North Central alumni reunite to share the stories and benefits of being the Voice of the Panthers
It was a rite of passage. It was a badge of honor. It was, most importantly, an opportunity for incredible experience and career advancement. Since WJEL went on the air in the 1970’s, the home of North Central High School on the radio has offered unique experiences for generations of students. A fixture of the J. Everett Light Career Center, a sub-fraternity of the radio station was the sports team.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of students have earned the title Voice of the Panthers. If that meant being on the radio call of a couple baseball games one season, or logging thousands of miles to call every Panther football and basketball game for three years, there was a pride in carrying on a radio tradition.
Several of those voices have gone on to distinguished careers in sports media:
Adam Alexander ’91 – Currently a host and reporter for Fox Sports’ coverage of auto racing, Alexander worked in local television in Evansville in his career and was the play-by-play voice of Evansville men’s basketball
Mac Engel ’91 – Columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and radio talk show host
Jake Query ’91 – Hosts Query & Schultz on 97.5 FM in Indianapolis and serves as an announcer for IndyCar Radio, including multiple calls of the Indianapolis 500
Jeremy Gray ’94 – Formerly a sports announcer with Indiana University, he now serves the athletic department as the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications and Fan Experience
Will Haskett ’99 – Freelance play-by-play announcer and host, presently working for PGA Tour Radio, the Horizon League, NCAA and more
Rick Johnston ’06 – Play-by-play announcer at Taylor University and sports announcer in other avenues
Scott Agness ’08 – Producer of The Kent Sterling Show on 1430 AM in Indianapolis, and founder/contributor to VigilantSports.com
“I don’t know if there was anything that made me prouder in my career than to get that position,” Query said. “There is no doubt that we had an awesome opportunity.”
“One thing that I think was unique to broadcasting here compared to anything else in the rest of your career was that you got to call the games your childhood friends were participating in,” Gray said.
Something that has made the position so unique is the connection across the years it has provided all involved. Alumni listen to current students and stay in touch with the program to this day. The value is in the experience, something that can’t be duplicated anywhere.
“To have a three-year head start on my peers was something that couldn’t be duplicated,” Haskett added. “I got ahead in college, gained confidence in my abilities and always felt like I belonged in the sports media business because of what WJEL provided me.”
“I would say… the most important educational experience of my life were the on-air opportunities here,” Gray added.
There will always be sports at North Central. Covering them has been a privilege to so many, a fraternity of Panther broadcasters. The tradition continues.