BY JEREMY SHERE
For the past 38 years, Don Fischer has been the voice of Indiana University football and basketball. He’s done play-by-play for more than 1,600 games, including three IU NCAA basketball championships (1976, 1981, 1987) and eight IU football bowl games, as well as hosted weekly coaches shows and anchored the daily radio program IU Sports Today. He’s won nearly every sports broadcasting award, including being named Indiana Sportscaster of the Year 25 times. In recognition of his long-standing excellence, Fischer was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 2004, and in 2010 was voted into the Indiana Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.
Yet Fischer’s celebrated career almost ended as soon as it began, in 1968, as a 21-year-old play-by-play rookie calling his first high school football game for WOLI-FM in Ottawa, Illinois. “I set broadcasting back forty-five years; I was horrible, and I knew it,” says Fischer, now 65. “I simply wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know how to prepare.”
Given one more chance by his station manager, Fischer took a private crash course with veteran sports-radio broadcaster Art Kimball (the voice of Illinois State University football and men’s basketball during the ’70s and early ’80s) and eventually mastered the intricate art of play-by-play. He hasn’t looked back since.
What keeps Fischer going, game after game, year after year, is the thrill of bringing games to life for his listeners. “The greatest compliment a guy like me can get is for listeners to say that they were able to visualize the game in their minds. That’s the job, to allow fans to feel the excitement, thrills, and disappointments of the game.”
Fischer is still going strong, calling games, hosting radio sports shows, and anchoring Indianapolis Colts preseason telecasts. When he’s not in the broadcast booth, Fischer enjoys competing on the golf course, playing several tournaments a year as a member of the Indiana State Seniors Golf Association. He also loves spending time with his wife, Susy; their four boys, Chad, 45, Patrick, 43, Scott, 40, and Matthew, 38; and their eight grandchildren.
Fischer’s true and lifelong passion, though, remains doing play-by-play. “I always wanted to be part of a team, even though I wasn’t much of an athlete,” Fischer says. “Calling games allows me to feel connected to a team and to a sport, to be part of something bigger than myself.”