This item originally appeared in the October 14, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
By NICK TODARO
Dave Nitz, the singular voice of university athletics for the past 30 years, shines as an example of dedication in a field known for its mercenary sensibility.
Freelance broadcast journalism, his current occupation, doesn't top the list for cash-rich environments, he said. Broadcasters have to go where they can get work. Two years back, Nitz called his 1,500th game at Tech.
"It's definitely a hard life to make a living at," Nitz said. "The thing is, though, I fell in love with Tech. I want to get to the 2,000 mark. As of the beginning of this football season, I was at 1,624 -- with the game last weekend, I'm at 1,630."
For Nitz, what was a short-term plan to work in Ruston turned into a career.
"When you're in radio, you move around every two or three years as a habit," Nitz said. "Before I came here, that's exactly what I was doing. Two or three years has turned into 30."
Nitz hasn't always freelanced for Tech, though. He said his tenure in Ruston started with 16 years of work as assistant sports information director, a full-time Tech position.
Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau said he remembers when Nitz started here, before Reneau became the current president, 18 years ago.
"When he was hired, I remember him being very enthusiastic, and I remember how beautiful his voice was," Reneau said. "It's hard to imagine a football game here without Dave Nitz, now. He fits Tech athletics like a glove."
That opinion is mirrored by Sports Information Director Malcolm Butler, who said he has been at the university for six years and a fan of Nitz's since childhood.
"I remember listening to Nitz while sitting in my bed when I was a kid in the '70s," Butler said.
"He's a professional, a huge part of Tech and the kind of guy who paints a picture so good that you can be hundreds of miles from a game and feel like you're right there."
Nitz has seen his share of athletics at the university since his days with local radio station KRUS 1490 AM, where his duties included the Tech beat.
"I was news and sports director for the radio station when I got there," Nitz said. "Part of my duties was to cover Tech athletics.
"I actually did my first broadcast for them in the spring, covering men's baseball," Nitz said. "It was an NCAA regional at Arlington Stadium in May of '74."
He has worked during the reign of 10 different Tech athletic directors.
"It's funny," Nitz said. "Buddy Davis, the sports editor at The Ruston Daily Leader, asked me about it, and I couldn't even remember all of the names."
His freelance work takes him to semi-distant locales to do broadcasts, such as working with the defunct Shreveport Captains.
"The farthest example of driving to a game that I can remember is when Tech played Central Florida one weekend," Nitz said. "I drove 3,000 miles easily that week and went up to West Virginia to visit family on the trip, since I wasn't that far away."
Nitz's dedication to Tech has brought his family into the Ruston community. The offspring of the man local writers have called "The Nitz," "Nitzer" and "the voice of Louisiana Tech University athletics" attended local schools.
"Two of my sons are Tech students," Nitz said. "Three of my other children are going to Ruston High School."
He has also turned down offers for jobs elsewhere.
"I was offered a sports director position at Syracuse and a position at Tulane," Nitz said.
"From a career standpoint, turning them down wasn't a great move, but it was a move I made for my family -- Ruston is a place to raise one."