By Kevin Horn, Special to Panhandle Post
All great radio sports announcers become legends. Lyell Bremser announced Cornhusker football for 45 years. Kent Pavelka has announced over one-thousand NU men’s basketball games.
Vin Scully created radio theatre of the mind announcing Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers baseball from 1950 to 2016. Harry Carey wasn’t far behind, describing St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, and Chicago Cubs baseball for a combined 53 years. And then there is KCOW’s Mike Glesinger.
The 65-year-old Spaulding, NE native has announced Alliance Bulldogs sports on KCOW Radio for 37 years in legendary fashion. Mike recalls that he had missed only one Alliance High football game since 1988. Season number 38 will be his last. Retirement begins on January 1, 2024.
The first two broadcasts of the 2023 Bulldog season have found Glesinger switching positions in the broadcast booth. Mike is the color announcer for his successor, Alex Benzegala, who is now KCOW’s chief play-by-play announcer.
Alex has already announced Bulldog football, softball and volleyball games and Spartan baseball games.
Glesinger's catchphrase is "Oh My!" Alex’s catchphrase following exciting plays is, “Dear, Mama!” The catchphrase comes from his favorite song, "Dear Mama" by the late rapper Tupac Shakur, in honor of his mom.
Benzegala, 31, is a native of Gig Harbor, Washington. "Alliance is a great sports town, and it actually reminds me of my hometown," Alex said. “Alliance really supports their athletes and teams, win or lose.”
Benzegala, who also serves as KCOW’s news director, is very aware he is sharing a microphone with a broadcast legend.
“I was also excited to work with Mike before he retires. His knowledge of past players, coaches and teams is incredible. His stories are wonderful to listen to and very educational.”
Here’s predicting that Glesinger’s memories of serving as the eyes for thousands of listeners since 1986 will linger – to infinity and beyond.
“I truly never thought I would do this for 38 years,” Glesinger admits. “But I got in that comfort zone that I never wanted to leave.”
Glesinger replaced Mike Gastineau, who left Alliance for an announcing job in Virginia. The first game the second Mike G. would announce on KCOW was an eight-man contest in Mullen when the Broncos hosted the Alliance St. Agnes Academy Crusaders in early September 1986.
“To be honest with you, I honestly don’t remember the very first Alliance High football broadcast, he said. “I think it was Alliance at Kimball the week after that St. Agnes-Mullen game.”
His first two years were spent splitting time between Alliance High and St. Agnes. When the Academy closed its high school in May 1988, all his focus turned to the Bulldogs. He has witnessed blazes of glory along the trail.
“Alliance St. Agnes winning the State Volleyball Championship in 1987 was certainly a thrill,” he said. “As were the 1988 and 1989 Alliance High Boys basketball teams that competed at state. They only lost two games in two years. The Bulldog girls’ basketball team also competed at state six of seven years between 1996 and 2002, which was a lot of fun.”
Through 37+ seasons, Glesinger, an avid reader, has been aboard the roller-coaster that includes state champion seasons to those with zero victories.
While the team’s final records have been inconsistent through the years, the coaches and athletic administrators have not.
“No matter whom they were or what they coached, they always have been accessible and very easy to get along with,” Glesinger said. “That isn’t the case with every radio station that covers high school sports in this state. Some athletic directors don’t want to see radio stations around because they have this silly notion that we drive away crowds. That’s not the case in Alliance. Our coaches know the radio station only promotes their programs and helps create interest. That has been the case in Alliance since the day I met Skip Olds." What was the most thrilling moment?
“The 1992 Alliance-Scottsbluff football game was the most exciting high school football game I’ve ever witnessed,” he reminisced. “Late in the game Alliance’s Chris Nelson ran the old guard-around play for something like 40 yards. Alliance then scored a touchdown a few plays later and won the game by four or five points."
Another football thriller took place ten years later. Alliance traveled across the state and beat Beatrice in three overtimes, 35-34.
“Not only was it a thrilling game, but it also gave Alliance its first football playoff victory in the school’s history,” he stressed.
But his top thrill was the Alliance Boys beating Beatrice in the finals of the 2001 Boys State Basketball Tournament and the Alliance Girls State Championship run in March 2007. The most crushing Alliance defeat he ever announced was a four-point overtime loss to Lincoln Pius X in the semifinals of the 2000 Boys State Basketball Tournament. “Alliance should never have lost that game,” he opined. “Heck, we had a lead of at least ten points late in the third quarter. That really stung. But the pain went away the next year when we won state.”
Just like a million other Nebraskans, his favorite team is the Cornhuskers.
“The most exciting athletic event I attended but didn’t announce was the 1978 Nebraska/Oklahoma game in Lincoln. I was a student at the U at the
time. My whole dorm floor sat in the east stands and watched the game together.”
The Cornhuskers upset the No. 1 ranked Sooners and Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims that cold, gray November day, 17-14.
Glesinger moved from the east stands to the press box of Memorial Stadium a few years later to announce NU football games on KRNU, the campus radio station. Each radio station originating a football broadcast had its own private booth.
Now, decades years later, Glesinger enjoys his own private booth at Bulldog Stadium.
The Alliance Booster Club donated $45,000 to build the new facility, which opened in September 2005.
For Glesinger, whose honors include receiving the Alliance Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Service Award in 2016, the press box was well worth the exercise in patience.
“It wasn't the first time I’ve had to wait to get something I really wanted,” he said. “After all, it took me six years to graduate from college. But I tell people that’s because I was red-shirted for two years."
Enjoy the 2023 Alliance Bulldogs football games on KCOW Radio.
Here’s hoping that 38 years of “Oh, My,” will be followed by decades of “Dear, Mama!”
Both catchphrases are legendary.