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Published: Sunday, 6/3/2007

WNWO-TV s Jim Tichy signs off Friday

When Jim Tichy began his new job at Channel 24 on Sept. 18, 1972, the station was known as WDHO-TV and was affiliated with ABC.

He was part of a three-man news team that operated out of a very small studio on South Byrne Road.

Brian Kahle was the news director and anchor. Pete Van Wieren did the weather and sports. And Tichy, fresh out of Bowling Green State University, did everything else as the field reporter/photographer.

Jim Tichy was a jack-of-all-trades, said Van Wieren, who has been a broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves since 1976. He was the backup news anchor, backup sports anchor and backup weather guy. He edited the film. He would go out, set the camera up and cover a story himself.

And if Brian and I were doing a story outside, he d even hold the umbrella if it was raining.

When Van Wieren left Channel 24 in the spring of 1974, Tichy was named sports director. He has held that job ever since.

I knew the sports department would be in good hands when I left, Van Wieren said. Jim was such a terrific guy, and he had a great work ethic. But to last in this crazy business at one station as long as he has is amazing.

Tichy, 58, will greet listeners with his phrase, Hi, everybody, for the final time during his sportscast Friday on Channel 24, which is now an NBC affiliate and goes by the call letters, WNWO-TV.

He is retiring a little over three months shy of his 35-year anniversary. Tichy s wife, Peg, a sixth-grade teacher at Monac Elementary School in the Washington Local School District, also had planned to retire on June 8, but additional snow days have pushed her retirement date back until June 13.

So much for all of our plans, Tichy said.

Even so, the dean of Toledo broadcasters hasn t spent the last few months counting down the days until he s finished.

I just love my job so much, he said. It s not like I m champing at the bit to walk out the door. I m just not crazy about the hours anymore.

I don t want to make a big deal out of my retirement. I m a sportscaster, for goodness sake. People with far more important jobs policemen, firemen, nurses and teachers retire every day. I m a little embarrassed by all this attention.

Tichy graduated from Parma High School in the suburb of Cleveland. He didn t play sports, but was in the marching band and was offered a partial music scholarship to Bowling Green.

He majored in radio, television and film and worked on campus at WFAL-AM, WBGU-FM, and at WBGU-TV, where he did a variety of jobs in production before being named sports director in the fall of 1971.

He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1971, and later earned his master s degree in Communications in 1977.

Tichy on the air in 1973, giving the weather report. Tichy on the air in 1973, giving the weather report.
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In 1978, he was hospitalized briefly for a kidney stone. That experience helped change his life.

I weighed 311 pounds at the time, Tichy said. I went on a diet and quit smoking all in the same day.

Tichy has covered most of the big local and national events throughout his career, including the Indianapolis 500, Kentucky Derby, U.S. Open, PGA Championship, World Series, Super Bowl XL, the 1996 Summer Olympics, and numerous college football bowl games.

But Tichy said he still gets his greatest satisfaction out of doing the City League championship game, or the Shoe Bowl.

Tichy especially enjoyed covering the Toledo Goaldiggers march to the Turner Cup championship in the 1974-75 season, as well as Bowling Green s four-overtime victory over Minnesota-Duluth in the 1984 Division I NCAA national championship game in Lake, Placid, N.Y.

Tichy is a roller coaster and country music fanatic. And he loves bowling.

Jim Tichy with daughter Kelly White, left, and her husband, Chris, and Jim's wife, Peg. Jim Tichy with daughter Kelly White, left, and her husband, Chris, and Jim's wife, Peg.
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In November, 2003, he became only the second broadcaster to be inducted into the City League Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2005, Tichy s name was added to the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Jim Tichy is everything you could ask for in a sports anchor, an employee, and a friend, said WNWO general manager Rick Lipps, who plans to air a live tribute to Tichy Friday from7:30 to 8 p.m. I am constantly impressed with Tich. He has a sense of humor that is always just below the surface.

Tich is uncomfortable with praise and pats on the back, but there is a list of accomplishments, awards, and accolades with the name Jim Tichy attached that rival any anchor in any market. He is truly the dean of Toledo sports.

For the longest time, Tichy was pretty much a one-man band, lugging a camera and equipment to the Sports Arena or Ned Skeldon Stadium. He shot his own highlights.

Tichy estimates he has worked for somewhere between 20 and 25 news directors since joining the station, which has always had trouble attracting viewers.

In the late 1980s, Channel 24 had billboards that read Toledo s Sports Dome, that ran alongside a picture of the balding Tichy.

I think it s probably the coolest promotion the station has ever had, he said.

Those who have worked for Tichy over the years admire his work ethic and easy-going demeanor.

I know he s Catholic, and I m pretty sure they re looking to make him a saint once he retires, said WNWO-TV weekend anchor/reporter Eric Haubert, who will replace Tichy as sports director.

I ve been at places where I hated going to work. This is not one of them. Working for a guy who is more of a friend than a boss makes it enjoyable to come to work every day. We genuinely care about each other s spouses and families and see each other outside of work hours.

Ryan Brant, a University of Toledo graduate and current sports director at WKEF-TV/WRGT-TV in Dayton, said Tichy is a tough act to follow.

I owe a lot to Tich, he said. He gave me my on-air start back in 1989, when interns were allowed on the air. He s a class act, and one of the nicer gentlemen I ve ever met in my 18 years in the business. The viewers are going to miss a Toledo broadcasting legend.

Tichy and Peg were married two months after he accepted the job at Channel 24. She has worked as a teacher for 35 years, the last 34 in the same room at Monac Elementary. Their daughter, Kelly White, also is an elementary teacher in the Washington Local School District.

One of the first things Tichy and his wife plan to do is some traveling.

We have spent the last 35 years planning our vacations around a two-or-three-week window in the summer, he said. Now we can do whatever we want to, when we want.

Tichy will attend the American Coaster Enthusiasts national conference in a few weeks. He and his wife will attend the night NACSAR race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in late August.

He also hopes to do some part-time work at WNWO.

What I envision is that I will still represent the company at speaking events as the emcee, I will do some charitable work and maybe a few stories, he said. I might come in some Friday or Saturday, grab a camera, and go shoot a game.

And afterward, he can say, Goodbye, everybody.



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