Special Story To KRVN, from Tri City Trib. This story originally ran in the Trib’s Platte Valley Footprints Feature Section
Lexington-Getting a chance to see the world all around is a luxury that we enjoy for the most part, especially when attending sporting events all across the State of Nebraska where central Nebraska athletes and or teams are competing. For some people that don’t have that luxury or ability to travel all across the state of Nebraska and surrounding areas to watch sporting events, there is an alternative, and for the past 25 years and counting, Jayson Jorgensen of Elm Creek has been a Sports play-by-play broadcaster that has painted that pretty picture for all of us to visualize what he is describing on the airwaves of KRVN and its affiliates during games and events that feature area teams.
In the past couple years, Jorgensen has been able to achieve a lifelong dream of broadcasting play-by-play of college athletics. He first dipped his toe into the college athletics waters when he took on the job of broadcasting Concordia University athletics. Soon thereafter, he came a little closer to home when he became the Play-by-Play voice of the Lopers of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. “For someone who grew up listening to UNK sports and the legendary Steve Altmaier and following along by reading the stories in the paper it was very exciting when I heard (KRVN) had acquired the rights. Then you start to get a little nervous, knowing that you have an entirely different audience that you have to win over. It has been everything I thought it would be and more,” explained Jorgensen. “I have broadcast play-by-play of a bowl game and a national championship volleyball game now, so it has helped me achieve a few of my lifetime goals.”
“It seemed as a kid I was always listening to the radio or watching games. Either it being the Husker games on the radio or the weekly Top 40 show with Kasey Casem,” explained Jorgensen. “I suppose by the time I was in my early teens I decided this was something that I wanted to do. I had a high school teacher, Jeff Kerr who really encouraged me to do this, He always said if I became the voice of the Huskers, He wanted to be my color guy.”
For Jayson , the skills of calling play-by-play reach further back than his high school days. He also was honing his craft at a young age by concentrating on accuracy and delivery. He recalls sitting in front of the television growing up with his brothers Jeremiah and Josh and his best friend Brad, as they clashed for bragging rights and supremacy in playing Tecmo Bowl on Nintendo, “I remember announcing those games and I would keep my own stats in a notebook.”
When he reached high school at Minden, Mr. Kerr pulled some strings and Jorgensen was then heard on the P.A., announcing Minden Track Meets. “We also recorded some games in high school Journalism class and I did play-by-play on those games,” explained Jorgensen. “When I was in college, I would go to high school games and practice my play-by-play and then record it into a cassette player. I remember getting some weird looks, while doing that.”
After he graduated from Minden High School, he first attended Central Community College in Hastings, where he announced his first game on the campus radio station. During that time a classmate of Jayson’s father, KRNY Station Manager Dan Beck recommended that if Jayson was serious about broadcast journalism, he needed to attend the Brown Institute in Minnesota. During the 1990’s, the Brown Institute was considered one of the best of the Midwest. During the two years of schooling he honed his craft while broadcasting games on cable access and minor league baseball.
“I really learned a ton by listening to Kevin Harlan when I went to school in Minneapolis. I had never heard anything like that on the radio growing up back home in Nebraska. He was calling the Minnesota Timberwolves games at the time on the radio. Every night I would listen and tape his broadcasts on cassettes. I learned a lot on phrasing, description and creativity from him.”
About that same time, Jayson also listened a lot to Jim Rose when he was doing Nebraska Women’s Basketball, It wasn’t much later that he started listening intently to Mitch Holthus on the Kansas City Chiefs broadcasts. “His fundamentals on how to do a game are tremendous,” stated Jorgensen.
Once schooling was completed , he returned home to help with the family business. Jayson worked at the Bakery in the mornings and then stepped behind the microphone to work at the radio station in Holdrege, KUVR in the afternoons.” I did that for two and half years,” stated Jorgensen. Soon thereafter, he was contacted by KRVN in Lexington and he has been at the station for the remainder of his career. He is the elder statesmen when it comes to play-by-play announcers at KRVN and has become an unofficial teacher so to speak. He has listened to and provided constructive criticism to many of the announcers that you hear along with Jayson himself on the airwaves for KRVN and its affiliates. Those announcers that have grown into great play-by-play announcers include Tyler Cavalli, Scott Foster, Brandon Benitz. Evan Jones and Austin Jacobsen.
“From the get-go Jayson helped me to find my broadcast voice, how to produce ball games and to improve my writing. The number one thing that Jayson taught me is being prepared for a broadcast. He helped me in learning how to prep for games and showed me that to have a successful broadcast you have to sound professional on the air and to have credibility because that’s the utmost importance.” expressed Evan Jones. ” I took the critiques Jayson sent after broadcasts seriously because of his success in the field. I respected that and wanted to be better.”
