Ray Warren was Kerry Packer's favourite commentator but the late Channel Nine owner never could track him down to tell him.
At the launch of Warren's book The Voice at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday, Channel Nine chief executive David Gyngell spoke fondly of Warren – a man he described as the "greatest rugby league caller of all time" – but laughed when explaining how Warren would avoid Packer at every opportunity .
''The reason he never heard from Kerry was because he never took his calls, if Kerry came near him he would run away,'' Gyngell joked. ''Kerry said, 'I don't think I've actually spoken to this bloke. He's bloody good when he turns up though.' But Ray refused to see the man. That's how good he is. There has never been a better football caller than Ray Warren, there'll never be a better caller than Ray Warren because of his understanding of the game, his understanding of the people, understanding when they want to hear something and understanding when to shut up.''
Hundreds of sports and media personalities gathered to celebrate the launch of Warren's memoir.
Co-written with Fairfax Media journalist Andrew Webster, the book tells the story of how a kid from Junee chased his dream and became arguably Australia's finest sports broadcaster.
Phil Gould also spoke candidly about his relationship with Warren and the far-reaching effect his commentary has on rugby league and Australian sport in general.
''I have been so lucky to work with this man, to know this man, and I don't think too many people can say in their chosen field or in their occupation [that] they got the chance to work with the best of all time,'' Gould said.
Webster said he disregarded Gould's pleas of ''no, no, no, no'' to prevent him from going through the labour of writing another book, and added he was humbled to work on something with a man he grew up idolising.
''I was just a fat kid from Urunga who grew up doing Rabs' voice at the back of the bus and at uni,'' Webster said. ''If I had a dollar for every time that I've done the Brett Mullins try at a bar in Rabs' voice, I'd be a very rich man. There were some very emotional times, we had a couple of cries. Rabs did first though.''
A Ray Warren book launch wouldn't be complete without an appearance by Billy Birmingham, whose 12th Man recordings helped create a mythology around ''that voice'' which millions have tried, with varying degrees of success, to imitate over the years.
''Dead set in the fair dinkum department, this whole thing is ridiculous,'' said Warren's alter-ego brother Reg over the sound system. ''Why on earth Ray continues to deny the existence of his four brothers, it's just staggering. The simple bloody fact is there are five Warren brothers from Junee.''
After telling the story of how his real 86-year-old brother Jack thought the imitation was in actual fact a long-lost family member, Warren said the book was ''a nice story'' and one he thoroughly enjoyed crafting.
''No matter where you come from, if you've got the desire and passion and energy, don't ever give up, because believe me, dreams do come true.''
Warren's close friend and Channel Nine colleague Ken Sutcliffe was the MC at the launch and reflected on his 46-year friendship with ''Rabbits''.
''I heard this voice on the radio and I thought I was going down to a radio station where there had been a guest guy from Sydney to do a call, but it was in fact Ray Warren,'' Sutcliffe said. ''I re-evaluated my career from that particular moment and thought 'I'm not going to a be a broadcaster, this guy's too red-hot'. And it has proved so.''