TERRE HAUTE —
Since arriving in Terre Haute as an Indiana State University student six years ago, Vaso Michels figured Vigo County’s hard-working high school athletic teams deserved radio coverage.
After working for ISU’s student station, he did Vigo County football and basketball for WSDM-FM 92.7 — owned by the now-defunct Crossroads Communications — in 2011-12.
Through no fault of Michels, that coverage ceased to exist for the entire 2012-13 school year as no other stations picked up the ball, so to speak.
“It was a huge void,” he told the Tribune-Star over the weekend. “There should always be a station that covers high school sports if you don’t have a professional sports team. When you have [high school sports coverage on the radio] for such a long time [and then it’s gone], that leaves a huge void. That was something that needed to be filled.”
So on Jan. 8, Michels became sports director of “The Fan” — WFNF-AM 1130 (and now with a sister station on WFNF-FM 99.5) — and he kick-started the process for offering coverage of county high school games this fall.
“In our industry, high school sports is where we’ll be able to prosper,” Michels explained. “Terre Haute had been kinda neglected. We’re going full-blast with it now.”
So far, the play-by-play specialist Michels and color sidekick Tom Jones have broadcast at least one game a week since the 2013 high school football season began in late August.
“I’ve known Tom for about two years,” Michels mentioned. “Our first live sports broadcast on this station [Internet only at the time] was the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game this year. I did it by myself, kinda testing out the equipment and knocking the cobwebs off a little bit. After the game, I was talking to [WVFCA president] Greg Barrett about who would be a good partner for doing high school games. He suggested Tom. … Tom sure knows a lot about high school football around here, so it was a perfect fit.”
Michels doubts that Jones will do basketball in the winter, so he will probably need a new partner for that.
“We’re going to do about as full of a schedule as we can do,” he said of the stations’ basketball coverage for the 2013-14 season. “We’ll have a ‘Game of the Week,’ plus maybe other games each week.”
Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications with concentration on radio, TV and film and having worked as a non-paid intern at WSCR-AM in Chicago during the summer of 2010, Michels has gained plenty of experience in the radio business in recent years. As he gets older, he’s realizing more and more what the public wants and high school sports coverage is one of those things.
“Everybody’s a fan of it,” he insisted. “Everybody’s happy that it’s back. The coaches are very happy.”
As for luring advertisers to showcase their products during games, which is how stations make money off their broadcasts, Michels said it’s going well.
“We can always take on more,” he added without hesitation. “That keeps us in business.”