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Roger Stuckey looks on commentating a game as a broadcaster for the Dubois County Bombers.
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — There sat Roger Stuckey Monday afternoon at a booth inside of Denny’s. Usually, he goes to the one in Oakland City, but he was kind enough to sit down with The Herald and reflect on his careers in broadcasting and education.
“I want the double cheeseburger and I do not want any bread,” Stuckey said in his order to the waitress.
Stuckey ate his burger with a fork, choosing to eat what’s typically a finger food meal with silverware because he didn’t want grease. Even then, there still was grease and he joked after the interview that he should’ve gotten pancakes instead. It might be a rather unconventional way to eat a burger, but then again, Stuckey’s career in a way has been unconventional.
And that career will soon come to an end, as the voice of Forest Park on WQKZ is retiring at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
“I think the big thing is my age — I’ll be 70 next fall,” he said. “It’s getting harder and harder to make those long trips to various places and being out late. I don’t see as well as I used to, and for 69-70 years old, in most cases, I don’t have any reason to be out that late at night. But my family has been after me a little bit the last couple of years or so, and that’s pretty well my reason.”
Stuckey originally grew up wanting to be a professional baseball player. He played first base, outfield and pitched in American Legion ball, and the sport still holds near and dear to him. He sported his Los Angeles Dodgers cap when speaking to The Herald, and is a noted fan of the seven-time World Series Champions — with a photo of Dodger Stadium being used as the wallpaper on his Twitter page.
However, being from Southern Indiana, he didn’t always bleed Dodger Blue, liking them later on and especially becoming a fan when Evansville Memorial grad Don Mattingly became the team’s manager.
Instead, he grew up rooting for a team more people in this area tend to root for.
“When I was a little boy, I was actually a Cardinal fan and listened to Harry Caray and Jack Buck on the radio when they broadcast together,” Stuckey said. “And my dad listened to them all the time and I just thought, You know, if I ever can’t make it in professional baseball — I laugh at that now — my golly, I’ll just be a sportscaster.”
Alas, Stuckey would not be the next Stan “The Man” Musial, but he’s still immersed himself in athletics for decades. He served as a manager on the old Oakland City boys basketball team, and the Acorns were undefeated sectional champions going into the 1967 regional, but they lost to Evansville North, the eventual state champions, that year.
Oakland City would be part of a consolidation with Mackey and Wood Memorial would be christened — with Francisco later consolidating, and it was there where Stuckey graduated from in 1970. The Trojans won a sectional his senior season as a manager, too.
Hoosier Hysteria in Dubois County and the old county sectionals at Huntingburg Memorial Gym is well-documented, but Stuckey remembered it reaching Gibson County, too.
Roger Stuckey (right) has partnered with Forest Park football coach Ross Fuhs (left) in broadcasting Ranger boys and girls basketball games on WQKZ 98.5 FM.
“There was just nothing like it,” he said. “We used to play all of our sectional games at the Princeton Gym, and to pack all of those people in there on some years when we almost always had (a) good team, Princeton almost always had (a) good team, Mount Vernon was in that sectional — it really hasn’t changed even now. Even though you have class basketball, the atmosphere is virtually the same.”
He earned his broadcasting degree from Vincennes University, broadcasting the school’s basketball games on both radio and TV, and while broadcasting for the Trailblazers, he got to call the early games of future Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo before he went on to the University of North Carolina and starred for the old Buffalo Braves.
Stuckey didn’t know McAdoo too well, but described him as being a “nice fellow.”
“You should’ve tried to play ping pong against him,” Stuckey said. “Of course, he was 6-foot-9, had that long reach and you didn’t have a chance against him.”
He didn’t have to stray too far from his old stomping grounds, as he got his first job at Princeton’s WRAY station in 1975. Stuckey mostly did sports on a Friday night or on the weekends, calling basketball for his alma mater, as well as some for Gibson Southern and Princeton, plus some for Oakland City College (University).
WRAY would have Stuckey for 13 years, but during his time there, he ventured out into another passion — education, attaining a Secondary Education-English degree from Oakland City. He even simultaneously student-taught in Princeton during his time broadcasting there.
