Former Woodford Sun sports editor Mack Calvert dies - Was longtime voice of WCHS athletics
Longtime radio voice of Woodford County High School athletics and former Woodford Sun sports editor Stewart McBrayer “Mack” Calvert Jr. died at his Versailles home on Sunday, Dec. 31. He was 59.
Born in Owenton, Calvert graduated from WCHS in 1976.
Calvert majored in communications at the University of Kentucky and wanted to become a sports announcer. He auditioned and was selected to do play-by-play for the university’s radio station, WBKY, during his freshman year in college. Radio announcing was his career choice, he told The Woodford Sun in an April 1986 interview, because it was something he liked, and not just to make money. “If I had to spend 10 or 20 hours a day doing it,” he said, “it wouldn’t bother me.”
For more than 30 years, Calvert did play-by-play for WCHS football and basketball games. He and color analyst Darrin Douglas worked together for more than two decades calling games.
“We both love what we are doing and we are actually friends off the air,” said Douglas during a December 2011 interview. He said their on-air chemistry took a while to develop, but soon they fed off each other’s game observations. “We make each other laugh. We make each other better in a broadcast,” Douglas said.
During an interview on Tuesday, Douglas described Calvert as “my mentor, my best friend and … a big brother to me.” “He was an introvert off the air and was the picture of personality and professionalism on the air,” added Douglas. He said Calvert took him under his wing as a 14-year-old kid and was always the most prepared person in the broadcast booth. “He kept a book of records for Woodford County football and it was so in-depth that it made ‘War and Peace’ look like a children’s book,” said Douglas. “The man knew everyone’s stats…”
After graduating from UK, Calvert worked the morning shift at WQXE, a 3,000 watt FM station in Elizabethtown. His morning show required a disc jockey, “who can crack a few jokes, be loose and play upbeat records,” he said.
Two years later, Calvert returned to Woodford County and started working as a sportscaster and DJ at WJMM radio in Versailles. He compared his first WCHS broadcast partner, Jim Gay, to former NFL color commentator Merlin Olsen, during an interview about his early career in radio.
In addition to his decades of work behind the mike, Calvert spent 15 years covering local sports for The Woodford Sun.“He was just a very thorough reporter,” said longtime Sun managing editor Moss Vance.
“He was the first sports reporter that we were able to hire and he was really, really excellent as a sports reporter.” Vance described Calvert as very interested and deeply involved in covering youth sports, “and just a pleasure to work with, really.” Calvert later earned a master’s degree in education at Kentucky State University because he wanted to work with kids. He was a sixth-grade teacher at Southside Elementary School and then Woodford County Middle School for 21 years, and also coached basketball at WCMS for several years.
“Everyone loved him and he was such a great part of this community,” said Douglas, his longtime friend and broadcast partner.
“I think Mack’s legacy,” he added later, “is what you see is what you get. He was the same guy in the classroom, at Kroger or just hanging out at home.”
Calvert is survived by his wife, Sheila, four children, two grandchildren and parents. See full obituary, page 6.