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Behind the Mic: Morehead State radio broadcaster celebrates 25 years

By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg Email

MOREHEAD, Ky. (WYMT) - Hearing the radio call of Morehead State winning a basketball or football game is music to the ears of Eagle fans.

And Chuck Mraz is the composer.

Mraz is celebrating his 25th year as the "Voice of the Eagles."

"I really kind of thought I'd be here about four or five years and move on to something else, but I kind of liked it, so I stayed," Mraz said. "I know I probably could have made more money doing something else or working someplace bigger...but it really was never about that to begin with. When I got into this, I wanted to do something I enjoyed. I enjoy this."

Mraz, 57, moved to Morehead from Chicago in 1986. Since then he has broadcast more than 900 athletic events.

During that span, nobody has shared more air time with Mraz than his longtime color analyst, Jason Blanton, a Johnson County native.

"Once you do play-by-play for a school for so long, people expect to hear from you," said Blanton, who also calls MSU women's basketball. "When Cawood (Ledford) was doing games at the University of Kentucky, people turned it on, they heard Cawood, they knew what he was going to say. He wasn't afraid to tell you if it was a bad call. You get used to that situation and you get used to that voice. And I think people around here got used to Chuck."

Mraz was behind the microphone when MSU upset Louisville in the 2011 NCAA Tournament - a moment he calls the highlight of his career.

"Before I left to go to the bus to go to the airport to go to Denver, I told my wife, 'We're going to win that game,'" he said. "It was kind of like an electric feeling to be there that particular day. I was literally shaking because I was so full of adrenaline."

Morehead State's coach at the time was Donnie Tyndall, who developed a friendship with Mraz during his playing and coaching days as an Eagle before leaving for Southern Mississippi in 2012.

"He's a guy that's always with you through good times and bad," Tyndall said of Mraz. "I think that's probably what separates him (from other broadcasters) is the fact that he is so passionate about Morehead State. He hurts after every loss and he's exhilarated after every win."

Even though Mraz spends a good portion of his time on the sidelines or in the press box, his full-time job is news director at Morehead State Public Radio.

Mraz arrives to work at 4:30 a.m. every weekday, often putting in a full day's work before calling a game at night.

He also grooms students to become better reporters and stays in touch with most of them after they graduate.

Mraz credits his mother - a longtime teacher - for passing down the importance of instructing kids.

"Young people would come back and see her years after she had taught them in elementary school and appreciated what she had done for them," Mraz said. "So I learned a great deal from that. I learned the importance of what teaching is all about."

Just ask Mackenzie Bates, who studied under Mraz in college before launching a career that has included broadcast and print journalism.

"I walked into the radio station for the first time, met this big, tall, lanky guy and the rest is history," said Bates, who wroked at WYMT for three years as a news and sports reporter. "He was such an instrumental part of my life and my professional career. I pretty much owe it all to him."

MSU officials honored Mraz for his 25 years of service prior to Saturday's win over Jacksonville State. His family, friends and several former employees were on hand.

But Mraz is quick to dismiss the notion his career is in its twilight.

"I've never really put a deadline on how long I do anything in life," he said. "It's just one of those things where I'll know when it's time not to do it. And that's kind of the way things work for me.

"I'll keep going until I don't want to do it anymore. And I'll know that day when it comes."

A day MSU fans hope comes later rather than sooner.

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