Miners football broadcaster begins 20th season calling games on KPCW
21 seasons ago, Pete Gillwald agreed to fill in on the radio as a color commentator for a couple of football games. He didn’t have any experience but hoped 40 years of watching football had prepared him, and he's been calling games ever since.
The following year, he took on a full-time role and began a routine of being on air each Friday night of football season on KPCW. Besides Parkites, he’s heard from listeners as far away as Alaska, New York and even Italy who tuned into his broadcasts.
“You just call it as it happens,” Gillwald says of his approach. “People that are listening can't see the game, so the key is to explain what's going on, how they're lined up, who goes in motion, and try to paint that picture of what's taking place. I can pretty much focus on the individual players and what are they doing out there.”
Before Gillwald, Craig Elliott had the play-by-play duties. Now, the crew features Gillwald in the driver’s seat with Scott Chester and Matt Strader accompanying him on air.
They use afternoons before games to prepare. That involves compiling stats, brushing up on the previous week’s games or historical matchups, getting familiar with opposing teams’ lineups and keeping track of other games happening in the area.
Over the years, the production has evolved. Better equipment has been especially helpful when traveling to other high schools, where they may not even have a booth to set up.
Gillwald credits KPCW volunteer and network producer Roger Crawford for upgrading the setup from a cell phone plug-in converter to online streaming equipment that allows them to control volume levels while they’re live.
“We knew where every Radio Shack in Utah was,” Gillwald says. “Invariably, there was a patch cord or something we needed to find that fit our equipment [to be able] to broadcast. Roger’s really done a great job of bumping up our equipment and making us sound pretty good on the radio.”
Gillwald’s followed the Miners to high schools including Ogden, Manti, even Idaho. He says some of the most memorable nights have been playoff games at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Another was at Manti High School. He and Elliott set up on the bleachers, unknowingly right behind the Manti head coach’s wife, and enjoyed calling several Park City touchdowns while Manti struggled. The home crowd -- and one administrator in particular -- evidently took exception.
“He tells us we have to move in the middle of the broadcast,” Gillwald recalls. “We're like, ‘We're not moving,’ and Craig said something like, ‘We're being heckled by a fan.’ And the guy goes, ‘I'm not a fan. I'm the principal, and you need to move now.’”
Gillwald says although he doesn’t love giving up months’ worth of Friday nights each fall, and he says his wife doesn’t look forward to that either, he’s in it to play a role in the community.
“I think it's just that sense of community that brings everybody together, and Park City Miner football is a big part of that, and I just like being in the middle of that. I like bringing it to the community, and I think that's the overriding theme of why I do this,” he says.
He also says he doesn’t plan to quit anytime soon.
The Park City High School Miners face the Green Canyon Wolves Friday. Tune in to KPCW at 91.7 or online at kpcw.org at 7 p.m. to catch the action. Other games the rest of this season also happen at 7 p.m. on Fridays.