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Not So Simple Sports play-by-play looks simple: show up, talk about the game, leave when it’s over. But it’s not that simple. Not even close. Three regional veteran play-by-play announcers — Joe Van Goor of Learfield Sports, Scott Kooistra of Riverfront Broadcasting and John Thayer of 5-Star Communications — sat down recently to talk about the highs and lows of watching games from behind a microphone. Lefto to right: Scott Kooistra, Joe Van Goor and John Thayer About Them JT: For me it was a job opportunity. I didn’t really apply for the job, wasn’t looking at Yankton at all. When our stations (5-Star Communications) got the contract for USD (the University of South Dakota), they needed somebody to fill Joe’s job. I had some stuff online, and Jeff Fuller, the owner of the radio station, found that and reached out to me, asked if I would be interested in moving to Yankton South Dakota. And eventually I did. JDC: Who had the greatest impact on your early career? Who are thepeople you listened to to develop “your style?” JVG: The late Norm Hilson. I had thoughts about going into sportscasting as an extention of being a radio announcer. I was working at WNAX at the time, and Norm kinda pushed me into it, and it went from there. SK: I’ll go along with that. Not really broadcasting style, but the two guys I really appreciated, being from hundreds of miles away, to just introduce me to people, whether it’s in town, or state tournaments, things like that, number one would be Hod Nielsen, by far; and number two, would be Norm Hilson. Those guys were great, if you went to a state tournament or somewhere, Rapid City or Sioux Falls, where I would have no idea who was who. They both were very good to me. JT: For me, the interest developed at a young age listening to Kent Pavelka who , at the time, was the voice of the Husker football and men’s basketball, and now is just men’s basketball at Nebraska. I heard him do games all the time and, for some reason, it made me think that’s what I wanted to do. I just grew from there. JDC: What brought you to Yankton? (or, for Van Goor, “What kept you in Yankton?” JDC: Is there anybody you listen to now that inspires you? Van Goor grew up in Yankton, getting his first radio experience two years before he graduated from YHS in 1978. His college career wound through the University of South Dakota, Mount Marty College and St. Cloud State University, though he did not graduate from any of them. He first began doing play-by-play in 1984, and now serves as “The Voice of the Coyotes,” serving as the play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball for USD. Other than two months in Hot Springs and five months in St. Cloud, Minnesota, his entire career has been spent in the Yankton/Vermillion area. Kooistra grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, then graduated with a BBA and MBA in Finance from Western Michigan University. He started in the radio business in 1984, then began his first stint in Yankton in 1984. After serving as sports manager and assistant program director at WCCO in Minneapolis (2001-04) and general manager and sports director in Nebraska City (2005-08), Kooistra returned to Yankton. He currently serves as the play-by-play announcer for YHS and MMC for KYNT. Thayer grew up in Eustis, Nebraska, attending Eustis-Farnam High School. After attending Doane University, he began his radio career. He has been in the business for 9 1/2 years, the last 5 1/2 of it in Yankton. He currently serves as the voice of USD women’s basketball for Learfield Sports, as well as doing play-by-play for YHS for 5-Star Communications. JVG: What kept me in Yankton? I would say to opportunity to work. I’ve been with, basically, all three groups of stations in town, starting with KYNT in 1976, WNAX in 1982 and then-Culhane Communications (now 5-Star Communcations) in 1983. SK: What brought me to Yankton was a horrible market back in the early 80s. I had my stock broker’s license, and every one of my clients was losing money, and I was developing ulcers at 23 years old. So, I wanted to get into something I enjoyed. I had three job offers after broadcasting school: Grafton, North Dakota; Marquette, Michigan — which was close. I always enjoyed hockey — and Yankton, South Dakota, which was the furthest south and had the best golf course. Didn’t know anything about it other than Lyle Alzado was from there (Yankton College). 20vHISVOICEvJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 JT: For me, if I could ever be like Kevin Harlan or Mitch Holthus, I’d have a chance to make it in this business. Kevin Harlan currently does Monday Night Football on Westwood One. He does some TV games, too. He is absolutely the most descriptive person I’ve ever heard do a radio broadcast. If I could couple that with the energy that Mitch Holthus, the voice of the Kansas City Chiefs, brings, those two things together would get you a long ways. I really enjoy listening to those guys. I also enjoy listening to Kevin Kugler a lot, because he’s an Omaha, Nebraska, guy, who worked there for a while, was UNO’s (NebraskaOmaha) voice for a while, then got swept up by Westwood One. SK: This wouldn’t be now, but my favorite announcer of all-time would be Ernie Harwell, the voice of the Detroit Tigers. And other sports, but mostly the Tigers. I used to have my transistor radio underneath my blanket as a kid, listening to games when I should have

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