Illinois sports organization honors three broadcasters
Three Illinois sports media icons have been honored by the Illinois High School Association with the IHSA Distinguished Media Service Award.
The award, which was created to honor members of the Illinois media who have spent a large portion of their careers covering high school sports in Illinois and doing so with perspective, was presented to Dave Bernhard, Jim Muir and Don Werntz.
IHSA member schools submit nominations for the award. Lincoln-Way West High School nominated Bernhard, Benton High School nominated Muir, and Durand High School nominated Werntz. Then the IHSA's media advisory committee, as well as a veteran committee of retired media members, voted on the nominees, with those three receiving the required percentage.
Bernhard is a longtime member of the Illinois high school sports community. Starting as a teacher and baseball coach, he moved into a writing position with the Joliet Herald News, then broadcasting on WJOL radio, and hosting a prep sports TV show on south Chicagoland cable. But he's truly risen to local fame as the primary host of the IHSA TV Network, which has broadcast IHSA State Finals since 2000 all across Illinois. In his 37 year career, he has broadcast more than 1,200 high school sporting events and attended another 2,000 as a member of the media.
After 25 years, Jim Muir is retiring as the sports director at WQRL radio after the 2016-17 school year. Muir's career in sports broadcasting started almost at random, as a friend invited him to co-host a Saturday morning high school sports radio show. The show expanded to two hours and then year-round, with more sports added to their coverage. Muir also wrote columns and covered prep sports for the Southern Illinoisan and Benton Evening News, as well as publishing Southern Illinois Sports Connection Magazine for five years.
Don Werntz also had a rather serendipitous start to his broadcasting career, first calling an inning of his Little League baseball team's game while he was injured. This led to a job at the station when he was older; and he has spent his entire career in Northern Illinois, broadcasting high school sports. Werntz has been on the air for 45 years and is already a member of the 2013 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.