MT. PLEASANT – Before the football home opener last Saturday, Central Michigan held a small ceremony to rename the home radio booth after the late Don Chiodo.
Chiodo was the voice of the Central Michigan Chippewas for 10 years before his tragic death in a car accident in 2019.
But Chiodo was much more than just a play-by-play broadcaster. He was a friend, colleague and mentor to hundreds of students who came through Central Michigan’s broadcast and journalism programs.
Adam Jaksa, the Chippewas current play-by-play broadcaster, said Chiodo was a huge mentor to him when he was starting out.
“I don’t know any other play-by-play broadcasters in the country that would willingly take games off to allow someone like me who’s young and needs experience and reps to go call the games for him,” said Jaksa.
Chiodo’s kindness and dry sense of humor endeared him to his colleagues as much as his listeners.
“He could always make you laugh anytime you were around him if you’re feeling down or maybe not having the best day, Don always had the jokes to crack you up and [was] just someone that cared abut you,” said Jaksa. “He was, again, just someone that really enjoyed helping out others, especially young broadcasters like myself and so many others that have come through this program.”
Chiodo called hundreds of Chippewa games, but the game before his first chance to call CMU football in a MAC Championship game would be his last.
Central Michigan beat Toledo 49-7 that day to advance to the MAC Championship just one season after they finished with a 1-11 record.
Chiodo died in a car accident three days before the MAC Championship game.
“I remember it like it happened yesterday,” said Brock Gutierrez, the color analyst alongside Chiodo for all 10 years. “Coincidentally it happens to be my son’s birthday. So we were getting ready to celebrate my son’s birthday and I got a call from the Athletic Director here. He was well-loved all the way around there’s no doubt.”
Three days later, Jaksa and Gutierrez called the MAC Championship game.
“It was extremely emotional,” said Jaksa. “A whirlwind trying to call a game that he deserved to call. I didn’t feel right calling the game.”
But throughout that game and in every game since, Don Chiodo has been right there in the booth with Jaksa and Gutierrez.
“The rest of that year it was ‘hey you’re back on the Chippewa Sports Network with Adam Jaksa, Brock Gutierrez, Steve Powers and Don Chiodo,” said Jaksa. “There’s still a picture that I have of Don that he’s with me every time I call games.”
Now, the home radio booth at CMU is forever Chiodo’s. A plaque in the booth and a name plaque just outside of it make clear to all what Gutierrez and Jaksa have known all along.
“For us, it’s always been the Don Chiodo home radio booth,” said Gutierrez. “It’s just now it’s formally done and it’s great to see it on the wall. It’s great to see the plaque outside to kind of let everybody else know about the profound influence he had on everybody here at Central.”
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