This is the continuing life of a life of local radio. It comes in seasons, and, in Indiana, this is the season of high school basketball.
This morning, we broadcast a ton of games around the northern half of the state. From South Bend Washington High School for the 3A Regional, we broadcast:
9am - Hanover Central vs. Culver Academies
11am - Hammond High vs. West Lafayette
The crew is six people:
Ryan Walsh - announcer
Dan Repay - color announcer
Jimmy Mullaney - lead producer
Josh Beauduy - camera
? - camera
Sonny Santana - back in the studio
We're also broadcasting from the Michigan City Regional.
10am - Chesterton vs. Penn
Noon - Munster vs. Northridge
Sam Michel - announcer
Ben Wood - color announcer
Ben Cowart - lead producer
Nick Hedrick - camera
Brian Gallas - camera
Sonny Santana - in studio
welcome you home.
Freight trains make you reflect.
Corruption is part of
your Region bones.
One thing that the three or four of you may notice is that I am not listed as one of the participants in these broadcasts. Neither is Dave Kusiak, my longtime color announcer. This is a break from tradition.
For the last 15 years, Alexis and I have owned WJOB AM 1230. In 2016, we added 104.7 FM and, for all intents and purposes, WJOB streaming video. It's been a long journey.
Throughout the journey, Dave Kusiak and I have announced Indiana high school basketball games together. Some seasons, when we had no money but for to pay the light bill, we were the only announcers.
It didn't matter how many games we announced during the season, a dozen or five dozen, we always announced the tournament together. We always announced the East Chicago sectional from the John A. Barato Center, the second largest high school gym in America. The first is in Indiana also. Go figure.
Region bones cramp
your style if
you break away. The call
of the Catcracker is
strong and won't die.
One of the things we have also done for most if not all of the 15 years is announce the Michigan City Regional. We were there when Pete Trgovich's 2007 East Chicago Central team burst through the Regional on their way to the state championship. That was the team with Etwaun Moore and Angel Garcia.
We were there a few years later when Pete Trgovich's team lost on a controversial call at the buzzer in overtime. Pete told the Times guy something to the effect of that he was tired of downstate referees being racist toward his all-black team. That ended Pete's career as a high school basketball coach. Now, he's a manny who takes care of all of his grandkids. He's 6-foot-7 and he walks around with a pouch on the front of his body with a kid in it. I'm not sure I know another guy around here who seems happier in retirement.
At Michigan City, I also got into a shoving match that was turning into a fistfight before security got involved.
At Michigan City, the broadcast tables are in the corners. I don't like this arrangement. I like to be right behind the scorers table where you can see things like the coach's huddle and the faces of the refs. When you're in the rafters announcing a game, it's not the same.
Your people die.
It hurts. It's sad.
Region bones melt into the
soil... with oil and slag.
More Region Rats.
Munster was playing in the early game, at 10am. I forget against who. But the other team came out on fire. They hit a three to open the game. I announced that. Then Munster had a turnover and another turnover, while the other team made baskets.
As the three or four of you know, I played at Munster. So the Mustangs falling behind was not sitting well. Munster was expected to win the Regional. I was stunned. Kusiak was stunned. And so were the thousands of people an hour away in the heart of the Region listening on the radio. This was before the days of TV.
While Munster was swooning, a broadcaster from Elkhart was setting up next to me for the following game. He was throwing equipment on the table, shouting to his workers, and generally making a nuisance of himself. This is not a normal thing to do. Generally, with people who respect the craft, you make yourself invisible, quiet as a church mouse, if someone is live on the air. Twice, I pulled my headset off and asked the guy to stop.
"We have to get set up."
"Your game doesn't start for two hours. Give it a break til halftime," I told him. And then I came back from a commercial live - "Welcome back everyone to Michigan City where the Munster Mustangs have dug themselves a bit of a hole...."
Mic check, mic check
Lost in the past, reaching
for the future.
Halfway through the first quarter, Munster was down 10-0 - "It's a quiet Munster crowd, folks, as the 22 and one Mustangs can't do anything right in this first quarter...."
At this time, the radio guy from Elkhart got down on his knees, pushed my chins with his arm, and crawled between Kusiak and I to an electical outlet. That was all it took. Live, on the air, I threw down my headset and the rumble started. If you were back home listening, you could hear a loud thud as my headset hit the table, loud shouting, swearing, the rustling of clothing and muscles.
A throng of security jumped in. Craig Buzea, who was then the football coach at Michigan City, came up to calm me down. Bear Falls, who was the athletic director, knew that Buzz and I knew each other from days gone by and had sent him up.
The one thing I remember most clearly, despite the handful of fat in my hand, was that Kusiak continued on with the broadcast... while trying to break up the fight. And since several guys were holding me for a couple of minutes, Kusiak had to do something he never did before. He did play-by-play.
All of this unraveled on the air. If you were in your car listening in the drive-thru at McDonald's on 41 in Highland, you heard and the screech of a table about to fall off the second level of the gymnasium.
It was classic radio and I miss it. I am sitting here writing to you about my past experiences at the Michigan City regional instead of setting up equipment. I was always the first person there, well before 8am for games that start at 10am. That's how I got to know the late Bear Falls. I'd set up all the equipment and then eat doughnuts in his office. Gotta be ready. Gotta be prepared.
You and me on
one side. You and
me, the other. Musket free,
Nuclear spree, dead are
It's 7:38am and I'm sitting at the desk in our guest bedroom. The window points toward the Borman Expressway. I can hear its gentle hum. It's been loud all night, comforting. Once in a while, an out-of-tune truck engine lifts above the rhythm and you can hear it as the driver accelerates. Goods move across the country. People are driving to Michigan City. Kusiak and I are not among them.
It's just time. I bowed out at the beginning of the tournament. We have a couple dozen young people working on the crews. They've been doing Tuesday night girls games all season long. I have not. I've been laying in bed watching these games on the IHSAA's Roku channel.
Kusiak and I could swoop in and take the best games of the year. But we have both taken a knee. For most of the week, the announcing teams were waiting to see if Kusiak was gonna take it away from Ben Wood and do the color announcing for the Munster game. Last night, Kusiak called me.
"I told those guys to go ahead and do the games without me. They're hungry. Let 'em have it."
Thanks, Kooz, for telling me what I already know - that you and I are expendable. We will watch today's games in our living rooms. Go Mustangs.