He, or more accurately his voice, is hard to miss. Especially on the Northern Nevada radio airwaves.
Ryan Radtke is the radio play-by-play commentator for the three biggest sports teams in the area: Nevada football, Nevada men’s basketball and the Reno Aces. Covering all three teams, he doesn’t get much time off. His lone break sits in the brief lull between the end of the Nevada basketball season and the start of Reno Aces’. His yearly “vacation” has been as short as five days.
So he’s on the air. A lot. That’s where he belongs. His voice, or rather his gift, was made for the masses
“That’s God-given right there. It’s funny, sometimes players ask me (if I had vocal lessons). It’s just God-given,” Radtke said. “People ask me ‘Oh did someone tell you that you have a good voice, you should go into radio?’ And no, it’s kind of what I always wanted to do. It just worked out that way.”
There’s an emphasis on “kind of.” Like any young boy growing up, Radtke had allusions of becoming a professional athlete. But when he realized “his athleticism, or lack thereof” was going to prevent that, it was on to plan B. His mother, however, would tell you broadcasting was always plan A.
Watching games as a boy, he would not emulate the athletes. Instead, he would try to mimic the broadcasters.
While his mother may have always had an idea, he didn’t realize broadcasting was in his future until his final two years of high school at De La Salle High in Concord, Calif. Knowing a friend of a friend, he sat in on a Dodgers-Giants broadcast with Hank Greenwald, Ted Robinson and Mike Krukow. He was sold.
“I was pretty much hooked,” Radtke said. “Hank Greenwald spent a bunch of time talking to me, and I just thought this is greatest thing ever … He treated me like royalty, and I just thought, ‘this is pretty neat.’”
So one year later, when Radtke was cut from his high school basketball team and his coach asked if was interested in doing play-by-play for the team’s local TV broadcast, he didn’t hesitate.
He has now been in the Triple-A booth since 2003, moving with the Aces to Reno in 2009. He jumped on board with Nevada athletics at the same time.
Now a staple in the Northern Nevada athletic community, he still can’t choose covering one sport over another.
“I don’t have a preference,” he said. “I’ll tell you that they all have their own unique challenges. I think without a doubt baseball is the most challenging because the amount of games, 144 games in 152 days. You’re working solo … You’re responsible for every aspect, from setting up the equipment to doing the pregame show.”
It is that time commitment that he believes is the most widely inaccurately preconceived notion of his job.
“I think what people probably don’t know or understand is the amount of prep work that goes into every single broadcast,” he said. “You have to be prepared. You have to put the work in because if you don’t, it’s going to show … This is a lot different than buying a ticket, coming out, having a hot dog and watching the game.”
After each baseball game, he goes over notes for upwards of an hour and-a-half. Then on game day he does another three hours of research before showing up to the park at 2:30 p.m. for a 7:05 p.m. start time.
He spends the majority of the week in the fall preparing for Nevada’s football games, and the basketball season is even faster with multiple games a week.
He’s seen a lot. But when asked the favorite call of his career, he hesitates. Even Radtke, with one of the richest voices you’ll hear, doesn’t like listening to himself. Like most would assume, however, he reluctantly picks Nevada’s 2010 overtime home victory over No. 4 Boise State, ending the Broncos’ BCS hopes.
“I don’t really like the sound of my own voice. I’m serious,” Radtke said. “I think the one people probably associate me with is Boise State. My head exploded, and I lost my mind. But I guess I don’t (have a favorite) because I don’t spend a lot of time listening to myself.”
In that contest, Nevada tied the game at 31 with 13 seconds left only for Boise State to connect on a bomb to set up a 26-yard chip shot for placekicker Kyle Brotzman in the middle of the field with two seconds left.
Radtke’s call: Austin Pettis the hold. Snap, spot, here it comes, it’s on the way. And it is … No good! He missed it! Kyle Brotzman missed it! Unbelievable! Unbelievable! We’re going to overtime! He missed a 26-yarder from the middle of the field! Unreal!
Calls like that one and the amount of preparation he puts into each broadcast have made him widely considered one the better up-and-coming broadcasters in the nation. But he’s in no rush to leave. Not yet at least.
“I am, and I recognize this, incredibly blessed to be where I am and doing what I’m doing,” he said. “There are a lot of people that would give a lot to be in my situation. I hope I get that opportunity (to move up) but if not, all I’m going to do is just keeping working as hard as I can and see what happens.”
To listen to Radtke finish out the Aces season, tune into KPLY 630 AM. You can catch him covering Nevada football and men’s basketball on ESPN 94.5 FM.