Passing the Mic to the Next Generation
April 19, 2023
For over fifteen years, the voice of the Tigers has been Tony Birk and John Spears. The highly recognizable duo are now mentoring the next generation of St. X broadcasters.
Birk and Spears are both members of St. X’s class of 1981. They were close friends in high school and both share a passion for sports. Spears started behind the microphone as a junior at St. X while Birk was on the court as the starting point guard.
Spears credits his broadcasting opportunities to athletic director Jerry Mayes and professionals such as Rick Van Hoose, Paul Willman and current WDRB broadcaster Tom Lane. They taught him to always be himself on the air as well as how to prepare for sporting events.
“These men taught me the work ethic and mentality that I would need to eventually become play-by-play man, which I did in 2004,” Spears said.
It wasn’t until 2007 when Spears and Birk would team up in the booth to start their own legacy. Spears had moved into radio by transitioning from the sideline reporter to the play-by-play announcer for the Bisig Impact Group for football and basketball. Since then, the dynamic duo has provided entertaining and quality broadcasts for the St. X community, and now they are looking for the next versions of themselves in the halls of St. X.
Sophomore Matthew Lynn is the student on-air personality for the Tiger Sports Network: St. X’s primarily student-run sports broadcast. Spears and Birk’s advice to Lynn has included how to prepare for a game, when to provide stats on the air and when to just have fun and enjoy it.
“John and Tony have been amazing mentors to me, and in the broadcasting world experience is everything,” Lynn said. “They have so much more experience than I do, so they showed me how to use all the equipment, and how to make roster and stat sheets, too. Learning and observing from what they have taught me has made a tremendous impact on how I keep getting better game by game and show by show.”
While Birk and Spears have devoted decades of their lives to the Tigers on the air, the two are passing the mic and all of their lessons learned to the next generation.