Patch plans to partner with the Westplex Sports Network to cover local high school sports over the next few months.
Westplex Sports Network is a website run by Mike Kromer and Rob Russell that covers local high school sports including basketball. Kromer and Russell do live play-by-play coverage which is streamed on the Westplex Sports site.
Westplex Sports Network
I almost thought of calling us two guys and a microphone (we do have more than one). That’s kind of the way I see ourselves—nothing more, nothing less. It’s not fancy, it’s won’t be ESPN. But it’s offering people a way to listen to a game if they can’t make it, or if they are just interested.
Westplex Sports will be doing play-by-play for 22 games. A complete schedule can be found at westplexsports.net.
Early Broadcast Beginnings
In one sense, I can say that I have been broadcasting since I was about 6 or 7 years old. My dad would drag me along to my older brother’s hockey games at the Brentwood Rink. The teams playing would be an NHL team that matched their colors.
For instance, my brother played for Webster Groves, who had jerseys of orange and black. They became the Philadelphia Flyers. The Affton Americans (red, white, and blue jerseys) would become the New York Rangers, and so on. In addition, the players would match up with the professional players who wore the same numbers. I would sit in the stands and do the play-by-play, complete with a pre-game show. Furthermore, when I was playing, either in a game, in the backyard, or on a street, I would be doing play-by-play and commentary.
Still to this day, I hear certain voices in my head when I am watching a game. Baseball it’s Jack Buck (well, he’s heard in many sports I watch) and hockey it’s Dan Kelley.
I was lucky enough to actually do broadcasting for a living during the 1990’s, and I am proud to say that I even won an award from the Missouri Broadcasters’ Association for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting.
Partnering with Rob Russell
I have known Rob for several years now, and we would often sit around and talk sports. When I had committed to developing Westplex Sports, he popped into my mind one night as someone who would make a great color analyst.
After all, he did play college football at Lindenwood University. When I approached him about it, he was all in from the start. During that conversation, I learned something about Rob I did not previously know—he has a degree in broadcasting, and he had been in radio also. It was a perfect marriage.
Testing the Network During Football Season
The way things have progressed have been better than what I could have imagined. When things progress this nicely, you know you are doing something right. We started out by doing four football games.
Doing those games, I had two goals in mind. The first was to knock off the rust from my broadcasting skills. It had been 13 years since I had done play-by-play. Secondly, I wanted to test out all the technical pieces, work out all the bugs.
When I left radio in 1999, I thought I was done with broadcasting forever, but it has pulled me back in. The technology has advanced to where it is too easy to not do it—as a part-time job and hobby.
We are focusing on a concentrated area of St. Charles County. That’s not to say that we won’t do other games. From a business sense, as well as from a personal sense, I want to start small, and grow from there.
In the future, we do plan on expanding our coverage. I keep telling people who want me to do more, “baby steps.” I don’t want to get in over our heads, and I want to make sure we do things right.
To that end, some have asked if we are doing video. No—for now! That is one of the things that is in the long-term plans, but I want to make sure we are doing the broadcasts correctly before we add that piece, which will be great!
A big thanks has to be added to my nephew, Zach. You can turn on the news just about every night and hear negative stories involving teenagers. Without him, Westplex Sports would not exist. This past summer, I actually priced the cost of a web site with web developers. I was quoted prices from a few hundred dollars up to $20,000. I could have done the few hundred, but I knew it had to be easier than that.
So, I started talking with my nephew. He was incredible. We would be chatting on Facebook, and I would ask if he could so a specific thing for the web site. He would go, do it, and then tell me to take a look at what he had done. Time and time again, he would blow me away.
We will have a big rivalry boys’ game between Francis Howell and Francis Howell Central on Dec. 14. The very next day, we will broadcast from the Family Arena during the GAC/Suburban Shootout. For a couple of sports geeks, it can’t get any better than this.