Simmermaker announces retirement after 64 years on Columbus radio

Sam Simmermaker, the dean of Indiana sports broadcasters, has announced his plans to retire at the age of 92, after 64 years with White River Broadcasting in Columbus.

The veteran sports director will put down the microphone and recorder, with his last daily sports updates coming on Friday, May 24th. Simmermaker also plans to continue his play-by-play coverage of Columbus baseball teams until the end of the teams’ tournament runs.

“The community embraced us from day one and I just owe everybody a million thanks,” Simmermaker said. “It has been a joy to be able to chronicle the sports scene. Thanks to White River for devoting a tremendous amount of time to sports. I am sure that doesn’t happen very often in the radio business at any level. Thanks to Columbus.”

Bob Morrison, general manager of the White River Broadcasting stations, explained Simmermaker’s importance to Columbus.

“Sam is and will always be the dean of South Central Indiana Sports,” Morrison said. “Sam has been part of the fabric of Columbus for four generations and has touched the lives of everyone in our community and beyond.”

John Foster, morning show host for AM Columbus on News Talk 1010 WCSI and 98.1 FM, looked back on his time working with Simmermaker and their chats every weekday morning.

“It’s been an amazing and wonderful 30 plus year ride with Sam and I will always treasure his friendship and professionalism,” Foster said.

Simmermaker grew up in Pulaski County, graduating from Star City High School  and  Indiana University in 1954. He began his radio career in Goshen in 1958, after serving in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. From 1958 to 1963 he covered Indianapolis Indians games for WTTV.

He started his full-time career in Columbus at WCSI on Jan. 1st, 1960. His first role in Columbus was in news, but he soon began his sportscasting legacy on WCSI.  Since then, he has covered generations of high school athletes here, with some of today’s athletes being the grandchildren or even great-grandchildren of those he covered in his early years.

Among the honors Simmermaker has received during his career include:

* Indiana Sportscaster of the Year in 1976 and in 1997 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
* Indiana Sportscaster of the Year in 1971 by the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
* Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame inductee in 1998.
* Indiana Associated Press Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame inductee in 1991.
* Best Sports Play-by-Play award by Network Indiana in 2002 and 2004.
* Best Sports Play-by-Play award by Indiana Broadcasters Association in 2005.
* Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

White River Broadcasting Co. operates News Talk 1010 WCSI and 98.1 FM, Indiana Country 101.5 WKKG, WINN 104.9 Your Hit Music and WWWY 106.1 The River, in Columbus. It’s parent company is The Findlay Publishing Co., a small, family-owned, privately-held communications company in Findlay, Ohio.

Dave Glass, president of The Findlay Publishing Co., said Simmermaker isn’t one to seek praise.

“Everyone who has listened to Sam over the many decades has their own story and memories to cherish for a lifetime,” Glass said. “Thank you, enjoy the next chapter – you’ve earned it and then some. Bravo, Holy Cow Sam Simmermaker!”