By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
John Herrick’s mother thought she was punishing her 6-year-old son when she told him he couldn’t watch the 1994 New York Knicks-Houston Rockets NBA finals game because he had a bad grade on a test.
That turned out to be the beginning of his broadcast career.
“I grabbed her hairbrush and told her, ‘OK, mom I’m going to tell you how it sounded. I pretended I was Marv Albert calling the game,’’ Herrick said. “She knew then that I was going to be a sports announcer. It started from there.’’
Herrick, an Indianapolis native and DePauw University graduate, is in his third season calling high school and junior college games on the Chisholm Trail Broadcasting family of stations (KCRC, KNID and KXLS).
He came to Enid in 2011 from Havre, Mont., where he read the news and weather and remotes, but little sports.
When he first applied, he found the job had been filled. Fortunately for Herrick, the announcer who had been hired returned to Florida where he received a promotion at his old station.
“It was just meant to be,’’ Herrick said.
As CTB’s news director, he also does five newcasts in the morning, beginning at 5:30 a.m., and two in the afternoon.
“I couldn’t be happier,’’ Herrick said.
Herrick grew up a basketball junkie in a state where roundball is king. His two biggest influences growing up were Indiana Pacers play-by-play man Mark Boyle and Indianapolis Colts announcer Bob Lanie.
Herrick takes the approach of frequently giving the score and time remaining.
“I was taught by my advisors in college that your audience doesn’t know anything,’’ he said. “You worked hard to get the information you have for the game. Make sure the audience doesn’t have to work hard for it.’’
He tries to give the score every first down.
“I don’t worry so much about the team and individual stats,’’ Herrick said. “The mothers and grandmothers want to hear their kid’s name and the score and time.’’
Herrick started broadcasting as a freshman on DePauw’s student radio station WGRE, doing three sportcasts per week.
“I realized I was pretty good at doing those sportscasts,’’ he said.
When DePauw’s women’s basketball team qualified for the nationals in his freshman year, Herrick was told he was going to do the games. He got to broadcast DePauw winning the Division II championship.
“The station manager said I was better than anybody else, so they were going to send me,’’ he said. “That was the most nervous I had ever been before a broadcast.’’
He kept doing men’s and women’s basketball and added football his junior year.
The favorite part of his job now is broadcasting basketball, tournaments, doing as many as 12 games over a three-day period.
“High school basketball was such an important fabric in Indiana,’’ Herrick said. “High school baskeball is all about kids playing their hearts out. I love how quickly it goes. If you blink, the quarter is over. When (Chisholm Trail Sports Director) Matt Howell said I would be doing a lot of high school basketball, I said thank you. Of course, when you’re doing as many games as we do, it still took a while to get used to.’’
Herrick said Howell has been instrumental in getting to know local coaches and teams.
Herrick has a close working relationship with his broadcast partner, retired prep basketball coach Randy Turney, a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge on area sports.
“I think he knows every coach and every official,’’ Herrick said. “He’s always the most popular guy in the room.
“Having good chemistry with your color guy is huge,’’ Herrick said. “You’re going into battle together. You have to make sure you’re on the same page. Of course, Randy and I have a chance to bond a lot when you’re making a three-and-a-half hour trip to Hollis (for an Okeene football playoff game).’’
He loves doing 8-man football games “because there’s never a dull moment ... it teaches you to be alert for every single thing, you can’t take a play off. There’s much more of a chance of a big play happening.’’
Herrick guards against becoming too emotional — something he said he learned from listening to Lanie.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t get emotionally involved, such as when an injured Jade Jones led Pond Creek-Hunter’s girls into the area losers bracket finals last season.
“It was hard not to feel for the girl,’’ Herrick said. “You were rooting for her to bounce back and getting back to state.’’
His most memorable broadcast came when Cashion’s Vaughn Rainey beat Okeene in a playoff game with a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Rainey’s father, who was in the military, asked Herrick to see if he could get a video. He was working and missed the game. Unfortunately, the Cashion filmer got so excited he kicked the camera and there was no video.
“That was his only record of the game,’’ Herrick said. “I was able to archive it and email it to him. He thanked me and I said ‘thank you’ to him ... told him if it wasn’t for people like him, I wouldn’t get a chance to do these games. It’s something I won’t forget.”
After a great game he can’t wait to get back to the studio for the scoreboard show to talk about it.
“My adrenaline gets flowing,’’ he said. “I have to talk about it.’’
He never played basketball beyond Catholic Youth Organization in high school. Any hopes of playing ended with a stress fracture in his back.
“It was never in the cards for me to play,’’ Herrick said. “That never took away my passion for sports. I knew I wanted to be a broadcaster.”