Murnick introduces Johnny Valentine and Bob Bruggers (1974)
Joe Murnick introduces Wahoo McDaniel and Jim Lancaster (1975)
Joe Murnick introduces Blackjack Mulligan and Big Bill Dromo (1976)

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Luminaries Attend UNC/NCSU Wrestling Meet (1979) 
Wrestling in Raleigh with Joe Murnick (1975)
Sign the Waiver (1975)
1976 WRAL Weather Prom Has Five Wrestling Connections
Video: Paul Boesch, Andre the Giant, Bob Caudle, David Crockett, Joe Murnick

Audio clips from the collection of David Chappell, who not only was smart enough to make audio recordings back in the day, but had the wisdom and foresight to hang on to them.