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Published: Sunday, 7/19/2009

Maumee couple calls end to local broadcasting careers

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Neil and Jill Little, who have made careers for themselves as self-employed local play-by-play sportscasters, have decided to end their broadcasting careers.

The Littles have called high school football and basketball games, among other sporting events, for local fans on radio and the Internet.

The husband-wife broadcasting team from Maumee, affectionately nicknamed "Mr. and Mrs. Friday Night" by some fans, has been doing games since 1992.

The couple said they have no plans to return to the airwaves, and Neil, 61, said he is enjoying retirement.

"We're just going to enjoy doing some other things," he said.

Neither of the Littles formally studied broadcasting, but that did not stop them from airing their first radio broadcast, Neil and Jill Variety Show, on AM radio in November, 1990, after getting married earlier the same year.

They switched their focus in 1992 to high school football, when Neil's son, David, began his first season as a running back at Clay High School.

David would be inducted years later into the Clay hall of fame. It was his talent that sparked Jill's interest in football.

"David was a thrill to watch," she said. "I never really understood the game of football. He really got me interested in the game to the point that I understood."

Neil and Jill went on to broadcast more than 2,000 radio hours during their careers, simulcasting an audio feed in 1995 on both AM radio and public-access television.

The couple moved to FM radio in 1999, broadcasting games on WMTR (96.1) until 2002, when they started buying airtime on Buckeye CableSystem's public-access channel.

Mr. Little said he and his wife were able to make a living with their broadcasting company, Sports Promotions, because of support from sponsorship and advertising purchases

The Littles moved their broadcast to the Internet in 2006 to save money, airing their last broadcast earlier this year in the high school basketball season.

Jill said they started broadcasting as a way to spend time together.

"I supported everything [Neil] wanted to do," she said. "We really loved working together. It was really a lot of fun."

Southview athletic director Glen Gillespie said the Littles gave a voice to teams that didn't always get covered by other outlets.

"We all know that Neil had a big heart and he really enjoyed high school sports," Gillespie said. "[The Littles] did cover things when a lot of the stations were getting out of high school coverage. I think that they will be missed in the fact that there's one less coverage of high school sports."

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:

calcorn@theblade.com.



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