Paul Archinal, known to many as the children’s TV character Admiral Foghorn, served as the voice of the Raiderland band from 1986-2006.
In 1949, Paul Archinal's senior class trip took him to Washington, D.C. Paul was determined to meet President Harry Truman, who was staying at the Blair House while the White House was undergoing major renovations.
Waiting in the park across the street, Paul watched as Secret Service agents finally exited the house, monitored the area for safety and signaled for Truman to exit. Seeing his chance, Paul ran across the street eager to meet the president face to face. Instead, he quickly found himself flat on his back, looking up at Truman.
"What are you doing here, son?" Truman asked.
"I want to walk with the president," Paul replied.
"Well, get up," Truman said, and for the next 15 minutes, they walked and talked.
Those who knew Paul said stories like this were not uncommon – in fact, Truman was the first of five presidents he would meet throughout his life. He was the type of person who knew what he wanted and had the ability to befriend anyone, even heavily guarded U.S. presidents.
They are qualities that will be missed by many. Paul, the beloved and well-known radio and TV broadcaster who served as the public address voice of Texas Tech University's Goin' Band from Raiderland from 1986-2006, died on Tuesday (Feb. 16) in Amarillo. He was 90 years old.
A broadcaster through and through
Born on Oct. 25, 1930, in Lockland, Ohio, Paul knew at age 7 that he wanted to be in radio and TV. After graduating from high school, he was accepted into Ohio University to study broadcasting, but did not complete his degree as he received a draft notice after the Korean War began in 1950. As part of the United States Air Force, Paul was stationed in Texas, first in San Antonio, then at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston.
It was there, at the First Baptist Church, where he met his future wife, Swan, who was attending nursing school in Houston. After being introduced by a mutual friend, Paul asked Swan for a date.
"We went to a movie on a Saturday night," Swan said. "Sunday, we went to church and then out to eat. He came into town Monday and Tuesday, and we talked. On Wednesday, he proposed. Some people said it wouldn't last. But we celebrated our 68th anniversary in October."
Paul spent most of his professional life in radio and television. His first job in broadcasting was at WLW in Cincinnati as a radio producer and director. While he didn't have the experience needed to be on air at age 23, Swan said Paul was the youngest person at the time to direct several shows at the station.
Soon, he was offered a job in television at KMID in Swan's hometown, Midland, as the station's weatherman. He spent the next few years at stations in Harlingen and Beaumont before heading to KOSA-TV in Odessa, where he started a show that would secure his spot in the memories of countless children.
"The Admiral Foghorn Show" featured an introduction with Paul as Admiral Foghorn, followed by a cartoon and a segment where children in the audience could come up on their birthday to ring the bell on the "Good Ship High 'N Dry." The show was the longest-running children's TV show in Texas, airing from 1961-1971 in Odessa and from 1971-1976 on KSEL-TV (now KAMC-TV) in Lubbock.
In 2002, the Heritage of Odessa Foundation named Paul a Distinguished Former Odessan for his work as Admiral Foghorn.
Becoming the voice of halftime
Paul's time as Admiral Foghorn may be what many remember from their childhood, but several generations of Red Raiders also know him as one of the most recognizable members of the Goin' Band family. When Leon Harris, who served as the first "voice" of the band, retired in 1986, he recommended Paul to Keith Bearden, who was then-director of the band. Bearden said Paul was the greatest spokesperson the band ever had.
"Paul was so excited to come on board," Bearden said. "He and Swan went on all of our trips. He wore his red hat and red coat proudly as a Texas Tech fan, and he was excited about the band. He was always there to help, and he knew all the people in the press boxes wherever we went. He would just strike up a conversation and become friends."
Paul spent much of the time on the band buses regaling Bearden, other staff members and students with stories like the one about meeting President Truman.
"He was a very gentle, very happy person," Bearden said. "He always had a smile on his face and never had an unkind word toward anyone. He was so positive, a cheerleader for everyone, and that's why we all enjoyed being around him, whether it was on the bus, seeing him in the restaurants, all eating at the table together. He was just one of us, just like family, and the kids all treated Swan and him like mom and dad."
Bonding with kids – including band members who were technically young adults – was something that came easily to Paul.
"He just loved kids," Swan said, recalling not just the time with the Goin' Band, but also, raising their own seven children and, of course, Paul's time as Admiral Foghorn. "He really enjoyed being around them, and I think that's why he enjoyed being with the band so much – we were always around young people."
