Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Champ Summers having lots of fun
County Clerk of Courts Tony Vivo is the voice on Clear Channel radio.
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN As the Mahoning County Clerk of Courts, Tony Vivo considers his job a labor of love.
When his work day ends and he trades in his work hat for his sports cap, he becomes alter-ego Champ Summers; the knowledgeable, witty sports professor whose insight into the local and national sports scene can be heard on local Clear Channel stations, WKBN-AM (570) and WNIO-AM (1390).
A 1976 graduate of Boardman High and 1980 graduate of Ohio University where he earned his undergraduate degree in communications, Vivo is the first to tell you that he has fun doing what he does only because sports has been and continues to be a release for him; something that he has enjoyed since his formative years.
His love for broadcasting and sports peaked while in college where he was the driving force behind selling the Bobcat Athletic Department.
"We had an idea to produce all home gamecasts from start to finish. When we proved to [football coach Brian Burke] that we could do the job and the professional manner in which it would be done, he embraced our idea and actually paved the way for the project to include away games as well," he said.
Took name of former Tiger
As a long-time Detroit Tigers fan, Vivo liked former Motown player Champ Summers, a player who enjoyed moderate success over his 11-year big league career. When he was approached by Clear Channel to assist Jim Campbell, Jim Evans and Denny Leibert with their respective shows, he wanted to change his cover. Thus the local Champ Summers was born.
"I needed my own identity and if I used my real name I thought that many out in the listening audience might pass on the shows, feeling I was just a politician with no sports credibility.
"This has always been a hobby with me so to get behind the microphone with both Jim Evans and Jim Campbell, and share the scoreboard show and watch the production of Denny Leibert you see exactly how professional they all are, then grow to appreciate the fact that they are right here locally for all of us to enjoy," he said.
Tenth year on radio
Next year Vivo will mark his 10th anniversary with Clear Channel. He's also spent 10 years with a college friend, Vince Koza, on a radio talk show on WCIT-AM in Lima, taking calls from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
In Lima, he goes under the moniker "Mr. Logic," or as he calls himself the most illogical of the guests on the show who states opinions on a variety of timely sports topics.
"This started when the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles met in the 1979 World Series. I called Vince's show on campus a little fired up, listed every reason why the Orioles should win and then stated the one obvious reason why the Pirates would win," he said.
"From there, everything else just took off and thus the three amigos had a schtick that would be resurrected in the '90s with much success, and now celebrating our 10th anniversary this past year."
Top sports events
Vivo listed his 18 great events in sports history; oddities of which that the casual fan might not even be aware.
Two of those oddities included how the Army-Navy football game in 1962 (which featured Navy's Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach) would prompt CBS to introduce a brand new technique known as "instant replay," and the UCLA-Houston basketball game in 1968, which featured the Bruins' Lew Alcindor and Houston's Elvin Hayes (the Cougars ended UCLA's 47-game win streak at the Astrodome, 71-69), almost never came off unless the network agreed to UCLA's demands that they use their broadcaster.
When they agreed, it marked the network debut of one of sports' most versatile announcers, Dick Enberg.
Next week, Bruce Zoldan, owner of the Mahoning Valley Phantoms, will be the guest speaker.