The Godfather departs

John Walters official WOI photo.

One of the good guys is departing local TV.

But don’t tear up yet for John Walters. Just because WOI’s sports director is leaving in June, he’ll still be doing the job he’s gained the most recent fame from as the voice of the Iowa State Cyclones football and men’s basketball.

The Godfather will work full-time for the ISU Athletics in a move he’s been hoping to land for quite some time.

Walters is a graduate of Drake University. He spent time at KCCI and has been sports director at WOI since 1996.

ISU Radio Crew
Here's a photo of Iowa State Football Radio network team taken the day ISU beat Nebraska in Lincoln. L to R - Eric Heft (color), Ben Bruns (sideline), some old man found sleeping in the press box, John Walters (pbp). "Wally" is holding up 9 fingers for the 9 points that were all it took to win. (Bob Foster photo and caption copy writer.)

Here’s a photo of John and the rest of the ISU Football Radio network crew. The picture was taken after the Cyclones beat Nebraska in Lincoln on October 24, 2009. That was the same day Iowa beat Michigan State in East Lansing on the Marvin McNutt slant route and Michael and Jen Graham were married….(Mike still doesn’t care about what happened in the Cyclone game.)

Sorry, back to the photo… my first play-by-play teacher Bob Foster, provided the picture. He’s the between Ben Bruns and John. Eric Heft is on the far left of the picture. The nine fingers represent the points ISU scored en route to 9-7 victory.

Some of John’s Cyclone calls were heard around the world. This video is from the great plays in the Oklahoma State Football game when the Cyclones shocked the world.

Another big game in the era of Paul Rhoades was this Cyclone win at Texas.

One of my favorite John Walters memories comes from his early days at Channel 5. He was anchoring and the tape wasn’t ready. So John had to stretch. A lot. He finally resorted to “We now go to the Dean Smith four-corner stall…” all while smiling on camera, waiting for the tape to play. I’m pretty sure the tape still hasn’t rolled….

Best to John as he leaves the grind of TV news for a life in academics, errr, athletics.

The WOI press release is below. The full story can be found here.

WEST DES MOINES, IA — ABC5 News announced today ABC5 Sports Director John Walters will be leaving ABC5 News in June to take a full-time position with the Iowa State University Athletics Department. John has served as Sports Director for ABC5 since June, 1996. In addition to his daily duties with the station, John also anchored a wide variety of sports series and specials, including an 11 year run with “Friday Night Blitz”. John, a 1984 graduate of Drake University, has been part of the local sports broadcasting landscape for nearly thirty years. First, as a sports reporter for KCCI-TV, under the mentorship of Pete Taylor, and then serving as Sports Director for the last 16 years for ABC5. John has been honored as “Iowa Sportscaster of the Year” three times since 2005. In 2001, John and the ABC5 News Sports team were recognized by the Iowa High School Athletic Association for their coverage of high school sports, including their half-hour high school football show “The Friday Night Blitz.” In 2003, John began his role as the radio play-by-play announcer of the Iowa State Cyclones. He also hosts the “Paul Rhoads Show” and the “Fred Hoiberg Show” on ABC5. John and his wife, Joni, have three daughters, Kate, Annie and Kelli. John is making this move with mixed emotions, “I am very excited about this new opportunity with Iowa State, but at the same time I will greatly miss all my colleagues whom I have enjoyed working with here at ABC5. I know the sports department is in great hands with Dave Zawilinski, there is no doubt in my mind he is ready for the challenge.

Iowa State University will announce details of John’s new position on Friday.

At ABC5, Dave Zawilinski will assume the responsibilities as ABC5 Sports Director after John’s departure in mid-June. Dave, a 2005 graduate of Drake University has been with ABC5 for ten years. In 2005, Dave joined ABC5 full-time as a Sports Reporter, and has served as Weekend Sports Anchor since 2010. Zawilinski says, “Over the last 10 years I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with one of the best sportscasters in the business – the things I have learned from John have prepared me for this opportunity. I have some pretty big shoes to fill, but I am looking forward to the challenge. I wish John nothing but the best in his endeavors at Iowa State.”

ABC5 News Director Scott Frederick says, “John Walters will be missed. To be sure, it will be difficult to replace someone of John’s caliber, but Dave Zawilinski is just the guy to do it.”

 Best to John. Maybe we’ll see him around the neighborhood more often.

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