Band trips frequently overlapped with important dates in the Archinals lives, Bearden said, but the couple wouldn't have had it any other way. Swan said while their anniversary on Oct. 4 usually coincided with a band trip, so did many of their birthday celebrations – hers on Oct. 2 and his on Oct. 25.
"It was an amazing time," she said. "We just had so much fun being with all the band kids, and they treated us so well. On our 50th anniversary, they put cakes with nametags in every window of the buses and gave us a picture of the two of us they had framed in gold."
After Paul's time with the Goin' Band ended in 2006, the Archinals moved to Oak Creek Lake, about 50 miles southwest of Abilene. When their children requested they move to be closer to them, they returned to Lubbock in 2010.
Paul jumped right back into halftime announcing at the suggestion of Bearden, this time for the Frenship High School Tiger Band. For Scott Carter, the associate director of bands at Frenship, having Paul as the announcer was especially significant.
"He was our announcer when I was in the Goin' Band at Texas Tech," Carter said. "I remember riding with him and Swan on the bus. There were so many hours they spent with us, getting to know them and about his time as Admiral Foghorn. It was such a treat to then have him as the announcer for our students at the school where I teach."
Just as he had during his time at Texas Tech, Paul bonded with all the members of the Tiger Band.
"He was absolutely wonderful with the staff and students, always joking around and jovial," Carter said. "He had a blast being around young people and being able to represent the band and organization. The man was just a wealth of knowledge. Every time you sat down with him, he could relate to something you said, and it was always something really meaningful."
Even then, years after Paul had appeared on TV as Admiral Foghorn, people were still familiar with him and his voice. People would approach Paul at games with, "Hey! It's the Admiral!" and shake his hand. Others would email Carter after games to say they recognized Paul's voice.
"He and his voice were just such icons," Carter said. "What an honor for me to get to have him announce halftime shows where I was a participant and drum major, then again when my students were participants. I was really fortunate to be on both sides of that and to be part of the life of such a legend. We are going to miss him something fierce."
Saying goodbye to an icon
Paul retired for a second and final time after about six years with Frenship. While he later developed dementia, he never forgot the two major loves of his life: Swan and his time as an announcer. In 2020, he moved to Ussery-Roan Texas State Veterans Home in Amarillo, where Swan said they would talk often by phone and FaceTime, with Paul often speaking about his time announcing for Texas Tech and Frenship.
Paul contracted COVID-19 recently, and while he recovered, Swan said the virus had "done a number on his body." Their children joined them in Amarillo during his final days and stayed by their mother's side after his death.
"The boys are so much like their dad," she said by phone Monday evening, speaking over the sounds of laughter in the background. "They keep thinking of funny things he did and laughing."
As news of his passing spread Tuesday, hundreds of people also shared their memories of Paul: watching him on TV, appearing on his show to ring the ship bell on their birthdays, spending time with him on band trips and hearing his voice as the Goin' Band and the Tiger Band entered the turf at halftime.
Sarah McKoin, director of bands at Texas Tech, said when she met the Archinals shortly after arriving in Lubbock, she was moved by the unbridled delight, seriousness of purpose and passion that Paul took in serving the legacy of the Goin' Band, Texas Tech and all of the memories and spirit his words represented.
It was obvious, McKoin said, not only that Paul loved every single second, but also how much everyone around loved him.
"The Texas Tech band family sends their deepest respect and condolences to the Archinal family, and his legacy will forever remain in his 'foot and a half' in the tradition of the Goin' Band," McKoin said. "With his unforgettable and iconic booming voice, Paul Archinal's passionate introduction 'The Goin' Band ... from RAIDERLAND!' is etched in the memories of generations of football audiences and Goin' Band members as he welcomed the band onto the field each and every home game for 20 years.
"From the sidelines, to box lunches, to bus rides, he gave selflessly, loved unconditionally and even upon retirement from his role as announcer, I looked forward to seeing him and Swan in the press box at halftime rooting on the band and Texas Tech football."
Those times in the press box after Paul's retirement are something Bearden said he also will cherish.
"We would sit and reminisce, and he was still the most recognizable voice in the stadium," Bearden said. "He was a colleague but also a friend and a big part of all of our lives. We'll all miss him."
Paul was preceded in death by his daughter, Cheryl. He is survived by his wife; his daughter, Robin Johnson of McKinney; five sons, Don of Fate, Bill of Amarillo, Philip of Lubbock, Jason of Kingwood and Chris of Katy; 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren with a 10th due in March.