Thursday, February 21, 2013
- by B.B. Branton
“I have had the good fortune of broadcasting UTC basketball games from some of college basketball’s grandest arenas – Rupp Arena (Kentucky), Phog Allen Field House (Kansas), the Dean Dome and Carmichael Arena (North Carolina) and Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler) to name a few. Rumor has it that I can add Pauley Pavilion to that list as the Mocs are penciled in to travel to UCLA next season.”
Jim Reynolds, Chattanooga men’s basketball radio announcer
Known to many as "J.
R.", Jim Reynolds has been behind the microphone for 30+ years as a Chattanooga basketball and football announcer.
Tonight at McKenzie Arena, the “Voice of the Mocs” will be front and center and honored by many as he broadcasts his 1,000th college basketball game (105.1 FM) for UTC as the Mocs (9-15, 4-7) host UNC-Greensboro (7-18, 5-9) with tip off set for 7 p.m. He and his family will be recognized at halftime.
But more than just one who handles the radio broadcasts, the 57-year-old Reynolds (he turns 58 May 1) is the “Voice of the Mocs,” passionately bringing the action to the UTC fans.
J.R. loves what he does and is passionate about what he does,” said UTC head men’s coach John Shulman.
“He is professional, dependable and reliable.”
While tv actor "J.R." starred on “Dallas: for 14 years, he can’t top the longevity of Chattanooga’s "J.R.", as “The Voice of the Mocs” which has spanned more than three decades.
He’s called the highs and lows, the triumphs and disappointments of the Blue and Gold from coaches Murray, Mack, Henry and Lebo to Shulman.
Broadcasting first from Maclellan and now McKenzie, Reynolds has seen the shorts get longer and the crowds get larger and the name Chattanooga Basketball gain national respect with wins in the NCAA and NIT tournaments.
"Longevity in this business is a rarity today,” said Larry Ward who is the “Voice of the UTC Lady Mocs”.
“J.R. is one of a kind. He found a home early on for his talents and has captured the UTC fans with his style, respect and love of the sports he broadcasts for all to enjoy as much as he enjoys doing them."
Born in Chicago in the mid-1950s and raised on mama’s cookin’ and radio broadcasts of White Sox, Bears and Blackhawks contests, Reynolds intently listened and learned from some of the best - Bob Elson, Don Wells, Milo Hamilton (White Sox), Jack Brickhouse (Bears) and Joe Wilson and Lloyd Pettit (Blackhawks).
And years later J.R. had an influence on another aspiring sports announcer.
“To me who started listening to Mocs hoops on the radio in 1980, Jim Reynolds IS Mocs basketball,” said Scott McMahan, co-host of Sport Talk and the public address announcer at UTC men’s and women’s games throughout the season.
“J.R. mentored me for a week when I was in 8th grade and now I've claimed him as co-worker for 20+ years now. I salute you J.R. ... YOU are Mocs basketball!
“His level of work ethic and professionalism makes the rest of us look bad... real bad! His knowledge on all topics is vast and impressive.The people he's interviewed is a who's who list of sports names.
“All the while you won't catch him bragging or boasting about any of it.....most days! When technical issues popped back in the day he might lose his marbles and let you know what he thought about your mother. These days he's mellowed and relaxed, enjoying the ride.
With dreams of being a big leaguer at Comiskey Park wearing the White Sox uniform, JR’s youth was spent “turning two” like Nellie Fox and Ron Hansen at the nearby park or throwing some heat as did Gary Peters, Juan Pizarro and Hoyt Wilhelm.
Or on fall Sunday afternoons he would “run to pay dirt” by avoiding would-be tacklers (trash cans, stray dogs and parked cars) replaying in the neighborhood streets a Bears win earlier that day as Willie Galimore, Bill Wade, Mike Ditka and Richie Petibone led the Monsters of the Midway to a world title in 1963.
But while Bill Veeck (White Sox owner) and Papa George Halas (Bears owner) never offered a tryout for the three-sport Elmwood Park High School athlete, a couple of halls of fame have called his number.
His longevity and talents have not gone unnoticed as he is a member of the UTC and Greater Chattanooga Sports Halls of Fame.
His start in broadcasting came as a student at Illinois State ('77) as he did the play-by-play of basketball games for nearby Illinois Wesleyan followed by ISU games before his UTC career began in the fall of 1980.
“Jim Reynolds is that rare person who can be a true friend and a true professional at the same time,” said coach McCarthy who led the 1997 Mocs to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen with J.R. calling that storybook journey courtside.
“He's one of the best radio people that I've ever observed or worked with on the air.
"J.R. has worked masterfully with a varied array of administrations, coaches, teams and ups and downs. Not only is he an asset to UTC, he's an asset to the entire Chattanooga community.”
UTC interim athletics director Laura Herron, said, "Jim Reynolds is Mocs Basketball. He is a student of the game that always bring his A-game with quick wit and a positive delivery."
And his loyal followers and friends hope he brings his A-game for another 1,000 broadcasts.
Position: radio play-by-play of UTC men's basketball
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Children(6): Jennifer Lee ("Rocko"), Julie Ann, Amy Marie, Holly Lynn, Kaitlyn Rene, Erin Elizabeth (Squeaky)
contact B.B. Branton at William.firstname.lastname@example.org