“It was a long haul there,” he said while giving a hearty chuckle. “But I was lucky because I took some summer classes and I could take those in the daytime — I completed the degree in three years.”
Stuckey went to Pike Central in 1988, serving through the years as a teacher, assistant athletic director, athletic director and a coach. He was an assistant for the Chargers in baseball and football, and his frankness and honesty earned him a reputation.
“I think the big thing is to be open-minded with kids, be fair with them,” Stuckey said. “The best compliment I ever got from a student was several years ago, I had a student tell me, in front of the class, that she says, ‘You know, you are exactly who you say you are. You are fair and you are honest.’ And I think that’s sort of what you have to be in athletics and in life — be an honest person.”
Being a coach, however, did not prepare him for being an athletic director. He served as assistant AD at Pike Central from 2008 through 2011, then the head job from 2011 until his retirement from education in 2014 during spring break. Stuckey noted that it’s not an easy job, and some in the area don’t stay for very long, as he likened the job as being 24/7.
He couldn’t explain, however, the father-son tandem of Jim and Brett Bardwell for nearly 50 years combined at Southridge, nor could he do the same for Forest Park’s Doug Louden, who has served in the role since the 2002-03 school year.
Roger Stuckey (left) with Walt Ferber, another noted broadcaster in the area, have teamed to call Dubois County Bombers games during the summer.
“Denny Lewis is another good example of that,” he said. “Denny was athletic director for years and years and years and for a while, passed it onto his son, Brian. And I can’t explain that, you’d have to ask them that question.”
Stuckey pondered what he was going to do with his life after education, but he didn’t miss broadcasting too much during his time away from it — except for the last couple of years. So, he wanted to give broadcasting another go, reminiscing that he was casually talking about it with fellow sportscaster Walt Ferber. He jumped at the opportunity when it came open, returning to radio in 2014, calling his first baseball season for Forest Park.
But when he returned to the business, a lot of rust came with him and it took about six weeks to get everything down pat.
“It was completely different,” he said. “A lot of things were computerized and you had to relearn production and I was very, very, rusty to say the least. And I had a lot of good help on the way to getting reintroduced into radio again.”
Sometimes, he’ll call athletic events for Jasper and Northeast Dubois, too, and when he’s at a local sporting event, he might still be in broadcast mode even when he’s not on the air. Case in point, when WQKZ was broadcasting a St. Louis Cardinals game this past spring, Stuckey in the press box during a Rangers baseball game, still broadcasting to himself out loud at times during the game.
Ask Stuckey his favorite athletes through the years at Forest Park, and he’ll roll off a laundry list, knowing even then, he’d have forgotten to name some. However, he’s gotten to witness some big moments since his return to sportscasting, such as the success of the Dubois County Bombers in the Ohio Valley League, and also Forest Park’s boys basketball team finishing as the Class 2A State-Runner Up in 2018.
“I think when we won on last-second shots in the sectional, I would say I didn’t know what exactly to say,” Stuckey said. “I had to process it, and when you’re in broadcasting, you don’t have a lot of time to process it. And I think probably when we won the sectional — the actual sectional game that year, I would say it was incredulous (laughs). It’s the way I would put it because I wasn’t really sure if we were going to get the job done.”
Forest Park’s incredible season took Stuckey all the way to the then-Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the Rangers lost to Oak Hill, 56-44. He marveled at the hospitality there, and thought it was easier to sit down and broadcast the game than he imagined, as he hopes for one more opportunity to broadcast a state championship game sometime this season.
The Rangers have had three winning seasons in a row since the state runner-up finish, but have yet to get out of the sectional. Stuckey’s likely to not be calling much Ranger girls basketball this season, but thinks the girls team will be very good. Meanwhile, the baseball team hasn’t won a sectional championship since 2002, but he sees the Rangers putting things together on the diamond.
“Get ready,” he said.
There are some people who may miss their job when it’s time to retire, and Stuckey knows he will, but there’s also a silver lining.
“Will I miss it?” he asked. “Yeah, but I get to be around my granddaughters (Claire and Naomi) more and more, and my family — and that sort of exes that out.”
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