By KEVIN HARRIS
After 50-plus years of broadcasting Southern Indiana high school games on the radio, Charlie Jenkins has decided it is time to spend more time being a grandfather.
On Friday during a phone interview, Jenkins, 73, officially announced his retirement from doing play-by-play broadcasting of area high school football and boys’ basketball games. During the 2012-13 school year, the Clarksville resident and Hall of Fame broadcaster announced games on the former WQKC-1450 AM Radio. He primarily broadcasted New Albany boys’ basketball games with former Clarksville boys’ basketball coach Paul Love as his color commentator.
Jenkins says he is taking a page out of the book of former Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Johnny Bench when he retired from professional baseball in 1983.
“I respected Johnny Bench a lot during his career because he had a lot of good skills intact when he decided to retire,” Jenkins said. “So like him, I’m going out on a good note.”
The main reason for Jenkins’ decision to turn off his microphone is because he wanted to see more of his grandchildren’s sporting events.
His granddaughter, Olivia Jenkins, will be playing girls’ basketball and girls’ soccer as a freshman at Providence next season. His grandson and Olivia’s brother, Will Jenkins, will be playing basketball at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New Albany next year as a sixth-grader.
Charlie Jenkins’ other granddaughter, Tatum Barbier, lives in Burr Ridge, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. The 8-year-old swims and plays tennis.
“It was a really tough decision,” Charlie Jenkins said. “But I will only have grandchildren once in my life. But it was a tough decision because I enjoyed going to the games.”
Jenkins began broadcasting high school sporting events in the early 1960s at a radio station in Seymour. After taking a break from sportscasting for a couple of years, Jenkins became the news director and a sportscaster at WXVW-AM in Jeffersonville in October 1964.
Jenkins was at WXVW for 33 years, where for 16 of those years he also was the station manager and a part-owner of the station. Jenkins primarily broadcasted Jeffersonville High School football and boys’ basketball games during his time at WXVW.
After leaving WXVW in 1997, Jenkins went to Clear Channel Radio in Louisville, where he was an advertising sales representative and broadcasted New Albany High School football and boys’ basketball contests on WKRD-AM and WKJK-AM.
After saying goodbye to Clear Channel earlier this decade, Jenkins has been broadcasting games through his own company, Sunnyside Sports.
Jenkins did more than broadcast Southern Indiana high school games during his career. He was the baseball play-by-play man for the Triple-A Louisville Colonels from 1968-71 and broadcasted Bellarmine University men’s basketball games in the 1990s.
Jenkins received plenty of accolades during his broadcasting career. He won the IHSAA Distinguished Media Service Award during the 1988-89 academic year. He was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 1999.
In 2009, Jenkins got the biggest honor in his career as he was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Jenkins is grateful to all of the coaches and athletic directors who provided assistance to him and his broadcast partners during his career.
“I want to thank the coaches and athletic directors for all the help they gave me over the years,” Jenkins said. “The coaches helped me out a lot.”
Ted Throckmorton, who was Jenkins’ color commentator for 35 years at WXVW, said his lifelong friend and former broadcast partner will be missed on the air. Jenkins and Throckmorton broadcasted the IHSAA boys’ basketball state finals together for WXVW from 1965-1997. That included New Albany’s 1973 state championship and Jeff’s 1993 state title.
“He gave me the opportunity for 35 years to watch New Albany win a state championship, Jeff win a state championship, to see [former Plymouth player] Scott Skiles win state [in 1982] and to see [former Bedford North Lawrence player] Damon Bailey play,” said Throckmorton, a Jeffersonville graduate. “I owe Charlie a great deal. In my 50 years of broadcasting, the 35 I was with Charlie were the best. Charlie was first class.”
Throckmorton said Jenkins never expressed any partiality toward any team while broadcasting.
“He allowed me to be a homer for Jeff. But Charlie went straight down the middle in every game,” Throckmorton said.
Jenkins gave a simple reason why he broadcasted high school games for more than 50 years — he loved it.
“I just know I enjoyed broadcasting games. It was something I really enjoyed,” Jenkins said.
In a News and Tribune article on longtime Southern Indiana high school radio broadcaster Charlie Jenkins last December, Jenkins talked about some of his top memories from his 50-plus years of doing play-by-play.
Here are a few of those memories:
On New Albany’s 1973 state championship boys’ basketball team:
“I remember them as a team that sort of had a swagger about them. I remember [New Albany’s] Julius Norman and the tournament he had.”
On Jeffersonville’s 1993 state championship boys’ basketball team:
“I remember the coaching job that Mike Broughton did. He did a remarkable job coaching that team.”
On the undefeated 1971 East Chicago Washington state championship team, who he said was the best team he ever saw during his tenure broadcasting the IHSAA boys’ basketball state finals from 1965-97:
“The fact that all [their starters] went on to play [NCAA] Division I basketball says something about how good they were.”