Newswire photo courtesy of Paul Fritschner | Newswire staff writer Paul Fritschner poses with broadcaster Mike Schmaltz. The two team up to commentate Xavier athletic games.
Over the years, Xavier fans have become accustomed to hearing the voice of Joe Sunderman on the airwaves when they tune into the radio broadcast of a men’s basketball game. Now, there is a new voice those in the Xavier community have grown to know and love: Mike Schmaltz. The 49-year-old is a Swiss Army Knife when it comes to broadcasting, as he broadcasts nearly every Xavier sport besides men’s basketball.
A native of Cincinnati, the Moeller High School graduate never intended to go into broadcasting.
“I tried out for baseball, and the guy I was throwing with was kind of my size, but his arm was like Major League. He started ripping. He was throwing line drives and I was throwing rainbows, I thought, ‘Well this isn’t going to work.’ I tried to find a way to stay around (sports),” Schmaltz said.
After finishing his education at Ohio University, his first exposure to Xavier came when he interned for Tom Eiser in athletic communications in the early 1990s. Back then, in the pre-Cintas Center era, the offices were housed over in Schmidt Fieldhouse. After his internship ended, it was almost a decade before Schmaltz found his way back to Victory Parkway.
In 2002, he was working for Kentucky Motor Speedway when he got a call that Xavier needed a play-by-play announcer for a women’s basketball game. He had no experience behind a microphone, but took the opportunity that was presented to him.
Little did he know at the time, there was an ulterior motive behind the request to broadcast the games.
Teams are given a certain number of timeouts to call throughout the game, but what some people might not know is that there are also a set number of timeouts during games that are not called by coaches.
These are called media timeouts, and they generally happen every four to five minutes. Head Coach Kevin McGuff was in his first season as coach of the women’s team, and to use his allotted media timeouts, he needed a media member at the games.
While he didn’t know it at the time, Schmaltz broadcasting the games was a win-win: It allowed the team to gain exposure through the broadcasts, and it allowed McGuff the ability to utilize the media timeouts.
Schmaltz still remains the main voice for women’s basketball. He was on the call when the Musketeers lost a heartbreaker in the Elite Eight in 2010. He has broadcasted the careers of two of Xavier’s best women’s basketball players in history, Amber Harris and Ta’Shia Phillips. Both women were drafted in the first round of the WNBA draft.
His work has led him all over the country. He has commentated games at Madison Square Garden, Cameron Indoor Stadium and Phogg Allen Fieldhouse, among other notable venues.
“Mike is the ultimate team player and has been invaluable to Xavier over the years, as he’s been willing to work any event big or small,” said Brendan Bergen, who works in communications for Xavier Athletics. “He’s always in a good mood, has a lot of fun with our broadcasts, and clearly loves Xavier more than anybody.”
It’s not hard to find someone who will speak highly of Schmaltz, both because of the excellence of his work on the air and the quality of his persona off the air.
“Schmaltz is a great asset to us as a broadcaster and media personality,” said Patrick Dillion, the director for marketing in athletics. “To top it off, he is a great guy and someone I am glad is a representative for Xavier Athletics.”
While he started off broadcasting women’s basketball, he has taken on other sports like men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and baseball in recent years.
When Xavier joined the Big East in 2013, the Big East Digital Network was formed. Schmaltz pioneered the way for Xavier to enter on the platform.
“It’s been neat to watch (Xavier) grow,” he said. “I never expected to be doing any of this, or doing it this long either.”
By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~