• Bill Althaus: Radio show reaches big milestone

  • Tony Wrisinger was driving home after a recent taping of “The Sonic Locker Room Show,” a radio program that features 16 area high schools – including every school in Eastern Jackson County – when he realized the award-winning program was close to a milestone.

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  • Tony Wrisinger was driving home after a recent taping of “The Sonic Locker Room Show,” a radio program that features 16 area high schools – including every school in Eastern Jackson County – when he realized the award-winning program was close to a milestone.
    “We started the show five years ago with Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Van Horn, Fort Osage, Truman, Chrisman, Oak Grove and Grain Valley,” Wrisinger said, “and we've added the three Lee's Summit Schools, the two Raytown Schools and Raymore-Peculiar, Harrisonville and Rockhurst.
    “That's a lot of schools and a lot of programs, and I was wondering if we'd done 2,000 shows. So I sat down and started counting up the number of shows we've done, and we topped 2,000 this year and now stand somewhere near 2,200.”
    While the Sonic Locker Room originated with just sports programming, it now features every activity at every high school, ranging from speech and debate to robotics and academic bowl competition.
    The programs air from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday (www.soniclockerroom.com) during the school year, and are featured in drive time on KCWJ 1030 AM, which is also the home of Blue Springs and Blue Springs South football games.
    “I was at a gas station five years ago and a guy came up to me and said, 'We love the Blue Springs football games on the radio, but I have a son who plays basketball. Can you do something for kids who play other sports?’” Wrisinger said.
    And the Sonic Locker Room seed was planted.
    Wrisinger, who has been involved with Wildcat and Jaguar football broadcasts for 15 of the 17 years they have been on KCWJ, dropped by the station to pitch an idea to station general manager Ken Ball.
    “I wish I could take some credit for the Sonic Locker Room because it is such a great show,” Ball said, “but all the credit goes to Tony. He came into my office, told me what he was thinking about with the Sonic Locker Room and I just smiled.
    “I knew we had a winner.”
    The show has made a big impact on the area high schools and has been honored by the Missouri Broadcasters Association. Area high schools now have an audio venue much like the print venue provided by The Examiner.
    “I don't know if kids realize how good they have it with the Sonic Locker Room and the coverage they get in The Examiner,” William Chrisman activities director Dan Ogle said. “They can see their name in the newspaper and read about themselves or their classmates, have stories for a scrapbook and preserve their high school memories thanks to The Examiner.
    “With the Sonic Locker Room, young men and women and even our teachers and administrators have the chance to get on the radio and talk about their interests and goals. I know that the day after a feature story runs in The Examiner or we're on the Sonic Locker Room, everyone in the school is talking about it.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Eric Holm, the activities director at Truman High School, agrees.
    “I'll help set up the interviews and when Tony calls my office, I get to listen to the kids or coaches or teachers talk and I'm always thrilled at how informative they are and how at ease they are,” Holm said.
    “It's like they're talking to a good friend. They'll tell their friends they were on the Sonic Locker Room, like they do if they have a story in The Examiner. We really have it pretty good with those two venues, because both are so positive and help get the word out about the great kids at all the area high schools.”
    When Wrisinger isn't co-hosting the Sonic Locker Room alongside myself, he can be seen in the KCWJ studio with Tim Crone, the former coach and activities director at Blue Springs High School, who hosts “Off The Wall with Tim Crone.”
    Wrisinger also hosts “Positively Blue Springs,” a Blue Springs School District television show produced at Blue Springs South High School, and recently created two new radio programs – “Welcome to Woods Chapel” and “Absolutely Lee's Summit.”
    And he and Brian Johnston are the co-Executive Directors of the Greater Kansas City High School Football Coaches Association, which presented the 21st annual Missouri vs. Kansas All-Star Football Game Thursday night at Lee’s Summit North High School, where the Missouri squad claimed a 36-8 victory in front of more than 3,000 fans.
    “I love what I do,” Wrisinger said. “We might have the only 16 high schools in the state or the country that have their own radio shows. I know when I talk with (activities director) Mike Tarrants at Grain Valley or (activities director) Brandon Hart out at Fort Osage, those are guys who get it. They know they are part of something special in their communities.
    “All our activities directors get it. They realize they have something special, and that's why they work so hard to provide great guests for us during the school year.
    “Like the tagline of the Sonic Locker Room radio show says, 'We're always local, always informative and always positive.’”
    And those three elements have resonated throughout the metro area on the airwaves of KCWJ more than 2,200 times the past five years.
    Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at 350-6333 or bill.althaus@examiner.net. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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