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Sept. 24, 2003

Purdue to name radio booth, student fund for announcer John DeCamp

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University has honored longtime radio announcer and administrator John R. DeCamp – known to Boilermaker fans as the "Voice of Purdue" – with the naming of a radio booth at the Ross-Ade Stadium pavilion and establishing a student-assistance fund.

Morgan Burke, John DeCamp
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The radio booth, occupied by the Purdue Radio Network, is located in the new Shively Media Center. DeCamp a Kendallville, Ind., native, was the Purdue football and basketball play-by-play announcer for 43 years, including three years as a student broadcaster for the university radio station, WBAA.

DeCamp later worked as the chief announcer, sports director and eventually station manager of WBAA, which became the flagship station of the Purdue Sports Radio Network. He finished his career as director of public relations and promotions for intercollegiate athletics and retired in 1986.

DeCamp was also part of the Indianapolis 500 Radio Network Team for 22 years. He was named "Top Broadcaster of the Year" in Indiana in 1971, was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1974 and was chosen for the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996.

DeCamp has touched many lives during his career, including contemporaries and young broadcasters whose names became household words in the media, said Morgan Burke, director of intercollegiate athletics.

Richard Shively, who also did play-by-play work as a student for WBAA in the late 1930s and whose gift helped fund the Ross-Ade Stadium renovation, said, "Naming the radio booth in John's honor is absolutely the right thing to do. He created the Purdue network and was a dedicated ambassador for the university for his entire career."

Another Purdue graduate, Chris Schenkel, who worked with DeCamp at WBAA and went on to have a long career with ABC Sports, said, "His style and the way he brought the event to you were something special. I am pleased that the university is doing this for John."

DeCamp whose health has kept him from attending recent games, said, "I feel honored to know that my alma mater has chosen to place my name on the radio booth. Some of my most enjoyable moments were spent doing radio play-by-play from the old press box at Ross-Ade Stadium. To have my name on the wall of the new booth in the Shively Media Center is certainly an honor."

But the on-air accomplishments of DeCamp are only part of his legacy.

Burke said, "Those who worked with him on a personal level remember his dedication to the hundreds of young employees and students with whom he worked. Always ready to teach with a word of advice or an enlightening anecdote from his varied experiences behind the microphone, John served as a mentor and role model to many people, including C-SPAN founder and CEO Brian Lamb, ABC's Schenkel and the current voices of Boilermaker football, Joe McConnell and Tim Newton."

The John Purdue Club is working to establish an endowment to honor DeCamp's career.

"The purpose of the endowment is to provide financial support for the students who work in Purdue's Sports Information Office," said Nancy Cross, associate athletic director who earlier in her career worked alongside DeCamp in promotions. "Specifically, this fund will support students who work on game broadcasts or Web casts of various varsity sports and just might uncover the next 'voice of Purdue', like DeCamp did for McConnell."

McConnell said, "We are all products of people who influenced us in the formative period of our lives. Since I knew what I wanted to do at an early age, John DeCamp is one of the announcers I listened to most often. His descriptive style of play-by-play is one thing that I tried to incorporate into my delivery. Prior to television, the radio announcer really had to be the eyes for the listener. I learned that from John. I also adopted his love for Purdue, and when I graduated from Franklin College and got my first job at WBAA, he was my first boss. I consider him to be my mentor and a very close friend."

DeCamp, 82, added, "I can't think of any way I would rather be remembered than to have upcoming play-by-play announcers benefit from my career. Two words – 'perspicacity' and 'perseverance' – come to mind in describing my own career. I felt keenness in judgment and discernment plus a high degree of stick-to-itiveness were always important qualities. Success is a matter of having a proper attitude. I was given a job, a chance to travel, and an opportunity to meet a lot of great people and learn from guys who had already achieved. I have tried to do the same for others who came along wanting to learn and succeed. Hopefully, this fund will assist some young people achieve their dreams as I was able to achieve mine."

Anyone interested in honoring John DeCamp by assisting the next generation of sports broadcasters may contact the John Purdue Club at (765) 494-3248 or (800) 213-2238 for more details.

Writer: Jim Vruggink, (765) 494-2086; jvruggink@purdue.edu

Source: Morgan Burke, (765) 494-3189, mjb@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

 

PHOTO CAPTION:
Morgan Burke (left), Purdue's director of intercollegiate athletics, shakes hands with John DeCamp, known as the "Voice of Purdue" for his 43 years of radio broadcasting of Boilermaker football games. The radio booth in Ross-Ade Stadium's new pavilion is being named for DeCamp. A student-assistance fund for student broadcasters also is being established in his name. (Photo courtesy of Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/burke.decamp.jpeg.


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