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Gary Dolphin Earns Statewide Honor

Gary Dolphin, the Voice of the Hawkeyes, was selected as the Iowa Sportscaster of the Year.


Gary Dolphin, the Voice of the Hawkeyes, was selected as the Iowa Sportscaster of the Year.

April 4, 2011

Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Gary Dolphin, radio voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes, spends a portion of each summer traveling, exploring sites of famous military battles from long, long ago. As a history and military buff, he has traveled to such battle ground sites as Gettysburg, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Last summer he traveled to Vicksburg, Miss., to visit the site of the Battle of Vicksburg.

Dolphin has added yet another trip to his schedule this summer, that being to Salisbury, N.C., to receive his award as Iowa's Sportscaster of the Year. Dolphin shared the Iowa award this year with Keith Murphy of WHO-TV in Des Moines. The award is voted on by those in the profession within the state of Iowa. It is the second time Dolphin has received the state award (2000) presented by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Dolphin also was recognized as the state's top sportscaster in 2001 by the Iowa Sportscasters Association.

Dolphin will travel to North Carolina May 14-16 for the national awards banquet, which will also honor national winners such as ESPN's Mike Tureco and long-time sportswriter Peter King. One of the highlights of the weekend for Dolphin will be spending time with some of his best friends in the broadcasting business.

Additional state winners who will attend the event include Ohio winner Paul Keels, Minnesota winner Mike Grimm and Georgia winner Wes Durham. All are among Dolphin's closest friends in the business. Keels is the play-by-play announcer for Ohio State football and basketball, Grimm announces Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball and Durham is the voice of Georgia Tech and the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

Grimm is a native of Manchester, Iowa, who previously worked at WMT radio in Cedar Rapids. He also served as the sideline reporter for Iowa football games earlier in his career. Dolphin became acquainted with Keels and Durham while broadcasting Hawkeye football and basketball games. Another of his close friends in the broadcast business is Matt Lepay, the play-by-play voice of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Dolphin, a native of Cascade, Iowa, has been the voice of Hawkeye football and basketball since 1997, when Learfield Sports Properties obtained the rights to Iowa events and formed the Hawkeye Sports Network. He's anxious to spend some time with his friends at the national event.

"It just worked out this year for several of us to attend," said Dolphin. "This opportunity doesn't come around very often. It's a fun event, and it's an honor, especially being that it is voted on by my peers from within the state."

While the Saturday evening banquet is the focus of the weekend activities, Dolphin is excited about the golf event that includes Keels, Grimm and Durham as his teammates.

"I will know a lot of people attending the event, but these are some of my best friends," said Dolphin. "It will be tons more fun to share in the award with friends."





"Gary is someone I have come to respect for his work, first and foremost. I really, genuinely like him as well. We talk about everything; we talk about the business, keep each other up with Iowa and Wisconsin and what's going on. But, we can talk about anything. We have a lot of laughs. I always look forward to when Iowa and Wisconsin play, being in Iowa City or Madison, or in the Big Ten Tournament somewhere; it's always good when the two teams get together, because I know I'll get the chance to spend some time with Dolph."
Matt Lepay, radio voice of the Wisconsin Badgers


Dolphin is quick to note that he has conversations and shares trade talk with a number of broadcasters, but he has become closer friends with a certain few.

"I don't call every opponent play-by-play guy during a season," said Dolphin. "Some are more protective of information, but I've always been comfortable in calling these guys. They are forthcoming with their insight; what to look for in a team, who might be playing well, that sort of thing. We don't betray each other's trust, but it is beneficial in helping preparing for a broadcast. Comparing notes is useful to both audiences."

When traveling during the course of a season, the announcers like to gather socially when schedules allow.

"Outside the broadcast booth, they are great to hang out with, fun guys to be around," said Dolphin. "They have great personalities, and I learn a lot from the style of others. With the guys around the Big Ten, we see each other several times during the course of a football or basketball season."

