Broadcasting is family tradition for Fleming

Tim Fleming of KGLO radio in Mason City loves sports and loves serving his community. Fleming has worked in broadcasting for nearly 50 years, the last 45 years at KGLO.

Tim Fleming.

Keeping busy is apparently Fleming’s motto. He is the Operations Manager, Sports Director and morning show host at the station. He is involved in numerous community activities as well.

Here are excerpts of an interview Paul Yeager, Iowa PBS, and Cliff Brockman, retired journalism professor, conducted with Fleming for the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting.

Radio broadcasting is in the family genes. Was there any doubt you were going to do anything but radio? No, there was never a doubt. Not at all. I knew very, very young that I wanted to be a broadcaster. My dad was a broadcaster. When I was a freshman in high school, you know how they give you those little quiz things? Put down your top 10 list of what you want to be when you grow up? Well, I put down radio, radio, radio, radio, radio, radio, radio, radio, radio, radio.

When did you call your first game? I did my first play by play with my dad, I was 15 or 16, 17. At halftime I was running around getting some stats at a football game. And he had always joked, he said, ‘Well listen, you got to do play by play sometime.’ And so he came back and opened up the second half. And he said, ‘and now with the second half play by play, here’s Tim Fleming.’ And he stood up and he walked away. And I paused for a moment and said ‘Thanks, Pat.’ And so I just jumped in and took off.

How do you prepare for games?
For me, it was sitting at home at night, filling out football charts for games for multiple teams. And honestly, the hardest part back then was we didn’t have access to the internet, you just couldn’t pull up rosters and do all of those things that you can do now. It was a little more challenging, because you had to rely on coaches, and actual communication from the high schools and junior colleges, things like that, to send you, you know, hey, can you fax me your starting lineup? Who do this? Does that? Those kinds of things.

You do a morning shift at the radio station, then do play by play of games at night. How do you do that? I’ve always said sleep was way overrated. I could be up early in the morning, and I could broadcast games at night still. On top of that, if my kids had any other activities that they were involved in, they were always involved in something (I would go to that). My day was a little disjointed and probably still is in a lot of ways, but I still enjoy it.

What was it like to call your kid’s games? It was pretty special, honestly. But I can remember specifically telling the kids that when they did something good, I would probably just make it sound pretty average in the broadcast. Where somebody else, if they did something good, they probably got a little extra punch of the play by play. But if they did something spectacular, then it would show in my voice, my inflection. It’s been kind of fun too, because I even had a chance to call my granddaughter’s games.

Besides your work at the radio station, you’re very involved in the community.
I think if you’re going to be at a community radio station, you need to be in the community. I’ve served on a lot of boards and a lot of committees. I never thought I’d be a Girl Scout. But  I was a Girl Scout board member. I was on the RSVP board. I’m still a Salvation Army board member. I was a school board member at Newman Catholic for seven years. And usually, if somebody in the community says, ‘Hey, Tim, will you (volunteer for something)’ there’s a pretty good chance that I’m going to say yes. And it’s almost a running joke in our family.

What keeps you going? How long are you going to keep doing this? What keeps me going is the interest in, and just being a part of the community, and I still think that’s a key for me. I made a deal with my wife a long time ago that if she ever turned on the radio, and she thought I didn’t sound good, then pick up the phone and call me and tell me to come home and don’t go back. So far, so good.

Fleming is part of a  three-generation broadcast family.  His father Pat Fleming was a radio broadcaster for many years at WDBQ and KDTH in Dubuque. His daughter Amy is an anchor at KIMT-TV in Mason City. His son Eric handles many positions with the Alpha Media stations, daughter Kimberly is a first-grade teacher in Mason City and was a part-timer at KGLO while in high school and college, and his wife Sue even worked in the KGLO main office for one year.

Tim Fleming was the 2013 Jack Shelley Award winner, the Iowa Broadcast News Association’s highest honor, and he has won many other IBNA and Associated Press awards for his work.