BY STEVE KRAH
Indiana broadcaster Walt Ferber calls about 250 live sporting events a year.
He enjoys them all, but he especially appreciates baseball on the radio.
“It lets you use creativity,” says Ferber. “With football and basketball, you dot the i’s and cross the t’s. You get to paint a picture (with baseball).
“It’s my favorite sport because of that. You get a chance to tell a story.”
Ferber, program and sports director, on-air personality and account executive at WITZ AM/FM in Dubois County (the studio is located between Jasper and Huntingburg), is scheduled to do a little more painting as a statewide play-by-play voice at the State Finals for the third straight year on the IHSAA Champions Radio Network.
There are 29 affiliated stations across Indiana that will carry all or some of the four games (two each on Monday and Tuesday, June 17-18, beginning at 5:30 p.m.).
Ferber will be paired with analyst Bob Lovell for the first game (teams to be determined) on June 17 from Victory Field in Indianapolis. Ferber worked alongside Brian Jennings in 2018 and Rob Blackman in 2017.
“Victory Field at the State Finals is one of my favorite place to be,” says Ferber, who has made the trip to Indy often as the Jasper High School Wildcats have made nine appearances in the championship game with five state titles.
“I’ve been spoiled,” says Ferber. “Coach (Terry) Gobert does things the right way. He works very, very hard to get the best out of each of his players. He’s kind of an old school coach.
“(Players) take ownership of what they do. It’s something you learn from the time you’re born into the feeder system.”
That tradition has been reinforced on the air with his Ferber’s partner, Ray Howard. The former Jasper head coach who recently turned 80 will throw batting practice and then make his way to the press box.
“Ray brings a depth of information to the broadcast,” says Ferber. “The last nine year we’ve done this, I’ve learned a tremendous amount of baseball from him.”
This year, Ferber will work 37 high school games, 30 collegiate contests (between the University of Evansville on ESPN3 and the Dubois County Bombers with partner Roger Stuckey on WITZ) plus the Bluegrass World Series and 10 to 15 softball games.
The Bombers play in League Stadium, where the grandstand was built in 1894 and the park became famous when “A League Of Their Own” was filmed there.
“They put on a pretty good show,” says Ferber of the Bombers players and staff.
Ferber (facebook.com/wferber, twitter.com/WaltFerber) calls Jasper football, boys soccer, girls soccer, boys basketball, girls basketball and softball plus some Southridge, Northeast Dubois and Forest Park competition. He also describes Indiana State University women’s basketball.
There will be double duty at the 2019 State Finals for Ferber if Southridge beats South Vermillion to win the Jasper Semistate. He will be on the call for WITZ Saturday, June 8.
At 62, Ferber says he knows he will probably cut back his schedule as some point.
“I don’t see myself retiring altogether,” says Ferber. “I’m pretty lucky to do what I do.
“I’ve wanted to do it ever since I was 5 years old. I did whatever I could to make it happen.”
Ferber did his first work in radio at 14 and had his first play-by-play gig at 15.
He worked at WNAS and WREY in New Albany, becoming perhaps the youngest sports director in the state at the latter station in 1973. He graduated from New Albany High School in 1974 and earned a double major in Telecommunications and Marketing at Indiana University, graduating in 1978.
Ferber was at WTTS in Bloomington from 1974-79 and at WWWY in Columbus in 1979 before landing at WITZ in 1980.
Today, there are three entities and four frequencies — WITZ 104.7 FM, WQKZ 98.5 FM and Juan 99.1 FM and 990 AM (Spanish language station).
Ferber has been a Cincinnati Reds fan since boyhood.
“My favorite player when I was a kid was Pete Rose,” says Ferber. “For obvious reasons, I’m a big fan of Scott Rolen. I got a chance to broadcast all of his games at Jasper High School.”
WQKZ became a St. Louis Cardinals station when Rolen was with that team and has remained a Cards affiliate ever since. Ferber is scheduled to throw out a first pitch when the Chicago Cubs visit Busch Stadium July 31.
Ferber has been married to the former Melanie Padgett since 1980.
“On those nights I’m home, I usually watch what she wants to watch,” says Ferber, who has two sons (Nathan and Jonathon) and two grandchildren.
Awards have come Ferber’s way aplenty, including Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 2010, New Albany High School Hall of Fame in 2011 plus Associated Press Play by Play awards in 1995, 1996 and 1997, ISSA Marv Bates Indiana Sportscaster of the Year in 1996, Indiana Interscholastic Administrators Athletic Association Distinguished Service Award in 1997, Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Virgil Sweet Distinguished Service Award in 2005, Network Indiana Play by Play awards in 2007 and 2008, NI Sportscaster of the Year in 2008 and IHSAA Distinguished Service Media Award in 2011.
IHSAA STATE FINALS
Victory Field, Indianapolis
Indiana Champions Network
Monday, June 17
Radio: Game 1 (5:30 p.m.) — Walt Ferber (play-by-play); Bob Lovell (analyst). Game 2 (following) — Greg Rakestraw (play-by-play); Chris Walker (analyst).
TV: Games 1 & 2 — Mark Jaynes (play-by-play); Brian Jennings (analyst).
Tuesday, June 18
Radio: Game 3 (5:30 p.m.) — Scott McCauley (play-by-play); John Herrick (analyst). Game 4 (following) — Brian Jennings (play-by-play); Justin Keever (analyst).
TV: Games 3 & 4 — Greg Rakestraw (play-by-play); Rob Blackman (analyst).
Roger Stuckey (left) and Walt Ferber broadcast games for the Dubois County Bombers of the summer collegiate Ohio Valley Baseball League on WITZ 104.7 FM.
Walt Ferber (left) and Ray Howard are the broadcast team on Jasper (Ind.) High School baseball games on WITZ 104.7 FM. Ferber is scheduled to call the first game of the 2019 IHSAA State Finals for the IHSAA Champions Radio Network.