Dolphin first met Durham when Georgia Tech visited Carver-Hawkeye Arena early in the 2000-01 season for a contest in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The two connected again when Iowa hosted Georgia Tech for an NIT battle at the end of the 2003 season. Durham is the son of Woody Durham, the very well-known long time voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

"Wes introduced himself before that NIT game," recalled Dolphin. "He knew Bobby Hansen from Bobby's days in the NBA. I knew of him, being in Atlanta, and by way of his father. After that we stayed in touch. Our paths have crossed and it was fun working with him when Iowa played Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl."

Keels and Lepay, among others, have come to respect Dolphin, through his work on Iowa broadcasts, and in getting to know him outside the broadcast booth.

"It's a tribute that others recognize Dolph for his abilities and what he does," said Keels. "He keeps Iowa fans up with what is going on with the Hawkeyes. We met through seeing each other at games and media days, and formed a friendship. As broadcasters, you have a lot in common. Because of your knowledge of the opposing teams, the things you go through; whether its travel, technical things, dealing with coaches; that has allowed us to forge the friendship we have, along with the appreciation for one another's abilities and commitment to the job.

"We like to get together and socialize the night before a game when we have the chance. I know how much he enjoys what he does. Dolph realizes that it is not about the announcer, it is about the team he is covering, and the fans, and he really embraces that. He is always in a good mood. As serious as he is about his job, he is thrilled to have the opportunity to do his job, and it rubs off. You can tell that by just being around him."

With Dolphin residing just across the river from Wisconsin, his relationship with Lepay goes back even further. "I got to know Gary before he started the Iowa job," said Lepay. "I knew his background in Dubuque. We have gotten to know each other real well since he took over at Iowa. I would say Gary and Paul are the two guys I'm closest to in the business.

"Gary is someone I have come to respect for his work, first and foremost. I really, genuinely like him as well. We talk about everything; we talk about the business, keep each other up with Iowa and Wisconsin and what's going on. But, we can talk about anything. We have a lot of laughs. I always look forward to when Iowa and Wisconsin play, being in Iowa City or Madison, or in the Big Ten Tournament somewhere; it's always good when the two teams get together, because I know I'll get the chance to spend some time with Dolph."

Hansen, the former Hawkeye basketball standout, has spent more time with Dolphin than anyone, sharing the basketball broadcasts since that initial 1997-98 season. Prior to 1997, Hansen did Hawkeye basketball games with Jim Zabel on WHO radio in Des Moines.

"I have been around a lot of different broadcasters," said Hansen. "I had worked with Jim and had been around Bob Brooks and Ron Gonder when the three all broadcast Iowa basketball. When Iowa was preparing to make the change, going with one broadcast team, I already knew Gary from his work with the American Cancer Society here in Iowa and his work at Northwestern (Dolphin broadcast Wildcat basketball games before taking his current position). So, I had talked to Bob Bowlsby about a guy like Gary. Bob said, 'we think he's going to be our guy.'

"It was a very difficult situation that Gary handled with a lot of class, and respect," added Hansen. "I always admired the way he handled that transition; not only among the broadcasters, but with Ed Podolak and I as well. A big part of what we do is the travel. Gary is very easy to travel with; he enjoys people, enjoys the flavors of the Big Ten cities and other areas that we have visited.

Following the trip to North Carolina, Dolphin will find time later this summer for a trip out west, again to see national sites he has yet to visit. His traveling partner is Mike Muir, a fellow Dubuque resident (and stepfather of former Hawkeye OL Pete McMahon). Dolphin and Muir share many of the same interests and have traveled together each summer for the past 10 years.

"We've been all throughout Virginia, east and south, most of the places where great battles took place," said Dolphin. "We're going back to Gettysburg, most likely next year. Two years from now is the 150-year anniversary, so we want to get back before that. We've been to Talladega (Alabama) for the race the last few years and have tied that in as well, but not this summer."

Traveling west instead, the Dubuque pair plan to visit Little Big Horn in Montana, then stop and visit Mt. Rushmore on their way back to the Hawkeye state. All before starting another football season in the broadcast booth.