He calls ’em like he sees ’em
Sometimes the stars line up.That was the case for Micah Ball, KJEB radio (94.5 FM) and the Coal Ridge High School football team.It’s a strange combination, but with KJEB and Coal Ridge boasting the same age – three years – and Ball being a big football fan, the three are now working together to broadcast Coal Ridge varsity football games every Friday night.KJEB, an oldies rock station based in New Castle with a studio in Glenwood, is a three-man operation, a national syndicated radio station with a touch of local flare. Ball is the chief operator and has a morning show. He and his co-workers, along with Coal Ridge High School administration, decided to put the Titans on the radio.
“We thought, what can we do to get a little more involvement in the community, a little more identity and also bring in more sponsors and advertisers in and let people know that KJEB is a local station and not just piped in?” Ball said.So now Ball, with his deep, powerful radio voice, calls games for the Titans. He hit the road on Aug. 31, carpooling with the Coal Ridge Booster Club, to broadcast the Titans’ game from Hayden. He was also in the stands for Coal Ridge’s home opener against Rangely last Friday.”I am really excited. It is going to have more of an in-the-crowd feel,” Ball said as he sets up his broadcasting station in the bleachers. “And it’s a chance for Coal Ridge to strut their stuff a little bit.”Ball has a long history in radio, with over a decade of work in all aspects of the business. As a college student, he was part of a radio station at Fort Lewis in Durango. Then he had his own station when he transferred to Colorado State University. After working in Aspen and at a few stations along the Western Slope, Ball teamed up with KJEB, which has reception from DeBeque Canyon to Glenwood and some spots in Carbondale and Snowmass.While it does air national programming (everything from Elvis to Motown) it is Ball’s mission to provide a local aspect.
“I believe that a big part of radio is community service and giving back. One of the things that drove it home for me was the Canyon Creek fire,” Ball said. “KJEB is one of the only stations that comes in in Canyon Creek, so most of the firefighters and Red Cross volunteers were listening to KJEB while they were fighting the fires and I felt like there was a little bit of a responsibility to the community on my part.”Adding Coal Ridge football games was another step toward that mission. Going into his first broadcast, Ball admitted to being nervous, since he had never called a football game, or any sporting event for that matter, before.”I am not a pro sports guy – I don’t have much practice,” Ball said. “I am nervous about it, but at the same time you just call what you see.”The season is now well under way – Coal Ridge will play it’s third game of the season Friday at Cedaredge. Before embarking on the project, Ball came up with a few ideas to help him prepare.
“I practiced a little bit with college football and Monday Night Football – turn the sound down and try to call games,” Ball said. “A buddy tried to help me by putting together an Xbox game for us and teaching me to call games like that. They only problem is that I am so bad at video games that I could never get my teams to do anything to call.”Just because he doesn’t have experience calling games, it doesn’t mean he lacks time watching games and being a fan. As a five-generation Colorado native, Ball grew up in Golden and his family had Broncos’ season tickets. He still loves the home team to this day.”In Colorado it is almost required by law for you to be a Denver Broncos fan,” he said.Every Friday, until Oct. 26 when the Titans play their last game of the season, Ball will be on the air and getting more and more practice at being a football announcer. If things go well, he could even expand his broadcasting repertoire.”If this flies and it is a success and I get a lot of community response from it, there is a pretty good chance that we would at least start calling the home games for basketball,” he said.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.