By Cleary Percy
Staff writer

It has been quite the broadcasting career for Glen Grunwald.

After 39 years of calling sports games across Kansas, the voice of Blue Dragon and Salthawk sports is taking a step back in calling games.

Grunwald will move to broadcasting only Hutchinson High School games beginning this fall. He has completed his career in calling Hutchinson Community College games with the men’s basketball team’s NJCAA quarterfinal loss to Connors State.

His broadcasting journey through the years has been fascinating.

Grunwald said he began broadcasting for a radio station out of Larned, Kansas, initially working as a color commentator. At least for the first fall.

“The very first game of the basketball season came around, and the guy that was working with me that was going to do the play-by-play, all of a sudden says, ‘and here’s your play-by-play (announcer) Glen Grunwald’, got up and walked away,” Grunwald said.

 “I kind of was forced into it, at a small (radio) station, small school at Larned, and I liked it and had a natural knack for it.”

While being a local broadcaster, Grunwald also worked in the pharmacology field, both as a salesman and eventually went into management. When asked what it was like handling his career and being a broadcaster, Grunwald said that it wasn’t too much of an issue.

“Initially, if we were playing out in Garden City, I’d go work in Garden City, calling doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies there, go to the games that night, and stay overnight,” Grunwald said.

Grunwald’s path to broadcasting games in Hutchinson was forged by friendships and some late-night NJCAA tournament calls.

“I did a game late one night, and I think the game started around 10:30 p.m.,” Grunwald said. “Nobody was in the arena, I didn’t think anybody was listening, but the station manager was listening, called me the next day, and said can we get together to chat? That’s how I got my break here.”

Grunwald would go on to work with local sports broadcasting legend Rusty Hilst for more than 20 years. Hilst retired from broadcasting in 2019.

Another way that Grunwald made connections was through the NJCAA men’s basketball tournament in Hutchinson. Grunwald said that initially, he didn’t have any broadcasting responsibilities – he would coordinate who sits where in the broadcast booth, and the assignment for incoming radio stations. It was after he became the voice of Blue Dragon sports that Grunwald became part of the broadcasting crew.

Grunwald noted that HutchCC business instructor Dan “Coach Nac” Naccarato has been involved with radio for about 10 years, helping Hilst with Hutch High broadcasts, while he would help with the video streaming. When Hilst retired, Grunwald became the play-by-play man, and Naccarato became the color commentator. Affectionately calling Naccarato his “sidekick”, Grunwald noted that they had been a team for five years running.

When asked what calling Blue Dragon sports has meant to him, Grunwald said that he feels a sense of pride, noting that he has been a Blue Dragon fan nearly his whole life. He remembered a trip that his high school took to the NJCAA tournament while he was a senior, all the way back in 1967.

A statistic that emphasizes just how incredible of a career Grunwald has had is the amount of Blue Dragon games he’s had the chance to broadcast – more than 1,500 games.

“I have a very forgiving wife that allows me to do all that traveling,” Grunwald joked.

Calling the Blue Dragons’ men’s basketball team’s and football team’s national championship runs in 2017 and 2021, as well as getting to call his first state basketball championship game were some of his most memorable moments as a broadcaster, Grunwald said.

Grunwald has won multiple broadcasting awards, such as the KIAAA Sportscaster of the Year, the Hod Huminston Award, and being a finalist for the Kansas Sportscaster of the Year.

When asked what advice he would give to an aspiring broadcaster, Grunwald’s message was short and sweet.

“Just get involved,” Grunwald said, “There’s only one way to learn how to do it, and that’s to jump in and do it.”

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