When Tony Wrisinger was a youngster growing up in Lexington, Mo., he remembers the excitement of sitting in the car with his father as they listened to little league, high school or Kansas City Royals baseball on the local radio station.
“It was a part of growing up that really brings back the memories,” Wrisinger said, “and we want to provide those types of memories for high school baseball players and fans in Eastern Jackson County.”
Wrisinger is the program director for Real Country 1030 AM KCWJ, and the local station is adding high school baseball to its spring broadcast lineup.
For the past 22 years, KCWJ and Vision Sports have teamed to bring Blue Springs and Blue Springs South football to the airwaves. This past season, KCWJ and Sideliner Sports paired to bring 20 area boys and girls high school basketball games to local fans and this will be the first year to broadcast high school baseball.
The station has also broadcast every baseball, softball, basketball and football final four appearance by any area team over the past four seasons.
KCWJ is also home to the Sonic Locker Room, a weekly radio program that features students, athletes, administrators, coaches and teachers from 17 area high schools where the subject matter can range from the upcoming play or concert performance to the big game of the week or robotics.
Every public school in Eastern Jackson County – Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Independence, Oak Grove, Grain Valley and Fort Osage will have a game on the broadcast schedule.
And the excitement level is building.
“Wow! That will be really cool for baseball in the area,” Blue Springs baseball coach Tim McElligott said. “Baseball is not like football or basketball in terms of a crowd. Usually we get parents, grandparents and girlfriends to watch, so getting high school baseball on the radio will be good for our sport and hopefully it will encourage a fan of the game to come out and watch. KCWJ does an awesome job supporting high school sports. To get baseball in the schedule of broadcasting games, will be tremendous for publicizing our sport. I know our kids will be very excited.”
Truman activities director Eric Holm was happy to hear the news as well.
“KCWJ has been the gold standard for reporting and recognizing high school sports and activities,” Holm said. “We are happy to hear they are going to be involved with broadcasting games. If the baseball broadcasts are anything like the Sonic Locker Room, it will be a great enhancement to high school sports in the area.”
Added William Chrisman activities director Greg McGhee: “This is great news. It will allow our community to follow our team if they can't make it to the game. KCWJ has done a lot for our schools in the area. It highlights our kids and programs on the Sonic Locker Room and allows the community to hear what is going on in our schools.”
“It is always fun for kids to know they are playing in an event that is being broadcast on any platform,” Blue Springs South activities director Tim Michael said. “Great for those unable to be there in person – to still be able support a player by listening on the radio. KCWJ has always been a super supporter of high school athletics and we appreciate their efforts to make as many sports available for programming as possible.”
“Baseball is America’s pastime,” quipped Blue Springs football coach and activities director Kelly Donohoe. “Well, let’s say it’s America’s pastime on the radio. No one does a better job of broadcasting games than KCWJ and we’re all excited about the upcoming baseball broadcasts.”
“This is amazing,” Grain Valley baseball coach Brian Driskell adds. “To have our games on the radio will really get the kids excited. KCWJ has done so much to promote all the good things about Grain Valley and the other area high schools, and to add baseball to the lineup is really exciting for all of us at the high school.”
Rob Evans, who has swept the Missouri Broadcasters Association play-by-play awards the past two years, will be manning the microphone along with a variety of color analysts that will include former Blue Springs activities director and football coach and Examiner columnist Tim Crone.
“We want these broadcasts to be the best of the best,” Wrisinger said. “We have some great people who support KCWJ and all our broadcasts, like Sonic, Hawthorn Bank and Swim Things. “They believe in local programming and we believe in all our local high school teams.
“And in Ken and Joyce Ball, we have great ownership whom have always supported our local sports programming and the Sonic Locker Room.”
Wrisinger paused for a moment, got a bit misty eyed when he added, “Back when I played baseball for Gadt’s Lumber against Western Auto, one of my games was broadcast on the radio on KLEX. I still remember how exciting that was. Now, we’re giving all the high school players in the area the chance to share that excitement.”