When longtime Cyclone radio announcer Pete Taylor died March 5, Cyclone fans worried his eventual successor might not share Taylor's unique passion for Cyclone athletics and his broadcast professionalism.
Three months later, Clear Channel Communications, which owns the rights to Cyclone sports broadcasts, and Iowa State have hired one of Taylor's best friends and prot‚g‚s.
WOI-TV sports director John Walters will be introduced as the new play-by-play announcer for ISU football and men's basketball at a news conference Wednesday, athletics department officials said Monday.
"I understand probably as well as anybody what Pete Taylor meant to Iowa State," Walters said.
Taylor died of complications from a stroke after 33 years as "the voice of the Cyclones."
Walters said he would not look to assume that moniker as the new radio play-by-play broadcaster.
"As far as the expression 'Voice of the Cyclones' goes, in my mind. [That] will always be Pete," he said.
Walters has been sports director at WOI since June 1996, according to the station's Web site. Walters has also served as television play-by-play announcer for ISU men's basketball games and hosted "The Larry Eustachy Show."
Walters worked with Taylor when Taylor was sports director at KCCI-TV. Walters started working there in 1982, and Taylor left to take a position with the ISU athletics department in 1990.
"Everything I've learned in this business, I learned from Pete," Walters said.
Walters said his friendship with Taylor was just as important to him as that professional relationship.
"He hired me back in 1982 while I was at Drake," he said. "But more than any [professional relationship], he was such a tremendous friend.
"It's a great loss not having him around any more."
Walters said he was looking forward to working with Eric Heft, the Cyclone Radio Network's color analyst for the last 24 years.
"I just have a world of respect for him as a color analyst," he said.
One of Walters' peers said the hire was the right move. WHO-TV sports director Keith Murphy called Walters "the perfect choice."
"He's a good broadcaster and a better person," Murphy said.
"I think its important to Iowa State fans that they have a good play-by-play announcer, but its even more important they like and know and trust that person," Murphy added. "He's a very loyal and good person. He'll do a great job."
Murphy said the process of becoming the new Cyclones broadcaster has not been easy for Walters.
"He has not campaigned for the job because Pete was his best friend," Murphy said. "This is John's dream job, but he did not want to get it this way."
Steve Deace, publisher of Cyclone Nation magazine and a sports talk show host on KXNO-AM, said he is happy Walters was chosen.
"I think its been a very positive experience," Deace said. "I like and respect John as a friend and colleague. I think he'll do an excellent job."
KXNO is also owned by Clear Channel Communications. Deace said he saw audition tapes and r‚sum‚s arriving from all over the country nearly every day in recent months.
ISU athletics director Bruce Van De Velde said Walters was the best choice for the position.
"John brings everything to the table we wanted in a new play-by-play announcer," he said. "Pete Taylor would have wanted John to follow in his footsteps."
Walters said he would continue as WOI's sports director with a slightly reduced workload.