BY JEREMY HOECK
A year ago, John Thayer arrived in Yankton to assume the Sports Director duties at KVHT/KVTK (5 Star Communications).
Fourteen months later, he has a Division I broadcasting gig.
Thayer, a 27-year-old from Eustis, Neb., was announced Tuesday as the new play-by-play radio voice of the University of South Dakota women’s basketball team. He will maintain his current duties with the station (including Yankton Bucks football broadcasts, as well as the USD football post-game call-in show).
Following his morning show, “On The John,” on Wednesday, Thayer took time to answer a few questions from the Press & Dakotan’s Jeremy Hoeck.
One year in Yankton and you’re already a Division I radio broadcaster. Quite a year, huh?
Yeah, for sure. I came here a year ago, I obviously had some big goals and dreams, and thought maybe something like this would be a possibility. I never thought it’d be here this quickly. Last year with the new show, the whole year was really overwhelming. To be able to surive that and now have this, I guess you’re right, it’s been quite a year.
Do you remember the first game you ever broadcast?
I was in college (at Doane), I had done plenty of broadcasting to my Playstation. The guy who was the sports director at our college station, he came running down the stairs one day and said, ‘Are you the guy who’s done this before?’ So they sent me to Hastings College, one of Doane’s rivals, for a basketball doubleheader, and I had to find a color commentator. He was a wrestler in high school, just like I was. I did the play-by-play and he did the color guy, and honestly, during any break, we pretty much spent the time talking about what we’re having for Thanksgiving. Honestly, it had to be the worst broadcast ever. I wish I still had that tape.
Do you plan to discuss holiday plans during USD broadcasts?
I would hope by now I’d be a little more prepared than I was back then. Certainly, if the food warrants a discussion, it might happen.
What was your reaction to the news Tuesday?
It was very exciting. I was humbled and excited that this opportunity was given to me. I’m grateful to a lot of people, from Travis Lee to David Herbser, for trusting me with this. As I read through the releases and Twitter posts, I kind of sat back and tried to let it soak in. I had this feeling of, all this work you put in, it’s getting you to the place you wanted to be. To think that’s happening, it’s crazy to me.
What was the first Twitter message you got Tuesday?
When USD sent out the release first announcing it, that was the first one I saw. Then I got yours.
You’re on top of it.
What’s your on-air style?
I’ve never really thought about it, but I think my goal when I do games, when you’re doing radio, you’re talking to the blind. I’ve always worked hard to be descriptive. If you have a good energy level, you keep people tuned into a radio. Most people don’t listen from start to finish; they come in and out. Good energy at the right time is always what I’ve tried to shoot for.
What are you most excited for?
Just to be a part of what Amy Williams has started with the women’s basketball program. We saw last year signs of being really good. I feel like they can build off that year and have a really good season. It could be a historic type of season, and that’s exciting to be part of. Plus, you’ll get to see different schools and different parts of the country.
First basketball game comes and you’re putting on the headset. Have you thought about what you’ll say right away?
I’ve tried to do that. But every time I think about it, something else comes to mind. Maybe as the season gets closer, I’ll think of it more. I’ve always been bad at planning, and so nothing ever goes as planned in radio. What’s going to happen is, the intro will play and I’ll hear my name by the Learfield guy, and I know it’ll be my time. I hope it’s nothing something stupid; you just have to roll with whatever happens.