Racine Raiders Football Club | Racine, Wis. |

History of Racine Raiders Radio Broadcasts

Gary Suhr circa 1974

Legendary Racine broadcaster Gary Suhr had a vision for WRJN when he took a job at the station early in 1962. At the time, the station aired just one local sports contest a year – the annual Park/Horlick football game.

Suhr saw the opportunity and quickly expanded the live sports coverage to include more high school games and sports, University of Wisconsin-Parkside basketball broadcasts, and the Racine Raiders.

“Once we got started, I said, ‘If we’re doing the Park-Horlick game, why not do other home games?'” Suhr told the Journal Times in 1991. “And since so many people come to see the home games, why not do the out-of-town games that a lot of people don’t get to see but can listen to on the radio?”

1965 The Journal Times blurb about some of the first Raiders broadcasts carried on WRJN.Suhr started doing just Raiders road games in 1963, and that started a 52-year partnership between the radio station and team, one of the longest such relationships in the country.

Suhr, still known as the voice of Racine sports even 14 years since he called his last game on the airwaves, called his last Raiders game in 2001. Suhr’s last game for the Raiders was the 2001 United States Football Association national title win against the Scranton Eagles.

Joe Mooney, who was by Suhr’s side as his color commentator for several years, slid over to take on play-by-play duties in 2002 and John Wosyk joined him in the booth handling the color commentary. It was only fitting that Mooney, one of the men that shaped the organization into the community-based non-profit it is today, took over for a legend in the community.

Joe Mooney, Don Wadewitz, and John Wosyk broadcasting from the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn.With Gary retiring and Mooney taking over, the relationship between WRJN and the Raiders changed slightly. Suhr had been a WRJN employee so there was a natural reason for the radio station to sell advertising, provide equipment, and put in the significant effort required to broadcast a game. The Raiders and WRJN easily navigated the changing times with the Raiders taking over much more of the sales and administrative efforts of broadcasting the games. The team also started paying WRJN a greatly reduced fee to cover the air time and carry the games.

The Raiders continued Suhr’s cutting-edge legacy with their broadcasts on WRJN. In 2005, the Raiders began carrying the broadcasts online for fans that lived outside of WRJN’s reach. Then, in 2006, Don Wadewitz was added as the sideline reporter. The Raiders were the first known adult amateur team to have online broadcasts available and a sideline reporter as part of their broadcast crew.

The media crew following the Raiders 2012 National Championship win.There was another shift in the relationship between WRJN and the Raiders in 2011. Mooney and Wosyk left the broadcast booth following the 2010 season. Wadewitz took over and Tom Christensen, a former semi-pro player and radio engineer, joined the broadcast in 2011 as the color commentator.

The board of directors felt the cost of producing the broadcasts wasn’t viable and looked at several options, including possibly no longer doing broadcasts of the games. The leadership at WRJN continued to negotiate with the team and the two sides came to an agreement that would keep the Raiders on the WRJN airwaves for several more years.

It was a mutual partnership where the Raiders supplied the equipment, manpower, and other costs associated with producing the games and WRJN sold advertising, keeping the proceeds to cover the cost of air time that the Raiders had been paying for since Suhr retired and a studio producer to handle the behind-the-scenes efforts on game nights. It was a win-win scenario for both partners.

The Raiders would add Raider Roundup in 2011 as an online offering. It became a 30 minute show on WRJN on Saturday mornings in 2012 and then transitioned to the Coach’s Show in 2013.

Bliss Communications sold WRJN to Magnum Media in 2014 and the focus of the station changed slightly, including a format change. Despite the first two games of the 2015 season not being carried by WRJN, the Raiders and Magnum Media were able to ensure that the remainder of the season was broadcast on WRJN. The Coach’s Show moved to be part of Midday Conversations with Ted Ehlen. Evan Witalison began hosting a postgame show with highlights and callers. Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to come to an agreement for the 2016 season.

WIPZ, 101.5 FM, Ranger Radio logoThe Raiders began a search for a new radio home in Racine and Kenosha. The team was quickly able to find a new home on WIPZ, 101.5 FM, Ranger Radio, a community-based station run by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

It extended on a vision set by former Raiders president Matthew Snyder to form a partnership with UW-Parkside. Along with carrying the games and the weekly Raider Roundup show, the Raiders started working with the sports management, communications, and marketing departments at UW-Parkside to develop internships that offered students practical experiences in the operations of a sports team.

Once again, the Raiders were able to develop a win-win relationship with an important member of the community. Ranger Radio broadcasts at 101.5 FM, through their website at www.wipz.org, and via the TuneIn app for mobile devices.