Rider Nation Station To Broadcast Football Games

Managing Editor

A local station is going to bring a service to St. Marys Roughriders football fans, while also bringing some nostalgia back to life.

Rider Nation Station, which was spearheaded by St. Marys resident Doug Spencer and his family members to air vodcasts in a way to entertain, educate, enlighten and elevate viewers’ perspective about St. Marys via online video interviews of academicians, athletes, business and community leaders, distinguished alumni or anyone with a story to tell is now, is going to venture in broadcasting sports, in particular football this fall. 

Rider Nation Station also broadcast St. Marys Memorial High School’s graduation in May and Spencer said that although Rider Nation Station is venturing off into something new with broadcasting football games, he did add that the station will trend back to its earlier ways with its vodcasts in the winter.

“We had conversations with TSC [Telephone Service Company] and they asked about our interest in broadcasting games,” Spencer said. “My brother Rich and I both used to be involved with the re-broadcast of Memorial Television. … We had a little hesitation when TSC asked us because we knew it was going to be a lot of fun, but also a lot of work and a lot of things can go wrong very easily.”

Game Face Ohio used to broadcast a number of local football games, including a handful of Roughrider games for the last three seasons before President Todd Utrup left the area for different ventures.

Fans can still catch the games through audio on the Rider Nation Station Youtube page. The audio will be live and can be played at any time afterward. As for video, per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, high school football games cannot be broadcasted live. Video will be uploaded to the Rider Nation Station Youtube site and played on TSC’s cable channels after the game.

Rider Nation Station will broadcast four of the five home games this season — with the first game being Sept. 20 in the home opener against Van Wert. The lone home game that will not be broadcasted will be the Oct. 18 against Bath because Spencer’s brother’s son is getting married in Connecticut, but the station will resume broadcasting for its lone away game, Oct. 25 at Celina.

And with that service of airing games for all Roughrider fans to see and listen, Spencer — continuing Rider Nation Station theme of reliving the nostalgia of everything St. Marys, Spencer wanted to continue that theme by bringing back an old voice to the booth.

Longtime color commentator with the late Ralph Guarnieri Joe Hurlburt will be Rider Nation Station’s play-by-play man. 2005 MHS graduate Zach Ferrall is going to split the color commentary duties with Jim Sweigart, a former high school football official, for the first two home games.

Hurlburt was a color commentator for Guarnieri for 25 years, but when Guarnieri passed away in 2005, that’s when Hurlburt hung up his headset.

“When we decided that we were going to do this, I wanted Joe because I needed instant credibility if we were going to pull listeners in to watch our live broadcast and listen to our audio stream, I am going to need instant credibility,” Spencer said. “St. Marians, we are definitely connected to the past so I think they are going to be very excited to hear Joe’s voice once again in broadcasting Roughrider football games.” 

“It’s been almost 15 years since I have done this, but I have done a lot of games in the past,” Hurlburt said. “And most of my time has been color commentating and statistics, but I have done some play-by-play in both football and basketball and I helped Doug out when he did MTV through the high school.

Hurlburt described getting back into the booth like riding a bike. He said he has watched games on TV where he has run things through his mind as to how he would say it if he were in the booth instead.

“When you sit besides somebody for so long — and I think we [he and Guarnieri] did a couple thousand games together, and maybe even more — so with some of that style has rubbed off and I will probably give some kind of Ralph flare to it. But I couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Ralph. He was good.”

Spencer said his job now is to find sponsorships for the broadcasts. If interested, contact ridernationstation@gmail.com or call Spencer at 419-953-6731. To watch or listen to the games, subscribe to the Rider Nation Station Youtube page.

For the full story, read Thursday's print edition of The Evening Leader.