Ever listen to a Penn State game on the radio? How about a Final Four broadcast? You can thank a guy whose roots are in Warren County.
His mom and my mom were sisters, part of the legendary Jones family from Sheffield. His grandpa, and mine too for that matter, founded Jones Chevrolet.
He is Jim Host.
Never heard of him? Most people haven’t. But Jim had more to do with college sports broadcasting than you realize.
Host’s parents moved out of Kane when the tannery there closed. After several moves, his family found its way to Kentucky. It was there that Jim’s good pitching arm got him a baseball scholarship. It was the beginning of a relationship with collegiate sports that turned into his life’s work.
Eventually, Jim’s baseball path got turned into a dead end road. Still, in love with being connected to college sports, he found his way behind a microphone. He had suffered through college games that were not well produced. That led him to change the quality of play-by-play and overall production of the broadcasts.
As someone who worked at radio stations that carried college sports; I can tell you that things were done on a shoestring. Poor audio quality because of line losses and relays.
Jim Host was the first to connect things via satellite. Host Communications is no longer owned by my cousin, but remains one of the top providers of college sports broadcast services (Editor’s note: Host Communications was purchased by International Management Group in 2008). Many schools and leagues like the Big 10 and the NCAA itself use Host or they pattern their systems after what Jim Host developed.
For the last several decades Jim was deeply involved in several sports venue construction projects. The KFC Yum Center was one of his last triumphs.