Radio personality voices
By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
It’s a dichotomy of sorts.
Tim Meacham should have passed from this world years ago.
KFHC 88.1FM should have remained studio-driven.
Both broke the mold when Meacham – who had been told he had months to live with his heart problem – called the play-by-play for a live Catholic radio broadcast of the Sioux City East, Bishop Heelan Catholic High School football game on Aug. 28 at Olsen Stadium.
“Oh, baby!” Meacham uttered his signature statement as the game began. “It is time for some football!”
With more than 30 years in the radio business, Meacham was forced to step away from the microphone in 2008.
“I started in 1979 doing sports broadcasting in Fairbury, Neb.,” he explained. “From there I spent some time in Sturgis, S.D; Ottumwa, Iowa; Fort Dodge and Cedar Falls, before returning to Sioux City in 1991 and started work at KSCJ in 1992.”
A smoker for 38 years, Meacham’s health became a major issue in his life.
“After kidney cancer surgery in 2005, followed by five heart failures and chronic back pain, my doctors here in Sioux City convinced me to ‘retire,’” he said. “My last broadcast at KSCJ was in 2008.”
In 2011, a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) was surgically placed in Meacham to keep his blood pumping, because his heart was down to about five percent usage.
“At this time, I was given roughly three months to live, so the decision to have the LVAD was a no-brainer,” he said.
With time on his hands and “existing” past the predicted three months, Meacham looked for something to do.
“The subject of the sports broadcasts actually came up when I called Tom Betz (director of advancement) at Heelan in September 2013, to see if starting a brand new ‘Sports Network’ at Heelan could be considered,” he said. “One month later, I got a phone call from the Board of Directors at KFHC wanting to sit down and discuss the possibility of broadcasting the games.”
But with a strong radio background, Meacham knew more was needed than a microphone and phone line for a live remote.
“The board of directors at KFHC put in an order for brand new broadcasting equipment that will enable me to mix in with the crowd while doing the broadcast,” he said.
The biggest challenge in putting this together was to find underwriters to assist with the funding to broadcast the game, Meacham noted.
“Most of these underwriters already give to KFHC, their parish, the Catholic grade schools and Heelan, so the help we get for just the broadcasts is asking a lot from the community,” he said. “I haven’t been able to talk to a lot people about sponsoring the games, but so far, the response has been fantastic. I even will recognize individuals who help, because every nickel is very important.”
Meacham, a 1974 Heelan grad, admitted he was thrilled about resuming his passion for sports, even keeping his play-by-play diplomatic as East defeated Heelan, 31-21.
“My doctors have told me that I really have to pace myself, because I only have a certain amount of oxygen to utilize, even with the LVAD,” he said. “I love to get excited when exciting things happen during the games, so I’ll need to be a little more careful.”
The first broadcasts will be Heelan football games, but Meacham said the plan is to add other Catholic high schools, as well as other sports events.
“We’re going to get our feet wet the first year, then look to expand our coverage,” he said.
Meacham’s hope is to get others involved in doing sports play-by-play and “color.”
“Who knows?” he said. “The next ‘Al Michaels’ may be a student right now. Trent Solsma, 2013’s record-setting quarterback from Heelan, helped me with color commentary and will throughout the football season, plus we will have other guests.”
KFHC 88.1FM live broadcasts
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