Watching court side: Mike Kennedy’s 40 years on WSU radio brings a lifetime of experience

Grant Cohen

Entering his 40th year as the play-by-play broadcaster for Wichita State, Mike Kennedy has called some remarkable games.

His favorites are the 1989 College World Series and the win over Ohio State that resulted in men’s basketball Final Four appearance in 2013.

A 1971 graduate of Wichita State, Kennedy started out his broadcasting career by calling athletic games as a student for KMUW Wichita Public Radio. He joined the Shocker broadcast team in 1976 while working for KAKE TV-Radio.

“My focus coming out of college was to maybe do Major League Baseball,” Kennedy said. “Wichita State was kind of a secondary role, although [the job] was in the back of my mind.”

In 1980, Kennedy became the full-time voice for the Shockers for KAKZ radio. While he stopped broadcasting football for WSU when the program was discontinued in 1987, Kennedy continued to be the play-by-play broadcaster for baseball, men’s basketball and volleyball.

Kennedy became the “Voice of the Shockers” after his play call for Greg Brummett’s final pitch in the Shockers’ victory over Texas in the 1989 College World Series and Mike Jones’ “shot” in the 1981 Battle of New Orleans over Kansas.

He recently received the 2014 Kansas Sportscaster of the Year award.

Thirty-six years ago, Kennedy found a partner to go alongside him for men’s basketball games.

When Kennedy had invited former WSU football player, Dave Dahl, to a men’s basketball scrimmage, the two called the game with a tape recorder.

The chemistry between the two fit so well that Kennedy made Dahl his color commentator for home basketball games. Kennedy would later add Bob Hull for away basketball games and Shane Dennis as a color commentator for baseball games.

“It has been great fun, and an honor to broadcast alongside Mike for these past 35 years,” Dahl said. “He is the consummate professional. Mike is extremely intelligent and has a photographic memory.”

The 1995 Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Fame inductee had many offers from professional organizations to become their play-by-play announcer, including an offer from the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Kennedy politely declined those callings because of his job with the Shockers and how the community treated him.

“I reached a point in my life and my career where you have to balance things,” Kennedy said. “[Calling professional sports] requires a lot of travel and grind. The more games I’ve been around, the more I have fallen in love with this job. You develop so many great relationships.”

“He makes our job in media relations a lot easier,” said Larry Rankin, assistant athletic director. “He’s always prepared and his description of the game is the best I’ve ever heard. Shocker fans love him.”

Dahl said broadcasters appreciate what Kennedy brings to the table and the knowledge he gives to the listeners at home.

“No one can describe a sporting event like Mike does,” Dahl said. “In my opinion, which is shared by many people more knowledgeable than I am, Mike is absolutely the best broadcaster in college sports.”