Seventeen years of calling Wylie Bulldogs football games on the radio each week has given Trace Michaels and Bill Whitaker something they didn’t really expect – a best friend.
“Our relationship is unbelievable,” Whitaker said. “I don’t have a better friend in the world because of all this.”
Whitaker and Michaels are known in Wylie as the voices of the Wylie Bulldogs. They have been calling the football game on the radio each and every Friday night for 17 years. But prior to their first radio show together, they had never even met.
“I was the operations manager at Cumulus (Radio),” Michaels said. “Our sales manager wanted to do Wylie football.”
So Michaels and the sales manager began doing a Wylie radio broadcast, which went well except they had problems providing commentary because neither one really knew the community or the kids.
“The fourth game of the season, he said he knew a guy whose kids go to Wylie who knows every kid in the school,” Michaels said.
That guy was Bill Whitaker.
“I had been coming to all the games for ever,” Whitaker said. “I literally knew all the kids. I had coached Little League, and I knew them from basketball. He said what would you think about being a third person. That first week I just stood there between them and listened.”
The very next week, the sales manager quit, and Whitaker was thrown into the fire.
“I called to see if I was going to do it again,” Whitaker said. “Trace said, ‘He’s gone. It’s you and me now.’”
And its been Michaels and Whitaker ever since.
They have had lots of great experiences over the years, and some not so great. They have broadcast from wonderful press boxes and from outside in the rain. Trace remembers the window used to open in Wylie’s old press box.
“Bill used to chunk cookies through the window at the fans,” Michaels said.
“Hey, it gets boring during a blow out,” Whitaker responded.
Sometimes they have had to share a room in the press box with other media or with coaches.
“When they put us in a room with other people, I clam up,” Whitaker said. “I don’t like to be in the same room with our coaches. I just a soon they not know I’m an idiot.”
When that happens, Michaels says he just talks a little more.
About six years ago, the pair got a little frustrated at the equipment they were using when their show went off the air at a crucial time in a football game. They decided to start their own business and Bulldogs Live Online was born.
Michaels said the idea was hatched because of an equipment malfunction, but it became a reality because they wanted to provide radio broadcasts of other sports, not just football.
“It just seemed like there was a void, and no one was doing that,” he said. “Around here, everybody just does football. But the fan base at Wylie is so great.”
So the pair launched Bulldogs Live Online, bought equipment and airtime and began covering most Wylie sports. They hired Matt McGraw to call baseball, softball, volleyball and basketball.
“The fans love him to death,” Trace said. “Without Matt McGraw, we would be in trouble. Talk about a guy that loves Wylie. He’s a real integral part.”
They said the community has been very supportive, and because of that, Bulldogs Live Online has been able to donate $125,000 back to the Wylie community in the form of student scholarships and other programs.
Michaels also does a weekly radio show with Hugh Sandifer year round, and Whitaker helps with that as well.
“He will compile all the things that happen every week, and he sends me an email,” Michaels said. “I host the show, but he does most of the prep work that goes into it.”
Although Bulldogs Live Online has helped the pair branch out into other sports, it is still football that has been their bread and butter.
Whitaker said people sometimes tell them that they need to be more impartial when calling the football games, but they have never been and never will be impartial.
“We are biased,” he said. “We are the Wylie broadcast. We probably go a little bit overboard on that. We don’t make any bones about it.”
“Why would we be impartial,” he said. “We don’t say negative things about the other team, but I don’t want them to score. When you listen to Wylie Bulldog football, its people who care about Wylie football.”
It’s also people who care about each other.
“From the very first game we did together, it’s been perfect,” Michaels said. “I never knew my father growing up. Even though Bill’s not old enough to be my father, the greatest thing I’ve gotten out of this is a guy who I can talk to about anything. All the other stuff is great, but the greatest think I’ve gotten has been a dad. It’s been life changing.”