Greenwood’s Fischer about to start 50th year as voice of Hoosiers

Most of Don Fischer’s award-winning broadcasting career is in life’s rear-view mirror.

Now 75, the Greenwood resident has lent his distinguishable and oft-copied voice to everything from men’s college basketball’s last unbeaten national champion to would-be tacklers ricocheting off of All-American running back Anthony Thompson.

But if the longtime radio voice of Indiana University football and men’s basketball lost a step in his decades of travels, broadcasts and press-box food, he isn’t showing it.

Fischer was recently informed he would be receiving the prestigious National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame’s Chris Schenkel Award.

On Dec. 6, he’ll attend the NFF awards dinner at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Honors such as the one Fischer will soon take home don’t influence his future plans one way or the other.

“It doesn’t change my perspective on my future in any way,” said Fischer, who a month from today continues his career the same way he started it — announcing IU’s football season opener inside Memorial Stadium. “I’m really doing what I want to do, and pretty much nothing else. Basically, I’m busy from mid-August until the end of men’s basketball season, and then I have four months to play golf.

“I take it year by year at this point. I’ve been very fortunate. The good lord blessed me with really good genes with my parents and grandparents. My grandmother on my mom’s side lived to be 98 and my grandfather lived to be 91.”

Fischer’s mother, Mary Jane, is 96 and living in Oklahoma, so he understandably continues to look ahead, not behind.

The Chris Schenkel Award, named for the Indiana native and former ABC broadcaster who passed away in 2005, recognizes individuals who have had long, distinguished careers broadcasting college football with direct ties to a specific university.

First presented in 1996, the Schenkel Award’s inaugural recipient was Schenkel himself. The only other person with Indiana ties to win it is former Notre Dame football radio voice Tony Roberts in 2005.

Fischer, who was 26 when he began calling IU games, also hosts the weekly coach’s talk show for football and men’s basketball. He’s broadcast over 2,000 games for the Hoosiers, including a dozen bowl games, five men’s Final Fours and the 1976, 1981 and 1987 national championship squads.

The 2022-23 school year marks his 50th.

Starting this fall, Fischer’s unmatched levels of professionalism, reliability and preparation will be complemented by two new members of IU’s broadcasting team.

Former Indiana football player Rhett Lewis (Kleinschmidt), 39, a broadcaster for the NFL Network, succeeds football color analyst Buck Suhr, who announced his retirement in January after 17 seasons.

John Herrick, a news anchor and multimedia content producer for WIBC in Indianapolis, takes over for Joe Smith as the voice of IU football’s pregame and halftime shows. Smith, about to start his 40th and final grid season with the Hoosiers, will mentor Herrick and handle postgame show duties.

“Yeah, it’s going to be different,” Fischer said.

It’s also the kind of infusion of young talent that excites Fischer.

“John Herrick is, I think, is going to be very good. He’s very talented, has a great voice, and I’m really looking forward to working with him,” Fischer said. “Rhett has been with the NFL Network the last eight years. He loves Indiana University, loves IU football and has a great background.”

Herrick and Lewis will undoubtedly have questions as they settle into their new broadcasting roles.

Fortunately, a half-century of experience will be seated nearby.