Former coach and now broadcaster Scott Foster of Gothenburg has the utmost respect and admiration for Jorgensen. “I’ve learned about everything from him. I had little to no background in the job. He was the one that gave me a chance. Working with Jayson, the first thing you notice is his preparation. As time has gone on I have seen how broadcasters at other stations have prepared, it pales in comparison to what we’ve been taught to do. Jayson has taught us at KRVN to study the teams we are calling and to strive to always be unbiased. He always tells us, call it down the middle, you never know who is listening.”
Foster also explains why and how Jayson continues to be a top notch play-by-play broadcaster. “He listens to other broadcasts and continues to learn from them. It comes back to preparation. Jayson talks to coaches, watches film and memorizes, oh the memorizing,” explains Foster. “He has been doing it for a long time, but that hasn’t led to laziness at all. In fact, he still strives to be better.” When looking back at some contests that Jorgensen remembers, It was very important to be prepared when he and Scott Foster worked together in Hemingford, Nebraska as they hosted Elm Creek in a State Football Semifinal game. It was blistering cold, and they shared the back of an auctioneer’s truck with fellow broadcaster Doug Duda of Kearney. They were supplied with a heater that would have resulted in asphyxiation if they would have used it. Numerous times, their voices fogged the windows and made it hard to see what was going on. Jayson still considers it one of the best games he has broadcast.
There are a few stories of Lexington basketball heroics that will always be memorable for Jorgensen, as he was the man behind the microphone for the first game that was played in Lexington High School’s West gymnasium in 1997. That night the Lexington boys played a triple overtime game against Ogallala.
“I consider that place home,” stated Jorgensen. A few years later, he recalls the Lexington boys getting off to a slow start to the season and then turned the corner in a big way by upsetting highly ranked McCook in 2002. The Minutemen then won nine of their last 10 games and won the district title. Jayson recalls the turning of the tide that season and beams with excitement that he got to bring the moments to the airwaves. Former Lexington Minutemen head coach Darren Hanson now assists during football season as a color commentator. He has the utmost respect for Jorgensen.
“I learned to respect the media and the important role that media plays in sports. Jayson was always very professional in the way he interacted with me and with our athletes. I know as a coach we had some rough games and seasons. Jayson always provided a positive message for our program and always had the respect and integrity of the game first,” explained Hanson.
Jayson specifically recalls when Lexington’s Halley Mandelko. Sydney Seberger and Casey Seberger all worked together and would not be denied in defeating Holdrege in the district final during Legendary Minutemaid head coach Randy Carpenter’s swan song season.
Many legendary broadcasters have always worked to find their signature catch phrase, Jorgensen believes it is important to not get caught up on a catch phrase. The only phrase that Jorgensen can recall using numerous times is during the football season, when a player breaks away on a long touchdown, he has been known to say ‘He is G-0-N-E, Gone’ He truly believes that every moment is different and deserves its own catch phrases.
One icon that Jayson mentions he tries to duplicate is Jim Rose. “He always tried to have a `catch-all` type statement at the end of a game, that gives a brief synopsis of the contest. I have always tried to do that as well.”
An item that seems to always rear its ugly head in broadcasting is bias towards a certain team or individual. Jayson believes that professional bias is okay in certain circumstances, such as when he is the Voice of the Lopers, he hopes to get people excited for UNK games and upcoming events. When doing high school contests, it is virtually impossible to be professionally biased, it is important to stay neutral as in most instances, the games being featured are regional teams that are covered by KRVN. “You never know who is listening and where they are listening, since games are now broadcast on the internet,” explained Jorgensen. “It is very important to remain neutral. It has really helped make the world a smaller place and allow people to stay more connected.” He does have one location that will always be near the top of his list as a favorite, The Old C.L. Jones Gym in Minden will always hold a special place in his heart, as Jorgensen not only played there but has announced some thrilling games on that same hardwood as well. There are always going to be memorable moments and memorable locations throughout the world of sports.
For Jayson , it is just another day at the office. Over the course of his career broadcasting has changed and Jayson continues to be at the forefront of his craft. “Jayson’s passion for sports is also evident in how he calls games, how he respects the game and strives to give the audience the best experience of that game,” explained Darren Hanson. “Jayson is also very humble, the contest is always more important than he feels he is. Sometimes you have broadcasters that overshadow the game but Jayson never does,” states Hanson. “The most important thing to Jayson is that the game is called in a manner that respects the game and that he provides his audience an experience that makes them feel they are part of the game.”
Jayson was, is and will continue to be a legendary voice that can be heard all across the airwaves, painting a picture of a sporting event for us all to enjoy. We may not see him, but his voice will be music to the ears that helps us see the action.